Friday, May 26, 2000

They’re an abandoned but well-loved lot

They’re an abandoned but well-loved lot
The Ann Arbor News
By Pamela Appea

Photo Caption: Orphan Car Show
An Arbor resident Bob Elton will drive his 1937 LaSalle, left, and his 1937 Hudson Terraplane to the fourth annual Orphan Car Show in Ypsilanti’s Riverside Park June 4.

The cars to be shown in the upcoming Orphan Car Show share the distinction of having being discontinued by their manufacturers.

The best thing about Ypsilanti’s Orphan Car Show is that you can see cars you never get a chance to see anywhere else, said Bob Elton, a veteran car collector.

Elton, an Ann Arbor resident, has two 1937 antique cars he’s taking—and driving—to the fourth annual show in Riverside Park next week.

Jack Miller, curator of the Ypsilanti automotive museum and an orphan car-show coordinator, said several hundred people will show dozens of car models at the June 4 event. An estimated 3,000 to 5,000 spectators are expected to attend.

The event, the first of its kind in the Midwest, is called the “orphan” car show because automobiles such as Hudsons, Kaisers, Dusenbergs, Ramblers and Tuckers have been “abandoned” by their parent manufacturer, event coordinators said.

Elton bought his 1937 Terraplane, made by Hudson Motor Car Co., in 1979.

“I bought it in pieces and brought it home in pieces,” Elton recalled. It took nearly eight years to repair the cream-colored car to the point it was fully functional, he said.

“You just keep plugging away at it; you can’t rush it,” Elton said. Luckily for him, the only Hudson parts shop in the world is in Ypsilanti.

“I’ve always liked Hudsons. When I was real little, I can remember the new 1949 Hudson. It was a sleek, bullet-shaped car,” he said.

Elton was so fascinated by the Hudson model, he said, that he used to draw picture upon picture of the car.

He brought his first Hudson—a 1950 model—in 1972 and drove it to a Detroit-area car show. “The more I studied up on Hudsons, the more I learned about them,” Elton said. “They were a small company that did big things.”

Eugene M. Silverman, a Superior Township resident, will show his 1956 Citroen at the show. Silverman said it will be his first Ypsilanti orphan car show.

Silverman enjoys collecting French cars, particularly Citroens. Back in the 1960s, he was in the army and stationed in France. An acquaintance drove up one day in a Citroen and Silverman fell in love with the model, he said.

“It’s lived its life in Paris,” Silverman said of the model he currently owns.

In 1976, Silverman, with his wife, returned to France, and instead of renting a modern car, they bought the 1956 black Citroen.

“This is quite a historic car to the French. In its day—the car was basically built from 1934 to 195700 … it was very innovative,” Silverman said.

Citing the Citroen’s unibody and front-wheel construction, the car was built in a modern way, Silverman said. “In a sense it was a forerunner of what modern cars would be like,” Silverman said.

The car, in its prime, was built to go up to 85 miles per hour but Silverman said he does not drive it faster than 65. With four doors, four seats and a very spacious interior, Silverman said it makes for a “very comfortable ride.” In contrast, Silverman’s other Citroen, a 1923 model which he bought in 1973, was made to go about 30 miles per hour but it is not very stable, he said.

“I wouldn’t dare drive it over 25 miles (an hour),” Silverman said.

The 1923 Citroen, which used to go to Greenfield Village’s Henry Ford Museum displays, has one door and seats two people, Silverman said.

The Ypsilanti Orphan Car Show will also feature Cushman, Indian and Henderson motor scooters and motorcycles along with Federal al-Knight, Garford and Gotfredson trucks, event organizers said.

Company executives from DaimerChrysler and other automotive companies will provide a narration of each company’s history.

The Details
The event will take place June 4 from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Admission for spectators is $3. For more information, call Jack Miller, curator of the Ypsilanti Automative Heritage Collection at (734) 482-5200 or call the Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at (734) 482-4444. The bureau’s Website is

Originally published Friday, May 26. 2000