Summer is a time for car hobbyists to steer their automobiles into the public eye for onlookers to gaze, appreciate and sometimes covet a greatly designed and intricate piece of machinery.
One car show that is as unique as its vehicles is the annual Orphan Car Show presented at Golden’s renowned Buffalo Bill Days. Entering its 13th year, this car show featured automobiles that are no longer manufactured and whose manufacturers are no longer in business. What’s more, it’s the only annual orphan car show in the state of Colorado.
Carl Nordin, chair of the orphan car show committee, has faithfully coordinated the annual orphan car show since its creation 13 years ago. This year, Nordin had a total of 27 orphaned cars, including his own, lined up and down 10th and 11th streets. “It’s getting bigger and bigger every year,” said Nordin, 82.
A 1938 Willys Pickup and a 1940 Graham were Nordin’s contributions to the car show. He is hoping to feature a new orphan next year, a 1952 Henry J. He has 12 to 15 orphans in his possession since his start as a collector in the mid-1980s. “I guess I thought I’d never get old,” said Nordin.
John Tuthill, a retired mechanical engineer, has participated in the orphan car show for six years. He features his 1940 Bantam station wagon and 1935 DeSoto Airflow most years, weather permitting. Tuthill supports the orphan car show for its exclusiveness compared to other classical car shows.
“That’s a whole different hobby than people maintaining cars as historical items,” said Tuthill. “The car hobby has a whole lot of niches,” he said.
When it comes to collecting orphan cars, the focus is restoration as opposed to remodeling. Tuthill’s 1935 DeSoto Airflow has its original paint and interior. Over the years, Tuthill just maintained his orphan vehicle. His 1940 Bantam station wagon proved to be more of a challenge. “You can’t go to your local parts store to buy anything,” said Tuthill.
It took him 12 years to restore his 1940 Bantam station wagon, which once had a selling price of $575 during its days in production. Only 322 were built originally, with only 18 known to exist, and a total of five that are totally restored, including Tuthills’.
With only one month left of summer, Carl Nordin will retire to his heated garage to continue his work on his Henry J. “I fell that when I’m done, I can see what I have accomplished,” said Nordin. “I think it’s a love of the individual to come up with something that he’s done, that he’s proud of.”