Watkins wins Oldsmobile award

By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

WINNING THE TOP PRIZE — in the Modified Classes at the Oldsmobile Nationals in Sturbridge, Massachusetts in July was Skip Watkins of Casco, pictured here with the reproduction 1905 Oldsmobile Sedan Delivery Car he built. (Ackley Photo)

CASCO — Skip Watkins began building cars with his good friend Tony Williams from Freeport, when both were students at Fryeburg Academy in the mid1950s.

Since then, Skip has never really stopped doing what he loves to do.

Now, after owning and operating Skip’s Auto Repair and Sales here for 40 years, these days Skip, who is 70 years old, devotes his time to restoring original models and building reproductions of vintage Oldsmobiles.

In July, Skip captured top honors at the 2010 Oldsmobile Nationals in Sturbridge, Massachusetts in the Modified Classes division, with his reproduction 1905 Oldsmobile Sedan Delivery Car.

“People come to the Nationals from all over the United States, Canada and other countries,” said Skip. “I got the First Place trophy!”

Referring to his award winning vehicle, Skip said, “This is a 2010 version of the 1905 Sedan Delivery Car. It was a pie wagon used to deliver pastries of all kinds — pies, cakes, doughnuts and whatever — it was a peddler’s vehicle, so to speak, 100 years ago. I built it, and I want to give thanks to my dear friend and helper, Jesse Walkley who works with me on the cars.”

Skip’s 1905 Sedan Delivery Car, that took him 18 months to build and which he completed in June of this year, has won other top awards at various car shows around Maine.

“It has since received ‘Best of Show’ at several local car shows, as well as the Children’s Trophy Award at the Oxford Car Show, and it has also received the People’s Choice Award at shows,” Skip said proudly.

“It’s the only one like it in the world, because it was built by me,” he stated. “It has three different kinds of independent suspension, and it has a 575 horsepower, 368 cubic inch engine. It also has two rear ends, which is unique.”

“I’ve been collecting Oldsmobiles, since 1955,” Skip stated. “I turned the whole thing around. I collected parts, for many years. So, when I got ready to build the cars, I had the parts — I had about 95 percent of the parts that I needed. Most of the cars are built from scratch, or from frame-off restorations.”

Skip is proud to be a member of the Oldsmobile Club of America and an advisor to the organization, as well.

“I like to help people solve problems, and I am also a judge,” said Skip.

The national car shows are judged on points,” he said, “and, it’s very difficult to get a perfect score of 1,000 points. My 1905 Sedan Delivery Car is a 1,000 point car!”

“I’ve been invited to the Nationals in Reno, Nevada, next year, to be a judge,” said Skip with great enthusiasm.

He is also a member of the Pleasant Mountain Chapter of MOAL — Maine Obsolete Auto League.

“The Pleasant Mountain Chapter of MOAL has many special and dear people — some of the finest people in the world,” said Skip. “It’s a wonderful group to be associated with, and they are very special to me.”

‘For other people’s enjoyment’

“I build these cars for personal satisfaction, but particularly for other people’s enjoyment,” Skip said. “I love to make people happy and give them something pleasant to see and talk about.”

“This car and many others can be viewed at the Raymond-Casco Historical Society Museum — the Oldsmobiles, particularly,” Skip pointed out. The museum, which is located on Roosevelt Trail (Route 302) in Casco is open on Wednesdays from 1 to 3 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. Look for the big red barn with a large mural painted on it. Visitors to the museum can also see a 1928 Olds Sport Coupe, of which there are less than six known to exist, as well as a 1921 Maxwell Roadster, of which less than 10 exist. “That’s the only street rod known to be made by Maxwell,” said Skip.

“I want to say that it’s very important to me — it’s the most rewarding thing in the world — when people, particularly elderly people, come to see the cars from their past,” said Skip. “It is so special, to be able to make other people happy by taking them back to a time that was near and dear to them and restore their memories. We have a 1934 Olds (Gold Finger) that one lady who came here remembers riding in the rumble seat of one just like it! She loved seeing the one we have! If I’d given her a million dollars, she couldn’t have been happier! It was an emotional time.”

One gentleman in his nineties, really touched Skip’s heart, like none of the others had, he said.

“An older gentleman from New York, in his nineties, once owned an Olds’ like the ones we have here, and he thanked me, wholeheartedly, because I had one like the one he and his wife had when they were a young married couple,” said Skip, emotion welling up, as he spoke. “He didn’t have long to live, and he thanked me before he left, with tears in his eyes. There have been other situations like that. It’s unbelievably rewarding and part of why I keep doing this, and I will continue to do it, until I can’t do it anymore — for people’s enjoyment! As I said, I’ll keep doing it, as long as I can!”

“It’s the greatest thrill of all — like the lady who remembered riding in the rumble seat and the elderly gentleman from New York State — both of them — that was worth the whole year, it was so special to me — and very emotional and very touching. It’s all about people. That’s what it’s all about — and it is!”

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