By Sally Ousley - The Daily News - Longview, WA
When John Chase saw the 1948 DeSoto Club Coupe in a Milwaukie, Ore., garage, he knew he had to have it.
Even though the old car had a few dents and a faded paint job, Chase, a member of the Beach Barons Car Club in Oysterville, believed he could make it look new. At the Planters' Days car show Sunday afternoon, the car gleamed like it had just come off the showroom floor.
"I took out the dents and painted it myself," Chase said as he carefully polished the chrome hood ornament. "I think there's only one other DeSoto here. It's an unusual car."
Chase, 64, is a retired postman and an avid car collector, born from a family tradition. His father owned a body and parts shop, so Chase always was around cars.
In addition to the DeSoto, he also has a '47 Ford sedan he takes to a dozen shows a year as far away as Reno, Nev., Redding, Calif., and Roseburg, Ore.
"It's a good hobby and you meet nice people," he said.
Chase doesn't know much about the DeSoto other than it has 120,000 miles on it and lived all its life in the Milwaukie area.
It can cruise nicely at 65 to 70 mph, Chase said, and gets 18 miles per gallon with its flat-head six-cylinder engine.
North County Cruisers, based in Ridgefield, sponsored Sunday's car show as well as Saturday night's cruise. Organizers estimated more than 450 cars lined Woodland's Davidson Avenue and side streets at the show.
Quentin Robbins of Woodland brought his 1936 English Austin Seven.
"You see plenty of Chevys and Fords here, but this is different," he said.
Robbins, 64, teaches at Lower Columbia College. He saw an advertisement for the Austin and bought it sight unseen three years ago from a man in Texas. It was not in good shape when it arrived.
"The hood was bent and the body was a mess," Robbins said. "But the undercarriage is in good shape."
Robbins said the car is special not only because it's becoming more rare as years pass, but because it has a unique history.
"They were only made between 1922 and 1939," he said. "Herbert Austin admired Henry Ford so much that he made this car to resemble the Model T. Of course it has a right-hand driver and it's smaller because roads are smaller in England."
The car has a 13.5 horsepower engine, does about 40 to 45 mph and it gets about 45 mpg. And because the brakes are mechanical, not hydraulic, Robbins said, "Every time you go to stop, you pray."
"I like it because of its funky British uniqueness," he said. "The British pride themselves on being unique. For instance, they call the hood a bonnet, the windshield a windscreen, the trunk a turtle, the fenders are wings, the lights are lamps and the traffic signals are trafficators."
"I hope to keep the car a long time," he said, but admitted there's a lot of work left to do on it. "Right now, it's like lint under the bed ---- you don't want to look too close."
To reach Sally Ousley, call (360) 575-6210 or e-mail email@example.com.
Planters' Days Parade awards
Mayor's Choice ---- Woodland Care Center
Queen's Choice ---- Morris Auto Supply
Military first place ---- Steve Preston's Army tank
Horse first place ---- Miss Fort Vancouver Rodeo Brandi Nichols
Children's Choice ---- Assembly of God Church
Pooper Scooper Award ---- Brandi Nichols' assistant
Band first place ---- Woodland High School Band
Hansen Family Frog Jumping Contest winners
First place, Grant Gajkowski, 5, La Center, $5
Second place, Dalaney Tuhilski, 7, $3
Third place, Kyla Cheatley, 11, $2
Largest frog, Emma McLendon, 7
Smallest frog, Kaitlyn Tuholski, 7
Prettiest frog, Ali Thomas, 10
Ugliest frog, Joshua Jordon, 12
There were 70 entries in the contest this year. The previous record of 159 inches by Byron Cole's frog in 1992 was not broken.