Cruising through history

Midwest Brass and Gas brings antique cars to Manistee

A variety of antique cars were parked down by the fountain on River Street on Wednesday. (Ashlyn Korienek/ News Advocate)

A variety of antique cars were parked down by the fountain on River Street on Wednesday. (Ashlyn Korienek/ News Advocate)

MANISTEE — Touring antique cars is more than a hobby, but a lifestyle for those who dedicate their lives to the craft.

Downtown Manistee was packed with visitors on Wednesday, who marveled at 13 rare antique cars on River Street by the water fountain. The tour was held by Midwest Brass and Gas Touring region of the Horseless Carriage of America Club (HCCA).

Families and couples located all over the region, from Chicago to Detroit, are a part of the tour.

Richard Staadt, of Fort Wayne, Ind., who was on the tour, has been involved in touring brass era cars for decades.

“We bought our first old car like this in 1962,” Staadt said. “We have been at it for better than 50 years.”

Over the years, Staadt said he has met people who also enjoy brass era horseless carriages. A horseless carriage is defined by the HCCA as any pioneer gas, steam or electric motor vehicle manufactured prior

A man snaps a photo of an old car at the tour on Wednesday. (Ashlyn Korienek/ News Advocate)

A man snaps a photo of an old car at the tour on Wednesday. (Ashlyn Korienek/ News Advocate)

to Jan. 1, 1916.

The cars were manufactured in 1912 or earlier. Brass era cars are unique for the gas and oil lamps, horns and defined trim made of brass — inspiring the group’s name.

The engine is started with a crank, however updates are often made to add electric systems for safety reasons.

Staadt said the tour allows a chance to travel in the antique cars, rather than simply showing them.

“In the old car world like this there are, kind of, two breeds of cats,” he said. “There are people who show them, they go and line them up, sit in a lawn chair and watch them. Then, there are the people that go.”

He said the group drives the cars from Ludington all the way up to Frankfort, in a three-day trek through Northwestern Michigan. The tours change each time, traveling from all around both Michigan and Indiana.

“These are not show cars,” Staadt said. “They are to be driven, and we drive them. We go on tours like this. I have one at home that I have driven over 96,000 miles.”

The best part, he said, is visiting new places along the way. In fact, it was Staadt’s first trip to Manistee.

“We will make stops at museums or factories,” he said. “You get to experience things you would not get to experience otherwise. ”

Dan Shafarman, of Lansing, has been touring for more than 20 years. He was on the tour driving a friend’s antique car, Sue Neller, who owns an Oldsmobile from 1909.

“When I was 6-years-old, we knew a guy who owned a Maxwell touring car and he would let the kids ride on the running board when he came in and out of the parking lot,” he said. “I was thrilled. That’s what got me started. I loved old cars ever since.”

Shafarman has several antique cars of his own. He owns REO model brass era cars.

Many of the antique cars are restored appearance-wise, and others are modified to have turn signals and review mirrors — modern features often not found on antique cars.

“I bought (a car) from the original owner, and I left it looking exactly how I found it,” he said. “A barn find, as they call it. People try to restore them so they at least look how they did when they were new.”

During the tour, many visitors talked with the owners and asked questions about each model. Many tour members met with old friends, as well.

“It’s a great hobby,” Staadt said. “One of the nice things about it is the nice people you meet.”

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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