Rare car revs up Wheelin' Walla Walla

Car owner Chuck Nelson and daughter Jeanette Nelson carefully lower one-half of the hood on a 1907 Peugot 92-D Labourette, one of only two in existence, according to Nelson, during the Wheelin’ Walla Walla Weekend car show Saturday. Nelson bought the car, which has since been appraised at $1.6 million, from a museum four years ago and has tried to contact the Swiss owners of the only other version of this vehicle. The car is stored in a bubble to protect it but Nelson drove it himself to the car show on Main Street, where it attracted lots of attention.

Car owner Chuck Nelson and daughter Jeanette Nelson carefully lower one-half of the hood on a 1907 Peugot 92-D Labourette, one of only two in existence, according to Nelson, during the Wheelin’ Walla Walla Weekend car show Saturday. Nelson bought the car, which has since been appraised at $1.6 million, from a museum four years ago and has tried to contact the Swiss owners of the only other version of this vehicle. The car is stored in a bubble to protect it but Nelson drove it himself to the car show on Main Street, where it attracted lots of attention. Photo by Matthew Zimmerman Banderas.

Advertisement

photo

Sun shines on one of the headlamps on the 1907 Peugot.

WALLA WALLA — The 17th annual Wheelin’ Walla Walla saw 365 classic cars and trucks lined on Main Street from Palouse Street to Fifth Avenue on Saturday.

This year, the People’s Choice award went to a 1941 Willy’s owned by Chip and Bernie Chipman of Salem.

The Best of the Show went to another 1941 Willy’s owned by Brian Leetch of Camas, Ore.

As for the best of the oldest — pre-1928 restoration cars — that went to a 105-year-old Peugeot owned by Chuck Nelson of Walla Walla, who added his car is one of only two known to exist.

Debuting on Saturday was Nelson’s 1907 92D Labordette.

“I love this car. It is so unique, and its advanced technology for that period of time,” Nelson said. And he quickly opened the hood to prove it.

Once unlatched and propped open, a small gathering of old car enthusiasts feasted their eyes on a 283 cubic-inch, T-head, four-cylinder engine with dual exhausts that powered a four-speed gear box capable of speeds of up to 60 mph.

The massive cylinders are fed by brass fuel lines routed through a brass water-cooling system in order to raise the fuel temperature for better firing.

And when that fuel needs igniting, there’s no spark plug for this Peugeot. Two arcing steel rods powered by a magneto, you might say, power the spark in Nelson’s eye.

When the hood is closed, Nelson likes to point out that his 1907 Peugeot is a seven-seater luxury model, which normally would have been operated by a chauffeur.

After cranking the powerful engine, the chauffeur would have driven in a forward two-seat compartment in front of the windshield.

The one component that Nelson insisted on adding to the original was a starter so he wouldn’t have to crank the motor by hand.

But like the chauffeurs of old, he still has the task of keeping all the brass shiny.

“It is a luxury car for the time period. It’s got so much brass on it I work my butt off,” Nelson said.

Made in France, the car was shipped to its first owner in Brazil.

Nelson only wishes he knew to whom and how it was used.

Then a number of years ago it was in Argentina and was brought to the United States.

Nelson said he saw the car for sale a few years back and drove to Alabama to purchase it.

The car being so rare and valuable, Nelson said he keeps all the brass under felt and the entire Peugeot in a large air-controlled bubble to help preserve the wood and other original parts.

Occasionally he takes it out of the Carcoon, though never for more than a 15-mile trip, and never at night.

The original carbide head lamps, he explained, are too dangerous to light.

Then there is the issue of what to do when one of the Peugeot’s spoke rimmed tires gets a flat.

“I took it (the wheel and tire) down to Les Schwab and they spent an hour trying to take it off and putting on a new inner tube,” Nelson said.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment

4 free views left!