MotorCities National Heritage Area
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By Jeffrey D. Brasie
Images Courtesy of Restoration Unlimited 2, Inc.
Published 9.28.2022

The restored Alpena Flyer Restorations Unlimited 2 5

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is part two of the story we brought you two weeks ago about the lone surviving 1911 Alpena Flyer. 

In a town called Cary, Illinois 45 minutes northwest of Chicago, you’ll find a company known as Restoration Unlimited 2, Inc. (RU2inc). The 3,500 square foot facility is owned by Ralph Morey, whose business for the past 51 years has refurbished hundreds of vehicles. 

Through an article in Hemmings auto magazine, Alpena, Michigan resident Ron Winter became aware of Morey’s company. Winter RU2inc began bringing back to life a 1911 Alpena Flyer which Winter had located in Washington state and purchased. 

Morey transported the vehicle from Alpena to Cary where he began a 42-month process to reassemble what Winter believed was the lone surviving Alpena Flyer. 

alpena flyer five

According to Morey a rolling body frame was delivered to RU2inc with the engine, radiator, differential, hood, and air cowl intact. Accompanying the frame were containers of various parts, many of which offered no relevance to the vehicle. To Morey’s amazement the tires, wrapped in canvas, still held a level of air.

Winter provided RU2inc with a variety of photos, advertisements, sales brochures, and related materials offering how an assembled Alpena Flyer would appear. 

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Morey indicated the majority of the restoration was able to be conducted and fabricated by his firm. This included fenders, aprons, seating, and numerous other aspects. He commented, “Certain mechanical and trim items were farmed out to other companies who had specific expertise.”

Morey added, “This was possibly the most complex restoration his firm has ever undertaken.” 

alpena flyer one

An interesting aspect was the Alpena Flyer’s steering was on the right-hand side. According to the Antique Automobile Club of America Library and Research Center’s Chris Ritter, “It is my understanding that cars were originally right-hand drive so that the driver could exit the vehicle on the curb instead of the road where there could be oncoming traffic.” 

During the restoration process, Morey commented Winter had a well-defined vision of how the Alpena Flyer should finally appear. He started, “A prime example was mixing the right colors to bring out the factory original gleaming dark royal blue.” 

In reflecting on the cost to undertake this restoration, which occurred over a dozen years ago, Morey estimated the price tag at nearly $275,000. 

Once the project was completed, Morey and his staff fired up the 35-horsepower engine and took it for a brief drive. 

The operational Alpena Flyer was transported by motor carrier to Plymouth, Michigan for a brief showing. Then, it was on to Alpena where the vehicle is proudly displayed with an accompanying visual history at the Besser Museum of Northeast Michigan.