1928 Gardner Model 85 Sport Roadster, an American classic, sure to grab attention at the 2015 Milwaukee Masterpiece
Milwaukee, Wis. – (June 11, 2015) Bob and Kim Gardner of St. Paul, Minn., are showing a 1928 Gardner Model 85 Sport Roadster in the 2015 Milwaukee Masterpiece Concours d’Elegance on Aug. 23. It’s almost like bringing a member of the family to the event. Here’s the story of how the Gardners became the caretakers of the Gardner.
Bob Gardner says he got the bug for old cars at the ripe age of 4. By the time he was 14 he had discovered there “once was a car with my name.” Revealing this to his dad, his father told him that indeed, at one time, he had owned a Gardner.
In his adult years Bob continued his research on the Gardner. In 1982, when attending the Old Car Show in Iola, Wis., he saw a 1926 Gardner Cabriolet. No doubt it was love at first sight. Later, attending a car show in Hershey, Pa., he met George Breckenridge of Yates City, Ill., who owned a 1928 Gardner Model 85 Sport Roadster. George bought the car from former Racine, Wis., Mayor and Judge Francis H. Wendt. A long friendship between George and Bob started then and there. The two kept in touch over the years.
In 2007, George decided he wanted to sell the Gardner. Bob bought it, and along with the purchase came three boxes of Gardner literature that George had collected.
In the spring of 2008 Bob took the Gardner to Ohlendorf Restorations in Illinois. He had great respect for the capabilities of owner Tim Ohlendorf.
The Roadster had not been driven since 1960. The engine and transmission were out of the car but the engine had been rebuilt. The body was in excellent condition. The car and the pile of parts appeared to be complete. “When restoring a car such as this, complete is really important,” Bob noted. “A few weeks after the car arrived at Ohlendorf, Tim called and said we were missing the bell housing, starter and a couple of other parts.”
The bell housing is unique to Gardner and finding one was not likely. Fortunately, Bob visited George a few weeks later and found those missing parts.
Bob became the Gardner Car historian five years before the purchase of the Roadster. Shortly after the acquisition he began to build a registry of other Gardner owners. “We were helping each other find parts. I was searching for the spark, throttle and headlight knobs that are mounted in the steering wheel. I turned to a good friend and member of the network who kindly lent me the critical parts so they could be duplicated for my car. I cannot overstate the importance of a club and mutual assistance when restoring a car,” he said.
With the mechanical work completed, the Gardners had to decide on the paint scheme. “We had a quite a decision to make as Gardner had 50 color combinations for 1928 plus they offered any color a customer wanted for an extra fee,” Bob noted. “We could have picked anything but we liked the colors featured in a 1928 Gardner ad: red and buckskin with black fenders and aprons. Gardner had 25 different trim choices in 1928, an incredible number for a manufacturer that only built 3,000 cars that year. We chose black leather upholstery and a maroon top,” he said.
The Roadster was finished in 2012. By October 2012 George was very ill so Bob and Kim took the car to George and his wife Maureen, a visit they were happy to make to allow George to see the Gardner in its restored glory.
“We love showing the car and sharing the Gardner story,” Bob concluded.
- Gardner Motor Car Company was based in St. Louis, Mo, and built cars from 1920 to 1931.
- The roadster model came with a high-speed rear end, something made possible by the lightweight of a roadster body.
- The model 85’s eight inline 247 cid Lycoming engine produced 86 h.p. The model 95 used a 115 h.p. Lycoming, the most powerful American production 8 on the market in 1928.
- Wire wheels and dual side mounts were standard equipment for the Sport Roadster. Attention to details is evident in the art deco design on the door sills and dashboard. Look for these at the Masterpiece.
- Some unusual features on the Gardner include the use of hydraulic brakes, a unique automatic lubrication system where oil is supplied to the front and rear shackles based on the up and down motion of the front end, and its Griffin radiator mascot.
About The Milwaukee Masterpiece, presented by The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank
The Milwaukee Masterpiece, presented by The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank: It’s more than a car show
On the surface, The Milwaukee Masterpiece, presented by The Private Client Reserve, appears to be a car show, a stunning one at that as Veterans Park is filled for two days on an August weekend with many unique marques and collector favorites.
But look a bit deeper and you’ll discover that The Milwaukee Masterpiece event includes a variety of facets that collectively define the Masterpiece as a comprehensive event.
Each facet is unique and would be successful on its own; together they comprise and deliver the full Milwaukee Masterpiece experience. Those facets, each distinctive, include:
- The Milwaukee Masterpiece Concours d’ Elegance.
- Club Saturday at the M.
- The Masterpiece Marketplace.
- The Style & Speed Social.
- Food and beverage.
- Masterpiece memorabilia.
The Masterpiece Ltd., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, hosts the annual Milwaukee Masterpiece Concours d’Elegance; Club Saturday at the M, a casual car show; and the Style & Speed Social, a social event on the evening preceding Sunday’s Concours d’ Elegance.
Proceeds from the weekend events will benefit the Masterpiece’s three designated charities – Autism Society of Southeast Wisconsin, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and Meta House. In 2014 The Masterpiece Ltd. distributed more than $37,000 to the three organizations. Since its inception, more than $187,000 has been distributed to charitable organizations.