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Seven decades later, Oakland is still in the same, safe hands.

I love a good story of longtime vehicle ownership and Vernon Calaman's tale has to be one of the best.

The Carlisle, Pennsylvania, resident has owned his 1922 Oakland Sport Touring car since the late 1940s. I met Vernon at the 2019 Chevrolet Nationals, held recently in Carlisle. I was invited to the event to present a seminar detailing Chevrolet's COPO program. Those duties also included awarding a Celebrity Pick trophy. After coming across Vernon, I knew he had to have it.

In 1948, he was a high school senior and mechanic for Arnold Motors, a Plymouth and DeSoto dealer in Carlisle.

"Back in those days, you partnered up with somebody to get an automobile," Vernon recalls. As such, he and another auto tech went in together on a Ford Model T.

"One day in town, a few soldiers were coming out of a hotel and wanted to buy the car," Vernon says. "So, we sold it to them, leaving us with no car."

Thankfully, a regular customer of the dealership changed that. "A guy who hauled milk to the local farmers said he knew where there was a car." So after getting off work, Vernon and his Model T pal headed to the farm where an unknown vehicle awaited them.

No one knew exactly what model the car was, other than it was an Oakland. It had been bought by the famer's parents. It broke down and they rolled it into the barn for storage. Later, needing more space for hay, the vehicle was pushed outside into the apple orchard.

Liking what they saw, Vernon and his friend bought the car and towed it home. Not long after, Vernon bought out his pal's share, taking full ownership of the Oakland.

Initially, in hopes of getting it running, Vernon filled the radiator, only to find the water spilled out as fast he dumped it in. "The block had a big hole in it," says Vernon, who tried a number of local places to find a replacement piece. Luckily, his auto shop sent him on an errand to a local welder. "We got to talking and he said if I take out the engine and strip it, he'll weld it back together."

Sure enough, the welder worked his magic, welding a plate to the front of the engine. It sealed the leak and 71 years later, it's still on and holding in place.

While the car was drivable, Vernon's family was growing, and the car became less of a priority. Starting in 1955, he began to take it only to occasional shows, not being afraid to drive it some 15 or 20 miles away to put it on display.

Vernon told me he initially wasn't planning to keep the car this long but as he learned of its rarity, he made the decision to hold onto it. I'm sure glad he did. His tale and his automobile, are nothing short of extraordinary.

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Title Annotation:Lifestyle
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Jun 29, 2019
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