Early automobiles on display at 72nd annual county fair

Model Ts, the textbook example of innovation at the turn of the 20th century, are far surpassed by today’s cars in technological advancement.

Except when it comes to mileage.

Bill Bratt, a member of the 46-year-old MidPeninsula Old Car Club, said his Model Ts — he’s got two — average 14 miles to the gallon, which outpaces such notables as the Dodge Durango, Chevy Trailblazer and Ford Expedition, according to ConsumerReports.org.

“The technology when you look at some of these cars [from the early 1900s] is so advanced you can’t believe the workmanship that went on in these cars,” Bratt said.

Bratt, a 68-year-old former principal of White Oaks High School, will be joined by others in the car club at the San Mateo County Fair on Sunday.

On the east side of the Expo Hall all kinds of antique cars from Model Ts, Model As and Locomobiles to Ford Fairlanes and Mustangs will be on hand to give folks a glimpse into the auto industry’s muscle-bound past.

Bratt recalled a friend who in 1962 had a Dodge Charger that was mistakenly built with the wrong carburetor and subsequently managed 75 miles to the gallon.

That story is among the thousands that are told whenever antique car enthusiasts gather around a stable of old cars, which is precisely what many of the men and women who exhibit their rides do.

“It’s pretty much the camaraderie,” said 62-year-old retired United Airlines serviceman Bob Edwards. “I played with cars all my life; it’s pretty much inbred.”

Edwards hoped to pass that love on to other generations with his cars, which is why he says he does not believe in keeping them under wraps.

He lets the kids get in and out and climb all over his Model Ts, a 1915 Roadster and 1926 Speedster, because that may spur on a new generation of car aficionados.

“I want kids to touch my car because, as far as I’m concerned, that’s the only way we’re going to pass that knowledge,” Edwards said.

But the antique roadsters won’t be the only throwback automobiles at the fair. The San Mateo County History Museum, in celebration of the county’s 150th anniversary, will roll up in their 1961 school bus, which acts as a traveling exhibit gallery.

Inside will be artifacts and photos from the sesquicentennial exhibit, including pictures of famous residents who helped shape the future of San Mateo County. The museum will also hand out 10,000 children’s activity books with coloring and puzzles.

dsmith@examiner.com

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