On Sept. 10, Frederick and Dianna Gantt of Hedgesville, Berkeley County, W.Va., hitched a trailer to their motor home and headed west to bring home the last known example of Martinsburg's automotive heritage a 1914 Norwalk Underslung Six touring car.
The Norwalk Motor Car Company built cars and trucks in Martinsburg's once-thriving woolen mill district from 1912 to 1922. They were the longest-made and most successful motor vehicles ever manufactured in West Virginia. (See "The Norwalk: Martinsburg's Motor Car," by Daniel J. Friend; Summer 2003.)
With Vic and Shelly McFillan following in a separate motor home, the two couples made the 3,400 mile, 10-day trek to return the bright yellow vehicle with a burgundy top from Longmont, Colo., to Berkeley County. The journey was the culmination of six years of careful negotiations with the former owner by members of the Norwalk Antique Car Club, who formed the Friends of Norwalk Foundation, Inc., a non-profit group that will raise funds to pay off a $280,000 bank loan that brought the historic car home.
The total cost of the car was $300,000. Owner Shirley Hoffman informed car club member Christopher Breeze last spring she was planning to sell it, most likely on the Internet through eBay.