Monthly Archives: February 2015

Working on Indiana’s Innovative Automotive Designs

For the past few weeks I’ve been working on my new presentation “Indiana’s Innovative Automotive Designs.” I was inspired by the Indianapolis Museum of Art exhibit “Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas” scheduled for May 3 to August 23, 2015, which traces the development of concept cars not intended for series production from the early 1930s to the present.

Duesenberg Twenty Grand
Duesenberg Twenty Grand

With that in mind, I wanted “Indiana’s Innovative Automotive Designs” to demonstrate the development of three Indiana-built automobiles from 1928 to 1962. I believe it is style and beauty that draws us to a particular automobile. In the first-half of the twentieth century, some of America’s most sought after automobiles were produced in Indiana.

Cord Sedan
Cord Sedan

I want to tell this story through three iconic Indiana-built automobiles: the Duesenberg Arlington Torpedo Sedan better-known as the “Twenty Grand” Duesenberg; the 1936 Cord Model 810; and the 1962 Studebaker Avanti. They are still highly regarded by automotive enthusiasts around the world today.

Avanti at Palm Springs
Avanti at Palm Springs

These innovative automotive designs demonstrate only part of Indiana’s contributions to America’s production cars.

For more information click this link.

I look forward to sharing my new presentation with you.

Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Plant Celebrates Grand Opening

1915 Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Branch Assembly Plant
1915 Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Branch Assembly Plant

The Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Branch Assembly Plant, 1315 East Washington Street, celebrated its grand opening on March 9, 1915. A two-mile-long automobile parade along East Washington St; provided over 5,000 people for a plant inspection during automobile show week. The parade was more than 45-minutes passing any given point. A. H. Smith, plant manager, and S. H. Jones, assistant plant manager, addressed the gathering. Details were arranged by the Chamber of Commerce with assistance of the Merchants Association. The Ford Motor Company allotted 250 cars from the plant for the use of its guests in addition to over 200 other individuals’ cars. At the time of the opening, the plant had about 250 employees and assembled 60 cars a day. The four-story Indianapolis branch was valued at $410,000.

276 cars for deivery
276 cars for deivery

This April 1915 photo near the plant shows 276 autos awaiting delivery to the Ford Indiana Zone dealers. Through the chain of 24 assembly plants, the Ford Motor Company was enabled to make almost immediate delivery of Ford cars to any section of the country. During the late fall and winter months, assembled parts were shipped to the assembly plants and stored there so that when spring came with its added demand, Ford cars were assembled and distributed to waiting buyers. In most cases, delivering agents drove the cars home.

Assembly branches also avoided the hazard of damaging cars in loading and unloading from freight cars as well as in-transit damage over considerable distances. Branches served only their contiguous territory. Ford Motor Company assembled vehicles at the Indianapolis plant through 1932.

Indiana Automotive Innovation

Indiana’s documented automotive innovation began with Elwood Haynes’ kitchen experiment on an internal combustion engine in the fall of 1893. Haynes’ research and development led to the demonstration of his “Pioneer” automobile along Pumpkinvine Pike, on the outskirts of Kokomo, on Independence Day, 1894. Haynes and two passengers traveled at a speed of seven miles an hour and drove about one and one-half miles further into the country. He then turned the auto around, and ran the four miles into town without making a single stop.

1894 Haynes Pioneer
1894 Haynes Pioneer

If you use the accepted definition of the production as the manufacture of 12 or more vehicles of the same design, more than 200 different makes of autos were made in Indiana since 1896. Indiana-built autos featured many innovations. Some are included in the following list.

1902 Marmon had an air-cooled overhead valve V-twin engine with pressure lubrication.

1903 Haynes-Apperson featured a tilting steering column for easy access of the driver.

1911 Haynes was the first to equip an open car with a top, windshield, headlamps, and a speedometer as standard equipment.

1913 Premier and Studebaker concurrently introduced a six-cylinder engine with mono block engine casting.

1918 The Cole Aero-Eight introduced the use of balloon tires.

1922 The Duesenberg Model A introduced hydraulic brakes and overhead camshaft straight-eight engines.

1926 Stutz introduced safety-glass windshields on high-end models.

1929 The Cord Model L-29 introduced front-wheel drive.

1929 Marmon featured factory-installed radios.

1932 The Duesenberg Model SJ debuted factory-installed supercharging.

1936 The Cord Model 810 featured disappearing headlights, rheostat-controlled instrument lights, variable speed windshield wipers, and full unit-body construction.

1937 Studebaker introduced windshield washers.

1949 Crosley introduced disc brakes.

1963 The Studebaker Avanti introduced seat belts as optional equipment.

1963 Avanti
1963 Avanti

So, the next time you are driving along in your automobile, you might wonder were we’d be without Indiana’s automotive innovation?

Indianapolis hosting new automotive events

In 2014, Indianapolis was voted the #1 convention city in the U. S. by USA Today. I believe part of this recognition is because Indianapolis continues to host new automotive events.

1932 Ford Speedster
1932 Ford Speedster

The Indianapolis Museum of Art is presenting Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas, a major exhibition featuring rare concept cars from the 1930’s to the 21st century, from May 3 – August 23, 2015. Dream Cars showcases some of the most unique vehicles ever created by top names in the automotive field. If you’re like me, it’s styling that draws me to automobiles. Plan now to visit the Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas exhibit, and experience how these designs envisioned new ideas for transportation.

1963 Agajanian Willard Battery Special
1963 Agajanian Willard Battery Special

Another example: last June 5-8, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted the inaugural Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational. This event was the largest collection of race cars to compete in one place in the United States. The special Oval Track exhibition class featured open-wheel race cars with Indianapolis 500 or other historic racing experience.

There was something for every car enthusiast with 11 groups of competition ranging from Mini Coopers to open-wheel race cars up to 2008. The cars were on display on the infield and open to all fans, providing up-close access to the race cars. I believe every car enthusiast has to put the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational on their bucket list for 2015. This year’s event is June 11-14.

In November 2014, the Speedway announced that it will host the Bloomington Gold Corvette show, June 25-27, 2015. The nation’s prestigious and longest-running all-Corvette show will include a gigantic one-of-a-kind display of Corvettes. The event has grown substantially through the years, with 5,000 Corvettes expected to appear at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In December, the Indiana Convention Center continues to host the annual Performance Racing Industry Trade Show. I believe the PRI Trade Show has to be the number one event for this industry. Performance racing vendors from around the world demonstrate their wares. Exhibitors ranged from sanctioning bodies to parts vendors and everyone in between. I was amazed at the presence of Indiana breath at this show.

It’s great for everyone in the hospitality community to shine the light on Indianapolis.

I am working on a number of unique occasions to augment visitor’s experiences celebrating car culture during these events. Let’s work together to share Indianapolis’ uniqueness as a destination.