With matching blue rags and feet sloshing through grassy puddles, Rob Harrett and George McClees gently sopped up raindrops from the 1965 Plymouth Belvedere II.

"I don't even know why I'm wiping away the rain," McClees said beneath boundless gray storm clouds. Then he recalled how he and his father, who died five years ago, helped Harrett rebuild the car bit by bit from 1990 to 2004.

McClees looked up from the nostalgic contours of the 330-horsepower, four-speed machine. Rain or shine, he said, "this is the best car show there is."

The motoring spirit of automotive enthusiasts outlasted the intermittent rain Sunday for the 62nd annual Classic, Antique & Collector Car Show presented by the Ohio Region Classic Car Club of America at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron.

“This is very unusual for Father’s Day to be this wet and crummy. It’s a shame, because normally we’ll have well over 400 cars here,” said Bob Brown, who organized the event's 56 volunteer judges, two for each category. The best in show awards will be online Tuesday at orccca.com.

Made between 1915 and 1994, 406 cars registered. Only 150 squished onto the soaked estate of F.A. Seiberling, who co-founded the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in 1898. Attendees helped themselves to free, self-guided tours of his mansion. The added bonus this year kept some car-lovers dry.

Out on the lawn, a black 1972 Ford Galaxie 500 sported a Barberton police paint job and thick Goodyear racing tires. Even with no sunshine, the jet black tires shined with Seiberling's legacy.

The field was full of crowd-pleasing muscle cars: a 1979 Plymouth Superbird with a Road Runner decal, a canary yellow 1968 Shelby GT 500 Cobra with a 428 Cobra Jet V-8 Ford engine from Cleveland or any number of sleek bullets from the last half century.

But the real deal sat inside ropes on a patch of grass where the driveway looped in a circle at the mansion’s front door.

“They’re just really beautiful works of art,” said Bob Brown. “They’re the high-end cars of their days.”

These “full classics” from the first half of the 20th century featured sloping wheel wells, white-wall tires, silver hood ornaments and the dazzling chrome that set their original owners apart from the rest of society. Rare Pierce Arrows of turquoise or brown and tan, a burgundy Buick Model 95 Sport Phaeton, a Packard Super 8, a Lincoln Town Sedan and a Franklin — all manufactured during the Depression. They first sold in 1931 or 1932 for $3,000 to $4,000 when most people settled for a $600 Ford Model T.

Extremely rare, some now sell for $1 million or more at auction.

Memory lane

Owners and pleasure seekers squished around the lawn, fueled by the memories of their first cars and how they’d loved them still.

“We’re grateful they came,” said Donna Speigler, communications director for Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens. “It’s a pretty soggy day.”

The Rev. James Wolf of Grandview United Methodist Church and his wife, Mary Lee, sat in folding chairs with umbrellas in hand. In brown overalls and a flat cap, the 91-year-old pastor jumped to his feet as a guest neared his 1921 Model T Ford Runabout.

Wolf had no problem driving the antique from Cuyahoga Falls through inclement weather Sunday morning. “I’ve run them through rain and snow and mud,” said Wolf. “I’ve driven Model T’s since the mid-1940s. In fact, I could drive a Model T before I could drive anything else.”

With the right tools, a little patience and wooden sparkplug boxes that don't get wet, Wolf has driven the relic to Indianapolis, Canada and all the way around Lake Erie. The 22-horsepower engine is throttled by hand. The third foot pedal on the left shifts between three gears (which is one more than a previous model). The brake is in the middle, said Wolf.

Much of what he does to move the vehicle has been replaced by automatic components. Even a manual stick shift is advanced by comparison.

Not far away, Steve Bower, 74, kept his 1909 Hupmobile under plastic. The rain is no good for the wood-paneled body and brass.

“It’s an evolution in cars,” Bower said. The headlights are powered by gas created by the adjustable drip of water into a canister filled with carbide. Coal-oil lanterns on the side work like kerosene lamps to illuminate the interior of the car.

Bower used a covered trailer to haul his pride and joy to the show. With two speeds, the books say the Hupmobile tops out at 50 mph. Bower doesn't let it shimmy beyond 26 mph. "It is what it is. And I enjoy it for what it is," said Bower, who fell in love with brass-era cars as a child dragging his father, who died 31 years ago, to antique car shows.

Reach Doug Livingston at dlivingston@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3792.