The streets of Marion looked a little older and a tad quainter Sunday when 14 vintage cars breezed into town, cruising Main St. in search of antiques.
Marion was the final destination for this year’s tour of the Wichita regional chapter of Horseless Carriage Club of America.
“This year we decided to start out of Newton,” Vern Shirk of Wichita said. “We went to Goessel on Friday, McPherson on Saturday, and then up here for Sunday.”
Participants hailed mostly from the Wichita area, although one car drove from Sioux City, Iowa, for the tour, Shirk said.
Chamber of commerce secretary Margo Yates worked with the club well in advance of Sunday’s visit to plan activities.
Welcome flags greeted the tourists as they began entering town around 10 a.m. Marion’s antique stores were open, as evidenced by vintage cars parked in twos and threes in front of them. Some motorists found their way to Central Park.
While cars were mostly dispersed in town, they were together on display at Marion County Park and Lake Hall, where the club gathered for a fried chicken lunch catered by Carlsons’ Grocery. Lake superintendent Steve Hudson talked to them about lake history, and the lake museum was open for tours.
“I was born and raised in Wichita, but I’ve never been out here before,” Shirk said.
The Horseless Carriage Club was formed in 1937, Shirk said, the same year work was completed on the lake dam.
After a spin around the lake, the motorists stopped at The Copper Shed near Aulne before heading back to Newton for a banquet that concluded the tour.
Shirk made the trip in one of the group’s oldest cars, a 1914 Model T Ford. He rode in the car as a child in the 1960s, and plans to pass the car along to his daughter.
He said club members enjoy putting their vehicles to the test of a three-day excursion as much as they enjoy the activities.
“The idea is to get the old car out and drive it a little bit and see if it will make it,” Shirk said.
As for his Model T?
“It never misses a lick,” he said.