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One of the last early collector icons has passed

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Received a sad call this afternoon, my long time friend and fellow car collector Don Sommers of American Arrow parts and reproductions has passed away. Just two weeks ago I had an hour long telephone conversation with him. He was kind and generous to a very young boy back in the '70s learning cars. Over the years we did a few car deals and quite a bit of business in mascots, wheels, and other parts.

 

I will miss my old friend. Rest In Peace.

 

Ed

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Posted (edited)

He did fabulous work. I went in there one day when I was young and asked about a 1931 Dodge Brothers radiator cap that he made. He was a little gruff with me and told me that those were too difficult to make, so he quit making them. I asked politely if he would sell the example he had made that was in his display case and he did not get any more polite when he said, "No". I guess I hit him on a bad day or since I was a kid, he didn't need to be polite. So very sorry to hear that he has passed. He was very talented.

Edited by keiser31 (see edit history)
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I remember his Hemmings ads back in the 1970's-1980's, if I had keep my 1928 Packard 443 Roadster I'm sure I would have been a customer. Guess we'll never know how many prize winning cars carried his parts. Gods speed. 

 

 

Bob 

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I never met Don, but knew of him from his active participation in the hobby.  There was an auction in Dearborn at an impoundment yard and a '56 Packard sedan was on the list.  I drove over there and looked through the fence and saw that it had a license plate from a southwestern state.  The car was kind of rough, but since Don also belonged to the Cadillac-LaSalle Club, I called him that evening and told him that the auction was the next day.  He assured me that someone would go to the auction to bid on it.  I hated to see the car scrapped.  Hopefully it was saved or used for parts.  He was very personable.  Too bad I never got to meet him.  My condolences to his family and may he rest in peace.

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I got to spend a full day with Don, maybe a dozen years back up around Troy, Michigan. My interest in Packards was something he helped to fine-tune. At the time I had not yet bought my current Packaard 733 Touring, and he was selling a 1929 633 model, with proceeds going to help fund the restoration of the Packard Proving Grounds. From what I learned that day, I chose not to buy the 633, and learned what to look for in my 733. 

 

His reproduction accessories were beyond beautiful, and the craftsmanship was superb - justifiably expensive, but in this world you generally get what you pay for.

 

Don could be a bit gruff at times, but was very generous, at least to me, with his time and his expertise. At that time, he had just finished the restoration of a black 1935 Packard V-12 Phaeton, belonging to one of our club members here in New Orleans, and I got to see the "BLACK SWAN", restored, even before the owner. I phoned that friend from Don's place, telling him how fantastic the car looked. He, not knowing that I was in Michigan told me I had to be mistaken, and there wasn't another like it in the south - until I explained where I was, and how perfect the restoration was. His car had been completely under the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina, prior to being sent to Don for a full restoration.

 

Rest in peace, my friend.

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Ed, so agree with you.  Don was one of the earliest kingpins of the hobby.  He stood up for his principles and never backed down.  However, he always took the time to educate younger guys in the hobby. 

 

I loved talking Olds Limiteds with him and will always regret he did not do the sculpture he wanted to.  You are so lucky to have a final conversation with him.  He would call this office every so often but not in the last two years.  I got to judge with him at Amelia Island .  I did so with a little trepidation (he was the true expert in the group but I was made the lead judge) but it turned out to be a wonderful experience.  

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Posted (edited)

I never met him, but had just recommended his shop to someone needing replacement door handles a month ago. My record of Peerless cars shows that he had at one time an important Brass-Era Peerless once in Austie Clark's museum on Long Island. 

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)

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It is important to note that Don was the driving force in the creation of the Meadowbrook Concours.

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I never met Don Summers but was always impressed by his superb craftsmanship.  In 2002 he produced a beautiful handcrafted fired-from-porcelain commemorative license plate celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club which was available at the ACD Club MVC-001S.JPG.fe5fd35870f91b3d3175ec0575b4560e.JPGreunion which is always held over Labor Day weekend, thus occurring always during the FIRST WEEKEND of the month.....  Read carefully.   To err is only human.

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Don was a kind gentleman. When I wanted to restore an original Pilot Ray light I had , that needed the proper mounting brackets, a new rim to replace the bashed up original one and the base at the lamp that connected the shell to the bar it was mounted on , he was kind enough to sell me the repro parts which  fit perfectly. We are all better people and our cars better for his services reproducing parts, his advice and most of all his enthusiasm. God Speed.

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7 minutes ago, Dave Henderson said:

I never met Don Summers but was always impressed by his superb craftsmanship.  In 2002 he produced a beautiful handcrafted fired-from-porcelain commemorative license plate celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club which was available at the ACD Club MVC-001S.JPG.fe5fd35870f91b3d3175ec0575b4560e.JPGreunion which is always held over Labor Day weekend, thus occurring always during the FIRST WEEKEND of the month.....  Read carefully.   To err is only human.

 

True, the date on the plate would be the 2nd weeekend, and the A-C-D Reunion was always the 1st Weekend of September.

That would lead us to the dates of August 31 - September 2, 2002 - the weekend leading to Monday, September 2nd.

Also, note Re-Union, as opposed to Reunion? 

Did they generally use a hyphen? I don't recall, and cannot put my hands on any of my early (1969 - 1971) Auburn memorabilia.

 

Which of us can truthfully declare: 

"I thought I made a mistake once, But I was wrong!" ?

 

Easy enough to say that a proofreader missed it?

 

The POSTER has the correct dates:

Auburn Indiana 2002 Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival Guide Program ACD Club Show

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3 hours ago, Marty Roth said:

 

 

His reproduction accessories were beyond beautiful, and the craftsmanship was superb - justifiably expensive, but in this world you generally get what you pay for.

 

Don could be a bit gruff at times, but was very generous, at least to me.........

 

Rest in peace, my friend.

 

Don was an old school engineer............back when that meant most engineers were a bit gruff, and sometimes they were hard to read. Once as a young man, he was giving me the business with his particular way............and I said to him.......”did I pass the test.” Where upon he smiled and started laughing. Like many others in the hobby he was colorful and interesting. He was always fair to deal with, and I enjoyed out time chatting in the phone, and our diner visits every time I was in Detroit. I met him back in the mid to late seventies, and was doing business with him while I was still in college. I will miss him............Ed

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