OCEAN CITY — More than 300 car owners took advantage of Saturday’s exquisite summer weather to take their antique cars out of storage and show them to hundreds of admirers before taking them for a spin on the Boardwalk.
For many, it’s a hobby that requires hours of polishing and conditioning, taking delicate care of a sometimes-finicky piece of old automotive engineering.
Among the cars featured Saturday was a red 1913 Ford Model T Speedster, spotlessly immaculate down to the polished brass fire extinguisher against the front seat, and a quirky 1957 BMW Isetta, an egg-shaped micro-car powered by a motorcycle engine that drew curious stares.
For Bill Tanis, 59, of Hopewell Township, it’s about preserving the past.
Tanis, who teaches sixth through eighth grade for the Pittsgrove Township School District, said he grew up admiring his uncle’s 1938 Dodge. When he was 14, his uncle let him buy the car.
The car is a “business coupe,” a small, two-door car with a single bench seat. Tanis distinguished it from a regular coupe because the trunk holds a shelf, a place itinerant salespeople to put their wares, instead of a rumble seat, an extra seat built into the trunk lid.
But his uncle’s business was chicken farmer. “When I got it, it had a lot of manure in it,” Tanis said.
For years, it served Tanis as a second car, even driving his pregnant wife to the hospital in 1982, and then driving her and their daughter home.
Tanis shelved it in 1984, once the plastic began aging and making the windows impossible to see through. About 10 years ago he began working on it, replacing the tubes and hoses that rotted away, and cleaning and rebuilding the parts that corroded or were clotted with debris.
By June 2008, it was ready to hit the road. With special QQ license plates reserved for historic cars, these days his trips are limited to shows and school. But at school, among people who are almost the age he was when he bought the car, it always draws a crowd.
“The kids think it’s pretty cool,” he said. “They say, ‘Can we take a look at the car?’”
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