Auto history on display in FD

Rare antique cars paid a visit to the Fort Museum Monday morning.

Members of the Horseless Carriage Club of America stopped by the museum as part of their 57th annual Midwest tour driving 15 cars, some of them nearly 100 years old.

Members from North Dakota and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Minnesota made the trip to a hotel in Clarion where the tour is based this year. Other stops on the tour include the Hemken collection in Williams, and the Born Free RV company in Humboldt, said club member John McDunn, of Osceola.

It was a good opportunity for the residents of Friendship Haven, who came out to see the classic machines.

“Some of our volunteers said there were antique cars over here,” said Katherine Ellis. “We have a lot of men who like the antique cars, so we’re taking them out here one or two at a time.”

To be technically considered a “horseless carriage,” a car must be from 1916 or older, said Harold Wintz, of Clarion, who organized the tour. But they don’t turn anyone away.

Most of the cars were from the 1920s, ’30s, and even ’50s, though three present met the stricter limit. The oldest of the bunch was a 1914 Chandler owned by Wintz.

“They were manufactured in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1913 to 1929,” Wintz said. “The owner was very sharp. He saw the Depression coming, and sold his factory.”

The factory still exists today and makes nuts and bolts, Wintz said.

Wintz restored the Chandler in the 1970s, and has put on plenty of miles since then, driving it as far as Wisconsin and Texas for club tours.

Cars of that era were huge. The Chandler had giant, carriage-like wheels, a 123-inch wheelbase, along with a very spacious back seat.

“You could hold a card game or a dance back there,” Wintz said.

It’s also tall.

“I have quite a bit of trouble getting it through a 7 1/2-foot door,” he said.

It features a massive straight-6 engine, with little cups on top of each cylinder where alcohol can be added to make it start in the winter.

The engine only makes about 35 horsepower, Wintz said.

“Most of them in this era were 8 to 10 horsepower,” Wintz said.

The cars are rare, too. McDunn said Wintz’s Chandler is really the only one left.

There was also a 1915 Buick seven-passenger Touring, owned by William and Bonita Vaske, of Knoxville.

“I think he said there are only six of them known to exist,” McDunn said.

“This has a monstrous 6-cylinder motor, well over 300 cubic inches,” he said.

That’s over 4.9 liters, in modern terms.

But, said the owner, it only makes about 50 horsepower. For comparison, a 2013 Buick Verano has a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and makes 180 horsepower.