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Some people live their lives the way they drive their cars — fast-paced and destination-focused. Whether it’s a meeting they have to attend, a dinner date they can’t reschedule or a Little League game they don’t want to miss, their schedules are full, and most of the time the goal is simply to get where they're going as fast as they can, then do it all again tomorrow. How often do they get to just enjoy the ride? Nothing will put that question front and center in your mind like taking a ride in a 1920 Model T Ford, a vehicle which, at its maximum speed, never gets above 45 mph. When you’re at the dashboard — taking in the wood-paneled interior and the single bench seat — you can’t help but feel the draw of a less hectic time, when the novelty of a car existing at all was enough to get people excited. The Model T itself may be an antique, but the romance and intrigue surrounding cars — experienced by automobile enthusiasts young and old — is timeless.

“I’ve always had an interest in cars, ever since I was old enough to reach the pedals,” Co-op member and classic car collector Pat McCann says. 

According to McCann, he  bought his first three cars before he was even old enough to drive. The first was when he was 15 — a 1940 Chevy two-door sedan for which he paid only $30. Over the years, the cost of cars continued to rise, and with it McCann’s passion for them. Still, it wasn’t until after he had left the United States Air Force that he got into collecting seriously. With the purchase of   a Model A he repainted himself, using an Electrolux vacuum cleaner, he entered a car show in Wilmington. While he didn’t place on his first showing, the experience gave him a taste for collecting and competition.     

Today, his personal collection includes a 1957 Thunderbird, a 1959 Impala, a 1987 Silverado Suburban and two Model T Fords — one of which won him first place in the Grand National Competition, as well as the Henry Ford Award, presented by the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA). That car is now featured in a private museum in Philadelphia.

In life, if people take the time to follow their passions, they often find themselves on unexpected adventures. For McCann, his love of cars has taken him to more than 800 shows across the country, as well as provided professional achievement. In 1969, there were no car clubs in lower Delaware. Seeing the need, McCann took it upon himself to start one, becoming the founder of the Historical Vintage Car Club of Delaware. Over the course of the club’s history, McCann has served as president a total of five terms. His involvement with classic cars also led McCann to be elected as National Director of the AACA, the largest car club in the world with about 69,000 members, based in Hershey, Pa. Currently, McCann serves as the president of the Model T’s of Delaware Club. Participation in these organizations afforded their own opportunities, including the use of McCann’s award-winning Model T in the movie “Tuck Everlasting,” which was filmed in Berlin, Md. 

“They got in touch with me because I was a part of the AACA. At the time I was national director, and they asked me if I had an early car, and I said yes,” McCann says. “They asked if I would be open to having it used in a movie, and I said ‘Sure!’ So we went to Berlin.”

Throughout the years, McCann has helped on other film and television productions as well — his 1959 Chevy was featured in an episode of “The West Wing,” and he was on set during the filming of “The Dead Poet's Society,” which used local antique cars on location in Middletown, where the crew filmed at St. Andrew's School. 

Among the awards and the experiences car collecting has brought his way, McCann says that what he still loves most about his lifelong pastime is the simple satisfaction of knowing that when he’s behind the wheel, the course he sets is all up to him.

”You get in a car and you are totally in control,” McCann says. “You can go anywhere — to town, to the mountains, anywhere you want, as long as you've got the gas. It’s independence. Having a car makes you independent.”

For car lovers interested in venturing into the collecting side of their hobby, McCann says the most important thing to remember is to, “Just have fun with it. Don't go into it to make money. Don't go overboard and include your family,” McCann says. “Have fun with it. It’s a fun hobby, it's a big hobby and it's a hobby that I hope is going to be around for a long time yet.”

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