Classic Depression-Era Chevrolets Congregate In Baker City
By Joshua Dillen
It's vintage Chevrolet mania in Baker City this week as the town is overrun by classic cars.
A total of 35 Depression-era Chevrolets are touring Baker City and nearby historical sites.
The Vintage Chevrolet Club of America (VCCA) is having its ninth-annual Early Six Cylinder Tour for 1929-36 Chevrolets in Baker City this year.
Some of the cars arrived over the weekend, and all 35 antique automobiles made it to Baker City by Monday.
Jim Farris, who is hosting the tour, said the event gives owners a chance to drive their cars on country roads and see places of historical significance from the same era as their automobiles.
"It's hard to drive these old cars in heavy traffic with a lot of lights," Farris said.
There isn't going to be a car show or a show and shine.
"This is just touring. We don't judge or give awards," Farris said.
For a look at the cars, they can be viewed at the Sunridge Inn until Thursday if they are not touringthe local countryside and historic sites.
The tour has been to Sumpter and McEwen, the Eastern Oregon Museum in Haines. It is traveling to North Powder, Union and then the Oregon Trail Interpretive center via back roads today.
Ryc Rienks, local astronomer and musician, stopped to see enjoy the cars on Tuesday afternoon while their owners were enjoying the Baker Heritage Museum. The parking lot and Grove Street were lined with shiny and polished classic Chevrolets.
Rienks appreciates the effort made by the car owners.
"I think the thing I find most striking is the amount of care and effort that goes into the restorations of these cars," he said. "You have to admire their persistence and probably their bank account."
One car that's in Baker City this week has been in the same family since it was purchased in 1929. Bill Damm from Bellevue, Wash., owns the Chevrolet Coupe that his mother bought new.
Damm's family raised calves and dairy cows. The car hauled plenty of dairy cans and even the occasional calf.
"I lifted (dairy cans) over the spare tire and they dented the bottom of the trunk," Damm said. "The dents are still there - they're part of the history of the car."
Al Howe from Enumclaw, Wash., owns a 1931 Five Window Coupe. He said breakdowns and camaraderie are just part of the tour.
"We drive them during the day and fix them at night," Howe said. "If you want a conversation, just open your hood."
Before there was ever the thought of an El Camino, Chevrolet produced a Coupe Pickup. Bill Barker of Issaquah, Wash., owns one that was made in 1936.
He bought it from the original owner's grandson and has a binder that contains old pictures of the car, original paint chips, the original accessories list from the dealer, and more.
Barker provided a some insight about those participating in the tour.
"Chevy owners aren't rich, they just never throw anything away," he said.
The VCAA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of all Chevrolets. The club has about 9,000 members in the United States and worldwide. For more info visit vcca.org.