Monday, May 30, 2011

Joy Ride: An Auto Theft (1976)

The Film Archive: Joy Ride: An Auto Theft (1976): "This cautionary tale was aimed towards young, thrill-seeking teens. " So the introduction to this film goes.

I need to spend a bit more time with this educational film, but here are some initial observations. First, those two boys need haircuts! Seriously, supposedly this film it was based on a real-life incident in which three teens were killed and one, the girl Vicki, was left paralyzed. The film's lack of realism might just have done the opposite of the writer, producer and director's intentions, however. Is it boredom and wanting girls that are the primary motives behind young people joyriding? is it opportunity? These kids were from the middle class. If the cars were not so readily availble would they still want to steal a car? Is it socioeconomic background? Do educational films work with young people? Sometimes I wonder.

The Vocabluary of a Car Thief, 1930

Hi folks -- there are a number of sources that describe the various words taht car thieves used in the past. What follows is taken from a 1930 paper on the subject, that I found sort of amusing.

Automobile Thieves Vocabulary

Bent -- stolen

Bent one -- a stolen car.

B.I. -- a Buick.

Breezer -- an open car; a touring car.

Caddy -- a Cadillac.

Clean one -- a motor car from which thieves have (or think they have) erased all identifying numbers.

Consent job -- an automobile stolen with the consent of the owner, who will collect insurance and not prosecute the thieves.

Coop -- a coupe'.

Dauber -- a motor-car painter who does hurried jobs for thieves.

Dog-house -- a small garage rented from a householder in a residence district, used for the safe storing of a stolen car for a few days till it can be disposed of.

Ducker -- a Dodge car.

Front room -- a sedan or limousine.

Golfer -- the same as a Caddy.

Gravy -- easy profit.

Hit one -- a car stolen within the previous twenty four hours, the loss of which has perhaps been reported to the police.

Hudson pup. -- an Essex car.

Kinky, adj. -- stolen. The same as bent.

Kinky, noun. -- a stolen car. The same as bent one.

Overnight job -- a car stolen from the previous evening and probably not yet reported to the police as lost.

Owners job-- the same as consent job.

Papa -- a Lincoln car.

Right Guy -- a dealer who buys stolen cars.

Send to school -- send to the state penitentiary.

Shed -- a closed car.

Slicker -- a stolen car newly painted.

Smacker -- a dollar.

Spider -- a Ford car.

Stranger -- a car stolen at some distant point.

Studie -- a Studebaker car.

A proverb -- Never steal anything you can't sell right away.[1]

[1] Atcheson L. Hench, "From the Vocabulary of Automobile Thieves," American Speech, 5(February, 1930), 236-7.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Are You Ambitious? Some Project Cars, for Sale at the Cars and parts Swap Meet in Springfield, OH

A 1950 Chevy Panel Truck. I hope you have a good set of tools!

And metric tools at that! The rear bumper was lying on the ground on this gem.
A 1956 Mercury. With motor.
This is a 1953 Buick/ Can't you tell?
I am not a truck person. As a project, it would take an entire retirement!
A 1948 Chevy in Need of Some TLC

Hi folks -- back in the groove, sort of. I went to the Semi-annual Cars and Parts Swap Meet and Show yesterday at the Springfield Fairgrounds. With all the rain we have had, there was plenty of opportunity to park in the mud. Many cars for sale, and the parts vendors were plentiful, although mostly Ford and GM parts for sale. Few foreign cars to say the least. Junk galore here. Above are some photos of car and truck projects that would surely destroy your pocketbook and soul. Do not even think about it!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Back in Dayton, Ohio. Friday Night Cruise-In, Beavercreek, May 27

Hi folks -- returned to Centerville last Monday, only to be greeted with a lawn that needed to be mowed, and lawn mower that needed servicing, rain every day, and a hailstorm on Wednesday night. I sure miss Lisa, Tony, SD and Coronado!

So I went to the Friday night Cruise-In, now at I-675 and US 35. It was a gray and chilly night, and not that many cars were there. Here are some of them, however, the ones I found most interesting.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

"Cruising the Grand" -- Escondido, May 13

Our precious Lisa

Maybe the most asthetically pleasing tailfin ever -- 1960 Caddy

1960 MGA

Dash to a 1950s (?) Alfa

Several musical acts performed

Not to many of these Opel GTs around!

Hi folks -- last week for awhile visiting Lisa and Tony on a Friday night in Escondido, CA. If you are at all into a variety of cars and cruise-ins, you have got to visit downtown Escondido and the Friday night event. Last night the feature was tractors andstationary engines, and it was both educational and fun.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

HST 378 -- closing comments -- or why in a car course, people are more important than automobiles!

HST 378
Closing Comments
Dr. Heitmann

We’ve come a long way since late January and the viewing of Wild Wheels and Horatio’s Drive. Those first weeks were crazy, as I had a hard enough time just negotiating the maze that is KPJ and finding my classroom. Once I got there and became comfortable, KPJ 214 was a great room to teach in. Sort of like a big living room.

I doubt that you found this a difficult course, but I do hope that you found it interesting with a fresh perspective on the 20th century past. This offering blended old approaches to the study of the automobile in America – namely focusing on producers – with new approaches examining how users took the technology and in doing so changed their everyday lives. The material was far from peripheral to the history of the 20th century in America, and my intention was both to provide new sights and reinforce knowledge that you acquired from other courses. Indeed, the automobile merely serves as a handle for us to dig deep into the past, into the ebb and flow of institutions, ideas, human motives, desires, and behavior.

So in the process you should have learned much about mass production and its consequences, consumption and consumerism, individuality and freedom, culture as a reflection of contemporary life and as a driving force in the shaping of materialistic desires, and much, much more. While the early industry was largely the result of entrepreneurial efforts, tinkering, and trial and error, later vast bureaucratic organizations, faceless corporations, industrial research and development, aesthetic design, marketing research, and global connections became the rule rather than the exception to any understanding of the automobile business. And it was always competitive, but never more than today, where nationally subsidized firms vie for market share. And the stakes are high, including national economic growth and future of the nation state in terms of power.

One final word – while this was the history of a thing in a very real way – the car – it was far more about people. And as you go about fulfilling your dreams, don’t forget the primacy of people over things. Objects of desire tend to rust like cars, and owning them never leads to long-term happiness. They amuse only for a while; focus your energies on cultivating your spirit and the people around you.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The cars I almost bought as a teenager

MGA twin cams from the late 1950s. I ended up buying for $600 a 1959 MGA that had been rebuilt by a couple. Mine was quite convenitional, fun to drive, actually reliable, but beneath the surface rusting away.

I looked at a Corvette at a garage located on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. Its power scared this 16 year old way, and a good thing, given my driving abilites at that time.

Hi folks -- my first car was a 1959 MGA that I bought in high school in 1966. It ran all the time, but that was about it. I knew nothing about cars at the time and bought a refugee from a junk yard! Other cars that I looked at were equally problematic but in the end I steered away from them. I was fascinated with sports cars at the time and thought hard about a twin cam 1959 MGA. Good thing I didn't bite on that one since they are almost impossible to keep in tune -- especially so for a teenager who at the time did not no one end of a wrench from another! Then there was the 1959 Corvette, red and white, that probably would have killed me if I could have scraped up the money to buy it. And a 1964 Corvair turbo spyder, that I brought home to show my parents and promptly fogged up the yard with oil smoke! In His infinite wisdom, God protected me then as He does now.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Great Car Chase Films

Thunder Road 1958

The Bank Dick (1940)

Hi folks -- The other day I showed a scene from Bullitt in class and discussed the chase scene in cineamatic history. Here is my list of the greatest car chased films.

Runaway Match (1903)
Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914)
The Bank Dick (1940)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Thunder Road (1958)
Dr. No (1962)
Goldfinger (1964)
Bullitt (1968)
The Italian Job (1969)
The French Connection (1971)
Duel (1971)
Vanishing Point (1971)
Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
The Gumball Rally (1976)
Mad Max (1979)
The Blues Brothers (1980)
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Ronin (1998)
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
The Fast and Furious (2001)
The Bourne Identity (2002)
Die Another Day (2002)
The Italian Job (2003)
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
Fast and Furious (2009)
The A-Team (2010)
Fast Five (2011)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Some final exam essay questions to consider

Hi folks -- how do you feel about writing up one of these essay questions? My HST 378 class at USD will have to write on one of these May 19!

II Essay. (50 pts.) Answer one of the following by writing a coherent essay harnessing factual evidence whenever possible. Your answer should have both an introduction and a conclusion. For the final exam I will choose two of the following three essays!

A. It seems obvious that the current decline in the American automobile industry didn‘t happen during the past few years. In your own words and using what you have learned in this course; trace the decline of the American industry beginning with the 1950s, making sure to discuss key aspects and developments in chronological fashion. Do you think this decline was inevitable or not, and why?

B. Culture, past or present, high or popular, is important. Discuss the culture related to the automobile in America between 1950 and 2000, making sure to include examples from music, film, and literature (including poetry). Broadly speaking, what does post-WWII car culture tell us about how automobiles contributed to being American during the second half of the 20th century?

C. In James Flink’s article, “The Three Stages of Automobile Consciousness,” the author remarks that “Automobility has had more important consequences for 20th century American man than even Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier had for our 19th century forebears.” Elaborate on this idea within the context of the second half of the 20th century

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bella Italiana in San Diego: Mike and Nick's Alessandro's Ferrari 275 GTB

Mike and Nick Alessandro

My son-in-law, Tony Ryno

Design by Pininfarina, Coachwork by Scaglietti

Hi folks -- I had an interesting time Saturday morning at San Diego's Spanish Landing Park near the Lindbergh airport, where Italian cars were on display. One of my USD students, Nick Alessandro, had alerted me that one of his father's cars, a very rare 1967 Ferrari GTB/4 Berlinetta, would be there. This car was developed with a direct infouence from the racing Ferraris and had an innovative new chassis that incldued fully independent suspension for the first time on a production road car. With rear independent A-arms, coil springs and telescopic shocks, similar to the front design, coupled with a rear mounted five-speed greabox, this automobile's weight distribution resulted in superb handling characteristics.

The new 275 GTB/4 engine was designated Tipo 226. The 4 camshfts acted directly on the valves, and dry sump lubrication was utilized. The V-12 engine produced 300 hp, and had six Weber DCN17 carburetters.

Noted formula 1 driver Jean-Pierre Beltoise summed up the car best: "It is first and foremost, a serious and comfortable gran turismo, but it retains the lineage of a race car in the response of the engine and the quality of the handling. The 275 GTB/4 is one of the greatest automobiles created in our times."

The only serious rival at the show to Mike nad Nick's car, a 1958 Ferrari racing machine.