Retired Motor Engineer Spends 15 Years on Restoring a Century-Old Car

Terrence Cleife restored a 1916 American LaFrance car 1 photo
Photo: Screenshots from Barcroft's Youtube Account
The American LaFrance Fire Engine Company was primarily known for its fabulous fire trucks, but quickly after World Way I the company had readjusted its priorities to road cars. The famous Elmira, New York firm started manufacturing what later was regarded as “mighty fast” machines.
Sure, when he found it, Terrence Cleife bought a wreck of a 1916 American LaFrance car. It was back in 1998 when the retired motor engineer has started his long adventure. The pre-war vehicle had been dismantled and was laying as scrap metal on the floor of a barn when the car enthusiast found it.

According to the folks over at Barcroft, the car’s missing parts were welded by Terry out of bronze and cast iron to match the vehicle's original chassis and the engine completely re-assembled. It took him quite a lot to have the car in one piece, but now he is by far the main attraction of motorists in the neighborhood, as passers-by stop him to take pictures and whatnot.

And they have all the reasons to be suprised. American LaFrance was quite famous for its fire engines, fire aerials and emergency apparatus they have been building as one of the oldest players in the game. With roots that go back to approximately 1832, the company located in Summerville, South Carolina, has announced they would cease operations in January, last year.

Not that the car wasn’t special already considering its age, but the fact that it belongs to a company that doesn’t exists anymore makes it even more valuable. For instance, a similar model that was completely restored to its prior glory has sold for $118,250 at auction last October, so who knows how much Cleife could sell his for.

On the other hand, the fact that most of its pieces are not original could lower the value considerably. Moreover, it would seem Terry has not thoughts on selling the car so yet.

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