Jim and Carol Roberts' 1926 Star
By Tom Strongman
TOPEKA — Jim and Carol Roberts of Topeka own a 1926 Star car that has been in their extended family for the last 60 years. This unusual car, a blue and black two-door Model M, has an interesting history, and they love to tell it.
The Star originally belonged to Carol’s cousin, Amy Carlson, of Hedville, Kan. She bought the car in 1942, or at least that is the earliest registration slip the Robertses have. Carlson’s occupation was listed as “working girl.”
Amy lived with lived with her brother, Arthur, and neither ever married. They liked cars, especially Arthur, and they kept nearly every one they ever bought. The cars “were Arthur’s kids,” Jim likes to say with a grin. Amy Carlson died in the late 1960s, and Arthur couldn’t stand to part with her Star, so he put it in the barn. When Arthur died in the late 1970s, Jim and Carol found 34 vehicles parked in an orchard near Carlson’s home. The Star was still in the barn. Carlson had piled dirt underneath it to keep the tires off the ground, and Jim had to dig trenches under the wheels to get the car out.
The Star automobile is one of those fleeting brands that existed for only a short time. It was built by Durant Motors. William Crapo Durant was the president of Buick from 1904 to 1908. He is credited with being the founder of General Motors. In 1910, he was forced out of the company. Durant founded various motor companies, including the Mason Motor Co., Little Motor Co. and Chevrolet Motor Co. of Michigan. In 1920, he started Durant Motors, and Durant built the Star from 1922 until 1928. It was available in coupe, roadster and landau models. Prices ranged from $750 to $975.
Durant saw the Star as an inexpensive partner to the Durant automobile. Many of the early models had a 40-horsepower Contiental six-cylinder engine. In 1926, Durant let the Star Model M became the four-cylinder car in the Star line, and that is the car the Robertses own.
The Star stayed at Jim and Carol’s house until Jim retired. He started the restoration in 19944. Putting the car back to near original condition was a laborious process that sometimes required having parts fabricated. Scarlett Auto Interiors of Topeka did the interior and the vinyl top.
Jim and Carol Roberts think their Star is the only one registered in Kansas, and they clearly love it. The fact that they have old photos, Star Car magazine advertisements and many of Amy’s registration slips only makes the connection all that much stronger.
|Jim and Carol Roberts now have the car that their cousin, Amy Carlson, below left, bought in 1942.|