By Sean Barron
Much of how Jim Aaron grew up is captured in a series of drawings on the lower portion of his vintage car’s two-piece front windshield.
“It was my son’s idea to do the etching,” the Franklin, Pa., man recalled, referring to three sketches, the most prominent of which depicts a portion of the farm on which he grew up.
Reminders of Aaron’s life on the farm, however, extend far beyond the windshield of his white 1950 Ford 8-N with a bright-red interior. The hood, five-speed gearshift, rear fenders and emergency brake all were tractor parts, he explained.
Several people gathered around and inquired about Aaron’s two-seat vehicle, which he built from scratch, Sunday afternoon on the third and final day of the 31st annual Hot Rod Super Nationals at the Canfield Fairgrounds.
Despite the weekend’s inconsistent weather, the show overall was “a good show of cars,” said Rose Seitz, an event organizer.
Aaron, a retired welder, said it took him about two years to build the eye-catching vehicle, which has about 1,500 miles and features a “basic inside” consisting of the odometer, speedometer, emergency brake and gearshifts. The exterior includes Model A shock absorbers, a small toolbox and the fuel tank inside lightweight sheet metal, as well as the frame and front axles he built, Aaron continued.
A sampling of vintage and classic cars on display Sunday included a bright-blue 1941 Willis G two-seater with a rounded top from Mingo Junction, Ohio; a red 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air four-seat car with an AM radio and a clock on the front panel; a white 1931 Ford Model A with thin, interweaving red and orange designs selling for $34,000; a 1968 blue, rebuilt Camaro; and a mahogany-colored 1941 Willys Americar that came from Apalachin, N.Y., and has gray front and rear fenders that nearly hug the ground.
Also nearby was a large red 1960 Chevrolet Impala with a white roof that Donna Schrader of Lords- town assiduously wiped with a cloth after a brief rain shower.
“I took it for a test drive, and I was in love with this car when I bought it in 1961” during a trade-in, Schrader recalled.
Even though her father didn’t want her to buy the Impala as her first vehicle, she still made a $5 down payment before finalizing the purchase for $1,500. At the time, Schrader made $1.35 an hour at her job in a lumber yard, as well as $57 monthly car payments, she continued.
Soon, though, Schrader and her late husband, Bob Schrader, swapped cars so he could use the Impala for drag racing at Howland Drag Strip. In 1965, however, the vehicle was sidelined and relegated to a barn, where it sat for about 46 years before it was brought back to life and repainted beginning in 2011, she remembered.
The vehicle, with a 348-horsepower engine and just under 50,000 miles, still sports many of the original parts. Nevertheless, the most redeeming feature for Schrader is perhaps a small photograph of her late husband on the front floor, as well as other reminders of him, she continued.
“Right here, you’re looking at over $500,000 – actually closer to $1 million,” Seitz said, referring to a series of rare cars being showcased in one of the fairgrounds buildings.
One was a 1970 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda convertible, only four of which were manufactured with its specific design characteristics, Seitz pointed out. Another was a pistachio-colored 1949 Cadillac “Sedanette” that Bob and Sue Darney of Leetonia own.
“It took me 18 months to build it,” Bob Darney said.
Many spectators gathered to watch a noisy Dyno Wars competition in which vehicles’ horsepower output was measured. The first-place prize was $500 while second- and third-place finishers took home $250 each, Seitz explained.
Other draws were a Bike Day, courtesy of Triumph Yamaha of Warren; the Optimus Prime Replica team from Philadelphia, which brought replicas of cars in the “Transformers” movie series; a car-judging competition with trophies to be awarded; and vehicles that were in “The Fast and the Furious” action-film series.
Another treat for many were several Packard cars built in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s from the National Packard Museum in Warren.
The car show was accepting donations on behalf of the Dallas-based Children’s Craniofacial Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving hope to youngsters and their families impacted by facial differences, Seitz noted.
Proceeds also will go to Santa’s Hide-A-Way Hollow in Middlefield, she added. The 37-year-old nonprofit organization provides comfort and support for seriously and terminally ill children and their families throughout the year during the final stages of the youngsters’ illnesses, according to its website.