Monthly Archives: August 2016

My vote for the best automotive festival

My vote for the best automotive festival hands down, is the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival over Labor Day Weekend in Auburn, Indiana. Events start on the Sunday preceding Labor Day weekend and continue through the following Sunday.

My first exposure to the ACD Festival was over 40 years ago when we attended the auction and swap meet. All of the festivities almost overloaded my budding automotive enthusiasm. Indiana’s automotive marvels were everywhere I looked.

1928 Auburn Speedster
1928 Auburn Speedster
Copyright © 2014 Dennis E. Horvath

The festival started over 60 years ago as an annual gathering of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club and morphed into one of the largest gatherings of car-crazy enthusiasts on the planet. Festival events kick off with the annual ACD Annual Garage Cruise on Sunday August 28th. The Annual ACD Festival Hoosier Tour is on Tuesday, August 30th through Thursday. Events planned for Thursday, September 1st, include the Kick-Off Luncheon and the Annual Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum Benefit Extravaganza. Friday continues the fun with a Pancake Breakfast, ACD Club Swap Meet, Vintage Treasure Sale, Ice Cream Social, and the Downtown Cruise-in.

1936 Cord sedan
1936 Cord sedan
Copyright © 2008 Dennis E. Horvath

“The Parade of Classics,” is one of the premiere festival events in my opinion. This is when nearly 300 cars from the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club drive through Auburn from Eckhart Park up Jackson Street to Courthouse Square at 1:00 pm on Saturday, September 3rd. ACD Club members from around the world drive their magnificent classic cars through the streets of Auburn. These beautifully painted, chrome-laden Auburns, Cords and Duesenbergs are a sight you’ll want to see. After the parade, these classics are parked around the Courthouse Square for your viewing pleasure. If you can only do one thing over the weekend, the parade is my pick. Other Saturday options include the 5K Run, and the Gatsby Gala Ball.

Some Sunday events are the Annual Arts and Crafts Show, and Auburn Historic Tour.

1933 Duesenberg La Grande
1933 Duesenberg La Grande
Copyright © 2008 Dennis E. Horvath

Bookending the festival is the Auctions America Auburn Fall Collector Car Weekend starting on the Wednesday before Labor Day. This event features hundreds of cars that range from one-of-a-kind models to daily drivers. If you are looking for auction bargains, show-up early on Wednesday because the interest builds towards Sunday.
I’ve been to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival numerous times and always find new events to enjoy. Plus, there are events for those interested in things other than automobiles. It’s a great weekend for the whole family. I invite you to check it out.

For more information on our automotive heritage follow this link.

Auto advertising in the 1950’s

In the 1950’s, intense competition from the Big Three pressured independents. Therefore, independents emphasized their points of differentiation like styling from others. Automotive advertising became more opulent and lifestyle oriented.

1950 Studebaker

The October 1949 ad in Holiday for the 1950 “bullet-nose” Studebaker proclaimed, “Presenting the ‘new look’ in cars.” “Success breeds success! The car that led in modern design now moves still more spectacularly out ahead!” Other specifications mention improvements like higher compression power and self-stabilizing coil springs. The color photo showed a couple motoring in their Commander Regal De Luxe Starlight coupe along the riverside with a cityscape in the background.

1953 Studebaker

Studebaker’s May 1953 ad in Country Gentleman continued the theme of the previous six years-that of styling innovation. The couple in a Commander Starliner hard-top coupe motors through a park-like setting in the color photo. The tagline shouted, “New and different! Exciting 1953 Studebaker!” Supporting copy commands, “See it and try it! America’s most talked about new car! Hard-top convertible shown above is less than five feet high! Only in a Studebaker do you get this long and low new styling — and it’s yours to enjoy at a down to earth price.” The ad stresses points of differentiation with long and low styling and pricing.

1956 Chevrolet

Following the lead of independent’s ads, Chevrolet’s 1956 ad in National Geographic touts “Nothing without wings climbs like a ’56 Chevrolet. Aim this new Chevrolet up a steep grade – and you’ll see why it’s the Pikes Peak record holder.” This was the second year for the new Chevrolet V8 engine. The copy further claims “In the merest fraction of a second you sense that big bore V8 lengthening out its stride. And up you go with a silken rush of power that makes a mountain seem as flat as a roadmap. The car that proved its fired-up performance, cat-sure cornering ability and nailed-down stability on the rugged, twisting Pikes Peak road. And all these qualities mean more driving safety and pleasure for you.” The color illustration showed a sporty driver hunkered down in his Bel Air Sport Sedan climbing the road to Pikes Peak.

These postwar advertisements reflect the seller’s market for automobiles. Performance would go on to trump opulence and lifestyle as the Big Three market leaders began to dominate the market.

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

On The Road With Premier

1911 Premier Ocean to Ocean Tour
1911 Premier Ocean to Ocean Tour

During the infancy of automotive history, consumers were skeptical of the reliability of automobiles. So to prove their products’ capabilities on the road, many automakers sponsored coast-to-coast trips.

Premier Motor Manufacturing Company was one that followed this policy. In fact, 12 Premiers in 1911 became the first caravan of autos ever to cross the United States. They used a network of roads to travel from Atlantic City, New Jersey, to Venice Park, California.

The journey started with an idea formed by several wealthy Premier owners, mostly from Pennsylvania and New York. They wanted to show that previous sponsors of transcontinental races had overplayed their victories by describing the roads as more treacherous than they were.

So, 40 travelers out of the group set out from the Atlantic Ocean on June 26, 1911, and headed west to report their findings.

1911 Premier Prairie Schooner
1911 Premier Prairie Schooner – Photo provided by NAHC

Premier supported the effort by supplying the caravan’s 12th vehicle, a mechanic, and factory test driver to accompany the travelers. Nicknamed the “millionaire auto party,” the caravan made headlines across the route.

Premier used the success of its 1911 Ocean-to-Ocean tour as part of its advertising campaign.

They stopped each night in the best hotels available in the location and traveled in relative luxury for the time. Each vehicle traveled about 4,617 miles with mechanical troubles amounting to only four broken springs. After 45 days, the group concluded their journey by dipping their wheels in the Pacific Ocean.

“There is a general feeling that the Pacific and Atlantic coasts have been brought closer together,” according to Motor Age, “and transcontinental touring by pleasure parties is now expected to become common since the first tour of this kind has been such an unqualified success.”

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

Merz Cyclecar a popular American Pickers episode

A popular History Channel’s American Pickers episode features a Merz Cyclecar made in Indianapolis. I’d like to share some facts about this cyclecar, which was produced for a short time in 1914.

Merz Cyclecar
Merz Cyclecar

Charles C. Merz, a former driver of Indianapolis-built National and Stutz racing cars and a member of the engineering and experimental department of the National Motor Vehicle Co., developed the Merz Cyclecar. The vehicles were a two-passenger tandem car and a light delivery commercial car with a capacity of about 30 cubic feet.

The Merz featured 84-inch wheelbase and a 40-inch tread, with a short V-belt drive train and a friction transmission affording a speed variation from 5 to 45 m.p.h. The engine was an Indianapolis-built Spacke DeLuxe two-cylinder V-type air-cooled engine rated at 9 h.p. Other features were a pressed steel frame with drop forged I-beam front and rear axles and a pressed steel streamline one-piece body and hood. The body was strongly reinforced throughout and upholstered in black. It was of the torpedo foredoor with streamline effects.

The engine was mounted across the width of the chassis behind the front windscreen and drove a short drive shaft to the friction disc under the front seat connecting the jackshaft to the rear wheels. This provided a comfortable body on the short wheelbase. All running parts were in annular or roller bearings. Both the front screen and the side ventilating doors on both sides of the hood give easy access to the engine. The five-gallon fuel tank was located under the cowl dash, thus providing plenty of capacity for up to 225 miles of running. An oil tank with sight-feed lubrication was located under the top of the hood. The muffler was connected to the engine by flexible tubes.

The complete car weighed 525 pounds and sold for $450, with standard equipment including 28×3 inch non-skid tires, a high-tension magneto, head and tail lights with Prest-O-Lite tank, horn, set of tools, tire pump, and tire repair kit.

Charles Merz aimed the car for quality rather than low cost. Merz claimed that extended road tests had demonstrated an operating expense of less than one cent a mile for gasoline, oil and tires. Merz felt that lending a “luxury” air to a budget product had a certain sales appeal.

Unfortunately, the company entered receivership in summer of 1914. The volume of production is not known.

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

Visit Shades State Park

A few weeks ago I posted an article about our visit to Turkey Run State Park. Today I’d like to share an article in the Scarborough’s 1916 Official Tour Book, about Indiana’s Beauty Spot – the Shades. This article was written before Indiana’s State Parks were established in late 1916.

Shades State Park Copyright Indiana State Parks
Shades State Park Copyright Indiana State Parks

California has her Yosemite Valley, Wyoming has her Yellowstone Park, New York her Watkins Glenn, and each is worthy of a visit. But the Central States tourist need not go to distant states to view the beauties of nature. Right at his door, here in Central Indiana, is The Shades, one of the most wonderful works of nature to be found in America.

Possibly not on such a stupendous scale as some other well-known resorts has nature worked, but there will be found in a smaller way the Bridal Falls of Yosemite, the deep-cut gorges of Watkins Glen, the cliffs and heights of Yellowstone; and then such cool enchanting, rippling streams, such wooded, rocky, deep ravines; such enticing swimming holes; such dark and quiet shady nooks, under big-leafed oaks and maples, and such grassy banks by the side of great white, bending sycamores, as can be found in no other place where primeval growths are yet preserved.
Nature at The Shades is not “overgrown,” but here the misunderstanding mind of man can realize and comprehend some of her caprices and beauties.

The Shades is the ideal vacation ground. Nowhere in Indiana, nowhere even in the Central States; aye, nowhere in America, can one spend a day or a week more pleasantly or more restfully, without great hotel bills or charges for guides, and return to his daily work more refreshed and re-created.

Today – 2016, Shades State Park is that peaceful place you’ve been looking for. It is located about 17 miles southwest of Crawfordsville off S.R. 47 at 7751 S 890 W, Waveland, IN 47989, (765) 435-2810. This nature preserve offers spectacular topography for those willing to take a hike. Amenities include: hiking trails, picnic shelters, swimming beaches, nature programs, fishing spots, and seasonal camping facilities. For more information about Shades State Park click this link. In the event of heavy snow or ice, the property management may delay opening the gate to accommodate for snow removal efforts. Contact the property if you have further questions.

Check out Shades State Park for a new adventure.

For more information on our automotive heritage follow this link.