Palo Alto Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - July 16, 2010

On the road again

Vintage Vehicles and Family Festival returns after funding issues canceled it last year

by Carolyn Copeland

People take different approaches to doing their part for the environment. Jan Krieg, a Palo Alto vintage car builder, uses ethanol fuel to power his 1929 Ford Roadster.

Sporting a "Rednecks for Obama" bumper sticker above the license plate, the red and green rusted car rests in Krieg's shop in Palo Alto. The car is a two-seater convertible with metal seats, giant headlights, and a hood that needs to be unscrewed in order to open it. Krieg started building his car three years ago after spending two years searching for the parts.

"I use ethanol fuel because it's about 80 percent cleaner than gasoline and provides more horsepower," said Krieg, who works on cars as a hobby. "I'm also an environmental nut. I want to alert people about global warming. Like they say, 'If you're not a part of the solution, you're a part of the problem.' Hopefully this car will reach the people that are a part of the problem."

Plenty of people will see the Ford Roadster on July 25, when Krieg plans to display it at the Vintage Vehicles and Family Festival at El Camino Park in Palo Alto. He says he's excited to show it off at the event for the second time. Though the festival was cancelled last year due to funding issues, Krieg has entered cars in the festival several other times.

This free annual event includes live music, LEGO displays, old-time radio and radio-controlled model racecars, as well as classic cars, hot rods, bicycles, motorcycles and other vehicles on display. This year, there is also a section focusing on the evolution of the Ford vehicle. The Museum of American Heritage, which organizes the event, was able to get the funding to bring the event back thanks to sponsors and underwriters, said Gwenyth Claughton, executive director of the museum.

Claughton said she expects there will be between 100 and 125 antique vehicles as well as some innovative ones. She anticipates thousands of visitors.

"There's not always the same people (showing) at the event, so there's always something new to see," Krieg said.

Krieg just might bring another vehicle along from his shop, which is home to several other works-in-progress. His vintage cars include a green 1951 Chevy pick-up truck that he is currently selling and a blue 1985 super cart (a go-cart with a powerful motor) that has never been raced. He also has an aluminum motorcycle that he built in 2001 that turns heads whenever he drives it because of its resemblance to a three-wheeled car.

Krieg says he does what he can to make his cars as environmentally friendly as possible. By using ethanol as an alternative fuel for his Roadster, he doesn't have to worry about his engine overheating. While a normal engine tends to be about 200 degrees, his car goes up only to 150, he said.

Though he enjoys building and fixing up different cars, the Roadster remains one of his favorites. Krieg drives it about once a week and doesn't hesitate to take it long distances because it runs so well.

"The furthest I've driven it is San Francisco," he said. "But maybe this summer I'll take it to Paso Robles."

This year, Krieg might also bring his solar scooter to Vintage Vehicles, depending on how much extra room the festival has. He's also excited about getting his son involved.

"He drove my Roadster one day and thought it was fun so he built one," he said. "He hasn't switched it to ethanol yet but he got his running about a month ago."

Though his son has painted his Ford Roadster black, Krieg plans to keep his unpainted. "I want mine to look like a work in progress," he said. "I like things that aren't finished."

Krieg plans to do minor body modifications to his Roadster and upgrade the motor. He also wants to make his aluminum motorcycle either a hybrid or all-electric in order to make it more environmentally friendly.

Krieg built his first go-cart when he was 10 years old and got interested in building cars when he was a teenager. He even made a bicycle out of scrap metal from his aluminum motorcycle. Next to it, he attached a sidecar for his dog to ride in. Although he taught himself how to build cars, he admits he's still learning.

"There are guys way better than me who I like to talk to," he said. "The guys that do it for a living are really good."

While it may be just a hobby for Krieg, he is used to getting attention for his work. Often times he catches people taking pictures of his car.

"I'll be inside the coffee shop and I'll just watch people stand there and take pictures," he said. "There's usually about five or six."

What: Vintage Vehicles and Family Festival, put on by the Museum of American Heritage

Where: El Camino Park, across from Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 25

Cost: Free admission, with food booths and other items for sale

Info: Go to http://moah.org or call 650-321-1004.

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