Pre-1916 car club making way across Whidbey this week | Slideshow

Mike Martin can’t say how many miles his 1914 Cadillac has travelled.

Mike Martin can’t say how many miles his 1914 Cadillac has travelled.

“The odometer doesn’t work,” Martin said. “They tend to break.

“The guy who restored it drove it cross-country three times, we think.”

Martin and his wife Carolyn will put a few more miles on their century-old car when they drive from their home in Stanwood to Whidbey Island this weekend for the start of the Island Navigator Tour.

The Skagit-Snohomish chapter of the Horseless Carriage Club of America picked Oak Harbor as the hub of its once-a-year big getaway, which starts Sunday, Sept. 7 and doesn’t wrap up until Thursday, Sept. 11.

Sixty-seven pre-1916 vehicles are scheduled to hit the streets and highways of Whidbey, requiring patience from resident commuters.

“A comfortable speed is about 35-40 mph,” Martin said. “I’ve had it faster, but it’s not good for it.”

This is the first time the Skagit-Snohomish chapter has based a tour on Whidbey, Martin said.

He and co-chair Pat Farrell, the trip’s organizers, have Oak Harbor roots, though Martin was only in town for a few years when he attended elementary school.

Previous sites of the tour have included Port Townsend, Walla Walla, Bellingham and Vancouver, Wash.

“This is our big tour,” said Steve Hammatt, a member from Mount Vernon. “We’ve done one and two-day things sometimes, but once a year we put on a fall tour and that’s five days and in a different location every year.”

The itinerary calls for different places on the island each day, with a return trip to Oak Harbor each night.

The vehicles will converge on Windjammer Park in Oak Harbor for a barbecue Sunday night. Then there are trips planned for Ebey’s Landing, Fort Casey and downtown Coupeville Monday, Freeland and Langley Tuesday and an off-island trek to La Conner Wednesday.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, parking in downtown Coupeville will be reserved for the club.

This is the 17th tour for the Skagit-Snohomish chapter of the Horseless Carriage Club of America, which has been around since 1937.

On its website, the parent club defines the Horseless Carriage “as any pioneer gas, steam and electric motor vehicle built or manufactured prior to January 1, 1916.”

The club’s mission is to preserve these cars, restore them to their original condition and get them on the road. However, membership only requires an interest in vehicles of this time period, not ownership.

“The very earliest years of them look like horse-drawn wagons but the horse was missing,” Hammatt said. “That was the early nickname for them. Our club decided to use that term and actually define it up to the end of the 1915 production.”

Featured on the tour will be Cadillacs, Ford Model T’s, a Stutz Bearcat, a Pullman and Hudsons, among others. Some of the drivers will be wearing period clothing.

Steam-powered vehicles such as Stanley Steamers also will be a part of the tour, which is being co-hosted by the Steam Automobile Club of America.

When century-old vehicles break down, the drivers tend to be adept at sorting out issues.

“If you take it to somebody all the time, it’s going to be an expensive hobby,” Martin said. “Part of the problem is you can’t find anybody to work on it anymore.”

Navigator Tour

  • Sixty-seven pre-1916 vehicles are scheduled to participate in the Island Navigator Tour on Whidbey Island Sept. 7-11. The tour is the annual getaway road trip for the Skagit-Snohomish chapter of the Horseless Carriage Club of America. The Steam Automobile Club of America is co-hosting the event. For more information on the Horseless Carriage Club of America, go to its website at