Real Steel: Stories of Automotive Archeaology, From Kevin Biebel
Not since Schenectady’s famed Stichel Collection have the cars of a single owner graced the Saratoga Automobile Museum’s Golub Gallery. But when the bright, racy vehicles that comprised the very successful “The British Are Coming” exhibit return to their respective owners in the fall, Connecticut collector Biebel’s cars will provide a totally new look for the winter season.
The exhibit was inspired when the huge crowd at last fall’s Saratoga Wine and Food Festival was captivated by Biebel’s 1907 Success, one of the trophy winners at the Concours d’Elegance organized for the Festival by the Saratoga Automobile Museum.
“The Success is the only known ‘Model B’ that still exists and it’s totally original,” offers Biebel proudly. “The car was the 258th vehicle purchased by Bill Harrah when he was building his world famous collection and it came with all the documents and photos from when he acquired it in the early 1960s.”
Literally a wooden buckboard with a small internal combustion engine replacing the horse, the amazing vehicle shows just how far the automotive world has come in just over a century. Adding to this theme will be Biebel’s all-original 1908 Sears, which he acquired from the long-standing Bridgewater, NY, Auto Museum, where tourists were separated from the vintage vehicles by a wall of chicken wire.
Moving to the next decade, Biebel has another all-original vehicle, a 1914 Model T Touring car with just 2500 miles on the odometer that was recently shown at the huge Hershey, PA, show. From the 1920s, the collection has a ’25 Model T two-door sedan that Biebel first viewed at age 11, then followed for some 40 years before purchasing it, still in its original condition. A ’28 Model A roadster completes that decade, followed by a 1931 Model A deluxe roadster barn find and a 1932 Plymouth sports roadster. The gleaming roadster, sporting black paint with a bright orange beltline and orange upholstery and wire wheels, is an AACA national first prize winner.
Biebel’s interest also extend to drag racing, with the exhibit set to include a dragster that competed at California’s Lion’s Drag Strip, a venue familiar to anyone who read Hot Rod magazine in the 50s and 60s. A collector of memorabilia and artifacts as well as automobiles, Kevin will display the original embroidered Dietz silver fire suit, helmet and goggles acquired with his beautiful 1960 Kent Fuller Hilborn injected Ford flathead powered dragster that remains just as it finished its last race at Albuquerque, NM, in 1965.
Not to be forgotten are the 1969 Torino 428 Cobra Jet that is also an AACA national first prize winner and Biebel’s pride and joy, an all-original 1912 Harley Davidson found in a barn in 1956 by a serviceman returning from Korea. A few years later, it was stashed in a house and sat undisturbed until 2003 before being “rediscovered” and passing to Biebel.
Other vehicles may be added as the exhibit comes together, but it is certain that the Kevin Biebel Collection exhibit will feature something of interest to everyone while providing a look back at the earliest days of the automotive industry.