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South Mountain Saunter

The following article detailing the 2011 Orphan Car Tour is authored by Jon Battle.

Sunny skies, beautiful scenery, a record number of vehicles and two fascinating collections made the 22nd annual Orphan Car Tour a memorable one for its participants. Sixty-four cars and trucks were driven on the tour. Two of those sixty-four cars, a 1912 REO and a 1916 Moline-Knight, were the oldest ever driven on one of our Orphan Car Tours.

The vehicles embarked onto the tour from the Jefferson, MD. Ruritan Club on the morning of June 4, 2011 as the "South Mountain Saunter" got underway. For the first time ever, the Tour offered a choice of three different routes, ranging from 36 to 57 miles in length. The routes crisscrossed one another and weaved around and over South Mountain in western Frederick County, site of an important three-part Civil War battle which occurred three days before the more famous battle of Antietam. The area's rural character made it ideal for enjoyable touring.

South Mountain Saunter

Each of the three routes offered different sights to those who took them, but all three included a stop at the 30-vehicle collection of Rob Burchill (Rob, standing right on the left photo insert), who lives outside Burkittsville. Vehicles displayed there ranged from a 1909 REO to a 1986 Ram Charger truck, and the extensive garage complex includes much historic memorabilia as well.

Burchill devised this year's tour routes and helped organize the tour. Before participants left the property, their cars were photographed on the front lawn for a keepsake picture, with a scenic view of the valley beyond as a backdrop (pictured below).

South Mountain Saunter

Two of the routes featured a stop at the Minneapolis-Moline tractor collection of Charles Smith. Among the 44 restored farm machines are two of the company's rarest vehicles: a 1938 "Comfortractor", and a 1943 "Jeep". The Comfortractor was a stylish tractor intended to double as a family car. The "Jeep" was actually larger and more powerful than the Willys and Ford Jeeps of the era.

South Mountain Saunter

While two of the tours included the Orphan Tour's signature "road quiz" (with printed questions about things glimpsed along the way), the longest tour was "for pleasure only". It included a stop at Catoctin Pottery, a pottery shop in an ancient grist mill along a scenic stretch of gravel road.

Each of the routes passed one or more times through Burkittsville, an amazingly well-preserved 19th century village surrounded by verdant fields and pastures. At the end of the day, 90 participants and Tour helpers gathered at the Burkittsville Ruritan Club (pictured below) for a country style buffet prepared by Club volunteers.

After the buffet, various awards were given for achievements during the tour. First place for the road quiz was won by James Showers; second place, by Maurice Zimmerman; third place by Harley Smith. The oldest car (the REO) was driven by Harry Wellens. The Hard Luck award went to Lewis Mendenhall. Long Distance Award went to Tom Mancino, who drove 223 miles from Iselin, N.J. (This earned him the "Over Yonder" trophy which measures 27" high, and is sponsored by Jewells, a car enthusiast from Williamsport, Md.).

South Mountain Saunter

Twenty-four different marques were represented by vehicles on this year's tour: Studebaker and Avanti, 10 cars; Packard, 8; AMC (including Metropolitan), 7; Pontiac, 5; Corvair, Olds and DeLorean, 3; Hupmobile, Willys, Hudson and Ford, 2 each. "Onesies" included Austin, Checker, DeSoto, Imperial, Mercury, Moline Knight, Morris Minor, Mustang, Nash, Thunderbird, Triumph and REO. (A handful of "modern iron" snuck in, and one car managed to slip through unidentified.).

Tour staffers this year included Harley Smith, Treasurer, Bill Johnson, Registration, and Jon Battle, Publicity Coordinator. Other volunteers included John Bunn, Paulela and Harriett Burchill, Michael Harris, Rick and Brenda Sanford, Matt Stegle, Lee and Jannine Sutherland, Putt Willett and Mike Zerega.

The Orphan Car Tour is run annually to promote the driving enjoyment of antique or "orphan cars." That is, vehicles at least 25 years old which were produced either by now-defunct manufacturers or by the discontinued divisions of still-existing companies. Each year it moves to a different part of the greater Baltimore-Washington area.

South Mountain Saunter

The Tour was sponsored this year by Mid-Atlantic Packards, the Potomac Chapter of the Studebaker Driver's Club, the Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Club, the Potomac Ramblers Chapter of the AMC / Rambler Club, and the DeSoto Owners Club of Maryland.

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