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Antique Car Club Drives New Interest in Old Cars, Automotive History

Some of the oldest cars in Santa Barbara are on display at Antique Automobile Car Association’s annual summer picnic at Carriage Museum

Dana Newquist, center, with his vintage 1906 Locomobile. Newquist is president of the Santa Barbara chapter of the Antique Automobile Car Association. The appeal of antique cars, he says, is that “you can fix forever, so they’re going to be around forever. Plus, they have unique body styles that you’ll never see again.” Click to view larger
Dana Newquist, center, with his vintage 1906 Locomobile. Newquist is president of the Santa Barbara chapter of the Antique Automobile Car Association. The appeal of antique cars, he says, is that “you can fix forever, so they’re going to be around forever. Plus, they have unique body styles that you’ll never see again.” (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

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More than a century of automotive history was on display Sunday afternoon at the annual summer picnic of the Antique Automobile Car Association’s Santa Barbara regional chapter.

Held at the Carriage and Western Art Museum of Santa Barbara next to Pershing Park, the owners of some of the oldest cars around gathered to show off their wheels and enjoy some good old-fashioned barbecue.

Santa Barbara’s antique car culture is a strong one, regional president Dana Newquist told Noozhawk, with about 115 members in the local chapter.

Although any vehicle over 25 years old can qualify as an antique with the AACA, many of the cars lining the museum’s back lot had that beaten by several decades, like Newquist’s own 1906 Locomobile with a 1926 engine and drivetrain.

Much of the fascination attached to antique cars, Newquist said, is rooted in their durability.

When the new technology and electronics that are integral to the functioning of today’s vehicles become obsolete and manufacturers stop carrying their parts, fixing up and restoring them becomes exceedingly difficult.

“Let’s say you have a burned-out resistor — if you can’t get the parts, what do you do?” he asked “You throw away the car.”

Antique cars, on the other hand, “you can fix forever, so they’re going to be around forever,” he added. “Plus, they have unique body styles that you’ll never see again.”

Considerable time and effort is needed to take those vintage vehicles and make them not just reliably drivable, but, in the case of Newquist’s Locomobile, capable of handling freeway speeds.

“It can take five years or more just to restore a car, and then it always requires some kind of maintenance,” he said.

“You might spend at least an hour a month” working on one, he added.

The AACA is the largest auto club in the world, he said, with chapters across the United States.

Because it covers all marquees — or car brands — it’s become the go-to place for antique car enthusiasts, especially for those whose vehicles lack a corresponding marque club.

The AACA Santa Barbara chapter meets monthly at Harry’s Plaza Café at 3313 State St. in Loreto Plaza. Anyone interested in joining the association or getting involved can contact Newquist at [email protected].

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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