Pre-1916 horseless carriages visit Bath

A member of the Horseless Carriage Club of America drives onto the grounds of Bath's Fairfield-Gutzeit House in one of the first cars ever built by the Ford Motor Company. Photo by Adam Prudhomme

Adam Prudhomme

Some of the oldest automobiles still on the road today were parked on the lawn of one of Bath’s oldest structures on Wednesday as the Horseless Carriage Club of America visited the Fairfield-Gutzeit House.

The antique automobile club rolled into the village as part of their week long tour of the Lennox and Addington, Prince Edward County and Kingston region. All told the tour features 65 cars, all built before 1916, with drivers from across Ontario and the northern U.S.

“Each day we go on a circle tour,” said Debbie Tzountzouris, who is co-president with her husband Sam of the Ontario chapter of the Horseless Carriage Club. “Sometimes it’s a driving day, some days are more of an attraction. We’ve got some cars that are very rare. We have several old Cadillacs, and of course lots of Model Ts. Henry ford did a very good job on the Model T.”

Tzountzouris said the club focuses on the time when cars were adorned with brass, which were in production prior to 1916.

A collection of antique cars lined the lawn of the historic house. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

“By the time you get to 1915, most of the bass is gone because the average working person didn’t have time to clean the brass and it turned quite nasty if you didn’t keep it up,” she said. “These are called the Brass Era cars.”

Impressive when parked, the vehicles are even more rare in the fact that they are all road worthy, capable of speeds of 25 to 65 miles per hour and able to cover the great distances for their tour.

“Our mandate with the Horseless Carriage Club is to educate the public about these cars, restore them and we’re driving them,” said Tzountzouris. “We got our Model T, her name is Penelope, in 2006. We have driven her between 20,000 and 25,000 miles. She’s been out to the Magdalen Islands, down to Florida, all over the place. It’s a family hobby, our son now has a 1915.”

All of the cars in the club contain original parts, or at least parts fabricated in their original form.

“When you get that perfect speed, some call it the sweet spot, it sounds just like a Singer sewing machine, tick, tick, tick,” said Tzountzouris of her model T. “Henry (Ford) did a great job.”

While in Bath they club also toured the Bath Museum and Hogans’ Honey, as well as the historic Fairfield-Gutzeit.

“We’ve really enjoyed ourselves, we love Bath and we love the whole area,” said Tzountzouris. “People have been so wonderful and welcoming to us. It’s just been a lovely week.”

The club organizes tours every summer, often through the States but every third year they tour Ontario.

“We ask the public to be patient with us, we’re not driving that fast. We love when they wave as us, but if they honk at us, they scare us horseless,” joked Tzountzouris.

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