By definition, the word touring means to take part in a tour. When the buggy went horseless, it also took on the definition of a body style in which people would spend their weekends, well, touring. Over a century later, touring is still organized by countless collector-car clubs, and tours are generally well attended. Beginning in 1906, however, Touring has also provided a means to enjoy a sense of travel from the comfort of your own living room.
Touring, the Great Automobile Card Game, was originally conceived by the New York-based Wallie Dorr Company, but rather than it being just a leisurely cruise through a deck of 100 sightseeing cards, it was actually a 110-mile race to the finish. It may sound simple enough to play, but don’t let the title fool you; the fast-paced spectacle of living room speed was filled with trip-interrupting delays at a moment’s notice.
The game was intended for two to three players – or two teams of two to three players each. Five cards were dealt to each player/team; remaining cards were positioned face down in the center of the table. Each player would have to pick from this stack and play a card or discard one. Accumulating the necessary miles to win the race was as simple as playing a series of Mile cards – two 30-Miles; two 15-Miles; four 3-Miles; and eight 1-Mile – but one could not start until first obtaining and playing a Go card.
One could also besiege a player with a series of frustration-mounting Delay cards. Collision cards would require the recipient to draw and play a Hauled In and Go card before returning to the race. The Out of Gas card would in turn have to be followed by Gasoline and Go cards, while Puncture was perhaps the easiest to overcome with the simple draw of a Go card. Any one of the initial delay cards also carried with it a mileage penalty: A select number of your accumulated miles could be forfeited depending upon whether the game was in City or Country Limit modes (these two cards acted as speed limits).
Wallie Dorr produced the game until it was acquired by Salem, Massachusetts-based Parker Brothers in 1925. Though the game cards were unchanged for the 1926 re-release, the company did issue a new box design as pictured here; and it became “The Famous Automobile Card Game” in the process. There were, however, subsequent updates as the decades progressed: 1937 saw a new box and card art, while the 1957 edition updated mileage to five, 15, 25 and 45. A more radical update was made in 1965, with a new contemporary series of Delay cards and another mileage revamp to 25, 35, 50 and 75. Trip length was modernized accordingly with each update.
Parker Brothers offered Touring through 1976. Although we found our copy at a local swap meet, the proliferation of updated editions means you can find a copy with relative ease online, with prices ranging from $10 to $40, depending upon age and condition; most are less than $25. One can also find a copy of the French-made Mille Bornes, believed to be derived from Touring.
This article originally appeared in the February, 2013 issue of Hemmings Motor News.