A couple of years ago I visited with my friend Richard Stanley at the Fayette County Historical Museum in Connersville. The museum is just east of downtown on the S.W. corner of E. 5th Street (SR44) and S. Vine Street (SR1).
Connersville had a presence in early twentieth century auto manufacturing with 10 models made there from 1905 to 1937. Some makes are familiar like Auburn and Cord. Others are more obscure with Ansted and Lexington. The museum’s collection contains a number of Connersville-built cars including: a 1913 Empire, 1921 and 1922 Lexingtons, and a 1924 McFarlan town car. Displays around the outer walls exhibited items from various Connersville industries like Stant Manufacturing and Roots, both of which are operational today. They also have the Penrose Trophy won by Lexington in the 1924 Pikes Peak hill climb.
Other vehicles in the collection are a McFarlan carriage, which is being restored, and a Rex Doctor’s buggy. Another room had exhibits documenting Connersville life in the nineteenth century.
You can visit the museum on Sundays and Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m. or call for appointment.
As this illustrates, your local history museum is a great resource. If you have something in your collection that might be informative to others, by all means, contact a curator. Your donation may start someone else’s journey or research into the past.
For more information on Indiana cars & companies follow this link.
In the 1920’s advertising became more lifestyle oriented with the use of lavish scenes like yachting, beaches, and gardening.
An interesting twist on the lifestyle advertisement is the June 1923 Marmon endorsement by Helen Keller. The ad featured a painting by Countess Elizabeth Zichy of Miss Keller in the back seat of a Marmon driving through the Catskills. The tagline read, “I knew we were in the Catskills by the atmosphere.” In four paragraphs of copy, she goes on to extol the virtues of this “wonderful automobile.” Marmon stated, “To her its chief appeal is super-comfort and ease of riding. Like other Marmon owners, she also seeks dependability and economy.”
A 1927 Vanity Fair ad for Studebaker proclaimed, “The President, first choice of America’s first executives. A ‘Cargo of Value’ comes sailing home in The President, a Studebaker Big Six Sedan for seven, and America’s first car to combine custom charm and performance with common sense economy.” In the foreground is an excellent illustration of a Custom Sedan. The background might be best described as depicting the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. two-thirds of the copy covered the allure of The President, and the other one-third on equipment and model specifications.
A 1929 ad for the Cord comes closer to a pure “lifestyle” advertisement. It showed two women in a L-29 cabriolet in an equestrian setting with the tagline, “The Cord car creates a place for itself no other car has occupied.” Then it lists pricing for its four models. Clean and to the point.
The May 1929 House & Garden ad for Duesenberg is elegant with its illustration, typography, and embellishments. The copy read, “The same motive which actuates the creation of any masterpiece, prompts the building of this, the world’s finest motor car: unswerving devotion to one ideal…to produce the best, forgetful of cost, or expediency or and any other consideration. A Duesenberg definitely excels every other automobile in the world, in every way.”
Auto advertising of this era portrays folks enjoying the good life through their automotive choices. This was the time when the luxury makes rose to their zenith.
For more information on our automotive heritage follow this link.
Occasionally someone asks about my recommendations for auto museums in Indiana. Northern Indiana has some great car culture destinations.
Auburn Indiana probably has the best concentration of auto museums of anywhere outside of Michigan. The best known and one of the best car museums in the country is the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum. The ACDAM is the only auto museum occupying an original factory showroom and administration building. The art-deco structure was built in 1930 for the Auburn Automobile Company and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum dedicates a large portion to Indiana-built automobiles from the 1890s through 1960s. Other highlights are the Cadillac, Packard, Rolls Royce and race cars among this 100-plus automobile collection.
Immediately behind the ACDAM are the buildings now housing the National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States. This site once contained the production of the L-29 Cord as well as the service facility for the Auburn Automobile Company. NATMUS features trucks and other vehicles from 1907 to the present.
Just off the I-69 Auburn exit is the Kruse Foundation complex. Two buildings at this site are of interest to auto aficionados. The Kruse Automotive and Carriage Museum and the Early Ford V8 Foundation Museum. The KACM features a collection of classic cars, television and movie cars, hot rods, and antique carriages. The Early Ford V8 Museum focuses on Fords from 1932 to 1953, as well as other vehicles powered by Ford flathead V8 engines.
North of Auburn on I-69 and west on US 20 in Shipshewana is Hostetler’s Hudson Auto Museum. Over 25 years ago, what started with a single vehicle, has grown to include the largest collection of Hudson automobiles and trucks in the world. Today, the collection includes the Hudson, Essex, Terraplane, Railton, and Dover brands.
Further west on US 20 in South Bend is the Studebaker National Museum. The SNM covers 114 years of its namesake’s history. “Studebaker is the only company to span the time from settlers’ wagons to high performance automobiles,” according to museum material. The museum has the Studebaker family’s own Conestoga wagon, used to move them to South Bend, and an Avanti, the last car made in South Bend. The carriage that Abraham Lincoln rode to Ford Theater on the night of his assassination is also on display.
Finally, travel west on IN 2 to LaPorte to see the LaPorte County Museum. The museum houses the Dr. Peter C. Kesling Automobile Collection, numbering over 30 vehicles. The collection includes vehicles built by Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, Baker Electric, Ford, Tucker, and Dodge. In 2003, Dr. and Mrs. Kesling drove the collection’s Winton from California to New York City, retracing the path of the first coast to coast auto journey by Dr. Horatio Jackson in 1903 in a similar Winton touring car.
I believe northern Indiana is your best bet for an auto enthusiast’s total immersion into car culture. Where else in about 120 miles can you see seven auto museums? Do it in one trip or break-up the enjoyment in to multiple adventures. Be sure to call any of these sites before you finalize a visit. Check out my Indiana Museums page @http://cruise-in.com/museums/
Over the years, I have discovered a number of car culture web resources while doing research for my writing and website development. So, I would like to share my “Top car culture web resources.”
Jay Leno’s Garage has to be my number one source for all things about collectible cars. I enjoy how Jay shares items from his vast antique car collection as well as other auto enthusiast topics. Weekly he produces a video about the latest happenings around his shop. Such as, the 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car, Lee Iacocca’s 45th Anniversary Ford Mustang, 1910 White Model O-O steam car, and a 1914 Indianapolis-built Premier. He also likes to interview other auto hobbyists on topics like all about gas, the perfect paint job, and other tips and tricks. I visit this site weekly for my fix on Jay’s slant on car culture.
My second choice is Autoextremeist.com written by Peter M. De Lorenzo, a 30 plus year automotive advertising and marketing veteran. I like his unbiased take on happenings in the American auto manufacturing industry and auto racing scene. PMD pulls no-punches in analyzing how things like the rise in gas prices may affect auto manufacturing and the buying public. He presents an interesting perspective on auto industry executive decisions and how they might pan out over time. He has an interesting take on American auto racing and what might be done to improve the product on the track. There are few other places to get this insider information.
The eBay Motors Blog presents overviews of significant collectible cars currently offered on the popular eBay auction website. Capsule summaries discuss the significant items regarding a particular car like current price range, plusses and minuses, and why this might be a good value. Some features have been a 1954 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster, 1977 Fiat 500, 1965 Shelby Cobra replica, and one of my dream cars, a 1971 Jaguar E-Type coupe. This blog covers vintage cars across the automotive spectrum. Where else can you find a 1968 Chevelle Nomad wagon that could be a collectible daily driver?
Jalopnik offers a daily plethora of eclectic automotive items. How about topics like a 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III Continenchero pick-up truck conversion, General Motors recall of Chevrolet Cruze models for steering problems, Microsoft and Toyota announcing a strategic partnership on next-generation auto telematics, 2012 Chevrolet Corvette Zo6 Centennial edition announcement, and auto centric wallpaper selections for your browser. If it’s wild and wacky, you might find it on Jalopnik.
So, there you have my picks for the “Top car culture web resources.” Check them out, and then share your picks of car culture web resources.
The subject of an earlier posts was “What is your dream car?” In my response, I was considering contemporary dream cars, and chose the Cadillac Sixteen. Recently, I was reminded of one of the dream cars of my youth the Jaguar E-Type, also known as the Jaguar XK-E in North America.
Spring 2011 marked the 50th anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type’s introduction. The British manufacturer produced over 70,000 E-Types from 1961 to 1975. Celebrities Steve McQueen, Brigitte Bardot, and Tony Curtis owned them. Enzo Ferrari called the E-Type “the most beautiful car in the world.” That’s some praise from one of motoring’s influential builders. An E-Type is a permanent exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
So what is the draw of this dream car? In convertible or fast-back coupe form, the XK-E sported flowing and athletic lines. The exhaust note from the 3.8-liter straight six-cylinder engine was a siren for motorsports enthusiasts around the world. The engine increased to 4.2 liter in 1964. XK-E’s were reported to be capable of 150 m.p.h. Series 3 (1971-1975) XK-E’s featured a 5.3-liter V-12 engine. This combination of sensuous looks and high performance mark it as a motoring icon.
As a youth in the early 1960’s, I can remember going to the Jaguar dealer in downtown Indianapolis and salivating at the luxurious lines of the display British Racing Green XK-E coupe. It sported a tan leather interior with bucket seats, wood rim steering wheel and chrome spoke wheels. I can still imagine driving along on a winding two-lane highway and hearing the reverberations of the dual exhausts off the nearby trees. What a day in paradise for any genuine car nut! Perhaps my auto obsession started with an XK-E?
Possibly, you’ll see one at a car show this summer. Ask the exhibiter to start it up, and reminisce about this motoring icon.