Monthly Archives: December 2015

Books sharing auto history

As some of you might know, we republished two books sharing auto history in 2013. They focus on travel in the early days of the automobile.

Tales of a Pathfinder
This republished version of the 1921

Tales of a Pathfinder is a beautifully bound chronicle of a true pioneer of early automotive history. Westgard recounts his many adventures in his role as trailblazer for the Good Roads Movement.

“Daniel Boone of the Gasoline Age” is an apt way to describe Anton L. Westgard. He was one of the pioneers who helped build the foundation for automotive travel. Without the pathfinding excursions of Westgard and others like him, the way west would be a tangle of buffalo traces and weed infested country lanes.

In the early part of the 20th century, U.S. highways and byways were in deplorable shape. Rains drenched the dirt roads and often left a gumbo-like substance making travel by cart or car nearly impossible.

Tales of a Pathfinder is Westgard’s own story and impressions as he wrote them in 1920.

More on: Tales of a Pathfinder at Amazon.com

Motor Manners

This beautifully bound republished version of Motor Manners provides Emily Post’s advice and rules for highway safety. After all, according to Post, “bad motoring manners can be murder.”

Even years after her death, Emily Post is still known as the resource to consult on etiquette in polite society. Her reputation was cemented in history in 1921 when her Book on Etiquette was first published. From that springboard, she developed a syndicated newspaper on etiquette carried by newspapers throughout the United States.

Eventually the National Highway Users Conference approached her to share her advice about motoring on the highways. The result was the pamphlet entitled Motor Manners published in 1949. Although the underlying purpose was to promote highway safety, perhaps the group thought that the influx of female drivers on the road after World War II would respond better to a list of manners rather than a set of rules from a driver’s manual.

This booklet is the republished version of Post’s original writing. The inside pages consist of her advice to the motorists of the 1950’s.

More on: Motor Manners at Amazon.com

We’ve enjoyed the work of researching, writing, and republishing these books. It is our wish that you will enjoy these stories about travel in an earlier era. Enjoy the drive!

For more information on our bookstore follow this link.

A book on the 1913 Hoosier Tour

Our book Hoosier Tour: A 1913 Indiana to Pacific Journey documents the 1913 Indiana Automobile Manufacturers’ Association Indiana-Pacific Tour.

Hoosier Tour

We have known about the IAMA Tour for a number of years and decided to share this story of Hoosier ingenuity during its centennial year. This book examines how the 1913 IAMA Tour served as a model of promoting Indiana-built automobiles and generating interest for building roads, like the proposed Ocean-to-Ocean Rock Highway later to be known as the Lincoln Highway. This road was the impetus to the start of our federal highway system.

Previously all roads were developed and maintained by local governments. The first transcontinental highway, the Lincoln Highway, showed the federal government the opportunities brought by linking good roads from coast to coast. We were to arise from the mud onto paved roadways.

Today we can dash across interstates, from city to city, state to state. This modern-day convenience owes a great deal of thanks to the 1913 IAMA excursion.

We urge you to take a look at Hoosier Tour: A 1913 Indiana to Pacific Journey to see how these early Indiana auto pioneers promoted Indiana-built automobiles and generated interest for building a national network of paved highways.

For more information on Indiana auto pioneers follow this link.

Indiana Cars second edition available

Indiana Cars jacket

Indiana Cars: A History of the Automobile in Indiana fulfilled a long-held ambition to highlight the contributions made to the automobile industry by Indiana innovators and state-based companies. The book is our attempt to illustrate and share this rich history. In fact, the publisher donated more than 300 copies to Indiana school libraries.

As many of you know, one of our projects in summer 2013 was getting the Indiana Cars second edition published. The first edition was a hard-bound book with a different page format. This second edition is formatted differently because of printing requirements. But the bulk of the information remains the same. A few updates have been added to reflect some of the changes that have affected the automotive industry since the first version was printed.

We find that hardly a week goes by without meeting someone unaware of Indiana’s automotive heritage. It is great to share the people and stories from this bygone era. Without the efforts of many Indiana auto pioneers like Carl G. Fisher, Fred Duesenberg, and Elwood Haynes, our nation’s transportation and leisure landscape would be totally different. Indiana Cars can be the first step in your discovery process.

For instance, Indianapolis once had more automobile manufacturers than Detroit. Movie stars and kings once clamored for specific models made only in Indiana. The state was also home to several innovations, such as tilt steering, cruise control, and front-wheel drive. These facts show the importance of the role of automotive manufacturing in Indiana’s history.

We would like to say thank you to the Hoosier Auto Show & Swap Meet, Inc., for having the continued faith in us and republishing our book. Thank you to all of the research institutions, individuals, and car clubs who furnished resource materials and photographs for this venture.

Check out the Indiana Cars: A History of the Automobile in Indiana second edition.

For more information on our automotive heritage follow this link.

Indiana Cars in My Four Car Fantasy Garage

What would be the cars in my “Four Car Fantasy Garage?”

If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you know my selection will be heavily slanted to Indiana-built automobiles. In fact, my selections are three Hoosier autos plus one domestic built one ranging from 63 to 82 years old.

Twenty Grand Duesenberg
Twenty Grand Duesenberg

My first pick is the “Twenty Grand” Duesenberg build for exposition at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. The regal Duesenberg Model SJ Arlington Torpedo Sedan is probably one of the most well-known Duesys. Designed by the legendary Duesenberg stylist Gordon Buehrig, the car was bodied in Pasadena by the Walter M. Murphy Company and aptly named for its staggering price in 1933. That price the “Twenty Grand” would buy you 40 new Plymouth business coupes with change to spare! It was the most expensive automobile of the year. This was the ultimate motorcar of the era. No other American car, not Lincoln, or Packard, or even Cadillac, had so powerful an image. Today it resides in the Nethercutt Collection in Sylmar, California.

1936 Cord Model 810 sedan
1936 Cord Model 810 sedan

My second choice was also designed by Gordon Buehrig, the 1936 Cord Model 810. The car debuted at the New York Auto Show on November 2, 1935. The first Cord 810 rolled off the assembly line in Connersville on February 15, 1936. Innovations on the Cord 810 included disappearing headlights, concealed door hinges, rheostat-controlled instrument lights, variable speed windshield wipers, Bendix Electric Hand (steering column mounted-electric gear pre-selection unit), and factory installed radio. Some of the internationally known celebrities purchasing Cord automobiles were movie stars Sonja Heine and Tom Mix. In fact, actress Jean Harlow ordered a Cord with paint and upholstery to match her platinum blonde hair. The 1951 New York Museum of Modern Art exhibit regarded “the Cord as the outstanding American contribution to automobile design.”

1963-Avanti-Front
1963 Avanti

My third draft is the 1962 Studebaker Avanti. Studebaker President Sherwood Egbert enlisted Raymond Loewy’s group to design this remarkable sport coupe for introduction at the New York International Auto Show in April 1962, By the fall of 1961, orders were placed with outside suppliers for items that Studebaker could not produce internally. The Avanti is best known for its under-the-bumper air intake and “Coke-bottle,” wedge shape design. The fiberglass body sat on a modified Lark Daytona convertible chassis. Avanti’s safety theme was prominent throughout with a recessed and padded instrument panel with red lights for night vision, built-in roll bar, and safety-cone door locks. The car was also one of the first American passenger cars to use caliper-type disc brakes. Iterations of the Avanti and the Avanti II were produced until 1985. You can still find reasonably priced Avanti’s in today’s vintage automobile market.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe
Copyright © 1957 General Motors

Of course, I still have a soft spot in my heart for my first car, a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe. One of these would be the other car in my fantasy garage. What drew me to my 57 Chevy in 1965, was what still draws me today – styling. I believe this styling of the 1955-1957 Chevrolet’s is the best execution of this “everyman’s car.” From the anodized grille to the sleek tailfins, this car talks to me. My two-tone hardtop had a Canyon Coral body with an India Ivory Top and black interior with silver accents. It was powered by a 283 V-8 and Turboglide transmission. This was one sharp set of wheels. If only knew then what I know, I would have put this automotive icon in a time capsule for today.

So, what would you choose for your “Four Car Fantasy Garage?” Tell us about it.

For more information on Indiana cars & companies follow this link.

Howard C. Marmon’s Innovation

Howard C. Marmon
Howard C. Marmon

Howard C. Marmon’s automotive innovation spanned from 1902 to 1933, but today his legacy is nearly forgotten in the automotive world.

Marmon’s first prototype car for Nordyke and Mar¬mon Company was remarkably progressive for 1902. It featured an overhead valve, air-cooled, two-cylinder, 90-degree V configuration engine with pressure lubrication. Marmon’s design was the earliest automotive application of a system that became universal to internal combustion piston engine.

1904 Marmon Model A
1904 Marmon Model A

Early on, Marmon recognized that weight was the enemy in car design. His early automobiles featured cast aluminum bodies, which weighed substantially less than other makes.

The effectiveness of a lighter body was proven in 1911 with a six-cylinder racing model named the Marmon Wasp. This car, driven by Ray Harroun, won the first Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

Marmon Sixteen ad
Marmon Sixteen ad

The most recognizable of Marmon’s creations was the Marmon Sixteen with its magnificent 491 c.i.d., 200 h.p., V-16 engine. The Marmon Sixteen was the largest American passenger car engine of its era. In February 1931, before production started on the Sixteen, the Society of Automotive Engineers honored Marmon’s huge and gleaming V-16 engine design as “the most notable engineering achieve¬ment of 1930.” The society was especially impressed by the extensive use of lightweight alumi¬num, generally a difficult metal to work and maintain in automobile power plants.

At the very end, Howard Marmon built, at his own expense, the HCM Special, a prototype auto with 150 h.p. V12 engine, independent front-suspension, DeDion rear axle and tubular back¬bone frame. Independent suspension and tubular backbone chassis—with some engineering refinements—would resurface in about 30 years in exotic car applications.

Howard Marmon’s products many have been ahead of their time for the general public, but the engineering community recognized them upon their introduction.

For more information on Indiana auto pioneers follow this link.