Driving Back In Time With The Falmouth Classic Car Club – CapeNews.net

Posted: January 23, 2020 at 10:45 pm

Bumping along Route 28A in a 1934 Ford Woody station wagon for a scenic ride to the beach this week, with the January air pouring through the open back window and hoping the 86-year-old brakes would serve if the need arose, it was hard to believe that its original instruction manual says the car can reach a speed of 62 miles per hour.

The husband and wife team of John Irving and Lori Weseman, new members of the Falmouth Classic Car Club, take their 1934 Ford Woody station wagon, Lizzie, for a spin to the beach with young car enthusiast Finley Muric, 9, of Falmouth as a passenger.

Even at the reasonable cruising speed of 35 mph between North Falmouth and Chapoquoit Beach in West Falmouth, the car shook and rattled, and it was impossible not to consider the lack of seat belts, airbags or hand grips near the roof.

Had we been driving in the dark, the headlights, which arent good, according to the cars owner, John M. Irving of East Falmouth, would have left us somewhat, well, in the dark.

Had we been driving uphill in heavy rain, the windshield wipers, which run off the engine vacuum, which decreases when you step on the gas going up hill or when accelerating, would have slowed down or stopped.

Husband and wife car enthusiasts John Irving and Lori Weseman pose with their 1934 Ford Woody station wagon in North Falmouth.

These are issues only for modern sensibilities, however. In its day, the Ford cars with the new V-8 engines were the fastest on the road. The 1934 Woody station wagon was the heaviest, most-expensive car made that year, Mr. Irving said.

His Woody station wagon, which safely returned its passengers to the property where they live in North Falmouth after the beach excursion, is named Lizzie.

Lizzie has been owned and cared for by Mr. Irvings family for three generations, ever since his Swedish immigrant grandfather, John E. Carlson, was able to buy the car from the estate of his employer, John Hammon of Woods Hole, for whom he worked as a gardener after Mr. Hammon died in the late 1930s.

Mr. Hammon had bought the car new from Falmouth Ford, and Mr. Carlson had been charged with maintaining it as part of his duties.

My grandparents lived overlooking Nobska Beach, so Lizzie (whom his grandfather pronounced Leesie in his Swedish accent) truly was a beach wagon, used mostly for Sunday drives, Mr. Irving said.

Mr. Irving and his wife, Lori M. Weseman, who moved to the Cape from Vermont last year with Lizzie in tow, are new members of the Falmouth Classic Car Club.

This club, whose members comprise both women and men and currently numbers approximately 60 people, was formed in 1996 as a way for people with an interest in old cars from antiques to exotics to get together, and to provide a local venue for weekend drives or cruzin, as the website calls it.

Longtime club member S. Jeffress Wiliams defines an antique car as one that is 30 years or older. A classic car, he said, can be an old car, or one that is unusual or special in some way, such as a model that is rare because not many were made or not many have survived.

Mr. Williams describes the classic car club as a group of car enthusiasts who enjoy driving their cars and sharing information about them.

Its an opportunity for like-minded people to exchange ideas on how to maintain classic cars and keep them running; how to avoid oil leaks, where to find parts, and where to find mechanics who can service old cars, he said. We have club members with five or six decades experience in dealing with old cars.

Perhaps typical of many classic car club members, Mr. Williams has always been interested in cars. From a young age, he said, he could tell what kind of engine a car had by the sound of the exhaust.

Mr. Williams has owned 20 cars in his lifetime. He currently owns a 1956 Ford Crown Victoria that he bought and had shipped from Oregon a year ago. He drives it 400 to 500 miles a year.

It was the top-of-the-line for Ford in 1956, he said, built the year Ford was pushing safety.

1956 was Fords first attempt at selling car safety to the public with innovative features such as seat belts, padded dash and sun visors, and a deep-dish 17-inch steering wheel, Mr. Williams wrote for a description displayed with the car at shows.

The padded dashboard, he said, did not go over well with the public and was only offered that year, as buyers were not much interested in car safety in those days.

Such vintage station wagons, Mr. Williams said, are unusual and are susceptible to rot and termites.

Mr. Irving can attest to this, as he recently spent two years treating the wood below the Woody wagons front door with a spray of boron and water to eradicate powderpost beetles.

They bore a hole in the wood and lay eggs. When the larvae hatch they feed on the wood, creating tunnels as they go, he said.

To keep mice away, Mr. Irving places Altoid mints in the car when it is stored in the garage.

These cars were called station wagons because they were often bought by hotels to carry passengers from the train station to the hotel (as shown in the movie, White Christmas), Mr. Irving said. The name of the hotel was typically printed on the door so passengers would know which car to get into.

Our Woody wasnt used by a hotel, but was kept in a garage at the end of the lane, so the name stenciled on the door is End O Lane, he said.

Lizzie runs best on ethanol-free gas, which is not sold at pumps in Massachusetts, so Mr. Irving buys it in five-gallon cans, at $7 a gallon, from a gas station in Pocasset. It takes almost three cans to fill the tank, he said.

Mr. Irving has a large collection of memorabilia associated with Lizzie, including the original bill of sale, gas ration stamps from World War II, photographs of his grandfather with the car, and a copy of a letter his grandfather wrote to Henry Ford to ask about cars with automatic transmissions, which might or might not have been sent.

People like the personal touch, he said of his Woody wagon, which has recently won first-place, second-place, and third-place prizes at New England car shows. Lizzie has been in the family a long time (Mr. Irvings mother bought Lizzie for $350 when her father died, to keep it in the family). This is what separates it from the rest.

Lizzie is completely original except for normal wear-and-tear replacements, Mr. Irving wrote for material he displays with the Woody at car shows. He knows what her appraisal value is, or could be, but this is not important, he has said, because to us she is priceless.

Starting in June each year, the Falmouth Classic Car Club hosts four once-a-month, family-friendly shows. The first three are held at Bigelow Marine Park on the west side of Falmouth Harbor on Scranton Avenue; the fourth is held on the lawn of the public library in September.

The last show includes the dream cruise, where the antique and classic cars cruise along the coast from Falmouth to Waquoit.

As many as 150 car owners from the Upper Cape to Dennis attend the shows, Mr. Williams said, depending on the weather. Owners spend so much time detailing and cleaning their classic cars that they wont bring them out in bad weather, he said.

The club also meets on scheduled fair weather Sundays, according to the website, for a cruise to nowhere along the winding roads of Cape Cod, usually for two hours, ending at a members house for a picnic, and members also attend other clubs cruise events each week on Cape Cod.

Club members are sometimes approached with requests to use classic cars in weddings or in movies.

The social part is the best part of the club, said Donald C. Rhoads, one of the clubs founders. Ive been cruising with these people since the club began. We sometimes call it the Falmouth Classic Eating Club.

Mr. Rhoads no longer drives and he is selling his collection of cars, which included a 1934 three-window coupe; a 1952 Mercedes 300 Salon; a 1968 Pontiac GTO; and a 1968 Shelby GT 350 Mustang.

His advice to newcomers is to attend one of the three big shows of the year to meet and greet the clubs members.

Were fairly open, Mr. Williams said regarding what kinds of cars are part of the club. We have American cars, Japanese cars, German cars. Some members have fairly new, high-performance cars. The club is open to anyone interested in autos or engineering, he said, and we encourage younger people to join.

The Falmouth Classic Car Club offers yearly scholarships to high school students from Falmouth High School and Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, Mr. Williams said. The club also makes donations to entities such as Mullen-Hall School, the library and the veterans council.

Although Mr. Williams believes that enthusiasm for classic cars may diminish in the next decade because younger people are not as interested in them, one 9-year-old car enthusiasts reaction to a ride in Lizzie told a different story.

Young car enthusiast Finley Muric, 9, of Falmouth compares a photograph of a Ford Woody station wagon shown in the January 2020 issue of Woodie Times with the real thingFalmouth Classic Car Club member John Irvings 1934 Ford Woody.

Finley W. Muric of Falmouth had an early release day from school when Mr. Irving asked him if he would like to take a ride.

Sitting up front next to the driver, Finley sat agog as Mr. Irving cranked open the windshield to show the air conditioning, used hand signals when turning, honked the horn at waving passersby, and told of the forest Henry Ford grew on Iron Mountain in Michigan to produce the quality of wood he wanted for the body on his Woody cars.

Thank you, Finley said to Mr. Irving as he disembarked. That was the time of my life.

Club co-president Karen A. Swenson advises checking the website regularly, as events are frequently added, and the club is working with the town to secure dates for the summer 2020 car shows.

John Irving of East Falmouth looks through a thick notebook containing 86 years worth of historical information about his 1934 Ford Woody station wagon.

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Driving Back In Time With The Falmouth Classic Car Club - CapeNews.net

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