100-Year Old Man’s Wish – A Spin in a Viper

Posted Nov 30, 2006, 04:08 PM by Mike Ellis
Category: W.P. Chrysler Museum

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Since he bought a 1923 Dodge Coupe, Hubert Fields has owned nothing but Chrysler Group vehicles. More than 13 in all. So what do you do for a loyal customer who will be celebrating his 100th birthday on Dec. 4, and still likes to drive?

A day after blowing out the birthday candles, Fields is taking a trip in his 1991 Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue from his home in Spring Valley, Ohio to Auburn Hills, where he’ll tour the Walter P.Chrysler Museum and take a ride in a Dodge Viper. Chrysler Group President and Chief Executive Officer Tom LaSorda has also signed a letter of recognition for Fields.

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Fields and daughter Eleanor Jane with Desoto on trip to upstate New York in 1949

Fields would prefer to drive the Viper himself. “Gramps has always enjoyed spirited vehicles,” said his grandson Kirk Bierley, who will also come up to Auburn Hills. “He’s never met a hill he didn’t want to fly over,” Bierley said. “My only concern is that you’ll get him in a Viper, and he won’t ever want to get out.”

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Fields, at age 99, in October with his 1991 Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue

Fields is pretty spirited himself. He has only had four speeding tickets, but almost got another in 1993 at the age of 87, when driving his Dodge Shelby Daytona Turbo with a five-speed manual. Bierley said that Fields was driving home from his daily breakfast at Bob Evans when he was pulled over by a local sheriff for driving 75 mph in a 50 mph speed zone. Asked by the startled sheriff, surprised to see an old man behind the wheel, why he was speeding, Fields pointed his finger to a house sitting about a mile away across a field. He said he lived in the house and he was rushing home because he had to take a “really big sh*t”. The sheriff laughed and let him off with a warning.

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Roadside stop during New York trip in Fields’ Desoto in 1949

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Fields’ Desoto touring the Dakotas in 1949

Here’s a list of all the cars he’s owned over his life:
1923 Ford Roadster
1924 Ford Coupe
1926 Ford 2 Door Sedan
1928 Dodge Coupe
1929 Auburn 4 Door Sedan (wife wrecked in an accident)
1930 PlymouthSedan
1940’s-1960’s He owned two Plymouths and three Desotos. All were 4 door sedans
1970 PlymouthNewport w/Hemi
1974 PlymouthNewport
1978 Dodge Diplomat
1981 Chrysler K-Car
1982 Chrysler Le Baron
1984 Chrysler New Yorker
1988 Dodge Shelby Daytona Turbo
1990 Chrysler New Yorker
1991 Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue (Current vehicle)
He also owned a couple of Dodge pickup trucks when he worked on a farm.

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Fields’ Desoto in 1952 in Miamisburg, Ohio

Fields said he always like Chrysler Group vehicles because “they always made unique styled products. Cars that made you feel like a million bucks.”

He’s also a loyal buyer because, between 1925 and 1932, he worked for the company – first at the Maxwell factory in New Castle, Indiana, one of the original Chrysler plants. In 1926 he got a job at the Chrysler Parts Center in Dayton, Ohio. “Jobs were hard to come by,” he said. “I was grateful that Chrysler gave me a good paying job.”

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Fields’ Desoto on trip out west in 1953

While working at the Chrysler parts plant, Fields lived at the YMCA and sent money home to his family. His father had died in a 1920 tornado, when Fields was 13, and he had to support his family. Fields had dreamed of being a mechanical engineer to build on his fascination with automobiles, but his duty to help his family came before college.

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Fields’ trip to Wisconsin in 1966 in a Plymouth sedan

He told his grandson the reasons why he has always liked driving Chrysler products:

* His first impression was of the unique radiator hood ornament. He was enamored with the eagle wings flying off the cap.
* Chrysler was the first company to have four wheel brakes (1923-24).
* He liked the early gear driven transmission compared to the band/oil versions on other models.
* Dodge was an “Old Workhorse”—-Tag line from the 20’s “Dependable Dodge”
* Dodge & Chrysler were built better.
* Chrysler had a 12 volt starter which was quieter than the competition’s.

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Fields’ wife Flo feeding birds on trip out west in 1966 in Chrysler
“Most of the trips my grandfather has taken over the years were by car,” Bierly said. “The distance was never an issue. Hubert is a simple man who would rather see the countryside than to fly over it. He has traveled to Southern California, Key West, Florida, Seattle and a unique trip in his Desoto to the Big City (1933), New York with his wife to see Wall Street. He has also taken numerous trips to western and eastern Canada, Wisconsin, upstate New York and central Florida to see siblings and other family members.”

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Family reunion in 1973 with Fields’ Plymouth Station Wagon

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Fields and grandson Kirk Bierley at Fields’ 75th high school reunion in 1999

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