105-year-old Buick travels around the world without a scratch
Betsy is an elegant and fragile beauty who is used to being waited on and cared for by her many admirers. Everywhere she goes, Betsy instantly becomes the center of attention. Strangers stop to gawk when they see her coming, and will often approach her gingerly and start asking questions – or tell their own personal stories – and sometimes they even dare to ask to touch her shiny skin with soft, loving strokes. And they always leave with a smile.
Betsy is a 1909 Buick, a rare horseless carriage with a two-cylinder engine, a tall stick-like steering wheel, brass kerosene headlamps, and a history that dates back to simpler times when taking a Sunday drive meant going to church in your best suit, fancy dress and parasol and then perhaps to the park for a family picnic.
Betsy has lived in many places across the U.S., from California to New Jersey to the shore of Lake Michigan. But now she is preparing to embark on her biggest voyage yet, a 10,000-mile adventure to the southern tip of Australia, where – if all goes as planned – she will arrive without a screw out of place or scratch to her pristine body.
“It’s impossible to have a bad day driving an old car (like Betsy),” says Mark Harmon, of Oscoda, Michigan, who purchased the Buick four years ago from a seller on the east coast. “People are naturally drawn to you and want to ask about her. The old guys often have stories to tell about how their parents – or grandparents – had a similar car when they were young.”
But as much as Mark and his wife Tracie love Betsy, they rarely took the opportunity to drive her. A couple of test drives and a trip to the local ice cream parlor were about the only times she came out of the garage. So when prospective buyer Ian Berg in Melbourne, Australia inquired through the Horseless Carriage Club of America (HCCA.org) web site, Mark decided to send Betsy to a new home where she might get more attention.
“I spoke to the guy and gave him all the details about the Buick, and we made a deal,” recalls Mark. Then he called West Coast Shipping to make the arrangements.
“I’m pretty picky about my cars,” says Mark, who has bought and sold several pre-war vehicles over the years. “They do a great service and I was confident that I was putting Betsy into very capable hands.”
Based in the Bay Area, the folks at West Coast Shipping are experts in moving all sorts of vehicles and many other large items all around the world. They treat every client like the treasure that it is – regardless of age, price or current condition. So when Mark called to explain that he needed to transport Betsy more than 10,000 miles around the world, WC Shipping knew exactly what to do. For additional information on all things classic car related, check out West Coast Shipping's Classic Car Resource handbook.
“We treat all of our shipping projects with kid gloves,” said Alex Naumov, of West Coast Shipping. “No matter how big or small the item, no matter how old or new or what condition it may be in, our team takes pride in treating the vehicle as if it were our own. And we make sure that same treatment continues every step of the way throughout the process.”
That’s where Tim Goodwin, of ADT Freight Services, takes over.“Before the vessel arrives in Melbourne, we will have completed the customs and quarantine declarations,” said Goodwin. “The container will probably be picked up from the wharf and delivered to our premises in Tullamarine for unpacking and inspected by Australian quarantine officers to ensure they it is free of insect, animal and plant material or dirt. The importer (buyer) will then attend to inspect/photograph his vehicle and generally arrange a tow truck to deliver the car to his premises.”Anxiously awaiting Betsy’s arrival in Australia is Ian, who – like the seller – is very particular about how his vehicles are shipped.“I have always had a soft spot for early Buicks and these two-cylinder Buicks are extremely rare here in Australia,” says Ian. “There are only two others I know of here, although there are a number in the U.S. I am very particular about the level of information I get from a vendor and I spend a lot of time talking to them to develop and a good understanding and trust in both the vendor, and the service providers for the transport. Most of my vehicles have been purchased sight unseen and I have never been disappointed in either the vehicle or the shipping process.”
“My interest is in using my cars, they are not in museums,” Ian says. “The 1909 Buick is of particular interest as it is a two-cylinder car and quite powerful. In Australia there are specialist rallies for one- and two-cylinder cars that are extremely popular. In fact next month there is one such rally in South Australia and there are 90 one- or two-cylinder cars entered that were all built prior to 1916. The attraction of these early cars is that they represent the very first cars ever made. They are simple, but interesting mechanically and are quite challenging to drive. The rallies are social affairs and great fun.”Thanks to the gentle loving care and respect taken by the team at West Coast Shipping, Betsy is beginning her second century in grand fashion – on her way to a new adventure in a far-away land. For Betsy, it appears that life truly begins at 100!