Thursday, March 19, 2015

On the Road for a Bus and a Buick

by Willy Vinton
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

I recently took a quick trip to the Las Vegas area to scope out a few vehicles. After grabbing a rental car at the Vegas airport I headed for Sun City, Arizona, to check out this 1931 Buick Series 90 roadster.

You can see that it's a very nice car. I looked it over thoroughly and took it for a drive around the area. The detail throughout looks correct and very nicely done, and the car would be a nice addition to anyone's collection. We decided it wasn't a perfect fit for our museum, so watch for it to show up in a future auction.

While in Sun City, I had the opportunity to meet a few other collectors and see their toys. I had a good time, but my trip was too rushed. This area has a lot of other automotive treasures that I would like to see when I have more time in the future. Maybe then my camera battery will not fail me, like the darn thing did on this trip.

One of the main reasons for my trip was to check out the collection from Jim Rogers' Sunbelt Classic and Antique Auto Museum being sold by Mecum Auctions. I had never heard of Jim Rogers and his collection of more than 230 cars. His museum in Las Vegas was not open to the general public, but he did allow events to be held there.

The collection's 1926 REO Speedwagon bus was of interest to us, as we would love to transport visitors around Wedgewood Resort in a neat old bus or coach during the summer. The REO was a nice, older restoration that had deteriorated over the last 25 years or so. Much of the exterior had suffered from the dry climate, which caused the wood to crack and delaminate. The bus would require major wood work and a new paint job to make it presentable for a few more years.

It doesn't appear the bus windows were made of safety glass, so that's something else we would have had to replace to make it a passenger vehicle.

The engine compartment looked very tired, as if nothing had run for a least 25 years. The water pump was about half made up of JB Weld to seal the corrosion of the housing and tubing. I had no way to know if anything worked, or when the engine had last run. None of the cars at the auction were started, only parked with photos displayed on a screen. The REO sold for more than twice what I thought it was worth for its condition, and hopefully its new owner will give it the TLC it needs. Someday we will find the right bus for our use.

Coming to Fairbanks to see the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum and other area attractions? Support the museum by staying right here at Wedgewood Resort. 

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