BELLVILLE — Old cars are much more than a hobby for members of the Midwest Brass and Gas Touring Club.
Certainly, members have been collecting old cars for years, but hobbies can’t completely explain the hurdles they jump through to show off their vehicles several times a year.
Members of the group, based in Michigan — but with members from as far away as Phoenix and Canada — stayed at the Comfort Inn in Bellville this week.
The cars came to Ohio in trailers — big, plush trailers — parked behind the Comfort Inn. Some members parked their cars in the trailers at night. Others were parked in the open for others to enjoy.
“We’re not afraid or wind or rain of the sun,” one member said. “But with wooden wheels we try to avoid bumpy roads and we really don’t like gravel roads or tar.”
On Thursday morning, about 75 members of the group loaded up around 30 cars, and took a tour of north central Ohio.
The day’s first stop was in Galion, where they parked their vehicles at Galion First Lutheran Church and enjoyed some coffee and donuts. They also shared stories about their vehicles and posed for photos while meeting with interested locals.
Chuck Sharpe is from Highland Michigan.
“We go on three tours each year, one in the spring, one in the summer and one in the fall,” he said. “We meet, we get directions and map out where we’re going and then we drive We just like driving these cars.”
“We love this. Most of us have more than one car, and we love showing them to others.”
It’s not easy to plan one of of their tours.
“These cars only go 30 to 35 mph,” Sharpe said. “We travel back roads. We want to stay away from chipped roads and tar. The organizers have to worry about the roads and we have to be someplace we can get parts if something breaks down. It’s not an easy thing to do.”
Sharpe was driving a 1910 Buick Model 17 .
“We love it when people come to see them,” Sharpe said. “They can look and take pictures. The only rules is ‘Do not touch!’”
The group averages maybe 80-90 miles of travel each day, stopping in several communities or a local attractions throughout the day. After they stop in Galion, they took off for Richland County. There were plays to visit the Ohio State Reformatory, Plymouth, the Blueberry Patch in Lexington and more.
Cars taking part in this tour were built between 1908 and 1912. They included Model T’s, Buicks, Hudsons. Pierce Arrows, Mitchells and more.
Each of the cars travel at its own pace and at each stop, drivers and riders meet with curious observers and talk about cars.
Sharpe — for obvious reasons — favors cars made in Michigan.
“This one was made in Flint, Michigan. New, even in 1910, this one cost $1,7oo to $1,800,” he said.
Then he explained that in 1910 cars went for an average price of about $950.
Then Henry Ford came along and changed the industry with the use of assembly lines, and the mass production of parts.
“You know what color your cars came in back then,” Sharpe asked. “Black. That’s it Black was cheaper. It dried faster. It was just a cheaper way to do it.”
Thanks to Henry Ford, by 1925-26, the average cost of a car was down to about $300.”