Sunday, December 6, 2015

Dodge Ram's "Daddy"

Here's what's needed for winter's feeding. Put it in "Grandma" gear, hop out, and spread your hay while you and the truck walk leisurely though the pasture.

And should one run it into a ditch bank or high-center on a dike, there's a winch to pull you out. Providing you can find something to hitch to. Perhaps a congenial cow.

The Power Wagon of the Chrysler Corporation made its appearance in late WWII and was produced until 1981. A power-takeoff unit was available for operating auxiliary equipment. A no-nonsense rig that fit its times until something more exciting and comfortable came along.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hudson . . . Still Revered

Post-war Hudsons seem to be coming out of the woodwork these days. This August we spied one at a McDonald's in Erie, P. A.  Then, last month, one showed up at the Frontier Cafe, Stevensville, Montana. Pictured is one that surprised us while photographing a herd of Red Angus, near the Mission Range, western Montana.

This convertible appears to bear––at first glance––its original factory paint as did the others we ran across. Forest Green in P. A. and in Montana, black with a white top. Convertibles are quite rare. This 1948-49 example wears the distinctive headband that became a clue to quick identity when meeting oncoming traffic. 

Hudsons were attractively styled, especially pre-and post- WWII versions, and later, the marque led the way with its innovative Step-down body and chassis design, giving the car a sleek, long, and lower profile that appeared to hug the highway. This "torpedo" styling incorporated "Monobilt" unitized construction with perimeter frame rails and a lower center of gravity than its competition.

Hug the road it did. Coupled with power plants that delivered good top end on the track, 1950 Hudsons dominated stock car races around the nation. They were recognized for their track-savvy manners and handling, beating most entries of the Big Three. Not until the Rocket 88s fielded by Oldsmobile, did the Hudson face a real challenge during those few years, the heyday of its glory. 

A dignified 1940-41 coupe that seated three. A modest rear seat could be installed as an option. Below are several 1946-47 models: to my mind some of the most attractively styled of all makes and models available after WWII. Note the hidden running boards.

Even a three-quarter ton pickup was marketed. 

The company merged with Nash-Kelvinator in the mid-50s to survive against the Big Three. Despite its innovations in cabin comfort and size, industry-leading transmission options, and advanced suspension and steering engineering, Hudson's fortunes continued downhill even under the banner of American Motors Corporation, headed by George Romney. The badge disappeared altogether in 1957 but is still honored by such auto clubs as the Hudson-Essex-Terraplane owners who enthusiastically keep the memories alive and interest growing.

Here is a Hudson Terraplane, a lower-priced Hudson marketed as an entry-level vehicle, competitively priced in the mid-to late-1930s. I found this one at a Hermitage, Pennsylvania car show.

Monday, October 26, 2015

In the 1950s, Ford . . .

responded to farmers expanding to larger acreages and asking for bigger tractors. The company designed the Golden Jubilee as an answer, a model producing test horsepower of 26.8 and costing $1560 in 1954. It was designated to replace the 8N, a model that had been around basically since pre-WWII days. 

With the Jubilee as a pattern, Ford began a numerical series starting with a 600, 650, 800, 850, 950, then added a "1" as the different models made their appearances, some with Diesel engines and live PTOs. Most were classified as 2-3 plow in capacity.

Below is an 850 and retaining the utility style platform. Tricycle front ends were added to the line as it progressed through the decade.

Here's the Ford 2N, similar to the 8N and 9N, favorites of restorers.

And Your Humble Blogger with his Uncle Al's Ford 800 tractor, which Ford called the NAA series, and a successor to the 1953 Golden Jubilee. Put a lot of hours on this great old-timer, and it remains one reason I favor utility-type tractors to this day. Yes, it runs. Pleased to report this family favorite has been moved and will be likely restored by the next generation.  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Poorly Conceived and Short-lived

Fewer than 10,000 Edsels are believed to exist today but have enjoyed far more collector interest than when introduced to the general public back in 1958. Some command prices into the six figures if a trailer queen and a convertible.

The marque was supposed to bracket Ford Motor Company's Mercury with two models priced above the typically-priced Mercury and two below but slightly above Ford's offerings.

Not a bad looking car in the main but buyers did not accept the vertical grill, the butt of scorn and jokes. Sad, rather, as the car became a despised orphan. Robert McNamara directed the company to drop the line in 1960. 

Or, Well-designed and Enduring

This Porsche 944 is a 1985.5 model. Thirty years old and it still looks timeless. These cars were much admired and copied by competing manufacturers through the years. It confirms sound basic artistry in sheet metal still holds up.

Monday, September 7, 2015

1936 Cadillac Coupe

No secret this blogger favors the automobiles of the late 1930s and those of the Forties bookending WWII. Here's one of the most elegant coupes we've seen lately and nicely done. Pretty good-sized engine for the time, a V-8 of 346 cubic inches and producing 135 horsepower. 

This year saw the introduction of "knee-action" suspension and Bendix Dual Action brakes. This particular restoration was whisper quiet, we noted, as it left the fairgrounds.

The rear view shows the smallish trunk, and above the tail light, the little step one uses to access the rumble seat which takes up most of the trunk space.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wooden Wheels and Decor

This 1948 Fleetline beauty was not the last Chevrolet adorned in maple, mahogany, or oak. The station wagons of the early Fifties sported wood as well. Just proved impractical for an age becoming indifferent to elegant motoring.

Nonetheless, makers of European sports cars of the 1960s-1980s continued to deck out their instrument panels, steering wheels, and gearbox knobs in wood. Certainly added to the charm and panache and may have been a factor for shoppers deciding between a US or foreign vehicle. Pictured is the interior of a Triumph Spitfire, one of the most admired of the era.

From a model T where wood was employed for practical purposes, for wheels running over the ground and wheels to turn those wheels.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Kaiser's Henry J

Launched in 1950 as compact, economical, and affordable ($1299), the Henry J was indeed "Spartan." Early models bore no truck lid or glove box and the rear windows did not roll down. It came powered by a Willys Overland engine used on Jeeps and the four cylinder versions were alleged to be capable of 30 miles per gallon. The Henry J won the Mobil Economy Run in 1953. Such constitutes its fifteen minutes of fame.

It shared the rocket or jet plane hood ornament several makes and models sported in the the early Fifties.

Poor Henry never caught on with a public who wanted powerful engines, roomy interiors, and conveniences such as automatic transmissions provided by the Big Three, and in 1954, production was suspended. It appeared as an Allstate in 1952 but Sears, Roebuck, and Company abandoned marketing these cars after disappointing sales experience.

Models were badged as a Corsair with some modest upgrades and the final version, the Vagabond, came with continental kit, but sales remained miserable for a car some consider ahead of its time. The "Think Small" revolution in automobile taste and marketing had not yet captured the public's imagination.

Note the fins, reminiscent of the 1949 Cadillac. Tail lights of the earlier models were located right and left of the spare shown on this Vagabond model, not jutting out from the fender. The slight dip in the rear window reflected a styling motif of the the 1953 Kaiser, Henry J's big brother.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

One of the "C" series

The Chevelle was another marketing campaign that served Chevrolet well. 

It too was souped up and there came a fad in the 70s and 80s of jacking up the rear end pointing the nose down the road, like a Beagle or Bassett searching a scent. Chevelle enthusiasts were not alone in this goofiness, a style derived from the era's dragsters.

"Looks like a stinkbug," said one scoffer. Never rode in one but you can imagine the ride was less than "boulevard-smooth."

Note the tailights set into the rear bumper, a styling motif of this much-beloved Chevy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Impala Super Sport

Before Chevrolet settled on its host of "C" words for its model line-up, the company launched the Impala badge as its flagship leader. Gone were the One-Fifty, Two-Ten, and the head-turning Bel Air.

First appearance was 1958. More about that model later. But "Impala" captured the imagination of Chevy fans with its leaping antelope interpretation. Then, Super Sport was added for those models with performance enhancements.

Impala has served the company well. It's still riveted front and back on today's full-size sedans. Super Sport?  Well, it shows up now and then if Chevy decides sales needs a hot new model for the younger set, especially in blazing red or chromeless black.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Nova

Chevy's Nova was once the Chevy II and sort of a competition to the Ford Falcon. It was originally conceived as a mild-mannered, basic car for the young family or the grandparents. Over time, however, the Nova took on a multitude of personalities and, of course, was crammed with the biggest power plant its engine compartment could accommodate. Consequently, it became a favorite of drag racers. It is still sought-after by those wanting an easily customized "rod."

Sunday, May 17, 2015

At a car show in P. A. (Pennsylvania)

One of my recent dream cars (I have several). This is a Mercedes-Benz 250 C found at a car show near Linesville, Pennsylvania. Rendered in Suitably Gray, perfect color for a quiet understatement, and a dignified personal coupe for a "senior" motorist.  Probably from the early 1970s era.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Car Shows, 2015

The 1956 Ford (and its model shown here)

In 1954, production Ford Fairlane Victoria Coupes adopted the glass roof panel for a special model, which was dubbed both “the Ultra-Modern Skyliner” and the “glamour gal of the ’54 season.” As fascinating and dramatic as the feature was, it did have its drawbacks; namely, it turned the interior into a greenhouse in sunny weather, which was a problem that was eventually addressed with zip-in sunshades and widely ordered factory Select Aire air conditioning.

Total Skyliner production for 1954 was 13,444 units, which was sufficient to continue the style to the handsomely restyled 1955 and 1956 models. Ford moved the “bubbletop” up market, making it a variant of the new, top-of-the-line Fairlane Crown Victoria, which had its distinctive non-structural chrome roof band, dubbed the “tiara” or “basket handle.” This final version of the Skyliner saw production of 1,999 units in 1955 and another 603 in 1956, after which the glass roof became a thing of future’s past.

Of the 603 Skyliners produced in 1956, few remain. They are the rarest and most desirable of all Crown Victorias, and they are one of the most fiercely sought-after Fords of the Fabulous Fifties.

Folks shopping for the loaded '55 or '56 Chevy Bel Air hardtops undoubtedly took a second look at the Crown Vics. A few Ford enthusiasts bought them new or close to new, knowing in 2015 they would bring a premium perhaps. Always a show-stopper.

Regarding shows in your area or region: always verify published dates by phone or e-mail. Shows have been postponed or cancelled altogether, or their locations changed. Don't risk disappointment, showing up to an empty auditorium or fairgrounds. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Continuing the theme, "Cars from the Thirties"

Here's a classic example of the "pontoon" fenders of the period.  They were "useful as well as ornamental" as country and even the main streets of many crossroad towns and villages turned to dust and mud with the weather. Pontoon fenders were subject to a lot of dings, bumps, and rust. 

They made a fine styling statement but disappeared as car design in the 1940s rapidly adopted more unified and streamlined bodies. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

The 1935s !

 The 1935 Cadillac four-door sedan. Note the rear luggage accessory that could be attached for longer trips. It soon became obsolete.

The 1935 Chrylser Airflow 2-door signaled change.

 A 1935 Lincoln Model K roadster. Note the rear quarter panel and its storage area. White sidewall tires and solid, not wire, wheels became part of the standard running gear. Lincoln's stunning Zephyr and Continental models were still on the drawing boards.

The Packard 4-door Sedan. This maker produced some of the most luxurious and flat-out elegant vehicles of the late 1930s and early Forties, especially the Victoria and Darren-designed phaetons and convertibles.

The year of 1935 forecast the future of automobile design until World War II consumed the nation's manufacturing. The industry was still wobbling through the Great Depression and sales were modest, even bleak at times, for these luxury models shown.

Innovations such as hydraulic and vacuum-assisted braking began to appear. Automatic transmissions were only dreamt of or experimental. There were, however, syncromesh transmissions offered by the various marques and overdrive could be ordered for such higher-end cars pictured.

The Chrysler Airflow offered a glimpse of things to come. None other than Orville Wright suggested Chrysler build a wind tunnel to both study and market streamlining. The public found its flowing lines a bit radical for the times, but eventually the sculpting of hoods, fenders, and trunk areas became accepted.  Even the lower-priced Fords, Chevrolets, Plymouths, and Dodges took on an aura similar to the more expensive members of the families and sported hood ornaments which became collectible. Studebaker, Hudson, Nash, DeSoto, Buick, Olds did likewise and were well regarded.

Fender wells for the pair of spares, unfortunately in the view of some, began to disappear and spares were assigned to the rear deck or mounted in the trunk. Wells were subject to rust as were the bullet-shaped headlights. Nonetheless, the pre-war models such as these pictured symbolized a time of automobile design and elegance never to be seen again.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Now can you name the make?

Yes, you're right! The 1952 Ford.  Back when big chrome grills were in style.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Fender-skirted pickup

Here's one, nicely done. A treatment seldom seen with a tonneau cover plus rack and plus skirts over the wheels. Can you guess the make and year?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Shelby Cobra

Few cars can match the Shelby Cobra for its colorful and turbulent history.  Originally of British roots and design, it's been powered by a number of different powerplants including English, BMW, Chrysler, and Ford versions.

I never look at this front end (can't quite call it a grill, could you?), but what I think of a Largemouth Bass. Yet the design has influenced late model vehicles of both the USA and Germany (think Ford and Audi). And it still raises the pulse of sports car lovers whenever one pulls into the parade row or on the track.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The 1967 Pontiac GTO

At a recent Mecum Auction, one of these crossed the block for a price in the mid-sixties. Don't you wish you would have held on and garaged the one you traded for back in the 1970s?