NEVER BREAK THE CHAIN (OF OWNERSHIP)
When I asked James Voldrecht of Groton, NY how long he had this American Bantam Closed Coupe he said, “All my life.”
YES! This 1938 American Bantam was purchased new in ’38 by his great-aunt. She bequeathed it to her brother-in-law, his grandfather, on her deathbed with the stipulation that he either scrap it or fix it, but never sell it. So, he honored her request and stored the car in his junkyard inside the back of a Charlie’s Chips panel van that was surrounded by stacks of several other junk cars so it wouldn’t be touched.
In 1984, his grandfather retrieved the Bantam, scrapped all the junk cars, and sold off the land. The Closed Coupe was then restored over the course of 20 years, but James’ granddad only spend about $2,300 out of pocket. “He’d barter for everything. He built a deck for the guy who did the paint. The lady that sewed the interior, she got a new roof put on her house.”
Eventually the car was passed down to James’ dad, but he was too big to fit in it, so it now belongs to James. “Every show we go to people ask, ‘What the hell is that?’ I have to explain, ‘Well, you know the Jeep? This is the company that designed the original for WWII.’ These are the cars they were building in Butler, PA just prior to that.”
While it gathers a lot of attention, it doesn’t go very fast. It’s equipped with a 45 cubic inch engine good for about 20 HP with a 3-speed manual transmission.