Day Trips

At Alamo Classic Car Museum and Showcase, "We got it all, Hupmobiles, REOs, and Studebakers," says Frank Kalson, manager of the collection and part-time mechanic. In the warehouse on I-35 south of New Braunfels are over 150 vehicles, everything from motorized bicycles to tanks.

Most of them are owned by Carl Van Roekel, who started collecting antique and classic cars years ago in San Antonio. When he needed more space to house the collection, he opened the museum in 1988, and it has grown to be one of the largest car collections in Texas.

One of the first items one sees upon entering the museum is a fully restored Indian motorcycle, that most cherished of American-made motorbikes. Next to it is a bicycle powered by a Whizzer Bike Motor, with a side car which serves as an ice chest.

The oldest car in the collection is a 1913 Hupp-Yeats Regent, says Kalson. The electric car could get 75 to 90 miles per charge and had a top speed of 20mph. Parked next to it is a purple 1970 Dodge Charger -- less then 4,000 of these muscle cars were ever built.

The most expensive cars in the collection are three Chrysler 300 series convertibles, only 707 of which were built between 1959 and 1961. "They have a gas mileage like a Mac truck," Kalson laughs, but the car's speedometer goes up to 150mph.

The rarest automobile in the collection, however, is the 1924 Oldsmobile Boat-Tail Speedster, sole survivor of the two that were made. The sleek, dark-red and black roadster can seat two on a black leather bench seat.

There is also a 1951 Crosley Super Stationwagon -- hardware and appliance stores sold 5,000 of the tiny utility cars during the Fifties. Next to it is a 1967 Amphicar that can go on land or water. Across the aisle is a cherry-red 1958 Ford Fairlane 500 with a retractable hard top that can be stowed in the trunk.

There are vintage Corvettes in the collection, as well, five of them made between 1954 and 1973. The collection of Cadillacs goes back to 1927. One of the most unusual is the Atwood Piano Loader -- a car with a piano.

The lime-green 1949 Ford Convertible with a back seat the size of a double bed is sure to bring back some memories. If that is not of your generation, how about the pink 1978 van which was used in the Charlie's Angels television series?

"All of the cars run," Kalson says with pride. Van Roekel couldn't have found a better person to manage his collection of cars; the 66-year-old Kalson retired in 1987 from a 41-year career that included jobs a service manager for Studebaker and shop foreman for a Hudson dealer.

Not only does Alamo Classic Car Museum have an exciting collection of vehicles, they also have antique and unusual toys, license plates, and a collection of over 300 monkey wrenches. Car buffs can test their skill by identifying the collection of car taillights covering one wall.

Coming up this weekend...

Hug-In Weekend Dance reunites chili-heads and visitors at Luckenbach for food and music, Feb. 16. 210/997-3224.

Carnaval/Mardi Gras San Marcos Style means party time around the courthouse and at selected sites, Feb. 16-17.

Coming up...

Worldwide Leap Year Festival throws a big birthday party for everyone born on Feb. 29, Feb. 29-Mar. 3. 505/882-5677.

Day Trips, Vol.1, a book of the first 100 Day Trips from this column, updated and expanded, is available for $6.95, plus $3.05 for shipping and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, 1712 E. Riverside Dr., Box 156, Austin, TX 78741. n

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