Skip navigation

Lost and Found—the 1935 ‘Evangel’ Gospel Car

LOST AND FOUND— The 1935 ‘Evangel’ Gospel Car

A fascinating slice of Moody history resurfaced last year at an auto auction, when it was noticed by a Moody Radio listener in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He bought it—here’s the story.
  • Kevin Mungons
  • September 29, 2023

1931: A New York businessman gave the Bible Institute Colportage Association a new truck, seen here outside the BICA offices at 843 N. Wells. Outfitted as a house camper and rolling bookstore, the idea itself wasn’t new—Moody operated a horse-drawn gospel car as early as 1894. A recurring advertisement in Moody Monthly recruited workers: “WANTED: Man and wife to operate gospel car through various states (rural and urban territory), preaching, singing, house-to-house colportage visitation.” The grueling pace proved difficult, and most couples only lasted six months.

1934–1949: Ellery and Elizabeth Aldrich of Gloversville, New York, read the advertisements and thought of a new twist. They pitched the idea of stopping by the local radio stations, playing a few hymns, and then announcing their meetings that night. Station managers knew a good story when they heard one—a husband and wife team playing duets on matching slide trombones. After 15 years of nonstop travel, they retired in 1949 but kept the truck and still used it occasionally. After Ellery passed away, Betty sold it to a local family, where it became part of a large auto collection.

Today: After several decades in storage, the vehicle disappeared from memory until it resurfaced on an auction docket last year. That’s where it came to the attention of Corky Coker, who runs a car museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Amazingly, he knew what it was. “I got an email from a friend of mine at Broad Arrow Auctions—he knew I would be interested,” Corky says. “I’ve listened to Moody Radio for years, and I knew I had to have it.” So with the swing of the auction gavel (“Going once, going twice, SOLD for $6,720”), Corky took home a rather large souvenir of Moody Publishers history.

About the Author

  • Kevin Mungons

Kevin Mungons is a Backlist Curator at Moody Publishers.