Classic cars and trucks, vintage aircraft, space vehicles.
All of these and more were the focus of a transportation bonanza Saturday at the Rowland Freedom Center in Vacaville.
A spike of heat failed to keep visitors away from the aviation and military museum which not only hosted “The Car Show Out of This World,” but also local Solar System Ambassador Zach Amis.
For vehicle enthusiasts, the event was a must-attend as they got to admire a multitude of cars and trucks of different eras but also swapped stories of how each was acquired, the work that went into them and other related tales.
Tom and Audrey Crist of Fairfield, recent owners of a gorgeous champagne-colored 1931 Ford Coupe Model A with chocolate trim, enthusiastically met passersby with the honk of a distinctive horn. After a few toots — more of a metallic-sounding “hooah” — the coupe shared their story.
Seemed they had long wanted to join a classic car club and needed, well, a classic car. So they went online in search of a perfect Model A, which proved elusive.
“I had one of these when I was 15,” Tom said, explaining the reason for the specific model. “That was a few years ago.”
They found a listing in San Leandro, but it was in bad shape. There were a few more bad leads, including one regarding a Chrysler, until they hit pay dirt.
“This came up in the Antioch papers,” Audrey said. “The owners had bought a Fifth Wheel and wanted to travel. We happily took it off their hands.”
The car is in amazing condition and the couple loves to cruise around Fairfield in it. But, there are limitations.
“I don’t get on the freeway,” Tom said. “I don’t go over 40 mph.”
“We just have fun with it,” Audrey added.
How the couple met is also fun.
Tom was a flight instructor at the Nut Tree Airport back in the day and Audrey was to be one of his clients. But Audrey was given the wrong description of him and kept passing Tom in search of a “bald guy.” Finally, she stopped and asked him, “Are you waiting for someone, too?” He said yes, a young lady he was set to take on a flight, and she realized she was his passenger. That was the beginning of their life together.
She loved flying with him, Audrey said.
“He was a good pilot. I always felt safe,” she said.
And his driving skills?
“He does well,” she commented.
Turns out, the pair did eventually join a car club — the Solano Classic Car Club.
Across the way, Tom Elliott of Fairfield showed his prized 1972 Chevrolet C-10 Cheyenne. A sparkling emerald green and white, the pickup has been in his possession for seven years.
He stripped it down to the metal, had bodywork done, painted it and included modern extras like air conditioning, bigger side mirrors, headlights with stronger beams, cool speakers, cruise control and more.
“It’s my work truck,” he joked. “I work on it a lot.”
He’s hoping to sell it and buy another vehicle that he can work his magic on. Tinkering with autos, it seems, just makes him happy.
The truck, he said, is garaged most of the time but he does take it out at least twice a month to make sure everything is in good working order.
As visitors swarmed the vehicles, including a sweet little Dax Cobra, Zach Amis shared his love and knowledge of space with those milling around inside the aviation center.
He spoke with kids and adults, talked about space in general and, in fitting with the day’s events, space vehicles. Specifically, the lunar and Mars Rovers.
“These are wheels that were driven in other worlds,” he enthused.
Computer monitors, photos, ephemera and a display were among the learning aids that helped explain space travels. Pamphlets, stickers and more were some cool takeaways.
There have been many Rovers over the decades, Amis said, each an evolved version of what came before.
“The first was about the size of a microwave,” he advised. “The next two, Spirit and Opportunity, were about the size of a picnic table.”
The 2011 Rover could be compared to a minivan in girth, he contained, and the most recent one was even larger.
With science, he said, the transports get bigger and better.
Amis said he plans to spearhead more community visits. For information, visit https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/solar-system-ambassadors/events/.
The Rowland Freedom Center, at the Nut Tree Airport, also plans more special events. Visit http://www.rowlandfreedomcenter.org.