Maybe this is your fathers roadster, after all
- Paul Duchene
- Beaverton Valley Times - News
Phil Hutchinson of Aloha is showing his grandfather's 1909 Pope-Hartford at one of the West Coast's premier car shows
The two pictures, taken 95 years apart, tell a story. In the 2009 photo, Aloha resident Phil Hutchinson relaxes at the wheel of a 1909 Pope-Hartford 30-horsepower roadster; in the other, dated 1914, Hutchinson's grandfather stares intently at the camera, in the driving seat of the same car.
The full value of antiques, says expert collector Miles Collier, lies in the fact they must show evidence of the passage of time. You don't refinish guns, clocks or furniture, and the rise of 'preservation' classes at car shows (The prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance now features prewar and postwar) suggests that antique automobiles are joining the mainstream antiques world.
Phil Hutchinson's car is un-restored, with the irreplaceable patina of an old steamer trunk.
Hutchinson has been coming to the Forest Grove Concours since about 1982, but he's never had it judged. The annual event, one of the West Coast's premier classic car shows, largely features restored vintage automobiles.
'Where would the judges start?' he asks. 'It's got chips, it's faded, it's self-lubing and leaks all over itself.'
Pope-Hartfords were made in Hartford, Conn., from 1904 to 1914, first with single-cylinder engines, then two, then four cylinders in 1906. This 30-horsepower, four-cylinder roadster was bought new by Hutchinson's great-grandfather and grandfather in New Jersey in 1909 for $2,750 - the average annual income for a dentist that year.) The roadster wasn't the main family car, either. That was a 1908 4-cylinder Buick touring.
'They just bought it to race around, then my great-grandfather gave it to my grandfather,' said Hutchinson. In time it was passed to Hutchinson's father - 'and when they retired to Florida, they said it's time for you to have the car.'
Hutchinson drove back to Ohio, rented a truck and brought the roadster back to Oregon. 'It needed mechanical work, but I had no idea what to do. I had the original manual, but it was no help at all.' He was lucky to run into Guy Carr, the veteran collector who owned Carr Chevrolet in Beaverton and who was as old as Hutchinson's car. 'He knew everything; he even remembered riding in one.'
Hutchinson still has every New Jersey license plate for the car, from 1909 to 1940 ('then they started with tags, because of the war'). He also has his grandfather's duster and racing goggles, along with tri-fold maps showing all the gas stations in New Jersey at the time and receipts for oil and new tires - in 1912.
Hutchinson is the fourth generation to own the car but the first not to break a wrist trying to crank-start it - 'Armstrong starting,' he says.
Will the 102-year-old Pope-Hartford be handed down to his son? 'I have a daughter,' Hutchinson says. 'I'm trying to persuade her to date a mechanic. I want her to marry a mechanic who can look after it.'