Conversations With People We Value #552024-06-20T19:37:51+00:00

Cars We Love & Who We Are

More than the polished parts and hard to find pieces, the special interest vehicles people collect embody the character of each owner. “Cars We Love & Who We Are” profiles individual special interest vehicles and the proud owner committed to its preservation.

Conversations with People We Value

Talking with skilled professionals who support our passion for collectible automobiles.

Roads We Remember

Some roads discovered far from home reward us with a once in a lifetime driving experience. Others are old friends revisited to elevate our spirits and celebrate the joy of life behind the wheel.

Conversations With People We Value #55

So the friendly hostess at the Tom Quick Inn in Milford, PA says, “Oh yes, three blocks down, turn right and go a short ways. It’ll be on your left. Mr. Helms sells all kinds of real old cars there.” Her words possessed a genial warmth that clearly communicated this man’s position as a long time and respected member of the community.

With my penchant for exploring blue highways and back roads, a “Sure do” response when asking local folk about knowing any interesting neighborhood car people fires the passion I possess for the car culture and, certainly demands investigation.

Meet Mr. “T,” Dave Helms, a life-long vintage Ford enthusiast and the go-to guy for Germans looking to buy a Model T.

This Mr. “T” Sells 100-year Old Fords to German Car Enthusiasts

Dave Helms with his T Roadster pick-up

In a split second, mid-20th century memories of gas stations from my youth rushed to mind. In pulling into Dave Helms’ Gulf station in Milford, PA, I had crossed over the iconic pressurized black air hose of yesteryear. Its analog age purpose, to trigger a bell alerting a pump jockey that a new customer had pulled in. That bell alert, once a ubiquitous element of Americana, now found itself scarcer than a red, crank “Tireflator” dispensing free air.

Finding a space to park, I pulled up alongside a 1918 Ford Model T Runabout. Apparently in fighting trim, it appeared ready to confidently sputter down the country lane bordering the station.

Inside Dave’s Office

The station’s front glass door hung open propped by a kitchen chair. Positioned to its right stood the cage housing Dave’s prize chicken, Henrietta. I breezed through the open doorway. Henrietta a champion egg layer, pecking for food on her cage floor, seemed nonplussed by any human foot traffic. Through the door and no more than three steps in, I found myself immersed in a living archive recalling 100-years of American car culture.

Clean and organized though festooned with black and white photos of family and yesterday, the office of Helm’s Service Station and Antique Autos clearly reflected the man who built it all, Dave Helms. A spry 75-years of age, Dave’s workday at first appeared to me to alternate between doing paper work at his organized desk, chatting with his […]

By |June 20th, 2024|0 Comments

Conversations With People We Value #54

A passionate car guy with a generous heart, my friend Bob never can seem capable of saying “no” when a friend needs a hand. Though he may not admit to it, I feel comfortable saying that Bob brings a wealth of knowledge and savvy to the table thanks to decades in automotive public relations, marketing and wrenching as well as years as a respected concours judge. Recently a friend reached out to Bob for help in creating an online listing for a vintage Jaguar. Being comfortable with the process as Bob had listed other cars before, he dove right in. Within 4 weeks of posting the ad on Hemmings Auctions the Jaguar had sold…but on eBay. Unfortunately Bob had never listed the car on eBay.

Bob’s distressing experience provides a painful cautionary tale for online sellers and buyers alike.

 

When Car Rustlers Stalk eBay, What Does eBay Do?

Bogus Jaguar Mark V listing on eBay

Striking in its subtle two-tone grey livery, this 1950 Jaguar Mark V Drophead Coupe did not project the conventional vintage Jaguar image of the lithe 2-seat English sports car proudly boasting seductive feminine curves that cloaked the power and speed of a jungle cat. Not so this Jaguar. Stately and elegant with seating for five, this finely finished Mark V screamed (Assuming one can scream with quiet dignity) high end motoring luxury ideally suited for cruising along country lanes in transit from the townhouse to the country manor. Powered by a 6-cylinder engine of pre-WWII design delivering 126 horsepower, its performance, though not spirited, could be described as adequate.

The Mark V’s handsome upright stature draped with voluptuous fender lines and rear fender spats would fit easily among spirits of ecstasy and flying Bs of the period. Its handsome presence would attract more than a few admiring glances.

Its three-position drophead convertible design allowed the car  to be driven with the top fully erect, fully stowed or partially retracted to expose the front seats like a sedanca. A lavishly trimmed interior featured a full gauge array set in a highly polished burled walnut dash. As well, burled walnut trim adorned a warm and inviting interior bedecked in rich Connolly leather and deep wool Wilton carpet.

Treasured for many years, the time had come for the Mark V to change hands.

Charged with the responsibility […]

By |June 6th, 2024|8 Comments

Roads We Remember #11

Like a tour in a time machine through a beautiful natural yesterday, traversing the Blue Ridge Mountains and its foothills presents a calming feast for all the senses. Years back Elaine and I favored including the Blue Ridge Mountains as part of our backroad adventures. Some years later, during Covid, Elaine had the opportunity to acquire a secluded deep forest retreat in Nelson County, VA just minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway. It presented a once in a lifetime chance to stop and stay for a while rather than grabbing the fleeting glimpses captured during past drive-bys. Located on 16 wooded and isolated acres it promised a full immersion into the magnificent beauty of the Blue Ridge. Three years later we love the Blue Ridge and we are leaving. Why?

Loving but Leaving the Blue Ridge

Loading up and leaving

Rattling down, the rolling cargo door slammed shut triggering the clatter of the self latching lever. With a reassuring snap a keyed master lock secured the load. Packed to the gills the U-Haul box truck stood ready for the journey home.

Bird songs filled the air. The surrounding paulownia trees brimmed with pale violet springtime blossoms. Nestled amidst the beauty, the U-Haul truck packed with belongings presented a seeming anomaly in this bucolic wonderland destination. Counter intuitively to what one might expect, Elaine and I had opted out of this woodland adventure in paradise that resides in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

At the Blue Ridge Parkway’s northern origin the picturesque 105-mile Virginia Skyline Drive concludes at Rockfish Gap. There it tees-up the Parkway’s 485 miles of glorious natural beauty, rich vast forested expanses and breathtaking views. Situated at the southern terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway resides America’s most visited natural destination, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Rockfish Gap overlooks the rushing Buffalo Creek that traverses the soon-to-be sold 16 acre spread. It lies no more than 10 minutes from where the Blue Ridge Parkway and Virginia Skyline meet.

View from Rockfish Gap

A great place to be a horse

Gravel crackled under the heavily laden truck as it eased forward in a slow descent from the elevated perch where the recently sold home sat. In the […]

By |May 18th, 2024|8 Comments
Drivin' News Quiz
Here’s this week’s question:
What modern day car brand started as the Swallow Sidecar Company?
 

Answer to last week’s question:
A rumble seat is a folding seat in a pre-war car located where the trunk is normally found.

About the blogger

Burton Hall has written for an automotive client list that includes Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Maserati, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Peugeot and Volvo. He has also written for The Washington Post, AutoWeek, Corvette Monthly, Jaguar Magazine, BMW Magazine, Hemmings.com, Hagerty Magazine and numerous auto restoration buff books.

He is a member of the Society of Automotive Historians and the Historic Vehicle Association.

As a classic car hobbyist, He owns a 1961 Corvette that he bought in 1967, a 1953 Jaguar XK120MC Drophead Coupe that he restored after finding it in a barn in 1980, an original 1953 Golden Anniversary Ford F100 pickup that he purchased from the original owner and a 1951 MG TD that presently serves as a planter and centerpiece in his garden. All are great drivers, except the MG which has a few bugs.

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