Talk about impulse buying.
“I was driving around in South Carolina one day and saw this in a yard with a ‘for sale’ sign, and I just had to have it,” Eric Neishloss said about the vehicle he brought to the 24th annual Mt. Lebanon Police Department Classic Car Show and Festival.
“Now I’m wondering why a little bit,” he admitted. “But it does attract a lot of attention.”
It’s a Mercedes-Benz but far removed from the ones you usually see tooling around the South Hills. Neishloss has a 1991 Gelandewagen model produced for the German military, complete with a camouflage paint job.
“The main reason I bring this up here is I advertise this as the only car in the show that you’re allowed to touch,” he explained during Sunday’s event along Washington Road in Uptown Mt. Lebanon. “So you bring your kids. You get your picture taken in the driver’s seat.”
The Gelandewagen can take it.
“I have a hard time getting it up over 50 miles an hour, but I can tow anything in this country, and maybe two of them at the same time,” Neishloss said.
The Upper St. Clair resident also owns a 1988 Morgan Plus 8, from the British marque that still has basically the same car style as it did in the 1930s. As such, it looks similar to Dave Burrows’ 1957 Morgan 4/4, which he brought to Sunday’s show.
“That means four wheels, four cylinders,” he explained about the model. That’s opposed to three-wheelers, which the Malvern Link, England, company built through 1952 and then revived in 2011.
The 4/4 had the distinction of transporting his daughter Dana to her 2014 wedding at The Pennsylvanian on Liberty Avenue.
“We lined the cars up, and she said, ‘I want to go in this,’ because she grew up with this car,” Burrows recalled. “I said, ‘Dana, how the hell are you going to get yourself with a wedding dress into this?’”
She managed, and the day’s vehicular entourage – also including a 1932 fire truck, 1948 Pontiac and Rolls-Royce for the bridesmaids – ended up being featured in a Pittsburgh newspaper article, copies of which Burrows keeps on hand to show folks who ask about his car.
The Mt. Lebanon resident also owned a 1951 Morgan four-seater but recently sold it to the grandson of the original owner, who took it back to England.
Also from the United Kingdom comes the MG, one of the first small European cars to gain popularity across the pond, so to speak. North Strabane Township residents Greg and Kathryn Madej brought their 1958 MGA, with original engine and transmission, to Sunday’s show.
“We wanted a car that was a driver, one that wasn’t necessarily a big show car,” Kathryn explained. “We just wanted to be able to go out and cruise in it, and we’ve done that.”
According to Greg, seeing several MGs lined up at a British car show also served as inspiration for the purchase.
“I said to Kathryn, ‘Gee, I’ve always wanted one. They’re really a very pretty car, very sleek,” he recalled. “We eventually found one. It was a hard search to find something reasonably priced but is a good drive and in nice condition.”
They also have a 1966 Jaguar S-Type, which they brought to Mt. Lebanon previously, and Kathryn’s 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle.
“It’s a white-on-white-on-white convertible,” she said. “It’s really cute, a really sweet little car.”
While Jaguar and Volkswagen remain in production, MGs ceased as of 1980. And the American output of Kaisers ended a quarter of a century before that.
Nevertheless, Art Hartley of Kennedy Township continues to be a big fan of Kaiser and its associated marque Frazer, having owned half a dozen of the long-departed cars over the years, as per a tradition started by his parents.
“In 1947, they had a rooming house that they wanted to sell, and the Kaiser-Frazer dealer offered a new Frazer for part payment,” he said. “And we went through the whole spiel of Kaisers and Frazers before they went out of business.”
Hartley’s current example, which he showed in Mt. Lebanon, is a Kaiser Manhattan two-door club sedan.
“It’s a six-cylinder, three-speed with overdrive, and it moves beautifully,” he explained. “They only made 250 of these in 1953, so it’s a rare car.”
Also showing his appreciation for the cars produced for the model years 1946-55, Hartley has been a member of the Kaiser Frazer Owners Club since the 1970s:
“I’ve had a lot of enjoyment, made a lot of friends and been all over the place to their national meets.”