Monthly Archives: January 2017

Indiana Automotive Presentations 2

Are you looking for a unique way to celebrate Indiana car culture with your auto club, community group, school, or retirement center? You’ve come to the right place at Celebrating Indiana Car Culture

Dennis E. Horvath presenting

Over the years, I have developed several Indiana Automotive Presentations for groups like these. The goal of my presentations is to share the story of Indiana automobiles with a broad spectrum of people. Some of my presentations cover the scope of Indiana’s auto industry, others highlight Indiana automotive pioneers. Some of these stories are overlooked in our automotive history today.

Mileposts in Indiana automotive history looks at how Indiana serves as a model for our automotive industry and heritage. Indiana once vied for Michigan’s title as the automotive titan of the United States. It was at a time when the names of automobiles like Duesenberg, Stutz and Cord brought worldwide acclaim to the Hoosier state. Indiana’s contributions to automotive history have been numerous. Tilt steering, cruise control and hydraulic brakes are just three examples of the innovations created by Indiana automotive pioneers. Yet the innovators themselves have become nearly forgotten–overlooked as we take their inventions increasingly for granted as part of the standard equipment on today’s models.

Indiana-built Automobiles and the Evolution of Automotive Advertising covers how Indiana-built automobiles serve as a model of the evolution of automotive marketing in America. The presentation covers the evolution of automotive print advertising, factory brochures, and letters as direct marketing in the first half of the twentieth century.

Louis J. Chevrolet’s “Never Give Up,” shares all of his years racing and developing race cars and passenger cars. He put his best effort forward and enjoyed much success. His legacy is nearly forgotten, but perhaps we should all live by his motto “Never Give Up.”

Val’s Story – Witness to early automotive innovation shares how road improvement and developments in the early auto industry contributed to our auto travel and vacation enjoyment. As Val, I look at a life representative of two of Indiana’s auto centers.

Let’s share this heritage with all generations.

I invite you to inquire about my Indiana automotive presentations for your group. Find out more here.

1917 Pathfinder

Another of the lessor-known autos in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit is the 1917 Pathfinder.

1917 Pathfinder

The Motor Car Manufacturing Company introduced the Pathfinder in 1912 as a boattail speedster to succeed their New Parry. The Pathfinder was noted for several advanced body innovations, such as the disappearing top and a spare wheel cover. The car became widely regarded for its looks. Initially, Pathfinders had four cylinder engines, followed by sixes with V radiators. The Pathfinder slogan was “Known for Reliability.”

The company was reorganized as The Pathfinder Company in 1916. The year also saw the introduction of a model with a Weidley 12 cylinder engine called Pathfinder the Great, King of Twelves. In 1916, a Pathfinder 12 was driven cross-country by Walter Weidley (son of the engine designer George B. Weidley) with an average fuel consumption of 10.2 mpg for 4,921 miles.

A shortage of materials during World War I severely handicapped the company. In December 1917, the company was liquidated in receivership.

Thanks to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum for showing this Pathfinder. For more information on Indiana cars & companies, follow this link.

The luxurious Duesenberg Twenty Grand

Twenty Grand Duesenberg

The luxurious Duesenberg Model SJ Arlington Torpedo Sedan “Twenty Grand” debuted in 1933 in Chicago at the Century of Progress Exposition, in the Travel and Transportation Building. It was the most luxurious and expensive Duesenberg ever built. $20,000 was both its price tag and its namesake for the car soon became known as the “Twenty Grand.”

In 1932, preparations were underway at Duesenberg in Indianapolis, to create a sensational show car for the lakeshore event. Gordon Buehrig, then chief designer, adapted several of his own earlier coach styles into an all-new Torpedo Sedan.

The men in the plant installed a 320-horsepower supercharged engine in a long wheelbase chassis. The Rollston Body Company, noted for elegance, brought Buehrig’s design to life. Duesenberg body lines never had appeared so sleek as on the “Twenty Grand,” its dramatically long hood was completely uninterrupted by superfluous stylization.

A “V” shaped windshield slanted back aerodynamically. The four exposed exhaust pipes from the supercharged engine were covered with polished flexible stainless steel tubing. Mounted on the rear was a folding luggage rack, with a durable fabric resembling some exotic new leather, giving an amazing smoothness, covered the top.

The Torpedo Sedan was painted in a metallic lacquer of chromium color, described in the original publicity as a “platinum” hue, “stripped in dawn beige.” Inside, the upholstery was of imported gray leather, bound with silver patent leather. The plush seats were patterned as four separate armchairs. The sumptuous interior, bestowed instrument panels for both the front and rear passengers, paneled in two-tone burl walnut, inlaid with silver.

As with all Duesenbergs, the creators proclaimed for the “Twenty Grand” a top speed of 130 miles per hour, exceeding 100 miles per hour in second gear alone.

The show car was an enormous hit in Chicago, allowing the Depression-era world’s fair crowd to inhale, for a moment at least, the aura of glamour surrounding the “Twenty Grand,” whose price could just as well have applied to an elaborate home in 1933.

The most expensive Duesenberg that had yet been built never sold to an extravagant customer while it was new, and its unique design was never duplicated.

Today, the “Twenty Grand” is displayed in the Nethercutt collection in San Sylmar, California.

In the day, the “Twenty Grand” was the ultimate motorcar of era produced in Indianapolis. For more information on Indiana cars & companies, follow this link.

Indianapolis is a busy auto making town – 1909

As reported in The Automobile, November 18, 1909 – Indianapolis was a busy auto making town.

1909 Parry
1909 Parry

Wheeler & Schebler, makers of the Wheeler & Schebler Carburetor, are now melting down two railroad carloads of ingot copper per month, not counting other ingredients as lead, tin, and spelter, in the production of carburetors, and not a few shipments are being made in carload lots (approximating 5,000) to individual companies. The plant is in full swing, and ground will soon be broken for a new addition, which will add 59,750 square feet of floor space, of which 8,000 square feet will be a new foundry. The power plant, using gas engines and producer gas, will have a 250-horsepower engine in the new acquisition.

George Schebler of the Wheeler & Schebler Carburetor Company, recently completed a 12-cylinder motor, and having placed it in a chassis suitable design, started on a jaunt overland. The motor, which is of the water-cooled V type, performs extremely well, and the compactness of the power plant is one of the wonders of Indianapolis.

The Diamond Chain Company, besides the regular line of sprocket chains as used in automobile work, is handling a wide line of chains, and, contrary to the usual expectation, chain work is increasing with such rapid strides that the company is hard pressed in the matter of handling all the trade it is offered. New additions of machinery are being made as rapidly as possible, and many improvements are being added. A new garage has been built for the officers of the company, and the electrical equipment of the plant includes a complete charging equipment of the latest design to handle electric vehicles.

David M. Parry, of the Parry Auto Company, is banking on the permanence of the automobile, and among other interests is making every preparation to manufacture cars on a large basis. The Parry cars, of which there are two models (roadster and touring car), are being pushed out with the idea that the serial number 5,000 will show up on the production dial before the end of the 1909-10 period. Besides the large plant now available, the company is adding more floor space by way of new buildings.

1909 Marmon
1909 Marmon

Nordyke & Marmon, in their well-equipped plant, are making their own cylinders, aluminum castings, brass, bronze, and in fine everything of the moment. The new models are well in hand; cars are being put out at a rapid rate, and the quality of the work being done is up to the well-known standard of the company. The engineering office is practically through with 1910 designing, and the able “staff” is now in a position to carefully check up on every detail of the work as it comes through.

Fred W. Spacke Machine Company, parts maker, is doing a vast amount of work for automobile makers throughout the country, and when the representative of The Automobile called he was entertained in a most interesting way, having had the pleasure of seeing more kinds of grinders doing accurate work than is usually found under one roof. F.W. Spacke, himself a tool designer of wide reputation, recently perfected a grinder which will grind (all over) such irregular shapes as cams for integral camshafts, thus saving much time doing the work far more accurately than seems to be possible in any other way.

Twelve Auto Makers in Indianapolis Apparently, the only limit to building automobiles in this city next season will be the ability to get sufficient parts. Present estimates base next year’s production of local factories at 25,000 cars.

Another new company has just been added to the list, making 12 concerns in the city now making automobiles. The new company is the Star Motor Car Company, which has an authorized capitalization of $100,000, of which $75,000 is paid in. A plant will be built at once and a line of runabouts and touring cars to at about $1,000 will be made, together with delivery wagons and trucks.

In addition to this, there will be two other practically new local companies in the field during the 1910 season. These are the Cole Motor Car Company, and the Empire Motor Car Company.

I believe this article tells an interesting story of Indianapolis’ leadership in the early automotive industry. For more information on Indiana cars & companies, follow this link.

1904 Premier

Another of the better-known autos in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit is the 1904 Premier.

1904 Premier

George B. Weidley and Harold O. Smith organized the Indianapolis-based Premier Motor Manufacturing Company in 1903 with a capitalization of $50,000 to produce air-cooled cars. One of Premier’s claim to fame was the use of the oak leaf on its radiator badge, which the company said was the first use of an emblem as an automobile trademark.

Premier made the transition to water-cooled engines in 1908. When Premier completed the 1909 Glidden Tour, it had established an unprecedented record of three perfect scores. In a 1909 Motor Age advertisement, Premier boasted, “Do not judge the Premier by its best performance. Judge it by its average performance.” The company introduced its first six in 1908.

1911 Premier Ocean to Ocean Tour

In 1911, 40 travelers in 12 Premiers participated in one of the first cross-country caravans. They drove from Atlantic City, NJ, to Venice Park, CA.

Starting in 1913 on, Premier built only sixes. On October 15, 1914, Premier entered receivership. In December 1915, the company was reorganized as the Premier Motor Car Company. The 1918 1920 Premier was notable mainly for its use of the Cutler Hammer “Magnetic Gear Shift,” an electric transmission system controlled by a push button arrangement mounted on the steering column. The overhead-valve, 295 c.i.d. engine was an advanced six, with a one-piece aluminum block, crankcase and pistons, and cast-iron cylinder liners.

In 1920, L. S. Skelton reorganized the company as the Premier Motor Corporation. Troubles followed the company through the spring of 1923 when the company emerged from another receivership as Premier Motors, Inc. In the same year, Premier obtained control of the Monroe Motor Company and then marketed the Monroe four-cylinder car as the Premier Model B in 1924. The Premier six-cylinder car remained as the Model D through late 1924.

Late in 1923 the company received a contract for building 1,000 Premier taxicabs. From then on, taxicabs were the firm’s only products. In October 1926, Premier sold out to the National Cab & Truck Company of Indianapolis.

Thanks to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum for showing this Premier. For more information on Indiana cars & companies, follow this link.