Schrader: Collecting old cars not a cheap hobby

“We don’t chase women, we chase car parts,” quipped Jeff Mathews during a roundtable discussion I had with four members of the DeKalb-Sycamore Vintage Auto Club recently at John O’Halloran’s home on Twombly Road west of DeKalb.

The oft-used saying that, “The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys” came to mind as I heard each member describe their one, two or 10 classic, antique or muscle cars they own and use for fun and show.

Rattling off their list of classic and antique autos, each man amazed me with the number of cars owned. Mathews of Maple Park likes to collect Nash cars – including a 1965 Rambler four-door sedan, a 1959 Rambler Ambassador, an AMC Pacer and a little Metropolitan. He became interested when he learned Charlie Nash once lived on a farm off Route 38 east of Cortland. Nash was the first of his family to get into the car business, thus the familiar name.

Frank Reiss of Genoa has a 1925 Willys Knight, a 1931 Model A Ford, 1940 Ford two-door sedan, a 1947 Ford coupe and a 1948 Lincoln Continental. He also got into racing – both stock cars and midgets.

Rob Reinhold likes Cadillacs and now has a 2007 Cadillac DTS. He said his dad got him interested in luxury cars as he owned Buicks and Cadillacs.

O’Halloran has two Hudsons – a 1948 Commodore Six sedan and a 1952 Hornet. He also has a 1944 Dodge Polara and 1989 Chevy Caprice wagon. Some of them were damaged in a recent outbuilding fire at his place, but the only one destroyed was his 1999 Saturn.

I asked what’s the most expensive part of the hobby – buying parts, insurance and licenses, storage fees or maintaining the cars in running condition. Their unanimous answer: All of the above.

I told them about my one-time interest in cars – I wanted a 1959 Edsel I spotted along the road for sale, but didn’t have the money to buy it at the time.

These guys not only own classics, but many maintain their own vehicles and keep them in running condition. They display them at special events around the area such as the Steam Power Show and area parades. Some of their cars are loaned out to movie and TV production companies. Robb Freeman organizes tours to interesting places such as a fall colors trip into Wisconsin and even to see a two-story outhouse in southern Illinois.

They always are on the lookout for car parts and follow swap meets and auctions where there might be something they need or want to store for future use.

John said new members always are welcome, whether they own such a car or just like to know more about vintage, antique or muscle cars.

They meet the first Sunday of each month at 6 p.m. for a potluck at the Genoa Resource Bank branch. If you want to know more, call him at 815-758-3085.

• Barry Schrader can be reached by email at or by writing to P.O. Box 851, DeKalb, IL 60115. Past columns can be found on his website at