"We just normally gravitated back to them when we retired," he said.
Hart found his Ford in Hershey, Penn., where it had been in storage for more than 30 years. He had to do some engine work and repairs to get it running and in good condition, but he didn't have to do any restoration. In fact, he won an award at the convention for having an unrestored Ford V8.
Hart said the group does not travel on interstates, but sticks to rural highways that have better scenery.
"We enjoy driving them on the country roads they were built for," he said.
Fred Lindquist, who described himself as the groups "tour leader," said driving their old Fords is very healthy for the vehicles. Just like humans, they need regular exercise, he said. Members of the group have put as much as 35,000 miles on their antique cars.
Podavano said their Ford V8s, which were the car of choice for Bonnie and Clyde, are actually more reliable today than when they were first built, because modern belts and hoses have been substantially improved.
When these cars were new, if someone was taking a trip from Georgia to Indiana, they would have jugs of water and multiple replacement parts for their engine in the trunk, he said.
The antique Fords actually get pretty good mileage, even by today's standards. Podavano said most of the five vehicles probably get around 29 miles per gallon. His own 51 two-door gets 21 because he's retrofitted the engine and upped the horsepower by half. But gas mileage isn't why these collectors drive old Fords.
"We don't build them for the mileage, we build them for the fun," he said.
The cars, which sold for about $650 new, still have plenty of power to keep up with modern traffic.
"When we were kids, we would drive them 90, 100 miles an hour," Lindquist said, jokingly. "We don't do that anymore."
The group already has tentative plans to attend another Early Ford V8 Club conference next year, in Charlotte, N.C.