Monday, July 20, 2009

Celebrating the Hudson's 100th anniversary

Legendary pilot Amelia Earhart christens the new Terraplane in Detroit in July 1932.

Somewhere near the headquarters of the Hudson Motor Car Co. on the corner of East Jefferson and Connor avenues in Detroit, nearly 2,000 Hudson dealers, auto industry officials, political dignitaries and members of the media jammed around a specially built outdoor stage. Everyone was filled with anticipation and excitement for the launch of a new car.

The date was July 21, 1932, three years after the stock market crash. My grandfather, Roy Chapin, was about to launch one of the most important new cars in his history as president of the Hudson Motor Car Co.

By 1931, Hudson sales had plummeted. Compared with 1929, they had dropped by 80 percent! Grandfather's solution for slow sales was a new car of extraordinary value. It combined a powerful six-cylinder engine with a lightweight body on a short wheelbase. It would sell for a low price. It was to be called Terraplane.

Grandfather decided to apply airplane imagery to the launch of the new car, so he invited Amelia Earhart, one of the most famous flyers of the day, to participate in the Terraplane launch event on this hot, muggy July day. After all, Americans had become fascinated with aviation following Charles Lindberg's historic 1927 flight. It was an extravagant introduction. Accounts of it appeared in newspapers throughout the country. But most importantly, it demonstrated that my grandfather's remarkable gift for salesmanship on a grand scale was not diminished by the depressing conditions of the time. Following the announcement ceremonies, dealers participated in a parade starting at the plant on Jefferson Avenue and then onto Woodward in downtown Detroit. It was the start of a journey for hundreds of bronze-colored Terraplane demonstrators as they returned to Hudson dealerships in 40 states throughout the country.

Terraplane was only one of the exceptional products designed and produced by the Hudson Motor Car Co. between 1909-54.

The Hudson story began in a leased, 80,000-square-foot plant on the corner of Mack Avenue and Beaufait in Detroit. (The building is still in use today.) My grandfather and a group lead by Joseph L. Hudson held the first board meeting of the Hudson Motor Car Co. on March 6, 1909. During the meeting, it was decided to name the company and the car after Mr. Hudson. After all, he was putting up the majority of the financing, and his name was already solidly established as a leading businessman and retailer in Detroit. His reputation and name recognition were particularly important because in the summer of 1909, there were at least 150 different companies engaged in the manufacturing of motor cars. That's a lot of competition!

The first Hudson was built in July 1909, just 10 months after Henry Ford built his first Model T in a plant on Piquette Avenue in Detroit, about 3 miles up the road. The Hudson was called the Model Twenty. Most everyone agreed it was a handsome new automobile with a low, racy and youthful look. The first Hudson ad promoted the Model Twenty as strong, speedy, roomy and stylish -- all for $900, which was only $50more than the launch price of the Model T Touring.

Maybe the most famous Hudson was the 1922 Essex Coach. In 1919, Hudson had launched the Essex brand as a lower-priced line for the company. By 1922, the company had decided to offer a closed car at a lower premium than anyone had ever tried before. The two-door Essex Coach provided all of the closed car comfort of much more expensive cars, at a price of only several hundred dollars more than an open touring car. Automotive historians generally credit the Essex Coach with being the one vehicle that heralded the end of the open car. Edsel Ford felt the Essex Coach was "Chapin's greatest contribution to the American public and to motor travel everywhere." The head of General Motors, Alfred Sloan, is quoted as saying that nothing like that had ever been seen before.

Hudson Motor Car Co. was one of a number of smaller, independent manufacturers that helped the formation of the American automobile industry. General Motors and Ford Motor Co. dominated in the early part of the 20th century, but many independent manufacturers made valuable contributions in engineering, product design, manufacturing and marketing.

Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator in May 1954 to become American Motors Corp. Although the Hudson name is not around today, the Hudson Essex Terraplane Club is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the company at a gala event this week at the Auburn Hills Marriott Pontiac at Centerpoint hotel on Opdyke Road.

Hudson Motor Car Co. executive Roy Chapin drives a Hudson Model Twenty on the streets of Detroit in 1910.

Bloomington Gold show teaches car owners tp 'think twice'

This 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ, owned by Mark Frieler of Oconomowoc, Wis., has a red velour interior.

Bloomington Gold show teaches car owners to 'think twice'
Source: By Larry Edsall / Special to The Detroit News

July 18, 2009

ST. CHARLES, Ill. -- They've already established the gold standard when it comes to collecting Chevrolet Corvettes, now the organizers of the famed Bloomington Gold Corvette show are spreading their passion for historically accurate vehicle preservation to all classic cars.

The 37th annual Bloomington Gold, America's Original Corvette Show, staged the last weekend in June at the Pheasant Run Resort here west of Chicago, concluded with the second annual Survivor Collector Car show.

The inaugural Survivor show was held last year, but the program was expanded this year to include several levels of awards designed to encourage vehicle owners to preserve rather than to restore their cars.

"We've tried to inspire and educate - Corvette owners in particular - to preserve or to restore to authentic condition," said Bloomington Gold founder and CEO David Burroughs.

To Burroughs, "authentic" means the way a vehicle left its assembly plant.

Thus Bloomington Gold, he said, wants collectors to "think twice before you 'fix' something," to realize that cars are like antique furniture, which is more valuable with its original patina and can have its value decreased through an over-zealous restoration process.

And, he added, as more and more classic cars are being restored, "what now unique is what's been unrestored."

This 1948 Packard Custom Deluxe 8 owned by Tony Ogarek of Frankfurt, Ill., has only 42,000 miles on its odometer and earned the highest ZZenith honors at the Survivor show.

To encourage preservation and the use of period-correct components when things finally do wear out, Bloomington Gold awards Survivor status to any vehicle at least 20 years old, that has successfully completed a road test, is at least 50-percent unrestored and has at least half of its finishes -- paint, fabrics, plating -- in good enough condition to serve as a model for the restoration of a similar vehicle so used that it really does need restoration.

Burroughs, a four-time national aerobatic flying champion, eight-time national formation flying champion and a former B-17 bomber pilot, said he worked closely with the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum in developing the Survivor certification guidelines and awards.

Those awards include Limited Survivor recognition for meeting the criteria above; Freeze Frame, for vehicles at least 30 years old with interior, exterior, underhood and chassis components at least 75-percent unrestored; and the top category: ZZenith, for vehicles at least 40 years of age, 90-percent unrestored in all four areas and yet "looking nearly new."

Thirteen cars earned Zzenith recognition at the show this year.

Cars offered for judging at the second annual Survivor show ranged from a 1930 Cord that shows 79 years of patina to a 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix with a red velour interior.

While most national auto shows stress gleaming chrome, fresh paint and restored or even over-restored interior and other details, Survivor cars are respected for being "worn in... but not worn out."

"These are artifacts of everyday life, social history on display" said Keith Martin, publisher of the Sports Car Market, a magazine that covers the entire spectrum of car collecting.

"These were everyday devices when they were bought, but they also were someone's dream. People were proud of these cars, and now each one of them is a time capsule."

Among the cars earning Zenith status was this 1962 Studebaker Lark owned by James Koenigsmark of Palos Park, III.

"Worn in... but not worn out" is the Survivor car theme, and this 1930 Auburn 8-95 Phaeton sedan shows the patina of a lot of wear after 79 years. The car is owned by Chuck and Sharon McCarthy of Barrington, Illinois.

This 1930 Auburn 8-95 Phaeton sedan is one of only six that survive from 552 that were produced. The McCarthys bought it four years ago from a neighbor who had owned the car since 1979. The neighbor bought the car from one of his boyhood friends after the car had been stored in a barn for 27 years. The neighbor drove the car for a few years, but then put it back into storage for three more decades.

"It's history, and it's not my place to change history," Auburn owner Chuck McCarthy said of preserving rather than restoring the car, which shows lots of patina after 79 years. The McCarthys' goal is to see the car celebrate its 100th anniversary.

After its appearance at the Survivor show, the Auburn is scheduled to get a convertible new top and to have windows made to fit its doors so it can be closed up to help preserve its interior.

This 1952 Nash Ambassador Custom 2-door accumulated all but 626 of its 20,415miles before 1962. The car, owned by Jerry Welden of Iowa Falls, Iowa, is believed to be the last remaining '52 Ambassador Custom 2-door.

Steve Perry's family (at right in photo) has become very understanding about being taken to car shows. Perry brought a 1956 Chevrolet convertible to the Survivor show from Bentonville, Ark. The car was built in Flint and was previously owned by a family in Armada, Mich., that never drove it further than 50 miles from home except for one trip into Canada. Perry's driving is restricted to local auto shows because the car still rides on its original tires.

Randy Olenz of Naperville, Ill., got his first 1957 Buick while in high school. This '57 Caballero Estate Wagon is his second station wagon and is one of only 46 such vehicles still on the road. Olenz has owned the wagon for 23 years and notes that the factory air conditioning still blows cold.

This 1958 Ford Skyliner was shown by Mike Marchese of North Aurora, Ill.

Todd Jodarski of Herbster, Wis., reports that his 27,581-mile 1961 Buick Invicta is so unrestored that he hasn't even fixed the dent in the driver's door.

The stereotypical little old lady traded in this 1963 Corvair Monza with only 15,000 miles on its odometer and the dealer put it into storage for two decades. Seven years ago, the dealer got tired of having to replace the battery and sold the car to Violet Johnson of Joliet, Ill. She entered the car in the Survivor show, where it was awarded ZZenith status.

Nick Januszcak of Hammond, Ind., owner of this 1964 Studebaker Avanti, shares the history of the brand with some Survivor show goers.

Michael Mitchell wanted to buy his wife, Teresa, a restored red Mustang but instead brought home this 1966 High Country Special Mustang coupe. Mitchell had first read of the High Country Special when he took a Mustang history book with him on a six-month U.S. Navy deployment. The High Country Special comprised 333 Timberline Green Mustangs sold only by Ford dealerships in Colorado. Mitchell bought the car from its long-time and 85-year-old owner.

This 1966 Chevrolet Nova, owned by Jim Nolan of Aurora, Ill., earned ZZenith honors at the Survivor show.

Among the most original of the cars at the Survivor show was this 1966 Volkswagen. The car originally was purchased by the VW dealer in Beverly, Mass., but he died after driving the car only 5826 miles. Since his wife did not drive, the car was stored for 20 years, until it was given to the couple's grandson, who sold it with only 6,600 miles on its odometer. The car now is owned by David Mars of Sioux City, Iowa.

A car can be both a survivor and a concours-quality machine. This 1968 Shelby GT500 KR, now owned by Dan Schmidt of Cleveland, was on the fairway at the Meadowbrook concours in 1983.

Years of exposure to the elements shows in the paint on the fender of this 1969 Pontiac TransAm, owned by Ken Kaufmann of LaCrosse, Wis.

Bill Sales of Plainfield, Ill., has owned this 1970 Stage 1 Buick GSX since 1975, though he kept the car in storage from 1976-2000.

Richard Torricelli drove his 1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo from Long Island, N.Y., to St. Charles, Ill., for the Survivor show.

Gordon Grassle of Manteno, Ill., brought this 1988 Pontiac Fiero to the Survivor show.

Dozens of cars at least 30 years old assembly on one of the fairways of the Pheasant Run Resort golf course west of Chicago for the second annual Survivor Collector Car show staged by Bloomington Gold, an organization that supports preservation of classic cars instead of restoring them to better-than-new condition.

Source: Detroit News

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Steyr 50

1936 Steyr 50 Baby

The Steyr 50 is a small car released in 1936 by the Austrian automobile manufacturer Steyr. The streamlined body was approved by Director Karl Jenschke to be constructed in 1935, but in that same year Jenschke relocated to the German Adlerwerke in Frankfurt/Main.

The car had a water-cooled four-cylinder boxer engine driving the rear wheels through a four-speed transmission. To save room and weight a dynastarter was used, which doubled as the axle of the radiator fan. It was regarded as the "Austrian Peoples' Car" and was affectionately referred to as the Steyr "Baby". Professor Porsche had, despite rumors, not been involved in the design or production of the 50. Moreover, the little Steyr offered better seating and luggage space than Porsche's Volkswagen with shorter overall length, a large sheet metal sliding roof and was available with hydraulic brakes (instead of the early Volkswagens' cable-operated ones).

In the spring of 1938, the car was revised. It got a more powerful engine and a longer wheelbase. The new model was called the Steyr 55 and went on sale in 1940.

A total of 13,000 Steyr "Babies" were sold.

1936 Steyr 50 Baby-rear

Other Steyr models included the Steyr 100, Steyr 120, both equipped with four cylinder engines and the flagship Steyr 220 with six, a 2.2 litre engine producing 55 HP. All these models were produced as cabriolets as well. The production of Steyr cars was discontinued during World War Two, after bombing of the factory. After the war, the factory was rebuilt and specialized in Austrian versions of the Fiat 500 and Fiat 1500. Today the Steyr factory produces the BMW X models for Europe.

External links:

Die Seite für Steyr 50 und 55

Steyr 50/55

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

1963 Studebaker Lark 6

This little Studebaker was in sorry looking condition when it bought it a few years ago. The paint was bad, the seats were torn and the headliner was coming down in places. It ran, however, and didn't need much mechanical work to get it running nice. I put all new brake parts on it, new bumpers and new wheels and tires. Now I can drive it just about anywhere.

Studebaker built wagons back in the 1800's. They built their last automobile in 1966. Having been out of business for 40 years, you might think a Studebaker would be difficult to find parts for. The truth is, a Studebaker is easy to get parts for! Anyone considering buying a Studebaker should look at this Internet site first. Studebaker Driver's Club. This site will introduce you to the world of Studebakers and you will be impressed!

The Studebaker Lark, was a model introduced in 1959. The Lark was a very successful car, and sold more copies than any Studebaker had for years! But Studebaker was a small company and didn't have the financial resources that the "big three' automakers did. So, instead of bringing out exciting new models every year, Studebaker had to be content with slight modifications and updates to their few cars. The public, however, was not content with this policy. By 1963, Larks looked tired, people wanted bigger cars, and Studebaker was about bankrupt. Studebaker quit building car in the USA at the end of 1963. So my Lark is one of the last Studebakers built in this country. 1964 to 1966 Studebakers were made in Canada.

All USA made Studebakers had Studebaker built engines (contrary to what some people may think). In 1963, they had a 170 cubic inch straight 6 cylinder overhead valve engine. There were two v-8 engines too, a 259 and a 289 cubic inch. By the 1950's a 289 cubic inch engine was getting "small". Other companies were building 300 and then 400 plus cubic inch engines. Studebaker really didn't have the money to make a new big engine, so they put a supercharger on the 289. This was a good powerful engine and a Studebaker was light weight, so Studebakers were actually able to beat a lot of other supposedly fast cars, and embarass quite a few Ford and Chevy owners during the street races "back in the day".

Studebaker made engines in the USA, so when the USA plants closed down, the Canadian Studebakers started using Chevy engines (a 230 six and a small block Chevy v-8). This has promoted the myth that all Studebakers had Chevy engines. The truth is, just the Canadian built (last) ones did.

Driving a Studebaker 6 is an experience! When I was growing up, I thought Studebakers were ugly and clunky. But somehow, today they are apparently one "cool car!" ...since I hear people yelling that at me whenever I drive the Lark. My Lark is a very cheap and basic model. It has manual drum brakes, manual steering, manual (3 speed) transmission ...and even the interior light has to be turned on manually when you open the door! The Lark 6 is and economical car to drive by yesterday's standards. Gas mileage can be 25 to 30 miles per gallon on the highway. By todays' standards, however, a Lark 6 is underpowered. It's not the car you want to drive at 75 MPH down the expressway least not without the (optional) overdrive unit. I understand that the eight cylinder cars are very quick and fun to drive ....and are still reasonably good on gas. My Lark is not the smoothest riding car, but it drives pretty easy ...better than you'd think, for no power steering or brakes. It is a very easy car to work on.

Author Unknown

Some of these Photos have been e-mailed to me and some taken from the Internet. If you are the original owner of a Copyright and object the publishing, please contact me and I will take the photo off this page. But please remember this is a non-profit site purely for the enjoyment of all Automobile Brand's Of The Past.., enthusiasts.

External Links:

Other Studebaker Stories

Studebaker News

Studebaker Driver's Club