Sixty-four-year-old Glen Clark loves his car — never mind that it was made almost 30 years before he was born.
“You’ve got to love it,” the Quitman resident said Friday morning of his 1928-29 Ford Model A. “Because you’ve got to work on them to keep them going.”
Clark brought one of the more than 80 Model A cars that is gathering this week in Longview for the 58th annual Texas Tour, a three-day “relaxed” event that brings together lovers of the automobiles made from 1928 to 1931.
This year’s tour, hosted by the Autumn Trail A’s of Winnsboro and the Tyler Model A Ford Club, started Thursday with a welcome event at Wylde Acres in Longview.
At about 9 a.m. Friday, a line of the vintage vehicles — two- and four-door sedans, coupes and speedsters of various colors — lined up headed toward Alpine Road to snake their way north and “moseying along about 40-45 miles per hour” to Jefferson.
Clark, who is relatively new to the tours, having had his Model A about five years, said he is drawn to the car by its history and toughness.
“If these cars could talk, no telling what they’d say,” he said. “They made them pretty tough back in the day, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many of them still around today.”
Tour Chair David “Tex” Willis said there were about 100 vehicles registered for the tour and that most are from Texas, but registrants also came from Alabama, Missouri and New Mexico. Willis said he believes this year is the tour’s first in Longview, although it changes locations around the state each year.
“It’s a wonderful sight for folks young and old, especially for photographers, to see that many old Model As in one place at one time,” Willis said. “There’s nothing quite like chugging along in a Model A Ford on a rural country road, especially in the Piney Woods of East Texas.”
The caravan trips on the tours lead to the destination city’s downtown, where Model A drivers and passengers can explore historical sites as well as shop and eat.
Another caravan is scheduled to leave Wylde Acres, at 2864 Smelley Road, at 9 a.m. today and head to downtown Kilgore. The vehicles are expected to arrive into Kilgore on FM 1247.
“This casual weekend experience and tours should create some great memories for folks and the East Texas towns,” said Nate Rominger of Kilgore, who is one of the tour’s co-chairs.
Rominger, 43, said he became interested in old cars by working on them with his father, adding that he learned to drive on a Model A.
He said after he got his driver’s license, he and his friends would go driving in his Model A and that he noticed how other people would react to the car.
“It really just tickled my fancy, seeing people smile,” he said.
He took the Model A one time and did donuts in the parking lot of a local business. Someone noticed the distinct vehicle, and his dad quickly found out. He said it was the first time he was grounded from driving.
“It just went fast enough not to get in too much trouble,” Rominger said.
Bob Myers, 82, said he restored the vehicles until he turned 80.
Myers, of Bedford, said he got interested in Model As because he “likes old things and the fact that they keep going” and also expressed interest in attracting new enthusiasts for the old cars.
“We’re trying to get younger people interested to keep the hobby going,” he said.
Bob Johnson of Beaumont, however, cautions would-be hobbyists that there are limitations to consider.
One of the challenges Model A owners face is a relatively low cruising speed for the vehicles.
“We’re talking 45 to 50 miles an hour,” said Johnson, who was at the tour with his wife, Pam. “So, life changes dramatically when you drive a Model A. You have to learn the back roads, and you have to learn to slow down in life. And if you’re not willing to accept that, then the Model A is not for you.”