When organizers of one of the most prestigious car shows in the country found out General Motors was discontinuing one of its most storied brands, Pontiac, they decided they had to plan something big for this year's show.
So the Fairfield County Concours d'Elegance in Westport, Conn. -- a show that routinely attracts the highest-end Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis to be found -- launched a campaign to find the oldest Pontiac in existence.
The organizers peppered the automotive media with notices, tapped their own network of car aficionados, and alerted every Pontiac club they could find, including the Pontiac Car Club of Australia and the Manitoba Pontiac Association.
After three months of searching, they discovered 12 Pontiacs still in existence from 1926, the brand's founding year.
And, based on an analysis of vehicle identification numbers, they found that the oldest of all resided in Minnetonka -- owned by Paul Jaszczak, 49, a distribution center manager, and his father, Roy Jaszczak, 76, a retired bricklayer.
So on Friday, the Jaszczaks' car will be shipped out East and the Jaszczaks themselves will be flying out to New York City to enjoy a complimentary stay in a luxury hotel. Then they'll drive their Series 6-27 five-passenger coach with its classic cowl lamps, wood frame and spokes, and original golden tan corduroy upholstery in the 50-mile Nutmeg Tour for Autism, surrounded by million-dollar-plus sports cars.
The Jaszczaks themselves are a little overwhelmed by it all.
"When they called and said they were going to fly us to New York and all that, I thought it was a hoax," said Paul Jaszczak, who split the cost of the car with his dad seven years ago after seeing an ad in the classified section of the Star Tribune.
"If you'd asked either of us what a 1926 Pontiac looked like, we couldn't have told you," Paul said. "Honestly, we just thought the car was really neat."
The history of the car itself is a bit cloudy. The man the Jaszczaks bought it from -- whose name they've lost -- said that the founding owner of the Fishman-Holm dealership in Minneapolis died in 1926 and his son, who inherited the dealership, bought the $825 Pontiac as a tribute to his father.
The six-cylinder, 32-horsepower car apparently sat in the Fishman-Holm showroom at 1224 Harmon Place for many years before it was passed on to an unknown number of owners over the years.
The 6-27 is the first and only collectible car the Jaszczaks have owned, and they've taken their stewardship seriously.
Paul has made unsuccessful attempts to find the family connected with the Fishman-Holm dealership, and he's collected reams of old Pontiac advertisements. They've cleaned up the car, given it a valve job and replaced all five tires. "Some of the tires had Lindbergh's airplane on them, they were that old," said Paul.
Roy Jaszczak used to drive the Pontiac to church, to Pax Christi in Eden Prairie, but now father and son mostly take it out for leisurely spins or down to the local Dairy Queen.
As they go, they hit the horn, and the car goes aw-ooga, aw-ooga! As the Pontiac whirs past, people on the sidewalks turn and smile.
Alyssa Ford is a Minneapolis writer.