A Long And Winding Road: Car club celebrates at Fort Smith Museum of History

A Long And Winding Road: Car club celebrates at Fort Smith Museum of History
BECCA MARTIN-BROWN
bmartin@nwadg.com

It has been a long and convoluted journey without a road map to follow, but on Feb. 26, the Fort Smith Antique Automobile Club will finally make its victory lap at the Fort Smith Museum of History. The car show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. marks the official opening of “60 Years On the Road,” an exhibition three years and one pandemic in the making.

The idea for the exhibition was pitched to the museum’s director, Caroline Speir, in 2019, as the car club prepared for its 60th anniversary. Speir said yes, “then, covid,” as she puts it simply. The exhibit actually opened in November of 2021, but the event Feb. 26 is the official opening celebration, she explains.

“Carl and Valorie Albertson gathered their club and organized the exhibition,” Speir explains. “They worked for more than a month, I believe, to bring in artifacts, signage, a 1925 Dodge through our loading dock — which is quite the feat! They worked to make sure the mementos and pieces of equipment that should light up, did. They were meticulous in trying to really showcase their organization. I think they did that very well.

“It’s ‘60 Years On The Road,’ and it shows,” she adds. “It’s very unique, and any car enthusiast and the general public will recognize the vintage pieces, but there’s a lot of detail and surprises in the exhibit that really add to the feeling of being [in] a vintage garage or auto shop.”

Created by the Fort Smith Antique Automobile Club, the exhibit “60 Years On The Road” officially opens Feb. 26 at the Fort Smith Museum of History. “It’s very unique, and any car enthusiast and the general public will recognize the vintage pieces, but there’s a lot of detail and surprises in the exhibit that really add to the feeling of being [in] a vintage garage or auto shop,” says the museum’s director, Caroline Speir. (Courtesy Photo)

For the past 60 years, the Fort Smith Antique Automobile Club has motored down the roads of Fort Smith, showcased their vehicles in local movies and weddings, participated in local events, assisted students with the “perfect vintage car for the perfect vintage shot” and offered the public a hands-on look at vintage automobiles along with antique auto memorabilia, machinery, parts and collectible items, the museum press release states. The club was created in 1962 by enthusiasts Paul Tucker, Gerald Meek, Ben Tankersley and Robert Fowler, who wanted to be able to get antique auto licenses for their vehicles.

“We have always had a love for the antique automobiles,” says Carl Albertson, who is current president of the Fort Smith Antique Automobile Club. “Being in auto glass for 40 years also gave me the opportunity to work on and drive various antique automobiles.”

The Albertsons first acquired a 1931 Ford Model A Coupe in 1994 and now own a 1929 Ford Model A Sedan, 1930 Ford Model A Closed Cab Pickup (near complete restoration), 1939 Oldsmobile 4 Door Sedan (60 Series), 1964 Dodge Step Side Pickup (originally owned by Valorie’s dad), 1965 Ford Mustang Convertible, 1965 Ford Mustang Coupe, “and various other project vehicles.”

The exhibit, they agree, was an “opportunity to share our club enthusiasm and love for the antique automobiles with others. We want to show the progression of the automobiles over the years.” They hope, they add, “our car show will spark an interest in visitors to become a vital part of our club by helping preserve the antique automobiles for future generations.”

The exhibit will feature an unrestored original 1925 Dodge Brothers Touring Car, a 1932 restored Chevrolet six-cylinder engine loaned by Hug Chevrolet, an original 1962 club sign, two vintage gas pumps, grills from early Ford vehicles, vintage auto signs, tools and other vintage auto memorabilia, Speir says.

“We have six antique vehicles in the museum,” she adds, including a 1920s buckboard wagon from the Lorenz & Vaughn Wagon Co. a 1908 Buick, a 1910 Telephone Utility Truck, a turn-of-the century doctor’s buggy, an early teens Model T, an 1898 Electric car donated by Mrs. Mardell McClurkin, and Fort Smith’s first fire engine, the 1911 J.J. Little.

“‘60 Years On The Road’ is a great compliment to the vehicles we already have on display, and it’s a wonderful teaching exhibition in general,” Speir enthuses. “Plus, the working auto signs and other memorabilia are really something to see!”

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FAQ

‘60 Years On The Road’

WHEN — Through June 4; a grand opening car show is set for 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 26

WHERE — Fort Smith Museum of History, 320 Rogers Ave.

COST — Regular admission is $2-$7; the car show is free

INFO — 783-7841, fortsmithmuseum.org

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FYI

Fort Smith Museum Of History

The museum’s mission is to collect, share, and preserve the history of Fort Smith and the area, says its director, Caroline Speir. In the case of “60 Years on the Road,” “since the collection on display is not ours, this would fall under the ‘share the history’ of Fort Smith. Also, it’s very important to the museum to remain available to the community so that we can offer time and space to organizations interested in an exhibition or display such as this.

“The Hardwood Tree Museum currently displays their exhibition in gallery space on the second floor, and in a smaller display area, the Junior League of Fort Smith uses available space to display their 75th anniversary exhibit.”

Museum hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Admission is $2 for children, $7 for adults.

Categories: Family Friendly