Vintage Pontiacs headed to Ligonier from around the country
All roads will lead to Ligonier for a Sept. 6 to 9 reunion of the Early Times Chapter of the Pontiac-Oakland Club International, a group founded in 1972 to promote the history, preservation and ownership of vintage Pontiac, Oakland and GMC vehicles.
Early Times members are interested specifically in flathead engine vehicles produced from 1926 to 1954, and those are the vehicles that will gather for four days in Ligonier.
Though a few will be trailered in, most of the 35 vehicles expected will be driven from around the country, says chapter secretary Ron Thomas of Zanesville, Ohio.
Thomas and his wife, Betsy, will make the trip in their restored streamliner gray 1941 Pontiac Metropolitan sedan.
The group will display their treasured rides for the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 9 in the municipal parking lot at North Market and Church streets. Many members will dress in vintage clothing to match the era of their vehicles, and many also will display other period-correct items.
Group members will arrive in Ligonier on Sept. 5 and 6, and area residents can get a glimpse of the vehicles in the parking lot of the Ramada Ligonier, where they'll stay.
Thomas says Sept. 7 will be devoted to a chapter meeting and tech session that usually “deteriorates into a bull session, because that's what we like to do — talk about cars.” Spouses and other passengers will have the option of a sightseeing bus tour that day.
“On Friday of our reunion week (Sept. 8), as a group we ‘tour' the cars, generally driving 90 to 120 miles on that day, viewing museums, car collections and other points of interest,” Thomas says. “This year we will be touring to West Overton Village for part of the day.”
The chapter has about 400 members, some from as far away as Sweden and Australia, though Thomas says international members won't make the Ligonier trip. The reunion has been an annual event for the past 13 years, always on the weekend after Labor Day.
“We look for a little town that has some history behind it and some interesting things to do around the area,” he says. “We visit local attractions, drive our cars around town, look for antiques and/or ice cream shops and we always seem to eat a lot, so we are often found in local restaurants.”
The group started working on their Ligonier trip about a year ago with the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, says sales director Stacey Magda.
“We helped in securing the location for their show and in planning their tour options,” Magda says. “We were an idea generator for the stops on their trip. I told them they'd really need a week to see it all.
“They're a fascinating group of people; they're so passionate about their cars,” she says. “What we usually see when we work with car clubs is that they'll trailer them in, but this group is actually traveling in their cars.”