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What is the Orphan Car Tour

The Orphan Car Tour is an annual afternoon-long driving tour with many relaxing stops along the route for antique "orphan" (i.e. discontinued make, not models) automobiles held every June in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area. Each year since the tour began back in 1990, the tour has taken place in different locations in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The tour's purpose is to encourage the driving enjoyment of "orphaned" automobile marques

Who is Eligible

The Tour is open to "orphan" antique cars defined as automobiles at least 25 years old, which were produced either by now-defunct manufacturers, or by the discontinued divisions of still-existing companies.

Who Organizes

The Tour is organized and run by a group of dedicated volunteers! Many of them are associated with six local (i.e. Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.) sponsoring chapters of national "orphan" car clubs. There is no "Orphan Tour Club" as such.

Who Sponsors

The Orphan Car Tour is sponsored by a coalition of independent-make "orphan" car clubs in the Baltimore-Washington area: Mid-Atlantic Packards (a region of the Packard Club), the Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Club, the Potomac Chapter, and the Keystone Region Chapter of the Studebaker Drivers Club, the  Potomac Ramblers Chapter of the American Motors Corporation (AMC) Rambler Club (AMCRC) & American Motors Owners Association (AMO), the Desoto Owners Club of Maryland affiliate of the National DeSoto Club (NDC), Incorporated.

There is no "Orphan Car Tour Club" as such.

If your Baltimore - Washington area orphan car club would like to join us as a sponsor, please contact Jon Battle at the e-mail below :


Why So Popular

In recent years Orphan Tours have attracted 50-64 vehicles annually, with over 100 people attending the dinner afterwards. Why the popularity? Many different reasons. First, it's just the fun of touring over scenic back roads, seeing new areas, visiting parks, historic buildings or private collections that you've never seen before. It's also about viewing rare and obscure cars, and seeing them being driven, not displayed in a hot asphalt parking lot. But most of all, the Orphan Tour is about people: meeting new people and encountering old friends, learning about other peoples' cars and educating others about your car as well.

Come out and join us at a future Orphan Car Tour!


What to Expect
The Orphan Car Tour is an annual afternoon long driving tour for antique "orphan" (discontinued make) automobiles held every June in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area. Each year since the Orphan Car Tour began in 1990, the Tour has taken place in different locations in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

The tour's purpose is to encourage the driving enjoyment of orphaned and independently-produced antique vehicles. Pictured at left is an example of an 'orphaned' make automobile, a 1969 American Motors Corporation (AMC), American Motors Experiment (AMX) . The AMC make is no longer in existence. Additionally, the AMX was only produced from 1968 to 1970 (the following year AMXs were simply specially optioned Javelins).

Over the years we've welcomed cars bearing such long-lasting nameplates as AMC, Alvis, Avanti, DeSoto, Durant, Edsel, Essex, Flanders, Franklin, Frazier, Graham, Hudson, Kaiser, LaSalle, Metropolitan, Moline Knight, Nash, Packard, Rambler, Reo, Stearns-Knight, Sterling, Studebaker, Terraplane, and Willys. Depending upon the year of the tour, we've attracted as many as 118 attendees and over 64 cars.

The formula is simple, with some variations from year to year. There's a route of between 30 to 70 miles passing through a mixture of picturesque rural areas and quaint towns. Each driver is given a printed direction sheet and proceeds at his or her own speed. Each car's navigator reads the directions, and also tries to answer written questions regarding sights glimpsed along the way. Often there are one, two, or even three stops along the route, where participants can visit a historic site, private collection or museum, enjoy some ice cream or a drink, or just stop and stretch. At the end of the afternoon we congregate for a buffet-style meal where awards are given for various achievements.

For example, on many tours the direction sheets ask quiz questions about various sights glimpsed along the route. Those perceptive enough to answer the most questions correctly, can win awards. Other awards go to the oldest car, longest distance traveled to the tour, and driver experiencing the worst misfortune during the day.

It's a great afternoon for the entire family, even for passengers with a minimal interest in old cars! On the Orphan Car Tour, an antique car becomes the "vehicle" for enjoying a great outing with friends or family, and is not merely a static object of veneration on a hot show field. Please consider participating with us in a future Orphan Car Tour!


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