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Tuesday, May 23, 2017-For Immediate Release:Historic Model T Ford to Retrace Portions of 1930’s Trips to Ontario and Quebec by Group of Adventurous Illinois Coeds.

May 23, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                  

May 21, 2017


Historic Model T Ford to Retrace Portions of 1930’s Trips to Ontario and Quebec by Group of Adventurous Illinois Coeds.

“Girls In Ten Buck Flivver Mistaken For Gun Girls!” the July 13, 1939 Toronto Daily Star story headline proclaimed. “Brantford Service Station Attendant Scoops Up Cash And Runs As Six Drive Up-All From Peoria, ILL-Heading For Quebec, Worlds Fair” the story continued. The Ten Buck Flivver was a 1926 Ford Model T Touring car, and the six single girls actually hailed from the small farming community of Bradford, Illinois. In the mid 1930’s and early 40’s, this group of adventurous and independent young ladies would pack themselves and a few belongings into Darlene Dorgan’s car (dubbed the Silver Streak) and set off during summers in search of adventure. They would call themselves the “Gypsy Coeds”. Two of those trips involved extensive travel in Canada: 1937 to Callander to see the Dionne Quintuplets and then 1939, a picturesque route to the New York Worlds Fair along the north shore of the Great Lakes, then following the Saint Lawrence River to Quebec City before heading south. Now, 78 years later, the Silver Streak will again visit Brantford and five other communities, retracing portions of those two trips. The car has never been restored.

Darlene and various combinations of 19 friends made nine consecutive trips, logging over 71,500 miles and seemingly finding adventure at every turn. They traveled thru 44 of the US states and Mexico in addition to their incursions into Canada. Along the way they would watch the Dionne quintuplets play outside through a one-way screen and meet the reclusive Dr. Dafoe. They attended the 1939 New York Worlds Fair and the 1940 San Francisco Golden Gate Exhibition, met movie stars, moguls, dignitaries and corporate leaders by day while sleeping in parks, schoolyards, jail cells (including Dorval, Quebec) and by the side of the road by night. They would meet Henry Ford himself twice, dine in his private dining room and form a special bond with the automotive pioneer, carrying on correspondence with him over a five-year period.

John Butte, the son of one of these adventurous women and the nephew of another had heard stories about these trips in his childhood. Upon the death of his mother in 2011, he was determined to find the car. He tracked it to Portland, Oregon where Darlene’s descendants had taken it after decades of storage at the Dorgan’s Bradford Illinois home. He and his wife Carmen were able to purchase the Silver Streak and bring it back to the Bradford Illinois area in early 2012. Remarkably, the exterior had never been restored…and equally remarkably it still ran. Butte’s desire to preserve the car quickly evolved into preserving its history as well. Three years of research and writing resulted in the publishing of his book, Darlene’s Silver Streak and The Bradford Model T Girls, a lively non-fictional account of the trips the girls took and his personal journey as he searched for and found the old tin lizzie. Three diaries, multiple newspaper stories, letters and personal interviews with three of the Gypsy Coeds who were still living helped add authenticity to the story.

After loaning the Silver Streak to museums for exhibits during most of 2016, John and his wife decided it was time to take the Silver Streak on the road and revisit some of the locations where the girls had traveled. Ontario and Quebec were high on the list because John’s mom and aunt participated in those trips, and the story and picture carried in the Toronto Daily Star had elevated the girls and their car to celebrity status! An invite by a fellow Model T enthusiast, to bring the car to Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade Quebec for the community’s 350th celebration (July 8-9) started the ball rolling. From diary entries John began to contact communities where the girls had recorded significant memories. By working with historical societies and museums he was able to quickly put together an itinerary of stops that includes displaying the Silver Streak, making a presentation and conducting a book signing at Brantford, Ontario (June 30 & July 1) Canada Day Celebration, at the Steve Brown Sports Complex, Oshawa, Ontario (July 2) at the Canadian Automotive Museum, Callander, Ontario (July 4) at the Callander Bay Heritage Museum & Alex Dufresne Gallery, Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade Quebec (July 8) sponsored by the Model T Ford Club of Quebec, Dorval, Quebec (July 12), at the Dorval Museum of Local History, and Brockville, Ontario (July 13) at the Brockville Museum. It will be the first visit to these communities for John and Carmen, the second for the 91 year old Silver Streak! You can find more information at


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Four Photos attached.

For more information please email or call 309-243-1074

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