News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 8, 2012

LIZ CIANCONE: Drive down memory lane with vintage cars

Liz Ciancone
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — I got to the sports center the other morning and found Ben, Diane and Ron in a serious discussion about cars — vintage cars.

My interest in cars is slim and ends when I find one which can get me to where I want to go, and then back home. Still, I had to look when Ben flashed that little hand-held bit of electronics and called up a picture of a car and asked if I remembered a car like that. Ah, those gadgets! Well, of course I remembered it. I remember when it was actually state-of-the-art and not just a beautifully restored ’30s coupe. I remember riding in the rumble seat of a similar model.

To retaliate, I asked if any of them remembered the Velie, the family transportation of my earliest memory. Ron allowed as how he had never heard of it. So, Ben diddled a bit with his gadget and called up a picture of the Velie I remembered so well.

I don’t actually remember that much about it except that it looked like a box on wheels, was as heavy as a tank and had wooden spokes on the wheels. I do know that it had none of those modern conveniences we now expect: no heater, no air conditioning, no radio, no tape deck or CD player, no GPS system, no directional signals (we used hand signals), and no little screen to drop down and provide entertainment for the kids in the back seat on those long family trips.

I think it was about 1934 when Dad decided to trade in the Velie. He said it was because they were going to begin making cars with streamlined front ends. So, he bought a 1934 Ford V8. Sure enough, the 1935 model came out with a streamlined front end. I have no idea what he got for the Velie in trade, but I think he paid about $500 for that Ford. Like it or not, the next Ford he bought had a streamlined front end.

Just for fun, when I got home from the sports center, I hit Google. The earliest Velie looked nothing like Dad’s. The first model came out in 1910 and was, reportedly, made from parts picked up from a variety of manufacturers. Our Velie probably dated from the mid ’20s and there was a picture of it, too. I learned that Velie began making trucks in 1911.

Even more fun was finding out that there are collectors of the grand old gal and these collectors have clubs and get togethers to exchange information and, maybe, parts as they try to keep their treasures in running condition.

I wonder what our old Velie would be worth in today’s collector market?

Liz Ciancone is a retired

Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to