Who doesn't know our big fuzzy mascot Buzz? More will come on him later, just know that he began at a Tech Pep Rally in the '60's, and grew out of the Yellow Jacket's nickname, already established for decades.
May 27, 1998 marks the 37th anniversary of the purchase of the Ramblin' Wreck by longtime Dean of Students James Dull in 1961. The earliest recorded reference to a Ramblin' Wreck comes, of course, from the world-famous Georgia Tech fight song.
The author and date of the fight song are somewhat apocryphally dated back as far as the 1890s, but the song had certainly come into existence by 1908, when its was printed in the first Blueprint yearbook.
By one story, the phrase "Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech" was first applied to a group of mechanized contraptions in the early years of this century in South America. Tech engineers employed in projects in the Brazilian jungle found themselves without any form of automotive conveyance in that inhospitable climate. These engineers, using whatever spare automotive parts were at hand, constructed some mechanized conglomerations that only survived for their intended purpose of conveyance by the ingenuitty and creative engineering of the Tech men that made them. These vehicles were as remarkable as they were haphazard and eccentric, so the other workers involved in the construction began to refer to them as the Ramblin' Wrecks from Georgia Tech.
During the first half of this century, as the sports programs at Tech grew and flurished and student life expanded, there arose several claimants to the title of the Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech. Most notable was a 1914 Ford Model T, owned by Floyd Field, Tech's first Dean of Men. Dean Field's love of automobiles led to the establishment of the Ramblin' Wreck parade, first called the Flying Fivver race (also the Old Ford Race), a road race from Atlanta to Athens. These early vehicles were the personal property of students, alumni or faculty, and none of them ever acted as the sole icon of the Institute.
That changed in 1961, when Dean Dull saw a 1930 Ford Model A Cabriolet Sports Coupe at a track meet at Flordia State University. The Model A, owned by Captain Ted Johnson, a pilot for Delta Airlines, had been partially resotred by him for his son, who was a student at FSU. After some negotionation, Dean Dull was able to obtain the sale of the present Ramblin' Wreck to Groegia Tech for $1,000. The purchase price was later refunded to Tech, securing the distinction as a donation of the Wreck by Captain Johnson.
The Wreck was not always the beautiful old gold and white that it is
today. The car was painstakingly refurbished and transformed into the mechanical
presonification of the Tech spirit under the auspices of Pete George, a
distinguished and generous alumnus of Georgia Tech who was plant manager
at the Hapeville
Ford plant. He personally commissioned and supervised the detailed creation of the Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech.
The Wreck's body has a metallic old gold finish and white fenders. The upholstery in the cockpit and the rumble seat is striped old gold and white. The exterior is decorated by several decals of the GT cipher and of manifestations of Buzz as he heas appeared over the years. The gear lever is emblazoned with a gold Tech "T".
The Wreck has been restored several times over the years, each time under the distinction of George and with funds provided by him. The student body collectively owns the Ramblin' Wreck, and the financial, labor and material responsibilities for the care and maintenance of the car are handled exclusively by the Ramblin' Reck Club.
Each year, the club elects a member to the honor of driving the Wreck in football games and other appearances that the car makes for the Institute. The Wreck driver has, however, become more than just an honorary title. During the last few years, the Ramblin' Reck Club members have become the mechanics as well as the chauffeurs and caretakers to a pampered, and sometimes finicky, 66-year-old Ford.
The pride of the student body takes in the Ramblin' Wreck has allowed the whole Georgia Tech family to continue to enjoy one of the most beautiful and lasting icons of the Institute and our shared history.
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