Southampton Historical Museum Hosts Antique Car Show


Behind almost every antique car lies a great story, and there were plenty of tales told during the seventh annual Southampton Historical Museum Antique Car Show, held on museum grounds on Saturday.

Though last year’s event was rained out, this year’s show featured an abundance of sunshine for all the car aficionados who showed up in Southampton Village. Approximately 20 cars were featured in the show, with many of the models on display ranging from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Bob Beck has been a trustee at the Southampton Historical Museum for eight years and, being an antique car owner himself, explained that he wanted to bring a show to the East End. That is why he has been coordinating the event since it made its debut.

“Guys who come to this show love this show because we have the gorgeous trees and the shade,” he said. “And it’s laid back—we’re not judging anything. Just a good time to get together and that’s what make these shows.”

Arthur French of Wainscott was with a group of friends who brought their cars down for the show. He owns a 1951 Mercury convertible, one of the many rare automobiles on-hand on Saturday. There are only about 60 such vehicles left in the country, he explained, noting that only 6,700 were manufactured.

“We all go together to car shows,” Mr. French said. “We tailgate and have the grandest time. All of the people in this hobby are the nicest people you want to be around.”

Of course, Mr. French had a story of how he found his beloved car. About 30 years ago he went to Pittsburgh with a friend to look at a 1949 Mercury, but he did not like it. The next morning, his friend was reading the newspaper and saw that several classic cars were for sale in Circleville, Ohio, another seven-hour journey to the west.

Mr. French and his friend made the trip to the owner’s home, where he had a number of classic cars lined up. The 1951 Mercury that Mr. French currently owns was stored in a corner, with a cover on it. The owner originally said it wasn’t for sale, but because of problems with the IRS, he later contacted Mr. French and eventually sold him the car.

“It’s one of the nicest cars around,” he said. “It’s just an exceptional car. These are our babies.”

Michael Kowalski of East Hampton owns a 1960 Chevrolet Corvette convertible, which is in pristine condition. He said he bought the car six years ago in Massapequa, but found out that it originally came from Texas.

“I like to think that, at one point in its life, it rode on Route 66,” he said with a big smile.

Peter Lee, who splits his time between East Northport and North Sea, owns a 1956 Studebaker Sky Hawk. He can be seen driving it every summer during Southampton Village’s annual Fourth of July parade.

Only 66 Sky Hawks are currently registered in the country, and only four are in New York State. What is even more surprising, Mr. Lee explained, is that only 5 percent of the ones that were originally produced have survived because they were all driven into the ground.

The car that caught everyone’s attention on Saturday, though, was a 1949 Chrysler Town and Country owned by George Kreissle of Sarasota, Florida, and Hampton Bays. The Town and Country is widely popular for its very long appearance and wooden features.

Mr. Kreissle explained that he owns older and more valuable cars, including a 1931 Rolls Royce, that he keeps at his home in Hampton Bays, but that the Town and Country can keep up with today’s traffic.

“I got this [car] last year and I’m very happy with it,” he said. “It hasn’t let me down. It gets a lot more attention than other more valuable cars.”

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