Fuoco family’s 1928 Dodge Brothers Standard Six sedan brought back to life

Submitted by Dick Parkes, Kamloops Chapter, Vintage Car Club of Canada

In 1913, three brothers, Benny, Domenic, and Giacamo Fuoco landed in Kamloops from Italy. Within two years they had put down roots and Benny and Domenic established the Model Bakery at 640 Lorne Street. The bakery operated from that location until the mid 30s when it was moved to the building at the corner of First Avenue and Seymour Street. Both of these buildings survive today and the Lorne Street property is still owned by the Fuoco family.

We have been unable to establish exactly the early history of our subject vehicle, a 1928 Dodge Brothers Standard Six sedan, but one of our members of the Kamloops Chapter of the Vintage Car Club of Canada (VCCC) remembers the vehicle from the early 50s. He used to live on the north side of the 300 block of Seymour Street (still residential houses at the time) and the car was stored in a garage across the alley behind the Mallery Drug Store at 227 Victoria Street. Our member was offered the car but he turned it down and it is assumed that when Benny Fuoco bought the drug store property, the car came along as part of the transaction.

Benny had two children, Ray and Mary (married name Mary Beruschi), and Ray became a well-known persona around Kamloops over his lifetime. He owned and operated McAllister & Howard Men’s Wear and did a stint as an alderman on City Council, among other notable achievements.

In 1972, the Vintage Car Club of Canada established a chapter in Kamloops and Ray was one of the charter members, bringing along the ’28 Dodge. The car appeared in a few Easter Parades and car shows in the early 70s and then more-or-less dropped out of sight.

About a year ago, club members were approached by Reg Fuoco (son of Ray), asking if we would be interested in taking over the car as it had been sitting derelict for many years and was deteriorating in the tiny garage behind the house at 640 Lorne Street. The Fuoco family did not have anyone mechanically-minded or interested in the car and felt that it would be in good hands with the Vintage Car Club. Our club agreed to take over the car, subject to an inspection to determine if there were any major (expensive) issues preventing its roadworthiness. On October 31, accompanied by Reg Fuoco, his sister Sharon (Fuoco) Brooks and her husband Stephen Brooks, a group of club members dragged the car out of its hiding place and transported it to one of our member’s shops for further evaluation.

After cleaning the car up (it had been home to a packrat), further inspection revealed that it was in excellent original condition, subject to some relatively minor upgrades needed to make it roadworthy. The car was then transferred into the name of the Vintage Car Club and work bees were set up to do the necessary repairs and modifications. Over the past three months, the brakes have been overhauled, new windshield and tires installed, radiator and gas tanks cleaned out and a myriad of other small jobs completed to make sure that it is safe and trouble-free while on the road. At our most recent work session it was given a polish and it is now almost ready to lead our upcoming Easter Parade on April 1.

We have also done some research on the car and have learned that it was built in early June, 1928, probably at the Walkerville, Ontario Dodge plant, and being a Canadian car, it makes it all the more desirable to us. For a bit of history on the Dodge marque, two brothers, Horace and John Dodge started building bicycles and in 1902 they decided to open a machine shop in Detroit. The Dodge boys then got a contract to make parts for Henry Ford’s cars and became shareholders in the Ford company. With the success of Ford’s vehicles, the Dodge Brothers collected a huge share of dividends and eventually, when Ford built his own factory, they began building their own cars in 1914. By 1920, the Dodge Brothers had become the second largest automobile manufacturers in the USA, but, unfortunately, both brothers passed away that year from pneumonia. Their wives carried on with the business and the first Canadian Dodge car plant was opened in Walkerville in 1924. Walter P. Chrysler purchased the Dodge company in 1928. Our car was built before Chrysler took over and is called a Standard Six, which was the cheaper version. It has a straight 6 flathead engine, mechanical 4-wheel brakes, a heater, 6 volt electrical system, suicide rear doors and the odometer only reads 44,577 original miles.

The Kamloops Chapter of the Vintage Car Club of Canada wishes to express our sincere appreciation to the family of Benny Fuoco for entrusting this locally significant historic vehicle into our care. It will be a valuable asset to our fleet and will remain in Kamloops where the population will be able to appreciate it when it is out participating in local events.

© Kamloops This Week