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Howard County Haycation

Fifty cars participated in the 2015 Orphan Car Tour, held on Saturday, June 6 in Howard County, Maryland.

This year's Tour, nicknamed “The Howard County Haycation”, was the 26th annual version of the event, which gives owners of “orphan” (discontinued-make) cars the chance to drive their vehicles over rural, low speed roads in the company of other orphan enthusiasts.

Howard County Haycation

Despite the prediction of showers, the day was dry and partly sunny, and temperatures reached the high seventies by mid-afternoon. Drivers gathered at the Howard County Fairgrounds near West Friendship at 9:00 AM in the morning, and the tour got underway an hour later.

As cars left the Fairgrounds they were photographed for a keepsake photos (subsequently e-mailed to each car owner). Then, drivers were handed printed directions and were dispatched, alternately, onto one of three routes ranging from 46 to 54 miles in length. The routes generally covered the same territory but sometimes cars were sent in opposite directions, assuring that many cars encountered one another during the course of the day.

Six stops were included on the tour. They included Gene and Betty Sauter's private collection of antique cars, the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum in Catonsville, Frank's Garage outside Ellicott City (an auto repair facility now in its 73rd year), Breezy Hill Farm in Woodbine (home to alpaca, peacocks, ostriches and a host of other animals), the Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum, and Alex's Ice Cream Stand in Lisbon.

Howard County Haycation

The Tour included the traditional (and infamous!) “quiz”: a printed list of questions given to each driver, designed to test one's perceptive abilities regarding sights observed at each of the stops along the way. Test sheets were tabulated later and a prize was awarded to the team giving the most correct answers.

Cars began returning to the Fairgrounds at 2:00 P.M. and at 3:00 a buffet dinner was served to 104 participants. Photos of all cars on the tour were projected onto the wall during dinner. Afterwards, the “quiz” award was presented to the winners, John and Judy Boksz of Parkville, Md., driving a 1966 AMC Marlin. Gary and Janice Masie won the “long distance” award; they drove 239 miles to the Tour from their home in Clinton, New Jersey. Also recognized were Ed and Ann Hilbush of West Chester, Pa., whose 1912 Flanders Model 20 roadster was the oldest car driven on the tour.

Howard County Haycation

Participants or tour staff drove cars representing 14 defunct companies, motor divisions or nameplates. American Motors Corporation was the most heavily represented, with nine cars; the Packard, Studebaker, Hudson (including Essex and Terraplane) and DeSoto marques were next, with four cars each. Brand names represented by one or two cars each, included Flanders, MG, Mercury, Morris, Oldsmobile, Plymouth and Pontiac. A pre-War Wolseley (British) was driven to dinner at the end of the tour. In addition there were two Thunderbirds (Ford), two Corvairs (Chevy) and a Chrysler Imperial Airflow, and though their manufacturers are still very much “alive”, the models themselves are discontinued. (A couple of the cars on the tour were modern “Brand-X's”, driven by owners whose vintage “orphans” were under repair.)

Howard County Haycation

This year's event was put together and run by the DeSoto Owners Club of Maryland, whose members had worked on the tour since January. Tom and Anne Kenney acted as Tour Directors and they were assisted by fellow DeSoto club members Bob and Kathy Baer, Mike and Jonathan Bianco, Willis and Janice Terrett, and Bill Wurzell. Bill and Susan Johnson (from Mid-Atlantic Packards), and Jon Battle (from the Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the Hudson club) assisted also. Harley Smith (of the Potomac Ramblers chapter of the AMC / Rambler Club) is the Tour's Treasurer. This year's event was different from previous tours in that all drivers had to pre-register not only for the meal, but for the tour as well. This was necessitated by the logistics of moving dozens of cars in and out of the many stops along the route.
Howard County Haycation

The Orphan Car Tour takes place in a different geographical location in the Baltimore / Washington region each year. It is designed to encourage the driving enjoyment of antique “orphan” (discontinued-make) automobiles. Sponsors include Mid-Atlantic Packards (a region of the Packard Club), the Potomac Chapter of the Studebaker Drivers' Club, the Keystone Region Chapter of the SDC, the DeSoto Owners Club of Maryland, the Potomac Ramblers Chapter of the AMC/Rambler Club, and the Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Club.

Photos courtesy of Bob Baer except as noted. This article was written by the Orphan Tour staff and appeared in Old Cars Weekly.

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