That's Classic

Vintage automobiles make a tour stop to oohs and ahhs in downtown Talent
Carol Snow of Galt, Calf., steps out of a 1910 Buick Model 14, nicknamed “Buttercup,” during the Western Gaslight 1- & 2-Cylinder Touring Register gathering at the Talent Historical Society on Monday. Mail Tribune / Jamie LuschJamie Lusch

TALENT — Scenes of yesteryear filled Market Street as 25 gleaming, century-old automobiles putted and parked in front of the Talent Historical Society on Monday.

As part of a weeklong tour with the Western Gaslight 1- & 2-Cylinder Touring Register, the owners of the horseless carriages — with marques such as Rambler, Buick, Carter and REO — donned period attire and gathered to share their vehicles with locals outside the museum. The register is affiliated with the Horseless Carriage Club of America.

"It's such a joy because the little brass cars bring smiles," tour organizer Laura Hurley said. "We try to dress as often as we can."

Friendly owners were eager to honk horns for children and share their vehicles' unique approaches to now commonplace functions. Jim Snow of Galt, Calif., pointed to a brass cylindrical tank on his cream-colored 1910 Buick Model 14. He explained that the carbide generator powered his car's primary headlamps.

Also on the car were two removable kerosene lamps, which Snow said were meant to light the way home for driver and passenger after motoring.

"It was like a flashlight," Snow said. "They're so neat."

Snow's wife, Carol, pointed to the car's "key," a simple switch at the bottom of the Buick's dashboard.

"Nobody ever stole them because they didn't know what to do with them once they got them started," she said.

The Buick, nicknamed "Buttercup" by the Snows, has a 12-horsepower, two-cylinder engine.

"Most people's lawnmowers are more powerful than that," Jim said.

Among the vehicles touring Monday, the Buick was relatively powerful. Joyce Azevedo mentioned to the Snows that her REO had eight horsepower.

The group tours together with other owners of small-engined cars, primarily from California, Oregon and Washington. The vehicles were transported in covered trailers to Jacksonville, the main hub for the tour.

"They do run slower," admitted club President Doug Durien of Alameda, Calif. He said the cars in his club typically travel between 25 and 35 mph.

"I can go 40, 45 with the wind behind my back," Durien said.

The cars' speed, or lack thereof, is something that endears owners to their machines.

"Going this speed, you actually see the scenery," Joyce Azevedo said. "You smell things."

Other members are drawn to the craftsmanship and engineering of these early cars. Durien raved about the work of Ransom Eli Olds, the founder of both the Oldsmobile and the REO marques. Durien marveled at Olds' ability to sell his stake in Oldsmobile and create a whole new company.

"He was a very good engineer. He made good cars," Durien said.

For Durien, antique cars always have been a part of his life. He pointed to a 1907 Rambler roadster parked in front of his 1908 REO touring car, and noted Durien's father had a similar 1906 Rambler until he sold it in 1947.

"We've had antique cars all our life," Durien said.

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