If you’re looking for a place to display your antique or classic car and spend a weekend with like-minded people, consider adding the annual Swigart Meet in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania to your schedule. Not only will you see plenty of outstanding cars at the meet, but you can then go into the nearby museum to see even more incredible vehicles, including rare – and even unique – cars.
Prior Swigart Meets have featured the following cars:
- 1925 Packard four-door sedan
- 1968 Honda Dream motorcycle
- 1979 Lincoln Continental Mark V Limousine (formerly owned by Conrad Hilton)
- 1960 Austin Healey Sprite
- 1976 Pontiac Trans-Am Coupe
- 1999 Plymouth Prowler
Find photos and more information about the 2014 meet here. And, if you attend in 2015, be sure to visit the museum that co-sponsors the meet.
William E. Swigart, Jr. Automobile Museum
The National Association of Automobile Museums has only given out three Lifetime Achievement Awards: to Henry Ford, William F. Farrah (National Automobile Museum) and W. Emmett Swigart.
- Emmett Swigart may have been the first person to recognize the value in collecting old cars, first sharing his collection in 1920, after watching beat up vehicles being dismantled for parts. This was an era when many entrepreneurs tried their hand at car manufacturing, with typically small production runs – most of which haven’t been in production for a long time now.
He passed on his love of unique cars to his son, William E. Swigart, Jr., who opened the William E. Swigart, Jr. Automobile Museum in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.
Billed as the oldest museum for automobiles, it contains rare cars, including these three one-of-a-kind treasures:
- 1936 Duesenberg 12-cylinder Gentlemen Speedster with 160 hp; a Lycoming L-head, V-12 engine; 390.8 ci; and 3 speed manual transmission. Two of these cars were built, but one was lost in a fire. The one in the museum was previously owned by actor Jackie Coogan.
- 1916 Scripps-Booth, a luxury vehicle built in Detroit; this was the year that Scripps-Booth merged with the Sterling Motor Company, with a goal to build 12,000 cars in just one year.
- 1920 Carroll Six: one of the previous owners, Eric Johnson, used scrap airplane parts from a WWII PT19 Fairchild trainer engine to repair the vehicle; more about the Carroll Six later.
This is the only museum with two Preston Tucker vehicles, located side-by-side, including his hand built 1947 Tin Goose Prototype. Plus, this museum may have the largest license plate and radiator emblem collection in the country.
Overall, there are approximately 200 vehicles in the collection, with 35 to 40 on them on display at any one time. Other rare cars include:
- 1930 Model J dual-cowl phaeton, a “straight-eight” with dual overhead cams and 265 hp
- 1903 Curved Dash Oldsmobile, one of 3,924 of this model built in this year, the third year of production for the company
- 1910 Winton Six Model 17-B, with 48.6 hp and a cost of $3,000 when brand new (more than $73,000 in today’s dollars)
Advance Auto Parts did a bit of digging into the story behind the Carroll Six. Why? Because it was built by one of the 70 to 80 entrepreneurs who manufactured cars in the Cleveland area during the early 20th century – and because there is only one known example left in the world.
To that end, car historian Bob Kayle provided us with the January-March 1991 issue of The Bulb Horn, the publication of The Veteran Motor Car Club of America. Through this resource and a handful of others, we discovered that:
- Charles F. Carroll, an attorney, successful advertising professional and inventor, announced his new car in Lorain, Ohio’s Times Herald on January 13, 1920.
- He rented factory space, created blueprints, gathered car parts and persuaded wealthy local stockholders to invest in his dream.
- “Two bodies will be furnished, one a close coupled five passenger touring car and the other a roadster, and will be finished in either Carroll green or Burgundy red. The wheelbase is 131” and it will have an aluminum body upholstered in leather. The six-cylinder engine develops 48 hp and has enclosed overhead valves. Full equipment includes six disc wheels, Fisk cord tires, permanent type top, and trunk with a built-in rack.”
- The roadster never came into being and the wheelbase was scaled down to 128”.
Distribution was a big problem for early car manufacturers, but Carroll quickly secured a partner in San Francisco, Fred W. Hauger, who planned to sell this car in 11 states, plus the Hawaiian Islands.
One hundred and six cars were scheduled for 1920, although it’s unlikely that the production goal for this “attractive and even a bit racy” vehicle was reached. The car had a:
- radiator that was set back seven and a half inches from the front axle
- body, hood and fenders that were “pleasingly curved”
- swept-back windshield that gave it a slightly futuristic look
The car was not cheap ($3,895 or more than $45,000 in today’s dollars) but it did come with leather-covered steel top, side curtains, long running boards with dual side-mount spare tires, Bijur starting and lighting, and a K.W. ignition system.
Some Carroll cars were allegedly ruined when they were shipped to California without antifreeze. When the weather turned cold, the engines were ruined, a serious financial blow to the company. By May 1922, the company was out of money and one of the investors was said to help himself to four cars, plus a partially built one, plus some parts as his self-determined repayment. Although there are rumors of four Carroll cars still being in existence, only the one at the Swigart museum is a certainty.
Editor’s note: What other rare or unique cars are out there? Leave a comment below.