Sedan and driver are ‘survivors’
Jerry Hill said his 1929 Oakland, found in a barn after years in storage, helped him through treatments for leukemia.
Jerry Hill poses with his antique 1929 unrestored Oakland at his home in northeast Ocala on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023. Hill, a Leukemia survivor, who attributes his current cancer free diagnosis to God, his family and his love for his cars, plans on showing the car in the Marion County Tax Collector’s Charity Car Show on February 25, 2023. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2022.
The 13th annual Marion County Tax Collector’s Charity Car Show on Feb. 25 will feature about 200 collectible vehicles, including Jerry Hill’s unrestored 1929 Oakland.
Both Hill and his four-door sedan are survivors. Hill, 66, was diagnosed with leukemia about three years ago.
“My doctor told me it was like winning the lottery, but not in a good way,” Hill said.
Hill worked for more than 30 years at Post Office Tire and most recently with the city of Ocala as an ASE Master Certified Technician vehicle mechanic. He credited health checks through his city job for detection of the life-threatening illness.
Hill received treatment for leukemia at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, including multiple chemotherapy treatments and “a new immune system” by way of a bone marrow transplant through Be The Match (bethematch.org), an organization operated by the National Marrow Donor Program. Hill said the bone marrow he received was donated by an unidentified woman in Germany.
“God, my supportive family (wife Carol Ann and their children Christin and Joshua) and my antique car pulled me through. I’m fine now. I’m cancer free; thank God,” he said.
Hill found the Oakland about six years ago on Craigslist through someone in Lecanto. His research had determined the car was owned by someone in Maine, who had found it in a barn after years of being in storage.
According to automotivehistory.org, the Oakland car line was replaced by Pontiac.
“It was on this day in automotive history in 1926, General Motors officially introduced Pontiac at the New York Auto Show as a companion brand to their modestly priced Oakland line. Soon after Pontiac sales began, it far outsold its partner. The increasing sales figures led GM to shut down Oakland in 1932 and focus on their hot new car. Pontiac thus became the only automotive companion marque to survive its parent company,” stated a Jan. 3, 2022, article on the website.
Hill’s mostly original Oakland has a straight six-cylinder engine, three-speed floor shift, factory six-volt charging system and the original Delco-Remy starter and generator. Wood spoke wheels, three side windows, an oval rear window and running boards are special touches on the car, which has a place to insert a hand crank to start the engine manually if necessary.
A “Body by Fisher” label is on the side of the car and a Fisher body serial number is on the floorboard. Hill said the engine is 212 cubic inches and the wheelbase is 117 inches.
“I love the car; I don’t want to change it,” he said.
The car reaches perhaps 50 mph top speed and has 69,000 miles on the odometer. Hill said the leaf spring type suspension gives a “smooth ride.”
Keith Ponder, director of operations for the Marion County Tax Collector’s Office, said the car show averages $12,000 in proceeds annually, which is distributed among local charities.
He said about $5,000 is typically sent to Interfaith Emergency Services, with a focus on the Food 4 Kids program, and the balance is broken up among charities including the Arthur J. Semesco Foundation, Wreaths Across America, Michelle-O-Gram, Samaritan’s Purse, Humane Society of Marion County, Ocala Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center, Marion County Veterans Council (Stuff the Bus), Marion County Children’s Alliance, Helping Hands and ARC of Marion County.
National Parts Depot (NPD), a nationwide supplier of parts for 1950s to 1990s collectible cars and trucks, which has a warehouse in Ocala, has been a substantial contributor to the show for more than 10 years.
“We take pride in supporting our hobby and giving back to the community and look forward to teaming up with the Tax Collector’s Office every year,” stated Rick Schmidt, NPD vice president and chief operating officer, in an email.
George Albright, the Marion County Tax Collector, is an avid car enthusiast. He will display his latest collectible, an all original 1954 Dodge Royal sedan, which he called a “survivor” car from Oklahoma.
The car’s body finish color is “Willow Green” and the roof is “Cumberland Green,” Albright said. The interior is bright green, including the steering wheel. The car has a “Red Ram” 241 cubic inch V-8 engine, one of the early issues of the venerable “hemi” power plant, and a three-speed steering column mounted shift transmission. It still has a plastic cover on the front bench seat.
Pamela and Frank Stafford plan to join the show, along with other members of the Kingdom of the Sun Chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA). She said the show is “well organized” and spotlights cars from the 1920s to the present.
Hill also is a member of the AACA.
Gene Liles, a car buff and owner of Liles Collison Service, has displayed vehicles at the tax collector’s show for several years, including a “tricked out” highly customized milk truck. Liles said the show gets “a little bigger and better” every year.
The car show will take place at the McPherson Governmental Complex at 503 SE 25th Ave., Ocala. There is no admission fee for spectators. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and include Top 25 trophies, People’s Choice Award, a kids’ play zone with a bounce house, a car parts swap, craft vendors, a Tower Hill Nursery plant sale, a Humane Society of Marion County display, music and food for purchase.
The car entry fee on the day of the show is $20. To register, call (352) 368-8206.