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Richfield Collector's 1912 Cadillac Wins Participant's Choice Top Honors at Stan Hywet Father's Day Car Show

UPublish story by Melinda Mallari

1912-Cadillac-before
The 1912 Cadillac as shipped from California

Rick Hudak's 1912 Cadillac took two top honors, including first place for Participant's Choice, at Stan Hywet's 56th Annual Father's Day Car Show, sponsored by the Ohio Region Classic Car Club of America (ORCCCA).

Receiving the Participant's Choice First Place award, from over 350 cars in 25 categories, was a notable surprise for Hudak, who spent a year restoring the 1912 automobile while simultaneously completing the manuscript for his first book, "Harpers Ferry Arsenal and Joseph Perkin: The Classic Arms of the Early Years", published in 2012.

It is not surprising to anyone who knows him that this car was voted the favorite among the show's participants. Restoring automobiles to like-new condition is what Hudak does. The knowledge, quality, techniques and skills this owner of Village Auto Body in Richfield applies every day to everyday cars is exactly the same process he used on his award-winning classic.

The greatest challenge in restoring his car, which came from California, was locating and acquiring parts necessary to complete the restoration. Some had to be fabricated and others were located at the AACA Eastern meet in Hershey, PA. According to Hudak, the engine’s valve springs, which came from Germany, were particularly difficult to locate. “I can’t imagine how I could have assembled everything I needed without the resources of the Internet,” he added.

Originally looking to buy a very early Model T Ford of the “brass era” (1913 or earlier), Hudak eventually settled on the Cadillac touring car, a Model 30, because it is a more drivable automobile in today’s traffic. Having owned other antique cars over the years, he settled on this one because he believes it is what most people envision when they think of an antique car. He notes that the Cadillac Car and Antique Car rides at Cedar Point are scaled down versions of the identical Model 30 body style of the car he owns.

Although restored in the early 1970’s, the car was stored in an airplane hanger in Southern California since 1978 without having the cooling system or fuel tank drained, which created all sorts of problems. Eventually the car had to be completely disassembled and restored from the frame up.

In 1912, all Cadillacs left the factory finished in blue varnish, polished with pulverized pumice. For an additional fee, the dealer would paint the car any color the new owner desired, prior to delivery. In doing the restoration there was substantial evidence that this car had been delivered finished in red with black fenders. Hudak decided to paint his car as the one on display in the AACA museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania; dark red with black fenders. His car is painted in a water bourn (latex) urethane automobile finish, much as is being used on new cars today. The finish on this car is striking.

Cadillacs made in 1912 are considered milestone cars in that they were the first production cars to come with nickel plated brass trim, demountable rims, electric lights, and an electric starting system as standard equipment, from the factory. Cadillac used this 24 volt, 6 volt combination starting system for 1912 only as it is an extremely complicated electrical system. A total of ten batteries (4 “wet” and 6 “dry”) were required to start and run the automobile. Most of the remaining Cadillacs of this year have had their electrical systems converted to some degree to modernize and simplify the starting and voltage regulation systems. Hudak’s car has the entire original system complete and functioning as it was delivered in 1912.

One of the most attractive features of the car is normally not seen - an engine appointed with copper and brass hardware. Copper water jackets were originally used because the metal is malleable and seals well to the bottom of the individual cylinders. A contracting ring is heated and allowed to cool and contract, pinching the copper and sealing the water jackets. Brass oil and fuel lines were used because they are easy to bend and form. Copper tubing was used for the inlets and outlets of the water from the engine to the radiator, as well as the conduit for the ignition wires. It all comes together to make an aesthetically appealing presentation when the hood is open.

Driving the car takes some getting used to. A switch must be set on the wooden (walnut) dash to enable the distributor on the right side of the engine to “take over” powered by the “dry” cell batteries. This is because when another two switches are engaged, and the clutch is depressed for the first time, a series of solenoids engage a circuit breaker to alter the four “wet” batteries to deliver 24 volts to the starter to turn the engine over. When the clutch is released the circuit breaker automatically retracts converting the “wet” or main batteries back to a six volt system. Once the car is running the spark advance lever on the steering wheel is moved to the run position and the switch on the dash must be set from the start to the run position. This allows the car to operate on the magneto and the left distributor on the engine takes over. As there is no voltage regulator, there is a timer inside the battery compartment mounted on the running board (looks like a tool box) which must be manually reset periodically to allow the batteries to be charged by the magneto.

There is no oil pressure gauge. Instead, a sight glass mounted on the dash allows visual monitoring as the oil drips to indicate that the engine is being lubricated. There is no provision for draining the crank case, as the engine is designed to burn and leak oil at (hopefully) the same rate as it is being supplied by the external reservoir and pump. Hudak adds a predetermined amount of Marvel Mystery Oil to the gasoline to insure lubrication.

The transmission is a standard “H” pattern three speed, with the shifter on the floor between the driver’s right hand and the right front door. This makes for cramped quarters as the steering wheel is on the right side of the car. While technically a four door car, the right front (driver’s) door is blocked from opening by the spare tire and the outside mounted hand brake. When shifting the car, because there are no synchronizers, double clutching is a must.

Although the car has an electric tail lamp, with a red lens, there is no brake light and no turn signals. One must remember that all other cars being offered at the time had oil accessory lamps which had to be lighted with a match. The car has two wheel mechanical breaks on the rear wheels, and enough distance must be allowed to stop the extremely heavy automobile. Top speed is much higher than what Hudak feels comfortable driving. He prefers to drive at about 35 miles per hour.

According to the ORCCCA website, classic cars "encompass mainly pre war automobiles from 1925 to 1948", thus Mr. Hudak's astonishment and appreciation for attracting the top prize for Participant's Choice. The burgundy red Cadillac also took top prize for Best of Class Pre-1916 Cars.

Coincidentally, Mr. Hudak's car was built the same year construction began on Stan Hywet Hall, making for a classic pairing.


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