By Mark Vaughn, Crain News Service
DETROIT (Dec. 30, 2014) — This may be the best way to say goodbye to 2014 and hello to a bunch of 100-year-old classics.
The Horseless Carriage Club exists to celebrate really, really old cars — like 100 years old. Officially the club is limited to cars from 1916 and before, the Brass Era, when men were men and cars were spindly, dangerous and required that the passenger hand-pump gasoline into the engine.
Those were flammable good times back then and the SoCal Region's Holiday Excursion is meant to keep that fun going as long as possible.
To that end, on the first Sunday after Christmas every year, a couple hundred of them get together and drive all over Southern California in their centenarians.
“This was a ‘What do you do between Christmas and New Years event,'” said participant Gary Hunter.
“It was just a Christmas morning spontaneous event,” said Tom Eastwood, whose dad and uncles started the whole thing 59 years ago.
After the Eastwoods had unwrapped their presents on Christmas morning in 1955, they decided to pile into the family antique (even back then) car and head over to see what everybody else got from Santa, then to see what everybody else after that got, and so on. It snowballed into this event, which now attracts up to 200 old cars some years. Mr. Eastwood handed over the reigns to successors a few years ago and this year's attendees should (and did) give a round of applause to organizer Kenny King.
For this one event the club expands its definition of “old car” to include newfangled models as recent as 1932. This opens up the field to all those ‘32 hot rods, something that doesn't sit well with all the members but makes for a more interesting field for spectators to watch.
As usual, about half the field consisted of Ford Model Ts. That's to be expected since Henry Ford made about 15 million of them. You can buy a Model T fairly cheaply, by collector car standards, and it's not impossible to find someone who knows how to work on them. So a lot of people like them.
Ron Lawless has owned his Model T for 46 years.
“I made it from parts from a 1912, ‘13, ‘14, ‘15, ‘16, ‘17, ‘18 and ‘19,” he said. “But it's not hopped up.”