PLAINVILLE, Ill. — A visitor stopping by Richard Chapman’s home in rural Adams County might look at the car parts scattered throughout the property and wonder what he’s planning to do with all of that … well, junk.
“My wife tells me that all the time,” Chapman said. “But what’s junk to someone else, I see the opportunities to build something.”
His latest project, a 1931 Ford four-door window slant, is in his garage waiting for an engine, seats and paint, among other things. However, he’s ready to show off his 1948 Ford pickup at this weekend’s Fall Color Run in Quincy.
“If my wife lets me,” Chapman said with a smile. “It’s her truck.”
The Early Tin Dusters, a group of car enthusiasts who have a passion for pre-1949 automobiles, are the hosts of the 45th annual event. Chapman is the event chairman. Visitors can view the cars from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in downtown Quincy and from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Moorman Park.
Number of cars declining as car club members age
In years past, the number of cars on display during the Fall Color Run rose as high as nearly 900. That figure has dipped in recent years, and last year’s event was cancelled because of the pandemic. Chapman said he would be “ecstatic” if 600 cars signed up this year.
“Our group is is aging, so it’s more difficult for us to attract the kind of crowds that we’ve had in the past,” he said.
Chapman said local hotels are telling him most of the rooms in the city are booked for Friday and Saturday.
“That’s a good indicator,” he said. “The nice thing about this is these are people who have been coming to our show for years. They usually go ahead and pre-book their rooms. The feedback we’ve had from the community is really nice, because this is an event that not only brings a lot of participants and individuals new to the Quincy area, but it brings a lot of revenue to the hotels and the restaurants and all the other local businesses.”
A dinner for the car enthusiasts will be on Saturday night at the Atrium on Third, with musical entertainment in the lobby before the dinner. Jukebox Reloaded will perform after dinner.
The Early Tin Dusters also will have raffles and silent auctions, with proceeds supporting Camp Callahan, a summer camp program in Mendon for local children and adults with special needs. Nearly $260,000 was raised in previous years.
Awards presented Sunday will be the Mayor’s Award, selected by Quincy Mayor Mike Troup; the Queen’s Choice, selected by Miss Quincy Emma Hildebrand; and the Long Distance Award for the car which traveled the farthest.
Chapman: ‘There’s a lot of expertise within (the Early Tin Dusters)’
Chapman said car clubs like the Early Tin Dusters started when solders came home from World War II.
“They needed something to do, and they were excited about all the things that had been going on,” he said. “They wanted something special, so they went out to the junkyards and started building basically street rods. They would find junker cars and strip them down and find a different V-8 or flathead V-8 (engine) and throw them in.”
Chapman, 75, retired in 1998. He’s been “tinkering” with cars for the past 30 years, but he has been more “hard-core” for the past 15. He spent about 18 months working on the 1949 Ford pickup. He hopes the 1931 Ford four-door slant window will be ready to go by the beginning of 2022.
“I had some friends who helped out quite a bit with the powertrain, the engine, the transmission, the wiring,” he said. “Most of the body work I did. That’s the nice thing about the car club. There’s a lot of expertise within that group. If there’s something that you don’t know, they’ll know or they’ll know who to call.
“That’s why I like to call (the Fall Color Run) kind of a family event. I mean, we feel like they’re our kin. We have people coming from all over the United States. We’re going to talk about what we’ve created with our hands and show off a little, and we’re going to talk about what life has presented us over the past year. It’s a melting pot of people. It’s amazing what talents some of these people have.”