AUBURN – It was the year of the unrestored car at the Parade of Classics in downtown Auburn Saturday.
Following Grand Marshal and racing icon Bobby Unser and Barry Weiss from Storage Wars, well over 200 Auburns, Cords and Duesenbergs – restored and unrestored – drew oohs and ahhs from the crowds around the Courthouse Square and lining downtown streets.
Chuck McCarthy of Barrington, Ill., is the owner of a rare Auburn 8-95 phaeton sedan. His car is even rarer because it has not been restored but is still in the pristine shape it was when it rolled out of the Auburn factory in 1930, when it sold for $1,395.
The car is one of only six left in the United States, and – as far as he can tell – the only one of the six that is unrestored and still in its original condition.
The car was parked in an old barn in Ottawa, Ill. – along with several other cars that were not Auburns – and mostly forgotten from about 1952 until 1979, McCarthy said.
A childhood friend and neighbor who was crazy about cars found the car and sold it to McCarthy’s father about 20 years ago, and in 2007 McCarthy bought it from his dad.
It’s still 100 percent original and unrestored and looks and runs great, said Tracy Disch, McCarthy’s girlfriend.
McCarthy has been a member of the ACD Car Club for about 10 or 12 years, he said.
Ironically, on his first visit to the festival, in 1984 when he was 22, he was invited to attend as a guest of the previous owner of the Auburn phaeton.
The car is the only Auburn McCarthy owns and shares garage space with two American Austins.
Thomas Parkinson of Niles, Mich., also has an unrestored car, a 1937 Cord, but his is not drivable. Although his brother and father rebuilt the engine and the transmission, that’s about all that is working in the car. There are no doors, seats, windows, lights or even brake or gas pedals.
That doesn’t stop Parkinson from attending the ACD Festival, however. He tows the car and describs it as a work in progress.
His father bought the car for $150 at a used car lot in Cleveland in 1950, Parkinson said. His father kept the car for years, he said, and in 1971 it survived a garage fire with only minor damage.
In 1980, Parkinson bought the car from his father, although it came with a warning that it was a white elephant, Parkinson said with a chuckle.
Parkinson said he would like to restore the car faster than he has done so far, but restore’ is an expensive word.
I work on it as I can afford it and when I find the money, he said.
To fully restore the car would cost between $45,000 and $50,000, Parkinson said.
Parkinson would like to rebuild the car and make it street worthy, so that it looks respectful from 20 feet away, he said.
He would drive it only locally, he said, and mostly just to watch the heads turn.
That’s not to say his car doesn’t turn heads now – it does. But once restored, it will lose the hands-on approach from onlookers, Parkinson said.
Right now people can touch it and grab it and check it out, he said. But once it’s restored, it will be more of a look, don’t touch’ like all of these other Auburns, Cords and Duesenbergs, Parkinson said, sweeping his arm toward the vintage cars parked for viewing on all four streets surrounding the Courthouse.