Big Steering Wheel Award

2023 Recipients: Dan and Ginny Rowzie

Big Steering Wheel Award Recipient List(updated 12/2023)

“Big Steering Wheel”
Furnished by Art Bragg

Walnut board and mounting by George Weidig, John Wiltshire, Jr. and Charlie Funk in 1983. Brass polishing by Jim Lemen.

What is it and why was it named in Honor of Vernon Unger?

When we started our club, in 1958, naturally, we needed to raise some money.  It was decided to buy a Model A Ford, fix it up and chance it off.  So, we found a 1931 Model A Victoria and Vernon Unger financed the purchase until we could sell enough chances to pay him back.  He, also, sold many chances on the car himself, taking it downtown every Friday and Saturday night.  We made several thousand dollars on that Ford and it was the first of about 3 or 4 vehicles we have chanced off.  Vernon and Frances were deeply involved in every vehicle we chanced off.

Vernon didn’t waste any money.  He liked to tell the story about when he was negotiating the purchase of a new Cadillac with Bill Battaile, owner of B & M Chevrolet; they were about $1000 apart – Vernon could negotiate, he could get you to lower your price and like it at the same time.  Anyway, when Vernon and Mr. Battaile had apparently reached an impasse he suggested they flip a coin for the $1000.  They did – Vernon won.

Vernon was a doer.  He and his wife Frances were on every run or tour possible.  He was always playing pranks on people like putting silverware or pickles in their pockets at a restaurant.  Whenever talking about an old car for sale or a member got another old car, he would always ask “Does it have a big steering wheel?” Vernon steered us in the right direction and the ones named on the plaque after him have tried to do the same.

The Big Steering Wheel Award is given each year at our Annual Christmas Party.  Nominations for the Award are made by past recipients based on whom they feel continue to steer the Club in the right direction through their service and dedication to the Club and their promotion of the antique car hobby.