What is a Rip Van Winkle car?

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What is a Rip Van Winkle car?

Post by Sarikatime » Fri Sep 11, 2020 4:03 pm

I know I am asking a stupid question, but..... I have heard the term for the last twenty five years, but, heard so many versions that I am no longer sure. Clarification, or your version greatly appreciated. Frank

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Re: What is a Rip Van Winkle car?

Post by George Mills » Fri Sep 11, 2020 4:22 pm

A long time ago when the earth was young...

A bunch of T-guys found a barn fresh car that reportedly had only couple dozen miles on it...

To them it was like discovering your wife just had triplets...or...in simpler terms they had just won the knowledge lottery...

Most of the background on it was anecdotal, yet went on to be totally accepted as 100% fact...

No issue with that approach, someone has to set the reference point somewhere...

It was nicknamed Rip Van Winkle because it was as if it just went to sleep now 100 odd years ago and woke up totally unmolested and still with (almost) the new car smell.

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Re: What is a Rip Van Winkle car?

Post by Wayne Sheldon » Fri Sep 11, 2020 4:26 pm

Not a stupid question at all. The answer is twofold. "A" Rip Van Winkle car can be any car that has slept quietly somewhere for a very long time. People tend to misuse this expression way too often just as they misuse words and phrases such as "original" or "barn find" far too often when they really are not appropriate. Generally, it should refer to a car that has remained in nearly new untouched condition, only somewhat aged by time.
"The" Rip Van Winkle car is a specific 1917 model T Ford touring car that was bought new (in 1917),and almost immediately put into storage. Except for a brief day or two when the car was literally stolen from its barn, it had only a few miles on it (if I recall correctly, this happened during the 1930s?). It was driven only a few more miles before it was recovered and returned into its hiding place. The car was discovered almost completely intact (except for a tire destroyed on the joy ride) in the 1950s, having never been worked on or altered since new. It has been painstakingly preserved as the most perfect example of a model T just as it left the factory when new.
THE Rip Van Winkle car has been studied by many historians and hobbyists to learn how a proper 1917 should be. It has been written up in the Vintage Ford magazine, and reprinted in Bruce McCalley's famous book.

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Re: What is a Rip Van Winkle car?

Post by ivaldes1 » Fri Sep 11, 2020 4:53 pm

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Re: What is a Rip Van Winkle car?

Post by Rich Eagle » Fri Sep 11, 2020 4:59 pm

That is a nice original car. The Rip Van Winkle car I remember was the one Wayne mentioned. A 1917 in the Vintage Ford Magazine. Here is a discussion of it.
http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/50 ... 1434989640
And these:
http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/50 ... 1431453212
http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/33 ... 1378326606
When did I do that?

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Re: What is a Rip Van Winkle car?

Post by Aarongriffey » Fri Sep 11, 2020 5:41 pm

Actually the Rip Van Winkle car was found in a shed in north western Wisconsin, as I recal.
And it had been molested a little bit.
As I recall one rear tire was missing. Something like that.
The car had been purchased from a local dealer by a guy who did not really want it.
He drove it home and let it sit.

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Re: What is a Rip Van Winkle car?

Post by Jim_PTC_GA » Fri Sep 11, 2020 5:55 pm

I think it's a car bought for a purpose then life gets in the way. Dad had a few in the barn like that. A nice Volvo and a few Datsuns.
Just give me time to Rust and I'll be good as new. :) Wabi-Sabi

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Re: What is a Rip Van Winkle car?

Post by FreighTer Jim » Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:04 pm

The person most qualified to answer your question
is Kim Dobbins.

He - along with Don Lang - were responsible for finding a new home for the 1917 Ford Model T with Steve Ames.

You can read this thread @ http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/33 ... 1378326606

I was present when Kim picked up this car.

He asked me to pick up a Manx Towd Dune Buggy
and a Model T for his friend Don.

I remember this because it was the catalyst for having an 8 foot tall door for all my custom car hauler trailers.

In my trailer now is this 1907 Ford Model N that is
on it’s way to Austin, Texas.


It is about 7 feet 6 inches tall 😉


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Re: What is a Rip Van Winkle car?

Post by Erik Johnson » Fri Sep 11, 2020 7:10 pm

In my opinion the moniker "Rip Van Winkle" should be reserved solely for the 1917 Rip Van Winkle touring.

That car was purchased new in 1917 by Oscar Peterson of Center City, Minnesota and driven 5.9 miles from the dealer to Mr. Peterson's homestead and parked in a garage where it sat unused, on jacks, for 20 years. In other words, it "slumbered "for 20 years, like the character Rip Van Winkle in the short story of the same name by Washington Irving, until 1937 when Mr. Peterson died and it was sold at his estate auction to Ford dealer Eugene Princeton. It was still shiny and in new condition at that time.

After the estate auction, Eugene Princeton started the car and drove it across the border to his Ford dealership in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin and subsequently used it for promotional purposes whereupon he gave it the "Rip Van Winkle" moniker because it had "slept" for 20 years as explained above.

Unfortunately, Mr. Princeton eventually put the car in poor storage, an open shed, where it suffered deterioration until Twin Citians Norm Nielsen and Gary Hoonsbeen "rescued" it in the 1970s.

Norm Nielsen was an early member of the Minnesota Region of the AACA and a friend of my father. I also knew him. I wouldn't doubt it if Norm had known about the car and its whereabouts for many years but kept it a secret until he and Gary brought it out of hiding in the 1970s.

Unfortunately, Norm and Gary are no longer with us so I have no way of verifying my hunch.

In addition to Model T Fords, Norm owned other antique cars but was probably best known among local antique automobile enthusiasts for owning two curved dash Oldsmobiles. Here is a press photo of Norm from the late 1960s showing him with one of his CDOs.
Norm Nielsen.jpg

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Re: What is a Rip Van Winkle car?

Post by Dan Hatch » Fri Sep 11, 2020 7:17 pm

The car and story is in the book “Model T Car that Changed the World “. This is the car you are talking about.
If you do not have this book, get it. Should be second book a T guy buys after an original copy of Ford Service Manual.

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Re: What is a Rip Van Winkle car?

Post by Steve Jelf » Fri Sep 11, 2020 11:41 pm

There is a write-up and a good many photos on "The" 1917 Rip Van Winkle in Bruce's book and in his Model T Encyclopedia. I believe they were originally published in The Vintage Ford. Unfortunately the old b&w photos are not of the highest quality. I would like to see new high-resolution pictures showing all the car in detail, perhaps as a gallery section on this website.
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Re: What is a Rip Van Winkle car?

Post by Original Smith » Sat Sep 12, 2020 10:23 am

Kim Dobbins owned the car for awhile. Before he sold it, he let me drive it around the parking lot. It's amazing to drive a new Model T. The feel is not the same as a restored one.

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Re: What is a Rip Van Winkle car?

Post by Dan Hatch » Sat Sep 12, 2020 11:12 am

I know what you mean Larry. I have a friend that has his Dad’s 17 Touring that was restored with all NOS parts. No reproduction parts at all. It also was a low miles car beforehand.
While it is not an original car, That car is the best T I have ever driven.
This man would clean out Ford dealers on the 1950’s. He had more NOS stuff than most T guys have just parts. That is where your Battery case came from Larry.

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Re: What is a Rip Van Winkle car?

Post by John kuehn » Sat Sep 12, 2020 1:48 pm

So it seems the 17 Touring that was given the moniker rip Rip Van Winkle is the closest Model T in newly new or almost new condition that’s been found after it was sold to the public.

If there were others out there that were in similar condition when found the 17 is probably the most well known. Others probably were bought and redone and not really known about.

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Re: What is a Rip Van Winkle car?

Post by modeltspaz » Sat Sep 12, 2020 2:32 pm

Prior to Kim Dobbins ownership, the car was owned by a gentleman from the Bakersfield area and could be seen once in awhile at the H.C.C.A. Bakersfield Swap Meet.
I won't post the man's name here due to the fact that I haven't been given permission by him to do so but, I can say that the car can be seen running and driving in an episode of the late Huell Howser's PBS series "California's Gold" covering the historic Ridge Route.
This episode possibly may be found by Googling "California's Gold Ridge Route".
Good luck.
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