Fort Worth’s ‘oldest car’, a Chevy, still in tip-top condition

This 1927 Chevrolet was a gift to Mattie Pettigrew Magers from his son Clifton W.

This 1927 Chevrolet was a gift to Mattie Pettigrew Magers from his son Clifton W. “Cliff” Magors (1900-1987), owner of a Northside Chevrolet near Stockyards. In 1948, the Fort Worth Press recognized the car as the oldest car in the city still in daily use,

A short-lived 1960s TV sitcom based on the premise that a man’s mother is reincarnated as the family car, the 1928 Porter. The show died quickly, but the idea of ​​a spiritual connection between a man’s mother and a car isn’t all that far-fetched. It depicts Cliff Magers, Mattie Magers, and a 1927 Chevrolet practically being members of the family for many years.

If you still own a gas booze from the 1980s or ’90s, you barely even own the oldest car in Fort Worth. The vehicle that bears the title is not a restored 1965 Ford Mustang classic or a 1966 Pontiac GTO, but a 1927 Chevy coupe that still has the original engine and most of its original parts. It was built and purchased from the Chevrolet factory here in Fort Worth. The four-cylinder vehicle was Chevrolet’s answer to Ford’s Model A, which came out in the same year. It cost $795 off the showroom floor, but the buyer didn’t pay for it.

This car was a gift to Mattie Pettigrew Magers from his son Clifton W. “Cliff” Magors (1900-1987), owner of a Northside Chevrolet near Stockyards. (The original buildings at 23rd and North Main still stand.) One of Fort Worth’s most successful auto dealerships and the Chamber of Commerce’s “Entrepreneur of the Year,” he has also led the Southwest Show and Fat Stock Show for many years. Little did he know that the vehicle he gave his mother would be his treasured possession for the next 30 years. He was still driving it regularly when he died in 1957. The only major repair he had to make was a 1940 “motor overhaul” which cost him $78.46. Otherwise, all he does is change the oil, fill the radiator, and change the tires every once in a while. It still has the original spare tire from 1948.

It was in that year that the Fort Worth Press recognized the car as the oldest car in town still in daily use, a title awarded after holding a contest among its readers. It was a way of highlighting the soaring auto sales after World War II. No one could buy a new car during the war, and as soon as Detroit was gearing up again for peacetime production, people wanted to trade the old car for a new set of wheels. But not with Mattie. Why get rid of a really good car? It had taken him to Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, and back again. Press columnist Jack Gordon said the 77-year-old Magers and his 22-year-old car were “still going strong”. The story includes a photo of the proud owner and his set of wheels. As the winner of the contest, he won a new set of tires, new paint (which he didn’t use), new seat covers, and 50 gallons of gasoline. It’s a really fun story that Chevrolet can use as an advertising campaign for how reliable its car is.

The car never sits in the garage. In addition to taking her to church every Sunday, Mattie uses it for trips to Wichita Falls to visit relatives and to Eagle Mountain Lake with her female friends to go fishing. And looking forward to Jan and Dean’s “Old Lady from Pasadena” (1966), she loves to drive fast. “It didn’t really start to sink in,” he said, until it hit 40 mph.

The car remained in the family property until it was sold to an antique car collector in 1963. The car returned to the family in 1997 and has been featured at various antique car shows since then. With its glossy chrome and original gray paint job, it never fails to catch the eye of a crowd. The car changed hands into the hands of a close friend after the death of Mattie’s grandson, Ricky Magors (1947-2016). Although no longer owned by the family, they are still known as “Mother Magers.”

Cars have always been a valuable family member. Mattie Magers even wrote a heartfelt poem for her that was precious:

I love you my little Chevy

For all the things you’ve done.

When another car stops,

You never fail to run.

You have climbed Mount Lookout.

You have brought me to his side.

You never fail to take me

Where others can ride.

Every Sunday morning

I touch you with my toes.

You start humming your little song,

And go to church we go.

When the service is finished

And we’re bound home,

I never worried for a minute.

I know we’re going to make the rounds.

When I see your gray coat

I can see you are getting old.

You have become everything to me.

You are worth your weight in gold.

He signed it, “With great love your madam.”

Mattie, Cliff, and Ricky are all buried in the small Burke Cemetery on Bryant-Irvin Road, which was built in 1867.

The car’s owner, Jim Bailey, kept it intact, hoping to one day award it to the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and Sterquell Wagon Collection at the Stockyards where it will join the Cadillac Amon Carter. Everyone who knows the story wants the car to stay in Fort Worth forever. This has been his home since 1927.

Writer-historian Richard Selcer is a Fort Worth native and a proud graduate of Paschal High and TCU.

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