NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - There are seven divisions of the Early Ford V-8 Car Club across Texas. For 38 years members gather for one big convention. This year the Houston club hosts it, but they wanted to get out of 'Big H' and experience a slower pace of life, so they came to Nacogdoches.
Over 100 Classic Fords are lined up in front of the Fredonia Hotel. So are the automobile owners.
"They had a murder back here. A man choked his car to death," quipped the first of several men sitting in hotel chairs placed outside the hotel's front door by the bell captain. It was the best way for him to get his luggage carrier back, which a couple of men had commandeered.
Jokes came from one end of the sidewalk. Engine talk came from the other.
"Oh, heck. There's no telling. Maybe 100 of 'em, those old flathead motors," was overheard.
Flathead motors. This is a member's ticket into the club.
"That's what this club is all about, flathead cars, original cars with flathead motors from 1935 to 1953 is when they quit building 'em," explained Lloyd Holcomb, a collector from Lake Fork, Texas.
Don Jones of Houston raised the hood of his very rare 1934 Ford Roadster. "And at the time it was about the fastest car on the streets back in 1934," said Jones. And how fast would that have been? "This car, well, I"ve had it up to 75 miles an hour," shared Jones.
Another plus about the cars is everything is at your fingertips.
"Seeing if they made any success on that ford, the one with the broke crank shaft on it," one owner said while making his way down the sidewalk.
Unlike the cars of today, mechanics can put their hands on the part. "You can reach this stuff," said Dan Marshall of Manchek, Texas. He had already repaired the crankshaft and was busy installing a water pump.
The V-8 engines, placed within durable and affordable car bodies, made Henry Ford a legend. He's respected to this day.
"Well, I just like old Fords," said Hardy Johnson of Liberty Hall, Texas. He owns three classics. "I've driven them to California, Washington state, and North Carolina," said the elderly gentleman.
Once a Ford man always a Ford man. Gordon Fenner of Longview drives a '49 Ford convertible, just like the one he had in high school. "It does bring the memories back," said Fenner. His car drove extremely smooth and a passenger just sinks into the plush upholstery.
Today, the car is somewhat of a celebrity. "It was just featured in the Hemming's Classic Car Magazine of the May issue," said the proud Fenner.
There are others, just as pretty, depending on your taste. "Anybody out there who wants to come down to see 'em, they'll be here through probably Sunday morning," said Fenner.
And if you're lucky, you can pull up a chair for a trip down memory lane.
While the men were swappin' tales, their wives were contributing to the local economy. A morning shopping trip kept them busy in on the brick streets. Good thing the old cars have big trunks.
Some ladies shopped until they dropped. One shopper was taking a quick cat nap on the hotel's lobby couch. The total economic impact of the "Texas tour" will be over $131,000 for the city.
Everyone will be rested up by Saturday when all the cars will be on display from 12 to 1:30 at the Pine Creek Country Inn. That's on Farm to Market Road 2782, a road that runs between Highway 7 west and FM 225.