DALLAS TWP. — For Tony Casagrande, the parking lot of Dallas High School provided a perfect venue Sunday to place his prized 1953 Chevrolet on public view — other than driving it around town, that is.
Casagrande, of Plains Township, was one of over 100 people who displayed their antique autos and trucks at a benefit show conducted by the student Economics Club of Dallas. Overall, Collin Pertl, club president, said 105 cars were exhibited. Pertl was assisted at the award festivities by advisers Tom Gilroy and Dennis Garvey.
“I drive this car all the time in spring and summer,” Casagrande said, ” But come October it goes in the garage. It doesn’t come out when the weather’s bad.”
That’s because, Casagrande pointed out, the ‘53 four-door BelAir, has been totally repainted to the two-tone trend of ’50s — woodland green and campus cream. A majority of the chrome has also been replaced and a spare tire package added to the trunk area. The engine has been totally reworked, Casagrande said. It has 235 horsepower with a standard four-speed manual transmission.
Casagrande said he found the car through a newspaper advertisement. He purchased it from a man in Biglersville for $5,000. Ironically, in the trunk after bringing the car to Plains, he discovered an original invoice stating that the car was purchased for $2,050 on August 7, 1953 by a Scranton resident, George Watkins.
For the most part, Casagrande said he and his wife drive the car to destinations in the Poconos and Macungee. “There is no air conditioning, so like back in the ‘50 we just roll down the windows and let the air blow in.”
The radio, which is an older vacuum tube type, still operates, although he confessed, “It’s hard to find fifties music.”
Casagrande who said he is a U.S. Army Signal Corps veteran and a retired salesman, said that much of the restoration and maintenance is the work of his buddy Joe Ferack, of Plains.
Casagrande added that at times on the open road, he had the 63-year-old car traveling at 70 MPH. And, he added that if anyone has an interest in a ‘53, the car might be purchased for about $15,000.
In discussing the Economics Club, Gilroy pointed out that Dallas is only one of two such organizations at a high school level — the other is in Hawaii. Overall, the club consists of 26 members. An associated aspect of its activities includes stock market investing, Gilroy said. This year, Gilroy added, Dallas’ investments yielded 8.7 percent.
In the “Best of Show” judging, awards went to: Gene Markley best of MOPAR, a 1966 Dodge Coronet; Mike Tkatch, best of Ford, a 1932 Ford Hiboy; Joe Alexander, best of truck, 1965 Chevrolet; Mike Sober, best of GM, 1967 Chevy Nova and Sam Tefee, best import, a 2004 Lotus.