Category Archives: Car Culture

Check out Indiana Automotive’s revised website

This week I was introduced to Indiana Automotive’s revised website.

Duesenberg Final Assembly
Duesenberg Final Assembly

This website takes you on a tour of all the features of Indiana Automotive. The groups events allow you to experience talks by experts in automotive heritage, tours of sites important to our automotive history, and viewings of private vintage and classic automobile collections. Indiana Automotive members get discounts and the first opportunity to register for these events. Follow this link for the upcoming events.

Indiana Automotive members and friends write about influential people and places significant to our state’s rich automotive heritage for the website. Follow this link for a sample.

For those interested in joining Indiana Automotive, follow this link. .

I encourage you to take a tour of our revised website.

National Motor Vehicle Company was the sixth largest auto producer in Indianapolis

L.S. Dow and Phillip Goetz founded the National Automobile & Electric Company in Indianapolis during 1900. The first National vehicles were light electric vehicles offered in a plethora of body styles. A 1901 advertisement boasted, “The electric vehicle is always ready, requires no mechanical knowledge to run it, and among electric vehicles, the ‘National’ is pre-eminently simple, powerful, elegant, and excellent.”

In 1904 the company was reorganized as the National Motor Vehicle Company. Its first gasoline auto premiered in 1903. By 1905, a National car employed the powerful four cylinder Rutenber engine, with a round radiator that served as a distinguishing feature. The company stopped electric car production in 1906.

1906 National
1906 National

National introduced a six-cylinder Model E seven-passenger touring car in 1906, one of the first sixes in America. The 1906 catalog stated, “It was placed on the market to supply a growing demand for a high-powered commodious touring car of extremely flexible control, in which vibration is reduced to a minimum.” Its cylinders were cast separately until 1908, when National produced engines with cylinders cast in pairs.

The U.S. shield shaped radiator design debuted in 1908. In 1908 and 1909, National offered two models each with higher h.p. ratings in the four- and six-cylinder lines range from $2,750 to $5,000.

Immediately after a strong showing at the inaugural races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during August 1909, National featured the 1910 Model Forty in a two-page advertisement in Motor Age magazine: “The National ‘Forty’ this year is the fastest, the most powerful, and most capable car that has ever been offered at anything under $4,000 heretofore.” The price was $2,500.

During this period, racing played an important part in National’s plans. National finished seventh in the Inaugural 500-mile race on Memorial Day 1911. Additional 1911 competition road race victories include Elgin, Illinois; Santa Monica, California; and the Cactus Derby from Los Angeles, California, to Phoenix, Arizona. Joe Dawson driving a National won the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 1912 with an average speed of 78.7 m.p.h.

1912 National
1912 National

In 1912 the company focused on production of a variety of fours and sixes with pricing starting at $2,500. Eleven models were available in the 1914 line with prices ranging from $2,375 to $4,800.

In 1916 a new range of six body styles was announced with a Highway Six or the Highway Twelve in the same chassis. The 12 was drop¬ped in 1920, and National soldiered on with six-cylinder cars for its final four years. A merger in 1922 between National, Dixie Flyer and Jackson led to a range of three cars for
1923 and 1924. In January 1924, the company entered receivership.

For more information on Indiana-built automobiles follow this link.

Is your Indiana car club looking for a program for March 2017?

If your Indiana car club is looking for a program for March 2017, I strongly recommend a trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit. Visit the Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit before the closing date of March 26, 2017.

1896 Reeves Motocycle
1896 Reeves Motocycle

I believe the folks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum have done an incredible job of telling the story of Indiana-built automobiles. They have gathered 35 cars from an 1896 Reeves Motocycle to a 1963 Studebaker Avanti. Plus, nine race cars from a 1905 Premier to the 1950 Cummins Diesel Special are included.

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 introduced 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.

Over 40 Indiana towns and cities can claim some sort of connection to our early automotive history. More than 400 firms – large and small – operated statewide between 1894 and 1963.

The earliest car on display at the museum is a Reeves Motocycle built in Columbus, Indiana, which used a two-cycle, two-cylinder Sintz gasoline engine with a variable speed transmission produced by Reeves.

1933 Duesenberg Model J Berline
1933 Duesenberg Model J Berline

As many of you know Indianapolis was one of the largest producers of automobiles in the nation. Some of these autos are well represented from the 1899 Waverley Electric to the 1933 Duesenberg Model J Berline. Other Indianapolis autos on display are various models of American Underslung, Cole, Marmon, Pathfinder, Premier, and Stutz.

Other makes built in other Indiana towns and cities are represented with cars like Apperson, Auburn, Cord, Davis, Haynes, Lexington, McFarlan, Monroe, Richmond, and Studebaker.

I invite your Indiana car club to come to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum and check out these Indiana-built cars today. This may be the only chance you’ll see such a wide array of Indiana-built cars at one location.

For more information on Indiana-built automobiles, follow this link.

AM General operations in northern Indiana

AM General Corporation of South Bend, Indiana still produces a wide range of specialty vehicles at its facilities in northern Indiana.

HMMWV
HMMWV

AM General has established its reputation in supporting the U.S. armed forces for nearly 75 years. As a world leader in the design, engineering, manufacturing and support of Light Tactical Vehicles, their DNA includes the famous Willys “Jeep” of World War II.

AM General is best known for developing the iconic High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV or Humvee®). As we look to the future with new military vehicle designs, we also continue to provide full lifecycle support and upgrades for hundreds of thousands of HMMWVs still serving the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, reserve forces and National Guard—ensuring our products are ready when and where they’re needed most.

Many of the Light Tactical Vehicles AM General has developed for the U.S. military are available for export. Internationally, AM General is the premier provider of Light Tactical Vehicle solutions, with more than 230,000 HMMWVs currently in use in more than 60 countries worldwide. For nearly 30-years the HMMWVs has been in continuous production and has proven to be the vehicle of choice for a wide range of geographic and mission profiles.

Mobility Ventures / MV-1
Mobility Ventures / MV-1

Mobility Ventures LLC is a subsidiary of AM General. Mobility Ventures LLC, designer and manufacturer of the acclaimed MV-1, is the only American made vehicle specifically engineered from the ground up in support of wheelchair users and people with disabilities.

The MV-1 is redefining accessible transportation with a built-in side-entry power ramp, ample head room, and seating for up to five which includes the ability to safely accommodate two wheelchair users at a time—one of whom rides in the front and the other in the spacious passenger area —making it the perfect solution for consumers, commercial use, and government fleets. And at Mobility Ventures, safety comes first. The MV-1 safety record is unmatched by any wheelchair accessible vehicle, based on federal NHTSA safety recall data for aftermarket conversion vans. Additionally, the MV-1 meets all Buy America requirements.

Mercedes-Benz R-Class
Mercedes-Benz R-Class

In January, 2015, AM General and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc., announced that Mercedes-Benz had selected AM General to manufacture the Mercedes-Benz R-Class luxury vehicle at AM General’s world-class 675,000 square-foot Commercial Assembly Plant. Because of increasing demand for its Sport Utility Vehicles and the need for greater production capacity in the U.S, Mercedes-Benz moved its production of the R-Class from its Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant to AM General’s Commercial Assembly Plant.

Under the multi-year agreement, AM General is now Mercedes-Benz’s first and only contract manufacturing operator in the U.S.

That’s the story of AM General’s contract manufacturing in northern Indiana.

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

Harry C. Stutz the quintessential automotive pioneer.

Harry C. Stutz the quintessential automotive pioneer had a hand in developing five motorcars. The Stutz automobiles are his most well-known are in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit. Visit the Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit today.

1914 Stutz Bearcat
1914 Stutz Bearcat

Five weeks before the Inaugural 500-mile race on Memorial Day 1911, Harry C. Stutz built his first car. Capitalizing on the publicity generated by its eleventh place showing in the first outing, Stutz formed the Ideal Motor Company to build a production version of the racer later in 1911. Its slogan was “The Car that Made Good in a Day.” The sporty roadster made the company profitable.

In 1912, the Ideal Motor Company and the Stutz Auto Parts Company merged to form the Stutz Motor Car Company. Harry C. Stutz’s most famous passenger car was the Stutz Bearcat speedster. It followed the usual Stutz recipe of a low-slung chassis, a large four-cylinder engine, producing 60 hp at 1,500 rpm, and other bare necessities like, hood, fenders, raked steering column, two bucket seats, with a fuel tank behind them, and wire spoke wheels. A Stutz made three speed transmis¬sion was integral with the differential; an uncommon feature at the time.

The Stutz Bearcat was the most popular car despite its $2,000 price tag. 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 25 of the 30 races in which they were entered that year. The next year a Bearcat finished second at the Indianapolis 500. In the years, preceding World War I, Stutz’s sales increased nearly tenfold-from 266 cars in 1912 to 2,207 five years later.

In 1922 Charles M. Schwab, the flamboyant chairman of Bethlehem Steel, became chairman of Stutz.

Late in 1924 Schwab installed Frederic E. Moskovics, formerly with Marmon and Franklin, as president. Moskovics’ team quickly prepared a new design. The result was the 1926 Vertical Eight, or Safety Stutz. The base of the car was a 92-horsepower straight-eight engine with chain-driven single-overhead cam¬shaft, and dual ignition. The chassis featured four-wheel hydraulic brakes, an underslung worm drive differential, and centralized chassis lubrication. This configuration allowed the fitting of low built, attractive bodies with safety glass. A year’s free passenger insurance was included with each Safety Stutz.

The company introduced another new model the Black Hawk speedster, in 1927. These low and short open types had reduced coachwork with scant cycle fenders and step plates replaced the running boards. Their fast looks proved no illusion when they won the American Automobile Association Stock Car Championship in 1927 and 1928. A Black Hawk placed second at Twenty-Fours of LeMans after leading the Bentley team cars much of the way.

In 1931, Stutz introduced the dual overhead-camshaft, four-valves per cylinder, 156 horsepower, straight-eight engine, designated the DV-32, to compete with the new multi cylinder cars being brought out by Lincoln, Cadillac, Marmon and others. With the DV32 a new Bearcat was listed in speedster form, and on a shorter chassis, as the Super Bearcat.

After recording their record sales of 5,000 cars in 1926, their business declined to 110 autos in 1933 and 6 in 1934.

Harry Stutz’s creative spirit continued on through the late 1920’s.

For more information on Indiana-built automobiles follow this link.