Antique car owners share their enthusiasm at Shelton event

Antique car enthusiasts came from as far away as New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania in Ford Model T and Ford Model A vehicles to the third annual Old Car Meet at Beardsley’s Cider Mill in Shelton.

Dan Beardsley, the event’s host, said one automobile even traveled on the Port Jefferson ferry from Long Island to attend.

Beginning early Saturday morning, automobiles manufactured in the 1930s began to arrive, and by noontime, there were 64 cars parked throughout the Beardsley property.

Pleased with the turnout, Beardsley said, “This is the most cars we’ve had participate.”

Richard Dormer, of Shelton, owner of a 1934 Ford Model A, agreed. A longtime friend of Dan and his father, Dave Beardsley, Dormer said he had participated in the two prior car meets in Shelton.

'People come from all over'

“It’s so friendly here,” Dormer said. “People come from all over. Dan is so generous and such a great supporter of antique cars.”

Accompanied by his friend Elizabeth Richter, also of Shelton, Dormer will drive the Model A in Memorial Day parades in Shelton and Newtown.

On the weekends, they enjoy taking it out for rides around the state. It’s a leisurely ride because the Model A’s can accelerate only up to 45 mph. “It’s fun,” Richter said.

They often travel with fellow vintage car owners who are members of the Auto Memories car club in Naugatuck. “We have to be selective about where we go, though, because we have to use back roads,” Dormer said.

‘A bumpy ride’ for a youngster

Molly Mohyde, 7, granddaughter of Bill Mohyde of Shelton, likes riding in the backseat of the family’s Model A four-door 1930 Town Sedan. “It’s a bumpy ride,” Molly said.

She felt like “a princess,” though, as they drove together in the antique vehicle to the Old Car Meet. “There are nice seats in it and it feels like you’re back in the old days,” Molly said.

However, she’s not too fond of the car’s horn. She also said the 80-year-old door handles can get stuck.

Mohyde smiled as he pointed out that he continually works on his antique vehicles. He also owns a 1931 two-seat coupe. “I’ve always loved cars,” Mohyde said.

Faster, sleek models in 1932

When the “more modern” Ford and Chevrolet cars were unveiled in 1932, Mohyde said, a lot of the Ford Model T’s and Model A’s were stored in barns and often forgotten. People wanted the faster, sleek vehicles, he said.

“That’s why it’s called a ‘barn find’ when someone discovers a Model T or A today,” Mohyde explained.

Several car enthusiasts said the rarest car on the Beardsley lot Saturday was a Ford 1930 Town Car. The driver’s side, designated for a chauffeur, had its own separate compartment.

“This was the limousine of the Ford Company,” Mohyde said. “It’s real rare to see one.”

A task for a teenage son

During his childhood, Beardsley watched his father restore many antique cars. “I started fiddling around with one when I was 15, and when I turned 16, my father gave it to me,” he said.

It was a 1928 Ford Model A. “I used to drive it all around,” Beardsley said. “I didn’t get very many dates with it, though.”

He gradually lost interest and the car sat in the garage until it was eventually sold. “When we started the cider barn and apple farm, though, I thought it would be nice to have an old truck out front,” Beardsley said. “This got me back into it.

“I bought a car,” he continued. “Then I bought another. Then I had to build a barn to put them in.”

Working full-time as an environmental scientist and at the family’s cider mill on the weekends, Beardsley also manages to find time to work on his treasured old cars.

He enjoys going to car shows as well. Beardsley said he was frequently disappointed by the lack of Model A’s on display at the shows.

When a good friend suggested he sponsor a car meet solely for Model T’s and Model A’s, he decided to give it a try in 2011. “It was a great success,” Beardsley said.