From Father to Son



June 11, 2012

Every car guy has a story about how they got hooked on old vehicles. Most of those stories involve a guy called Dad. Since June 17th is Father’s Day, we here at the Historic Vehicle Association thought it might be fun to ask a few sons just how their fathers got them hooked on old cars. Check out what they said and then take a moment to share your favorite Father’s Day memory.

The Hands-Off Approach 

 

Bentley Zionsville , formerly known as Albers Rolls-Royce, was founded in Indiana in 1963 by Hermann Albers. When Albers passed away in October 2002, his sons Mark and Greg took over the business and now direct every aspect of sales, management, and service for what has become one of the Midwest’s premier Bentley dealerships.

 

Not surprising, says Greg Albers, cars were a central theme growing up:

 

For as long as I can remember, my father lived and breathed automobiles. He made his living in the automobile business. Cars were his hobby, and most of our family trips were centered on some type of car event. Dad had his favorite brands, but what he enjoyed the most were original cars of all types. He taught me early on how to walk through a show field and spot the original cars that had not been redone. 

 

‘It’s only original once,’ he would say and then proceed to show me the things that made the car original.   

Bitten with the car bug early, I bought my first before I had a license and Dad helped me prepare it for car shows. It was a 1958 Mercury Monterey, purchased from the original owner (and, yes, it was an original car). The time working on that car together really created a bond with my father and left me with a lot of great memories.

If I had not been born with the ‘car gene,’ I would have still had a great respect for automobiles due to my dad’s influence. In fact, when we were young and visitors would be over at the house, Dad would have us come in and meet the people and then he would ask us, ‘What have I always told you about cars?’

We would then recite to them [the rules]: 1) Don’t get in them; 2) Don’t get on them; 3) Don’t touch them.

This continued until we were old enough to help care for the family cars by washing and waxing them. People are shocked to hear that my brother, Mark, and I never really touched cars until we were old enough to appreciate them.

Teach a Boy to Drive   

When most kids were just learning to ride a bike, Bruce Woodson’s father was teaching him how to drive. The co-owner of Mercer & Woodson Automotive and Chairman of the North American MGA Register, Woodson’s love of cars starts with a memory of sitting in the driver’s seat beside his dad, Bruce Sr.

 

My father is now 93, and his passion for cars goes back to when he was growing up in the 1930s. That was when American classic automobiles became popular. He was attracted to the quality of automobiles and pretty much anything mechanical. In 1937, he acquired a Cord Supercharged Convertible that he still owns today.         

He was a charter member of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club and helped form the Richmond Region Antique Automobile Club of America in 1952. Interestingly, when helping form the Richmond Region AAC, he was informed that the Cord—only 15 years old at a time—was not yet an antique, so he went out and bought a 1922 Model T Roadster. 

That’s the first car I ever remember being attracted to, and I was in 1st grade when he taught me to drive it. Later, my dad and several other club members got together and rented a building on our local fairgrounds. Dad would go there on Saturdays and work on cars, and there on the fairgrounds I’d drive that Model T. It was like my own private playground, and I used to drive that car all day long until it ran out of gas. It was fun.   

There were also the regular trips my father and I made to the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Festival in Indiana. It’s a 650-mile drive from our home in Richmond, Virginia. For my dad and me, cars were a great way to bring us together. It gave us a common thread to talk about and enjoy. Even when I was at that age when most other adolescents rebelled against being with their parents, I really enjoyed the time I spent with my dad. Some of my favorite car memories are of us driving that Auburn Speedster through the Allegheny Mountains headed out to the festival. I remember gazing up at the stars and wondering what the future might hold for us. After it’s all said and done, it was the start of a lifetime of great memories with my best friend—my dad.             

A Family Affair

Event and collector consultant, appraiser, and owner of Auto Motives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Jed Rapoport attended his first car show—The Elegance at Hershey—when he was three weeks old. Now 47, Rapoport says he’s been to Hershey at least 40 times and can never remember a moment when cars weren’t a part of life in the Rapoport home.

My father, now 81, used to be a golfer. But when I was little, he made a conscious decision to give up golf because it was too time consuming and it didn’t involve the whole family. Dad and I loved to go fishing, and he really got involved in cars. Some of my earliest memories are of reading picture books he used to give me about cars. I used to love to sit and read his books on the history of automobiles. And when I was in high school I can’t remember a weekend going by that we weren’t jumping in the car as a family and heading to a car show.    

Dad was into flathead Cadillacs and Jaguars. He was pushing Jaguar types as collectible back in the 70s when nobody wanted them. He had some unusual cars, too, like a 1968 Renault R8 Gordini. But when I was a kid, there were two Cadillac products that the family sort of revolved around. One was a 1937 Cadillac convertible sedan; there’s a picture of my mother holding me or my sister as a three-week-old baby in front of that car. Dad sold the car when I was six and my mom says that I didn’t talk to him for a week. 

He made up for it years later when he bought a 1937 LaSalle convertible coupe. He bought that car in 1978 and—working as a family—we finished the restoration on it in 1980. Every weekend I remember us working on that car. It was the first time we ever restored a vehicle. Later, we campaigned that car on the show circuit until we won every award you could win with it.   

I’m not a mechanic, but I’m very mechanical. As a child, my first real recollection of my dad and I working on a car together was when he taught me to change the spark plugs on his Renault. I had to be seven or eight years old. 

But, ironically, most of our time spent working on cars really had very little to do with fixing our own cars so much as hunting parts so that other people could fix them. Every weekend we were at a junkyard chasing down parts and components. Looking back on it now, I guess there wasn’t any one thing that turned me onto cars. It was just something that—as a family—was always a big part of what we did together.    

What was the one thing that got you hooked on the hobby? Do you have a Father’s Day memory you’d like to share? To share your story and see what other members are saying, please comment below or head over to the HVA’s Facebook page.

Comments

  1. Michael R Mcknight Carson City NV

    My father was a AMC mechanic when I was young and he was always working on cars doing side jobs after work and on weekends to make extra money. He was never into hunting or fishing and was always working on cars to support our large family. When I was probably 5 or 6 and old enough to learn wrench sizes he would always allow me to help him by handing him the tools he needed. Soon I was his official parts cleaner and organizer . As I got older he started to teach me how to take things apart and how everything worked which evolved into helping put cars back together. By the time I was in high school I was doing tune-ups, brake jobs.and clutch replacements on my own when he was too busy to get to them. At 16 he helped me buy my first car a 1956 belair 2 door sedan. It was the first of many cars I had that we would fix up and sell to buy something newer and nicer.My dad instilled in me a love and passion for cars that still consumes me today.I was able to past this on to my son and now have the pleasure to be involving my grandkids in the wonderful world of cars.

  2. Ric Simpson Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada

    Herman Albers helped me immensely with my various Rolls-Royces. Greg and Mark are still looking after me! Bruce Woodson has been a friend as long as I can remember! My father bought his Cord sedan at Christmas of 1938. He taught me to drive it in 1947? (I was only 13!) He gave it to me in 1952. I lost control on Labour day week-end and severely damaged the car. Two years later it was running again and I drove it daily until 1960. I had fixed up a second sedan,and drove it until 1967, when the Cord Phaeton I bought in 1959 was ready. I put the engine & transmission from the sedan into the phaeton and drove the phaeton daily until 1981 when I installed the rebuilt transmission and supercharged engine into the Phaeton. 23 years later we did a second restoration that got me invited to Pebble Beach in 2008. Not being sure about trucking a Cord to California, my wife and I drove it to Seattle to take part in the Pebble Beach Motoring Classic, and then in the Concours d'Elegance. We went from there to Bonneville to see "Speedweek" in operation, on to the Auburn Festival weekend where I received a long distance award and a third in primary, and then over to the Kruse Concours where we got another long distance award, and a second in our class. When we arrived home we had travelled 7000 miles. I am still driving it several thousand miles a year,although age is slowing me down. I believe I am the longest consistent driver, and I have driven my Cords about 500,000 miles. I suggest that if anything can go wrong with a Cord, I have already had it happen several times. What a Car!!! Ric.

  3. James B. Angelucci Daytona Fl

    Great location for Cars and Bikes, At this time Vintage Japanese motorcycles are my passion. Due to my injuries while racing in my youth , I have a hard time building automobiles, even though I owned a BMW repair shop here for 14 years,. Now i have downsized , and My 19 year Daughter drives a 318TI I purchased for her after the owner looped it over a traffic island in the rain and knocked all four wheel off it. It was sitting on a dead end street across from where I was living and I could see the twinkle in her eyes when she saw it., I asked her do you really want that car/ And she did. So I purchased it for pennies on the dollar and replaced the entire sub frame and IRS suspension, boxed a square in the driveway and made chicken shit into chicken salad as they say in the south. To this day she has been driving this car for over 5 years and it make the commute from Tallahassee to Daytona often. That attests to my expertise as a tech. I truly am a pro and have 35 years under my belt, although walking is a chore. I fix anything under the sun when I have a good feeling about it. I literally talk to machines and don;t care who thinks I'm nuts. .My vehicles run damn near forever and remember they are only machines , and with proper care and maintainance , their lifespan is unlimited, unlike ours. Currently I am restoring a 1988 Alfa Romeo Spider Graduate. This is the best weather on the planet and although I have forsaken motorcycle riding to survive, I still enjoy the wind in my hair and the sweet sound of that DOHC 2.0L motor through European Cast iron headers and Ansa exaust that rings sweetly at red line.

  4. Ric Simpson Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada

    Herman Albers helped me immensely with my various Rolls-Royces. Greg and Mark are still looking after me! Bruce Woodson has been a friend as long as I can remember! My father bought his Cord sedan at Christmas of 1938. He taught me to drive it in 1947? (I was only 13!) He gave it to me in 1952. I lost control on Labour day week-end and severely damaged the car. Two years later it was running again and I drove it daily until 1960. I had fixed up a second sedan,and drove it until 1967, when the Cord Phaeton I bought in 1959 was ready. I put the engine & transmission from the sedan into the phaeton and drove the phaeton daily until 1981 when I installed the rebuilt transmission and supercharged engine into the Phaeton. 23 years later we did a second restoration that got me invited to Pebble Beach in 2008. Not being sure about trucking a Cord to California, my wife and I drove it to Seattle to take part in the Pebble Beach Motoring Classic, and then in the Concours d'Elegance. We went from there to Bonneville to see "Speedweek" in operation, on to the Auburn Festival weekend where I received a long distance award and a third in primary, and then over to the Kruse Concours where we got another long distance award, and a second in our class. When we arrived home we had travelled 7000 miles. I am still driving it several thousand miles a year,although age is slowing me down. I believe I am the longest consistent driver, and I have driven my Cords about 500,000 miles. I suggest that if anything can go wrong with a Cord, I have already had it happen several times. What a Car!!! Ric.

  5. Tim Spradling Greensboro, NC

    My Dad got married to my Mom in September 1941 and he didn't have a Car so his Father and Mother, my Grandparents, both aged 65, gave them their 1938 Chevy and then they went down to the Pontiac Dealer in Charleston, WV, Park Pontiac, and bought the most expensive Pontiac rather than the cheapest Buick. They did this because they needed a Car since they knew we were getting ready to enter WWII soon and they wouldn't be able to purchase one. The Pontiac was a 1942, four door sedan, straight eight, Streamliner Chieftain with all the "bells and whistles". I was born in December 1942, a month after my Father went overseas to War. He didn't return till September of 1945 when I was almost three. In 1956 my Grandfather turned 80 and drove the Pontiac into his Garage and never drove it again. It had 14,000 miles on it and was in mint condition, only taken out of the State once to visit my Dad and Mom on a military base in NC in 1942 where he was training soldiers for WWII. My Granddad didn't put the Car up on blocks, drain the oil or gas or store it in any way. He passed away in 1981, five years later. In 1963 I was twenty and needed a Car for College. My Dad said how about your Granddad's old Pontiac still sitting in the Garage. Since I had no funds for a Car I reluctantly agreed and the Pontiac was towed over to the service station nearby and they got it running. I didn't know what I had and only considered the Car as a way to get from here to there. In 1964 I met a girl in FL on a trip to check out a Graduate Scholl program at UF. In the spring of 1965 I started out to FL to visit her and got about 100 miles from home in Charleston when the oil pressure gauge started dropping. I stopped at a town in VA and they did some engine work and I started out again but only got about 20 miles down the road till the oil pressure started dropping again. I had to have a tow truck take me back to Charleston, WV where I had the engine rebuilt. The garage told me the oil filter was clogged up and didn't allow oil to circulate to the engine and that it probably occurred when I first got the car and the service station failed to clean the oil pan out after sitting in the Garage for seven years. I then got back in the Car and drove down to FL to see my girl friend and stayed a week and drove it back. The Car was not treated that well when I went away to OH for graduate school and developed some rust. After graduate school I got a job and a new 1966 Olds 442 and the old Car was stored in a Garage. In 1973 I found a job in NC and drove it down to Greensboro, NC. It was stored in a Garage after that and when I retired in 2001 I had it restored back to it's original condition and I hope my Grandparents are proud.

  6. Dale Skyles United States

    My Dad and my older brother (Also a Father) got me hooked on cars when I was a toddler. I passed the hobby onto my boys who now have their own Hot Rods.

  7. Michael Rhodes Noblesville, In.

    I wish I had my DAD around now, I miss him very much, he died in 1981 when I was only 14, but I do remember his vehicles. In my era, which was after Dec, 1965 when i was born, he loved Pontiacs. I still have some Pontiac car dealer ads from late 60's for the station wagons which is what he owned. Then in Griffin, ga. where I was born, I remember a green '70 or '71 Chevy Pick-up truck, then later that decade, late 70's, prob. around '79, he traded the pick-up for a chevy El camino, and that was his last vehicle before he died. Now, my son will be 18 next month, and he will eventually aquire my classic car, a 1977 Olds Cutlass Supreme Brougham that I have owned for 25 years, until then he goes w/me to cruise local car shows here in central Indiana, as he's starting to aquire the "CAR BUG" that i did when I was much younger. Dad, I wish you were here w/me now to enjoy this time w/my son, as i enjoyed all the time I had w/you..

  8. Larry E Gilbert 35 Miles NE of INDY

    My dad was never into cars. It used to upset him when we were out together and I would comment on just about every car we passed. He always told me cars were just transportation. My son in-law and got me interested in Hot Rods about 2 years ago. The last Sat. of Aug 2011 we drove about 200 miles to look at a Ferrari 1972 Monte Carlo. As we drove home and discussed it all the way back. My daughter asked my son in-law if he would buy the car if he was looking at it. He said yes and my wife asked me if I liked it and said if I did we would go up on Monday and buy it. Driving it home a really a fun drive. I had not driven a First Gen Monte since 1971. We took it out to the nursing home where my dad is living an dhis eyes really perked up when he seen my bright red Monte Carlo. So I guess you could say he is now enjoying Cars the way I always have.

  9. Riki I have one with 2,800 Miles on it so far. Mine is a white gt with black cloth. After graduating, my dad gave me some money towdars a car, as well as my grandfather. I wanted to look at the BMW 3-Series, but for $5,000 Less, I could have over 130 More HP, more space, Xenon Headlamps, a Sunroof, Heated Seats, and an American Badge.Personally, as a driver of one of these masterpieces, all I can say is WOW. This thing has effortless acceleration, timeless styling, great build quality, a pretty good interior, and most of all VALUE. The pretty much base 328i I was looking at would run me a little over $35,000, yet I got this for only $30,250.The only negative I can find in this car a lack of a Navigation System, and the stupid battery/oil display on the center console. I get a compliment at almost every stop light. People always go what type of car is that?

    I have one with 2,800 Miles on it so far. Mine is a white gt with black cloth. After graduating, my dad gave me some money towdars a car, as well as my grandfather. I wanted to look at the BMW 3-Series, but for $5,000 Less, I could have over 130 More HP, more space, Xenon Headlamps, a Sunroof, Heated Seats, and an American Badge.Personally, as a driver of one of these masterpieces, all I can say is WOW. This thing has effortless acceleration, timeless styling, great build quality, a pretty good interior, and most of all VALUE. The pretty much base 328i I was looking at would run me a little over $35,000, yet I got this for only $30,250.The only negative I can find in this car a lack of a Navigation System, and the stupid battery/oil display on the center console. I get a compliment at almost every stop light. People always go what type of car is that?

  10. Lynn Albers Colorado

    There must be something in the Albers genes. Although, I have no particular interest in vintage automobiles, several of my relatives & forebears love them. On the other hand, I am interested in the history of just about anything & stumbled across this article/website in search of information regarding my gr-grandfather, Henry R. Albers, Sr. & his affection for Duesenberg automobiles. A relative has a photo of my mature gr-grandparents Albers standing in front of a Duesenberg (circa 1920 ish?). Born in Schleswig, Germany, H.R. Albers, Sr. eventually made his way to western IA where he chartered a bank, invested capital, farmed many acres alongside his sons, and helped establish a community. Upon H.R. Albers' death, one remembrance indicated that he was a "car salesman." That was news to me when I read it; it seemed like an odd undertaking given his background. After learning of the Duesenberg photograph, I wondered if he might have somehow worked with or for the Duesenberg Brothers. Vintage automobile aficionados - does this sound at all plausible? Did the Duesenberg brothers have agents that took orders and/or help set up a customer's automobile? I also found that at one time Sioux City, IA had a significant oval track for car racing. The Sioux City Speedway apparently quite successful just prior to WWI, with Eddie Rickenbacker winning the 300 mile race (at least once in a Duesenberg) in 1914 & 1915. H.R. Albers, Sr. spent a lot of time in Sioux City & seemed to enjoy the leading edge - plus farming Iowa German-Americans of this era were close-knit - so I would not be surprised to learn that my gr-grandfather enjoyed the Sioux City car-racing culture. Any comments or suggestions re: where next to research?