My links to early Indiana automobiles

While traveling on the Lincoln Highway just west of South Bend, Indiana, I was reminded of my links to early Indiana automobiles. Let tell you the rest of the story.

My father was born in 1909 on a farm along Michigan Road, the predecessor to the Lincoln Highway, just west of South Bend. Every time I go down Lincolnway past the airport I think about the time Dad took us to the edge of the airport sometime in the late 1950s. We found the remains of his Sumption Prairie schoolhouse. He mentioned the family farm was nearby on western end of the airport grounds along the highway. Today, this area has been greatly altered by numerous airport expansions.

I feel a link to the Lincoln Highway since his farm was along the road when it was routed in 1913. I can imagine Dad going to school, working and playing in the area. He was a witness to the early motorists along this famous pike.

After his family moved into town and he graduated from South Bend Central High School, he completed his Tool Maker Apprenticeship at Studebaker Corporation.

V. J. Horvath at Studebaker 1929
V. J. Horvath at Studebaker 1929

He told many stories about running a piston ring grooving machine along the engine manufacturing line. During the Depression, he left Studebaker and later moved to Indianapolis to work at Allison Division of General Motors.

Mormon Meteor II being loaded
Mormon Meteor II being loaded

I found this photograph in his photo collection of the Mormon Meteor II being loaded onto a truck. The Mormon Meteor II was built at Auburn’s Factory in Connersville, Indiana, in 1937. I can only speculate how he might have been involved with this Bonneville racer.

After World War II, he left Allison to work at machine shops around Indianapolis. During some of the work at these shops, he produced components for race car builders around Central Indiana.

My links to early Indiana automobiles started with the Lincoln Highway, Studebaker Corporation, and mid-century race cars. Then, while I was a youngster, Dad took me to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway many times. One of my earliest recollections is of Jack McGrath working a roadster around the first turn. Dad was my long-time racing companion.

My first-hand interest in automobiles started in the early 1950s and continues today. Thanks Dad!

To find more about Indiana car culture follow this link.

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