The Wellborn Musclecar Museum is at it again. This time 50-year-old Superbirds, ‘Cuda and Challengers are prowling the streets of Alexander City for the weekend.
And just because the cars are old doesn’t mean they are run down. John and Louise Rubenstein. of Hershey, PA drove their 1971 Roadrunner 850 miles one way to Alexander City. But the Rubensteins were prepared.
“Well, I did go through a quart of oil on the way,” John said. “It’s 850 miles, so I’m not complaining.
“I put a set of tires on it. I have an extra alternator, extra water pump, extra hoses and belts. I’m trying to reduce my risks.”
Like many homes of the 1970s air conditioning was optional. Temperatures are cooler now but it’s still warm during the day.
“It was nice and relaxing,” Rubenstein said. “We had air conditioning at 6 in the morning. It went away around 10, 11 o’clock and came back at 9 o’clock at night. Nice and cool air.”
Just like most old car owners, the Superbird has its own story connected to the owners. Rubenstein was introduced to cars by his father who was an antique car judge and car enthusiast.
“It has been in our family since 1978,” Rubenstein said. “My dad bought it. We just kept it and maintained it. We put about 400 to 500 miles a year on it, except this year. I figure we’ll put about 2,000 miles on it. It turned 60,000 miles on it coming down on this trip.”
The car was about to be auctioned off but a $20 deposit and deal was made.
“The next weekend, my dad and I got into a bus overnight from the Philadelphia area bus station,” Rubenstein said. “My dad had a case of cash and this guy had keys and a piece of paper. I was too young to drive it. About two minutes, the transaction took place. The guy opened the bag looked around. Closed it up. We got a set of keys and the title and off we went.”
Now the car has been on the track at Pocono with the Rubensteins and in the front and three children in the back. As their kids were growing up, car seats frequented the rear seat.
“At least two,” she said.
Now the Rubensteins enjoy sharing the car with others including a child on a bicycle who admired the car as Rubenstein was checking the oil during a stop on the way to Alexander City.
David LaRussa volunteers at the museum and has a special connection to MOPAR just like many of the car owners in town for the reunion.
“My Dad bought a ‘71 Barracuda new,” LaRussa said. “We still got it. It’s very special to me.
“One time we had an opportunity to sell it. There was this guy, of all places is here from Sweden. I’m at a car show in Birmingham. He was too. He wanted to buy the car. I took him home to meet my dad to see if he wanted to sell it. He said no.”
LaRussa said he isn’t sure about the Rubenstiens and their trek.
“You would have to give me a bottle of valium to drive this car from Pennsylvania here,” LaRussa said. “It is very valuable.”
Louise said the car got attention on the way.
“We got thumbs up honking horns, thumbs up from motorcycles and truck drivers,” she said.
John said it wasn’t for the car though.
“I get this all the time regardless of the car, I’m just that good looking,” Rubenstein said. “On my way to work too.”
And Louise got a little worried with the onlookers.
“People would get their phones out driving next to you and trying to get a picture sometimes swerving,” Louise said. “We were like, stay in your lane.”
John wasn’t too worried about it.
“You are making a decision to just slow down or take off,” John said. “I usually choose to take off.”
Rubenstein didn’t get too carried away even though a stretch of U.S. Highway 280 tempted him Wednesday night coming into town.
“It was straight and with bright lights on you could see and there was nothing,” Rubenstein said. “I mean there’s trees on either side. I was very tempted to put my right foot down and keep it there for a little while.
“Then I’m thinking if something breaks and I don’t have a part in the trunk to replace it. It would also be my luck there would be a police officer somewhere.I like 70 to 75 mph and the car is right at home with that.”
The Rubensteins will take their time getting back, but John does have to judge the Hersey show next weekend. But for now, the ‘71 Superbird will join others around the Wellborn Musclecar Museum Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the public is invited.