His classic cars always the hit at Savage Fest

May 06, 1994|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Sun Staff Writer

Bernard "Bernie" Wines gets around like an old-timer -- either in his 1928 sky-blue Model A Ford pickup truck or his black 1938 Plymouth.

"I've always loved old cars," says the 56-year-old Mr. Wines, admiring his two prized vehicles and smiling. "These old cars draw a lot of interest."

Now that the weather is warm and sunny, Mr. Wines spends most weekends taking one of his antique cars for a spin around his hometown of Savage. But his truck and his car get the most attention during the annual Savage Fest parade, which will be held the first weekend in June.

The parade is run by the Savage Volunteer Fire Department. Mr. Wines' cars are among the biggest hits at the festival, which annually attracts 8,000 to 10,000 people to the historic mill town.

"Everybody in town looks forward to seeing the cars," says Corrinne Arnold, the Savage resident who started Savage Fest in 1990. "I think people are just kind of proud to have people in our community who are involved in [antique cars]."

Mr. Wines, a lifelong Savage and Laurel area resident and a bridge builder by trade, even constructed a mini-museum for his vehicles, a three-car brick garage in his back yard. The third bay remains empty, awaiting another antique car to join the collection.

"Of course, he built that museum three years ago, but my car [an Oldsmobile] still sits on the street," says his wife, Janet Wines.

Although Mrs. Wines would like to see a 1964 1/2 , midyear edition Mustang fill that vacancy, Mr. Wines says he's not that particular. "Oh, any old car will do," he says. "I've just always favored the old cars."

Although Mr. Wines would not say how much he paid for his cars, he says such models typically cost from $3,500 to $7,000. He keeps them shiny and running just as they did on the day they moved off the assembly line.

His 4-cylinder Model A pickup truck, for example, goes about 35 to 40 mph. It has a narrow cab big enough to seat two slender people on the brown vinyl seats, and a bed big enough for one bale of hay. It also has special tires, about 6 inches wide, with spokes like a bicycle wheel.

The windshield has only one 8-inch wiper blade that must be operated by hand with a lever inside the cab. "You've got to do it all yourself," Mr. Wines says. "Don't get caught in a downpour."

The hardest part of operating the old pickup truck is the mechanical brakes, because they sometimes take a while to slow down the vehicle.

"You better have plenty of room to stop or else you'd run over half of the kids in town," Mr. Wines says. "But everybody likes [the truck] better than the car."

The Plymouth, painted black, with 3-inch whitewalls and room to comfortably seat a family of six adults -- ("It looks like a gangster car," says Mrs. Wines) -- is the one Mr. Wines drives the most.

It has a tan cloth interior and two "suicide doors," rear doors that have their hinges in the rear, instead of in the front. They are called that because "when you stepped out into traffic, you usually got clobbered," Mr. Wines says.

Because of its weight and sturdy construction, "this thing rides just as smooth as that Cadillac," says Mr. Wines, pointing to the family's 1991 Cadillac.

Mr. Wines admits that, however much as he likes his old cars, there are some drawbacks, compared with modern vehicles. There is no air conditioning or heat, for example, and no automatic signals, forcing him to use hand signals instead.

"Those fellas who said, 'There ain't nothing like the good ole days,' never drove one of these things," Mr. Wines says. "They're a lot of work."

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