Monday, September 23, 2013

Our Pope-Toledo Wins!

 by Willy Vinton
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

A few weeks ago my lovely wife and I headed south for the U.S. Bank Kirkland Concours d'Elegance in Washington state. We arrived in Seattle to a very wet and rainy Thursday evening, and while driving out to Monroe we encountered one of the hardest rains I have seen in many years. The water was nearly a half-inch deep on 405, and the wipers on the rental car could hardly keep up. We were also treated to a very bright and noisy show with lightning that lit up the entire area. Definitely not the kind of weather for taking out a 107-year-old automobile!

We spent Friday and Saturday at Murray Motor Car getting our 1906 Pope-Toledo Type XII touring car cleaned up and ready for the show. This included oiling the clutch and taking the big car for a test drive to make sure everything was working properly following its trip to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in August. Once everything checked out, we loaded the car for its trip to the LeMay Museum for Sunday's show.

The day started out a little on the cool side, but the fog burned off and turned into a great day for a show--not too hot, but still plenty warm. The Pope-Toledo certainly generated a lot of interest among the show visitors. There were some other beautiful cars in the Antiques Class, including a 1914 Lozier and 1910 Buick. Tough competition!

It was very exciting when we learned we had won the First in Class award for Pre-War Antiques. This speaks highly of the fine work done by Al and Paul Murray (pictured with me at left, along with Paul's son) and their crew. They are now getting the car ready to ship north to Fairbanks later this month.

As you can see, the Pope-Toledo has some very curvy lines. This style of body is known as "Roi-des-Belges," which translates as "King of the Belgians." It was the mistress of King Leopold II of Belgium who suggested he have a car designed with seats that resembled her richly upholstered armchairs. The bulging, tulip-shaped seats and graceful, inswept waist of the Roi-des-Belges body caused a sensation when it was unveiled on a Panhard et Levassor in 1902.

The Roi-des-Belges body, also known as a tulip phaeton, remained popular for several years. It was used on several American cars and was carried by two of the first automobiles in Fairbanks--a 1906 Pope-Toledo identical to ours, and a 1908 White Model K steam car. You need to come see it in person to realize how elegant it is.

I want to send out a big thank you to my wonderful wife, Wilma, for accompanying me to these events, dressing the part, and spending the entire day visiting with folks. It always helps to have a pretty lady with the car, but this year we were blessed to have two of them! Many thanks to Marlene for also joining us, dressed in her pretty finery. 

Coming to Fairbanks to see the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum and other area attractions? Support the museum by staying at one of the Fountainhead Hotels. All guests receive half-price admission to the museum!

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