'Cream of the crop' on display at annual Cruise in Car Show in Williamsport

WILLIAMSPORT — About 60 cars and trucks, some vintage, others from the fabulous ’50s or turbulent ’60s and beyond, lined up on the rolling lawns of Milestone Farm Saturday at the 4th Annual Cruise in Car Show.

Impressive as the auto array, it paled in comparison to the 90 trucks and automobiles in the garages and massive main building of Don Bowman’s Classic Car Museum at 10702 Hopewell Road.

The Bowman collection is a celebration of “Made in America,” from its oldest car, a 1906 Ford N, predecessor to the legendary Model T., to late-model Corvettes.

Bowman, 79, started the D.M. Bowman Inc., trucking company in Williamsport 59 years ago with a single truck. Today the company has 380 trucks and a payroll of more than 1,000, including those who work in the company’s three area hotels.

Bowman said he favors cars from the 1930s, “with their flowing lines.”

“They have character unlike cars today,” he said. “You can’t tell one car from another.”

Two examples of the best in American cars from the Great Depression era were Bowman’s “most valuable car,” a gray 1935 Packard four-door sedan he bought in Washington state, and a deep red 1931 Chrysler Imperial four-door open touring car, with rich pleated leather upholstery and bright chrome that shined in all the right places. Both spoke money.

Gary and Caron Ann Rossman from Hagerstown were taking a long look at the Chrysler. Gary was impressed with the chromed wind-deflecting wing windows that protected backseat passengers.

“Can you imagine having money to buy this car when most people couldn’t even buy milk?” he said. “There are more high-class cars here than in most car shows.”

“Trust me,” Carol Ann said, “this is the cream of the crop.”

Bowman estimated the Chrysler and Packard probably sold for somewhere around $ 4,000 each, or “about seven times the price of a Model A.”

His collection includes a few cars he bought new, like a white 1966 Pontiac Bonneville for $ 3,815.

“It was my first new car,” he said.

Bowman still has the black 1950 Chevrolet four-door sedan he drove to high school.

“I graduated in 1956 in the last class of Hagerstown High School.”

The garages also held a truck collection, including a 1961 Mack Model B61. It was his first new truck and cost $ 12,500.

It was used first to pull a dump trailer carrying coal. Company drivers had driven the truck 260,000 miles when he traded it in 1964. He bought it back in 1993 for $ 1,000 and spent $ 30,000 restoring it to original condition.

In 1995, according to a plaque on the truck, it won a national Antique Auto Club of America first prize.

Four models in the Corvette room include a 1954 six-cylinder, made a year after the first Corvette debuted in 1953. The newest was made in 2014.

Saturday’s car show was sponsored by the Mason-Dixon Region American Automobile Club Association. It was held in the memory of Jone L. Bowman, Don Bowman’s late wife who died in 2014.

Jone Bowman was active in Hospice of Washington County, and was untiring in its effort to raise $ 5 million to build Doey’s House, a in-patient, residential and respite services facility, said Karen Giffin, spokeswoman for Hospice.

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