Have you ever gone car shopping and been told by the dealer the model you're looking at is "one of a kind"? Howard Kroplick truly has a one-of-a-kind car, and you can learn all about its history next week. You can also learn about a far more peaceful time on the roads of Long Island when "motoring" meant a pleasurable outing, not a risky experience.
Kroplick, 65, is the North Hempstead town historian and a classic-car collector. He is the proud owner of a unique 1937 Chrysler Imperial C-15 Town Car that he bought at auction in 2012 and restored to its prewar magnificence. The seven-passenger limousine, custom built by auto magnate Walter Chrysler for his wife, has become known as "Mrs. Chrysler's Chrysler." It has won numerous awards at car shows around the country since it was restored.
Kroplick will hold a presentation about the car and its history at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook next Sunday, Aug. 2 at 2 p.m. The presentation, which includes photos and films, is free with regular admission to the museum ($10 for adults, $7 for seniors 62 and older). The car will be on display outside the museum unless it's a stormy day. The presentation goes on as scheduled no matter what the weather.
Kroplick's expertise and interests extend from cars to the Long Island roads they traveled on. He is the author of several books, including "The Long Island Motor Parkway" and "Vanderbilt Cup Races of Long Island." The historic 44-mile Motor Parkway, which opened in 1908, stretched from Queens to Lake Ronkonkoma. "It was the first road built specifically for automobiles," he says. The parkway closed in 1938, but vestiges of the road still remain dotted along its route.
The Vanderbilt Cup Races, a competition held on Long Island from 1904-1910, was one of the most popular sporting events of its day. The races were a boon to the burgeoning car industry and, ultimately, to a then-sleepy Long Island landscaped with fields and farms.
"The population of Nassau County in 1904 was about 55,000, and they would draw about 100,000 people and up," Kroplick says. "So it was exposure to Long Island for city dwellers."
Kroplick has more information on the Long Island Motor Parkway, Vanderbilt Cup Races and 1937 Chrysler on his website at nwsdy.li/kroplick. For more information about the Long Island Museum event, call 631-751-0066.