Amid all the things in his garage crammed with stuff that shows his affinity for old-time cars, there’s a plaque hanging on the wall that former Cache Valley doctor F. Robert Bryner likes to point to.
It says, “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic.”
It’s a mantra the 89-year-old said has allowed him to do ground-up restoration on classic cars.
“You try,” he said. “You make a mistake. You find out your first way of doing it doesn’t quite fit, but you learn how to do it.”
Bruner learned how to do it so well, in fact, he made his debut at the 2019 Cache Valley Cruise-In on Independence Day showing off three extremely rare automobiles — a 1910 Elmore, a 1914 Metz and a 1924 Buick.
On an overcast 4th of July, Bryner sat in a folding chair next to two of the cars, the Elmore and the Metz (the Buick needed some work done and was expected to join the Cruise-In later). Every so often, people of all ages would approach the cars and admire them; Bryner had conversations with some of the people who passed by.
“It’s nice people have a response to the old cars,” he told The Herald Journal, noting the ones he has on display might be the oldest at the 2019 Cruise-In.
One Cruise-In attendee, Steve Hyman of Nevada, snapped a few photos of the Elmore and Metz with his phone.
“They’re just amazing,” he said, praising the cars as “the beginning of the automotive age.”
It’s important to preserve cars as old as Bryner’s so “we can remember where we came from,” Hyman said.
Another gentleman, Bob Harris of Logan, also took a few minutes to look at Bryner’s cars. Harris was particularly interested, given his own car collection — though he said his is not as old as Bryner’s.
“A lot of this stuff was ahead of its time,” Harris said. “They’ve done a nice job on these.”
BRYNER’S CAR COLLECTION
Bryner said his interest in car collecting and restoration is linked to his interest in woodworking, which he started when he was a boy. His father was into carpentry and Bryner made his first table when he was 12.
He said old automobiles were made on wooden frames.
“So the wood involved and cabinetry involved in old cars is an essential part in the manufacturing and maintenance,” Bryner said. “You buy a ‘36 car and it’s all metal; metal didn’t intrigue me.”
Bryner received the Elmore from a couple who lived in the southeastern Idaho area of the Bear Lake Valley in the 1990s.
“It had been in a barn since 1915,” Bryner said. “They had always insisted the car was never for sale.”
But circumstances changed.
“They saw pictures (of another car I owned) and they said, ‘Could you do that with ours?’” Bryner recalled, and he responded, “‘Well, if I had it, that’s what I would want to do.’”
A few days later, the couple decided Bryner could have the car — but with one catch: he had to get it out of the barn before winter, because the couple knew it would fill with snow and they wanted him working on the car as soon as possible.
Bryner said he spoke with people who had expertise in the now-defunct Elmore brand to restore it to its original condition.
Bryner first started restoring classic cars around 1970, when he bought the Metz. He purchased it through a friend who knew of a family estate in California hoping to sell its massive car collection.
“He contacted me and asked if I would be interested. I had no idea what a Metz was, but the price was right,” Bryner said.
Bryner found the Buick in a barn in Petersboro and he knew the family who owned it. Later, it was moved to a Buick dealer showroom, he said.
“The owner of the ‘24 (Buick), his wife was a patient of mine,” Bryner said. “I’m in the office one day, he called me, he said, ‘I didn’t know you liked old cars.’”
The owner had made a deal to sell the Buick to someone else, Bryner said. But when that deal fell through, it was offered to him.
“He called me and said, ‘Are you still interested in our Buick? If you want it, it’s yours,’” Bryner said.
That Buick is stashed in a garage behind Bryner’s house. The Metz and Elmore are stored in a second one, filled with plenty of things showing his love of old cars. This includes wooden shelves with small model cars lining them; framed pictures of old cars, including one of the Mormon Meteor racing in the Bonneville Salt Flats; and art focused on automobiles.
Even as he’s about to turn 90, Bryner still fixes up cars in his workshop behind his Logan home.
“Got to do something,” he said. “Got to keep busy.”
You can catch Bryner and his classic cars at the Cruise-In, July 5 and 6, at the Cache County Fairgrounds, 450 S. 500 West, Logan. His cars will be located on the north end of the fairgrounds, just north of the blacktop and the new Cache County Event Center. For more information, including price of admission, go to https://cvcacruisein.com.