Vintage vehicles on display at classic car show
Erwin Zimmermann drove 310 miles from Maine to showcase an impeccable 1954 Bentley Continental he purchased in 1971.
Unlike many of the car owners at the event, who found their rides on eBay or Craigslist, Zimmermann found the Bentley in the Sunday New York Times, listed under classic cars.
“The owner of the car also had a 1930s Bentley that he wanted to restore, so his wife said you can restore one or the other, you can’t do both,” Zimmermann said from behind the steering wheel. “So he offered this one for sale.”
Asked how it runs, Zimmermann said not a word. He flipped a switch and turned a key, starting the engine with the smooth hum he’s been listening to for over 40 years.
Asked for the car’s value – a 2012 Bentley Continental GT retails for $189,000 – he said he had no idea.
“It’s only valuable when you want to sell it, and I have no intentions of selling it,” he said.
Bedford Police Chief John Bryfonski was also on the scene, standing proudly next to the sky blue ’66 Corvette he’s owned for 31 years. He said he recently finished the car he had been working on for the last eight years.
“Basically soup to nuts,” Bryfonski said, explaining the scope of work he’s done on the car. “The motor and the transmission have all been rebuilt. I rebuilt the rear suspension and the front end suspension.”
A colleague in law enforcement rebuilt the engine and transmission over the course of a year, Bryfonski said – a favor between friends.
The chief gave kudos to Buxton, Maine-based restorer Jamie Chadbourne, who he said it took two years to find. “It’s a special person that knows how to work with fiberglass, and he’s truly amazing.”
Of the more memorable vehicles was a 1973 Steyr Daimler Pinzgauer all-terrain vehicle. It’s owner, Bedford resident Dave Dewyngaert, said it was used for a period by the Swiss army as a radio command center. For kicks, he hooked up a trailer to the back, boasting a 2010 Kawasaki KLX motorcycle.
A 1921 Ford Model-T with wooden slat floorboards highlighted the evolution from wagon to automobile, as a string of 300-ZX Nissans caused one spectator to recall Paul Newman’s role in making the car famous.
Jeff Chamberlin of Windham brought his mint 1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser – the model his father drove during family vacations.
“It’s actually the car that they used in That 70s Show,” he said. “The ’69 in that show is the same type, with a few styling changes.”
The split skylights over the second row of seats are what makes the Vista Cruiser unique. “The roof glass is the big draw with this car, and the third seat is a little unusual,” Chamberlin said.
Instead of facing the rear, as most models had, the third row of seating faces the front of the car. Chamberlin outlined the car’s origins. “It belonged to someone that lived in Alabama, and his brother took it to Florida and restored it and the original owner passed away and the brother inherited it,” he said.
Another brother, based in Virginia, listed the car and that’s where Chamberlin got his hands on it. Brad Mousseau of Bedford was at the show with his 1954 Austin Healey 100 – a car he said was the fastest in its category when it was released.
“I bought it eight years ago for $10,000 and it was a mess,” Mousseau said, recalling the massive rust damage that had overtaken the machine.
“But I was so intent on getting this car I bought it anyways,” he said. “It took me eight years to get the whole thing finished. I took it all apart but couldn’t get it back together.”
One of the car’s highlight’s is the fold-down windscreen, allowing the driver to a blast of air to the face if he so desires.
“This is to give you the air in the face kind of coolness,” Mousseau said with a grin. “I have goggles and a helmet.”
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