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Roadtrippin’ 2022: Traveling in style with the Antique Auto Mushers of Alaska in Chitina

Roadtrippin’ 2022: Traveling in style with the Antique Auto Mushers of Alaska in Chitina
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 6:21 PM AKDT
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CHITINA, Alaska (KTUU) - When a line of antique automobiles heads down Main Street in Chitina, it definitely turns some heads. Members of the Antique Auto Mushers of Alaska club are driving Model A’s, classic Buicks and other vintage vehicles you rarely see outside parades.

The club is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its founding with a road trip that President Linda Mattes-Golding said is long overdue.

“We haven’t done this in three years and we are anxious to finally be out doing something,” she said.

COVID-19 slowed the club from taking the type of longer road trips that attract members from around the state. But this year is different — more than a dozen drivers and their autos will be making the sometimes grueling 60-mile journey from Chitina to McCarthy on an unpaved gravel road.

Mattes-Golding will be driving her classic 1987 French Citroen.

“It’s got a great suspension system,” she said, demonstrating the car’s ability to bounce. “It’s a great little car, and considering that you’re sitting on rubber bands, it’s extremely comfortable”.

Philip Morrow, 91, will be driving his 1928 Ford Model A Tudor.

“I’ve owned this one for about 10 years, I have three Model A’s,” Morrow said.

He added the ride reminds him of cars he had in college. When he’s behind the wheel, he said, it makes him feel young again.

The vintage cars and even some of their drivers may seem too delicate for the road, but most are seasoned travelers. Tamea and Art Isham, who organized the trip, have put many miles on their 1930 Ford Model A sedan.

“We go down to Homer, we’ve gone to Seldovia, we’ve gone to Cordova on the ferry,” said Tamea Isham. “You name it, we’ve been there.”

The couple owns 11 vintage autos.

“We had 14 cars not more than two or three months ago that we just didn’t drive all that much,” said Art Isham. “So I advertised them and sold them.”

Isham said collecting old cars is “kind of an addiction,” but one they happily indulge in. Being in the club has brought them many friends over the years and the autos are constantly attracting more.

“You end up joining the club because of the cars, and you end up staying and attending all the events because of the people,” said another longtime member Rick Larrick.

As for the trip to McCarthy, club president Mattes-Golding said she didn’t anticipate any problems.

“I think it’s going to be fine and it’s going to be fun,” she said, adding that club members are excited to get back on the road. “We haven’t done this in 3 years and we are anxious to finally be out doing something.”

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