ZELIENOPLE — The clock was turned back in a portion of the borough Saturday afternoon.
The Butler Old Stone House Chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America had a number of cars on display at Four Corners Park.
Included was a 1922 Standard, a 1909 Huselton and 1941 Jeep. The club owns the first and maintains the other two for the city of Butler. All three were made in Butler, as was a 1939 Bantam car, which is owned by the Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau.
A previous president of the club, John Pro, drove the Huselton from Butler Regional Airport, where it is kept indoors, to Zelienople for the show.
Pro is a machinist, and that comes in handy when restoring antique automobiles.
“Parts for a Model T can be found fairly easily,” he said, “but for other old cars, if you need a part, you make it or have it made for you.
“I was helping Lee Bortmas, a Butler historian, restore an antique car years ago, and he took me to see other ones. I've been a member of the club for nine years.”
Al Zamba brought his 1932 Buick, but had his choice of 11 other automobiles. He keeps all of them in a car barn at his Forward Township property.
But it's much more sophisticated than it sounds.
“It has a heated floor, a kitchen ... there's no bed, but you could put one in. My oldest car in there is a 1904 Cadillac,” said Zamba.
“My brother was into old cars, and I became enthused through him back in the 1950s. It triggered my interest.”
Zamba said he used to buy antique cars and restore them.
“I'm getting older, just turned 80,” he said. “Now I look for cars that are already restored.”
Putting money, time and effort into anything can make it difficult if and when it's time to sell.
“I sold a car one time, it was a 1933 convertible,” Zamba said. “Sometimes I wish I hadn't let it go, but I bought several other cars with the money I made.”
The Butler chapter, which was formed in 1965, has 30-plus members who appreciate each other's love of antique cars.
“There's a lot of different models out there,” said Pro in regards to restoration. “You might not know much about a particular one, but you ask one of the other members and maybe he does, or maybe he knows somebody else who does. I'll help a member if he needs it because I know he would help me.”
Club President Doug Dawes, who resides in Meridian, was raised in Detroit, which was the center of automobile manufacturing in the early 20th century. That history grabbed his attention at a young age.
“My dad loved cars, and he would take us to an old-car festival every year when I was a kid,” Dawes said.
“In 2004, he said he didn't have room for a 1914 Hupmobile and gave it to me. That was my first antique car. I'm still in the process of restoring it, and it will probably end up costing me $15,000 by the time I'm done.”
Dawes also owns a 1948 Nash Ambassador and a 1962 Metropolitan.
Club members haven't been able to display their cars as much in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The cancellation of Butler's Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival and the Portersville Steam Show took away two events this summer.
“We did take some cars up to Diamond Park in Butler in July, got the OK from the city council,” said Dawes. “We hope to be in Portersville for a fall show in October.”
Antique Automobile Club of America has 340 chapters in the United States. Pennsylvania has the most with 37.
“That's probably because the national office is in Hershey, and Carlisle has a huge flea market where they sell all kinds of antique stuff. An antique car museum is also out that way,” said Pro, who owns a 1947 Willys Jeep.
“There's satisfaction in restoring, then you get to take it out and show it off,” he said. “I get enjoyment from both.”