Monthly Archives: May 2015

Driving Indiana

Do you enjoy travelling on Indiana’s backroads? I do and suggest a book that should aid in planning your excursions around the Hoosier state. Scenic Driving Indiana provides in-depth looks at 28 drives in all areas of the state. Author Douglas Wissing describes the physiographic features and history of the regions to weave you through the journey. Here are three examples.

Scenic Driving Indiana

Drive 1: The River to River Scenic Drive follows Indiana Highway 150, the historic path formed by the buffalo herds’ migrations across Indiana from the Illinois prairie to the Falls of the Ohio at today’s Falls Cities, where they crossed in low water to the Kentucky salt licks. The Buffalo Trace was the first natural highway in the region, beaten six feet deep into the earth in some places. History abounds in many places along this route in places like Vincennes, Fredericksburg, Greentown, and Clarksville. I enjoy driving along the Trace and imagining travel in the frontier days.

Drive 10: I like to take this route, Columbus to Bloomington along Indiana Highway 46, most any time of the year. The route goes through Gnaw Bone, Nashville, and Belmont as it traverses south central Indiana’s hills. In addition to the architectural and historical highlights, country charm and art are the draws along this tour. The stretch from Gnaw Bone to Nashville slows down in season. The T. C. Steele State Historic Site is just south of Belmont. Steele was one of Indiana’s most beloved painters.

Drive 20: Sugar Creek from Thorntown through Shades and Turkey Run State Parks is one I plan to take in the near future. The drive begins in Thorntown on Indiana Highway 47 where the confluence of Sugar and Pine Creeks provided exceptional hunting grounds for the Miami Indians. Further west in Montgomery County the flat prairie gives way to the heavily forested areas as you proceed southwest. In Darlington, the Toll Gate House on Main Street served in the 1880s as a gatehouse for the corduroy toll road made of felled timbers laid across the road providing a bumpy ride. Crawfordsville serves up many architectural highlights, including the buildings at Wabash College, the Lew Wallace Library and Ben Hur Museum, and the Old Rotary Jail Museum. The drive proceeds further southwest to Shades and Turkey Run state parks, which are both popular destinations.

Douglas Wissing’s knowledge and research produced a resource that sparks an interest in touring across Indiana. My copy of the book is well annotated for my next scenic drive in Indiana.

Peruse Scenic Driving Indiana at Amazon.com

Top car culture web resources

Over the years, I have discovered a number of car culture web resources while doing research for my writing and website development. So, I would like to share my “Top car culture web resources.”

Jay Leno’s Garage has to be my number one source for all things about collectible cars. I enjoy how Jay shares items from his vast antique car collection as well as other auto enthusiast topics. Weekly he produces a video about the latest happenings around his shop. Such as, the 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car, Lee Iacocca’s 45th Anniversary Ford Mustang, 1910 White Model O-O steam car, and a 1914 Indianapolis-built Premier. He also likes to interview other auto hobbyists on topics like all about gas, the perfect paint job, and other tips and tricks. I visit this site weekly for my fix on Jay’s slant on car culture.

My second choice is Autoextremeist.com written by Peter M. De Lorenzo, a 30 plus year automotive advertising and marketing veteran. I like his unbiased take on happenings in the American auto manufacturing industry and auto racing scene. PMD pulls no-punches in analyzing how things like the rise in gas prices may affect auto manufacturing and the buying public. He presents an interesting perspective on auto industry executive decisions and how they might pan out over time. He has an interesting take on American auto racing and what might be done to improve the product on the track. There are few other places to get this insider information.

The eBay Motors Blog presents overviews of significant collectible cars currently offered on the popular eBay auction website. Capsule summaries discuss the significant items regarding a particular car like current price range, plusses and minuses, and why this might be a good value. Some features have been a 1954 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster, 1977 Fiat 500, 1965 Shelby Cobra replica, and one of my dream cars, a 1971 Jaguar E-Type coupe. This blog covers vintage cars across the automotive spectrum. Where else can you find a 1968 Chevelle Nomad wagon that could be a collectible daily driver?

Jalopnik offers a daily plethora of eclectic automotive items. How about topics like a 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III Continenchero pick-up truck conversion, General Motors recall of Chevrolet Cruze models for steering problems, Microsoft and Toyota announcing a strategic partnership on next-generation auto telematics, 2012 Chevrolet Corvette Zo6 Centennial edition announcement, and auto centric wallpaper selections for your browser. If it’s wild and wacky, you might find it on Jalopnik.

So, there you have my picks for the “Top car culture web resources.” Check them out, and then share your picks of car culture web resources.

Bring Indianapolis automotive history to life

It is interesting that relationships which started over 120 years ago are responsible for so much of our life, jobs, community heritage, and car culture. I’ve found a way to bring Indianapolis’ automotive history to life.

A few years ago I developed Indianapolis Auto Tours to provide a look at the people and sites representing Indianapolis’ innovative role in our automotive heritage. Indianapolis was a commercial producer of automobiles and taxicabs from 1896 to 1937. The Circle City, with 91 different vehicles manufactured here, ranked second to Detroit as the chief rival for the title of the nation’s auto capital.

For example, let’s take a look at Harry C. Stutz’s involvement in developing many vehicles that crossed the American landscape.

1915 Stutz Bearcat
1915 Stutz Bearcat sports car

Copyright © 1915 Stutz Motor Car Co.

Photo courtesy of the Stutz Club

In 1910, He designed a transaxle that combined the transmission and the rear differential in one unit. This transaxle became standard equipment on many other automobiles besides Stutz cars.

Next, Stutz formulated his dream of a quality sports car built from assembled, high-quality components manufactured by outside suppliers at a price below $2,000 in early 1911. The first Stutz was built in just five weeks and was immediately taken to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the inaugural running of the 500 Mile Race. Gil Anderson drove the car to an eleventh place finish.

Later that summer, the Ideal Motor Car Company was organized for manufacture of the Stutz Model A, a duplicate of the Indy race car. New Stutz models were offered as a two-passenger roadster, four-passenger toy tonneau, and a five-passenger touring car. Each was priced at $2,000. Stutz emphasized its 1911 record of competing without any adjustments in two additional “great races” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Santa Monica, California. A Stutz Model A torpedo roadster served as the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 in 1912.

The famous Stutz Bearcat sports car appeared in 1912 for a run of 10 years. It followed the usual Stutz recipe of a low-slung chassis, a large engine, and other bare necessities–hood, fenders, a right-hand raked steering column, two bucket seats, a fuel tank behind the seats, and wooden spoke wheels. The Stutz Bearcat was a popular car in the $2,000 price range. Its ap¬peal was boosted by Stutz’s success at the race track. Bearcats finished fourth and sixth at the Indianapolis 500 in 1912 and won numerous other races that same year. The next year a Bearcat finished third at the Indianapolis 500, and by late fall Stutz driver Earl Cooper was crowned the National Champion after winning six consecutive races.

In June 1913, the Ideal Motor Car Company was reorganized as the Stutz Motor Car Company, with Harry Stutz as president. The Stutz White Squadron racing team did extraordinarily well in 1915 (its last under factory sponsorship), with victories at several tracks. Also in 1915, Cannonball Baker drove a stock Bearcat cross country from San Diego, California, to New York City, New York, in a record-breaking time of 11 days, 7 hours, and 15 minutes.

In the years preceding World War I, Stutz’s sales increased nearly ten-fold—from 266 cars in 1912 to 1,873 five years later.

Harry sold his interest in the company that bore his name in June 1919, and founded two new automotive ventures—the Stutz Fire Engine Company and the H.C.S. Motor Car Company. The Stutz Motor Company went on to manufacturer many cars of distinction like the Safety Stutz, the Stutz Blackhawk, the Stutz DV-32 and the Stutz SV-16 through 1934.

I would like to offer you a personalized tour of our automotive heritage. An auto tour can bring some of these experiences to life. Why not experience some of this legacy today with an Indianapolis Auto Tour? Contact us today to schedule your tour!

2015 AACA National Special Meet Auburn Indiana

For the third year the Antique Automobile Club of America held its Special Meet in Auburn Indiana. This meet featured the traditional AACA collector car show with over 200 cars, swap meet, car corral, plus the Auctions America auction featuring more than 500 collector cars and memorabilia.

Pardon my partiality, but I believe Auburn, IN, is the best place for a collector car event. I have been attending auto events there since the mid-1970’s.

11904 Cadillac Runabout
1904 Cadillac Runabout

This year’s special meet displayed show cars from the early 1900’s the late 1980’s.I especially enjoyed the cars from the early 1900’s. A 1904 Cadillac runabout provided a glimpse of motoring over 110 years ago. You could step back and imagine sitting in this brass beauty with the wind in your face and bouncing over the crude roads of the day. A 1907 Ford Model N roaster and a 1910 Buick Model 20 were other cars from this era.

1928 Auburn Speedster
1928 Auburn Speedster

Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, Haynes, Marmon, Studebaker, and Stutz represented Indiana-built cars. One particularly flashy Indiana-built car was a 1928 Auburn boat-tail speedster. This breath-taking black and red beauty attracted attention all day. A number of Studebaker Golden Hawks showed the other end of these makes.

The auction provided a great sampling of cars from reasonably priced drivers to fully turned-out exotic cars.

Everywhere you turned there was another example of cars from our early days of motoring. It is interesting how our tastes in autos change over the years. Whether you’re interested in perusing or purchasing a collector car the AACA Special Meet in Auburn, Indiana is the meet to attend.

Another approach to the 1965 Indianapolis 500

J. C. Agajanian’s Hurst Special took a different approach to the 1965 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

1965 Agajanian Hurst Special
1965 Agajanian Hurst Special

After holding out on entering a rear-engine race car for a couple of years, J. C. Agajanian entered a rebuilt Lotus Ford entry for Parnelli Jones in the 1965 Indianapolis 500 classic. For 1965, 44 of the 68 entries were rear-engine cars.

After exhaustive study over many months, it became apparent to veteran chief mechanic Johnny Pouelsen that they had to strengthen inherently weak components that had turned up in the original design. This total overhaul was to compensate for the extreme pressures on the chassis and suspension due primarily to the increase in horsepower demands plus wider tire tread widths. To accomplish this feat, Pouelsen and body constructor Eddie Kuzma transformed car 98 by replacing every inch of the original metal milled in England.

It is interesting to note that with all of this re-engineering of the Lotus Fords, A.J. Foyt and Parnelli Jones both suffered failure of their right-rear hub carriers in practice during May 6 and May 9 respectively. On Pole Day, the all-Lotus-Ford front row consisted of A.J. Foyt, Jimmy Clark, and Dan Gurney. Parnelli qualified for the middle of the second row. On Thursday, May 20, while Parnelli was breaking in a new engine, his right rear suspension broke off entering turn four and slammed into the wall. Agajanian vowed the car would be ready for race day.

On Race Day, Jimmy Clark’s superbly prepared green and yellow Lotus Ford was too much car for the rest of the field. Foyt, Gurney, and Jones battled for second place. Parnelli’s engine began missing at 150 miles, and Foyt’s gearbox gave out just short of 300 miles. Clark finished first after leading 190 of the 200 laps. As Parnelli completed the final lap, he was moving his car from side-to-side across the track, shaking down the last few drops of fuel in his tanks. The crowd cheered for him as he crossed the finish line in second place just six seconds ahead of Mario Andretti.