Friday, March 30, 2012

The Trotters -- Rare Photos from 1960 of an African-American Drag and Car Club

The driver of the rail was Charles Bryant and he is 83 years old and lives in Norwalk, OH. I'll forward your info to him. He is the one entitled to credit!

From Samuel Marchett -- thank you!

car club (black guys) tow truck and B/dragster. They also had a matching trailer. They won best appearing crew at the 1960 Detroit Nats. Attached are photos I took in 1960.

All these were taken at Dragway 42 in West Salem, Ohio.

The track was located about 40 miles southwest of Cleveland,

Ohio and was one of the premier mid-west tracks of it's day.

The pits were tree covered and the track was long and wide,

with no guardrails. At one time they ran 4 cars at a time,

(mostly stockers). I have fond memories of this place, as it was

a big deal back then to make the trip from Pittsburgh out to

42 for some of the big dragster meets. Again, sorry about some

of the quality, but it's all we got........................................G-Man

The Best Thing about NASCAR -- Linda Vaughn -- "Miss Hurst" Golden Shifter

This is what Tom Wolfe said of Linda Vaughn in his The Kandy-Kolored.... (p. 139).

"Starting time! Linda Vaughn with the big blond hair and blossomy breasts,puts down her Coca-Cola and the potato chips and walks out of the officials' booth in her Rake-a-cheek
red showgirl's costume with her long honeydew legs in net stockings and climbs up on the red Firebird float. The Life Symbol of stock car racing!...Linda gets up on the Firebird float.This is an extraordinary object, made of wood, about twenty feet tall, in the shape of a huge bird, an eagle of something, blazing red, and Linda, with her red show-girl's suit on, gets up on the seat, which is up between the wings, like a saddle, high enough so her long honeydew legs stretch down, and a new car pulls her -- Miss Firebird -- slowly around the track just before the race."

Linda Vaughn --appearances in films "Gumball Rally"(1976) and "Stroker Ace" (1983).
Later vice-president of Mr. Gasket.
From a Georgia good old girl to a famous 60s-70s and beyond celebrity.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tom Wolfe's The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby: Essay Question, test 2

Larry Mendelsohn of demolition derby fame

a young George Barris

An early photo of Junior Johnson
Hi folks -- test 2 in my HST 344 class is Friday, and here is the essay question I am using this time around, drawing from Wolfe's book. Three great essays in this book about car culture: one on the demolition derby, and other on George Barris, and my favorite, on Junior Johnson and NASCAR. You have to pick up this under-appreciated book and read these chapter essays!

II Essay Question (60 pts.). Answer the following with a well-organized and written essay, making sure to include both an introduction and a conclusion. Be as factual and detailed as possible as you harness factual evidence in support of your work.

Tom Wolfe’s The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby provides the reader with a unique view into America of the early 1960s, including American Car Culture. Drawing on material from the following chapters --- 2 (“Clean Fun at Riverhead”); 6 (“The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby”); 8(“The Last American Hero”) and 21(“Why Doormen Hate /Volkswagens”), discuss American popular culture and the love affair with the automobile during that era. What values are expressed in this culture, and what does this say about Americans of that era?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Procrastination -- Installing a new Part that I bought 12 years ago -- A New Voltage Regulator for my Porsche 911

This was the old Marchal voltage regulator I replaced with a new one. It looked like it had gone through a war.

Hi folks -- I don't know why I am the way I am! I have had a new voltage regulator stashed in my parts bin for 12 years now, and finally yesterday decided to put it in. Perhaps it was in the wake of my successful installation of the Perma-Tune ignition box on Saturday. Anyway, I put it in yesterday without much of a hitch, although the bottom screw was a bit difficult as it is partially hidden by a radio noise suppression capacitor that is also installed right there.
The car seems to be running great after the installation of the new ignition box. In fact, it was running a bit lean, so I opened each of the idle mixture screws just a bit to compensate.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Early Porsche 911 Ignition Box Switch: From the OEM Bosch to a 1976 Permatune Unit

Hi folks -- several years ago at the April Porsche swap meet at Hershey I ended up buying a very gently used Permatune unit as a backup for $40.00. Earlier this month I checked it out electronically using an ohm and capacitance meter, and so decided to go the next step and install it. Before I did that I would have to find a compatible coil, and read in an old Stoddard catalog that a blue Bosch coil works well and costs little -- actually $40.00, which I ordered from Pelican parts.
Installed both box and coil this morning and it works fine. I ma going to clean up the plugs and see if the 3x more power claimed by Permatune actually is the case, or hype.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Continental Kit -- one of the excesses of the 1950s

This is what started the craze -- a 1942 Lincoln Continental. The kits that followed mimicked the class that was inherent to this model, the last of Edsel Ford's cars before his premature death in 1943.

A nice example of an early 1950s continental kit, on a 1954 Ford. In essence, the kit was to take a low end car and accessorize it, thus making it "Upscale" in the eyes of the owner and perhaps public?

Hi folks -- I was reading a 1952 Motor Trend the other night and an ad for "The Original H-W Continental Custom Rear Conversion" caught my eye. The ad, for the Hudelson-Whitebone Co. of Champaign, IL, promised that the product would "Make Your Car a Classic in its Particular Class --

The ad copy goes on to state "What a transformation! An ordinary '50, '51 or '52 model (either convertible or hard top) becomes a classic in its particular class when an H-W Continental is installed. Feast your eyes on he sleek contour, blending so smoothly with body lines...the richer, longer, wider appearance...the distinctive custom accent. Ruggedly built for long life and trouble-free service, the H-W Continental is amazingly practical too...providing greater deck and fender protection, more obstructed luggage area and a new tool compartment in the trunk. It also assures quicker, easier removal of spare tires when a change is necessary. Here's the moderately-priced "extra" that can make your car tops in sophisticated style and a remarkably high figure to its trade-in value."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My Porsche 911 has a black hole! Repairing a Hand Throttle and Loosing Clip!

Heater control on the right, equalizer bar below. The tube is the shifter connector that goes to a back coupling.

Hi folks -- a bit bored this weekend as I had a sore knee after playing tennis Friday night. So I decided to install a new hand throttle "schlepper" with my extra time as I bowed out of a USTA tennis match Saturday. I began by taking out the drivers' side seat to make things easy. Work went as planned until I was putting everything back today. The last big thing to do -- put in the clip pin that connects the handbrake ratchet with the equalizer, and I dropped the thing into the hole. OK it should go very far, right? Well, somehow I can't find it -- even after shining a bright light from the other end of the tunnel and dragging the tunnel with a magnet! Where the hell did it go? So now I have a hand throttle that works, but a hand brake that does not. And I have to find a clip!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Turbine Cars of the 1950s -- The British Rover

Despite all the attention Steve Lehto's book on the Chrysler Turbine has received, the first gas turbine car was a Rover. Dubbed the "Whizzard" because of its deep hissing power plant, the turbine Rover hit speeds of 151.196 mph in a 1952 test run.
The car was first demonstrated in 1950, and then improvements to the engine, including the use of a heat exchanger followed. With the fuel tank under the hood and the engine behind the driver, the Rover could run on a variety of fuels, including kerosene. The issue then, and it was never solved, was one of fuel consumption. Superior in some ways to a piston engine, its design eliminated a transmission, clutch, carburetor, or ignition system.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ford Motor Company and the Nazis -- Simon Reich Commentary

Hi folks -- the topic of auto history never is dull! As I was preparing for a lecture on Scott Bottle's book Los Angeles and the Automobile: The Making of an American City, I got into the work of Bradford Snell. And that took me to Snell's work on GM and the Nazis, which led me a bit further to the historical wok of Simon Reich and the Ford Motor Company, commissioned by Ford during the late 1990s. On the Internet I found an interesting short report by Reich entitled "Ford's Research Efforts in Assessing the Activities of its Subsidiary in Nazi Germany." What follows are some excerpts written by Reich:

"My conclusions regarding Ford's Actions in Germany during the Nazi period are clear and beyond reasonable dispute, based on the data collected and presented in the report. They are as follows:

The management at Ford's German subsidiary acted with growing autonomy from its American parent firm. American executives were often ill-informed about activities in Germany, as they were denied information buy their German employees -- a practice that extended to greater areas of policy over time. Ford's American management did try to influence policy in Germany where possible, but with decreasing effect. Ford's German management focused its efforts on gaining acceptance of the Nazi government in order to continue to do business in Germany, but foundered in this regard. Ford remained a marginal producer in terms of both volume and strategic significance to the German war effort.

Short of divestment by the American parent, Ford's German managers had little choice but to try to address Nazi demands. After 1933, government regulations and restrictions on production consistently reduced the company's capacity to act autonomously. As a comercial passenger vehicle production was slowly eradicated, government contracts became the sole source of business. Without these contracts, predominately for trucks in Ford-Werke's case, Ford would have lost all its German investment as the subsidiary withered due to a lack of market.

Slave laborers were used at Ford-Werke's Cologne plant in 1944 and 1945. The best available Evidence suggests that they totalled a maximum of 65 over time. Prisoners of war an forced laborers, mostly from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, but also a number from France and Italy, were also used. But according to the copious data collected regarding communications between the parent and its subsidiary, the parent company in Dearborn had no knowledge of, and thus no control over, these activities. the record reveals that communication between the American parent and the German subsidiary ceased by November of 1941, before the use of forced or slave labor began. There is no evidence that executives at Ford's other European subsidiaries acted as intermediaries between the U.S. parent and its German subsidiary at a any time between 1941 and 1945.

Financial records analyzed by Pricewaterhouse-Coopers suggest little evidence that Ford-Werke made profits during the war. The analysis reveals that modest profit figures were recorded during the first few years of the war, but were wiped out by the enormous losses in the last two years. Indeed, the actions of the Nazi government, a postwar claims commission, and the Congress of the U.S. government all provide evidence to support the view that there were significant damages inflicted on Ford-Werke. Each of these bodies awarded modest compensation to Ford or Ford-Werke, representing a small fraction of Ford's claims."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Film Review of CNBC's "Henry Ford," Aired 2/20/12 -- by HST 344 student Ryan Burg

Thank you, Ryan!

Film Review: Biography on CNBC, Henry Ford. Aired February 20th, 2012

Background: Henry Ford, easily the most well-known name in automotive history, was born July 30th, 1863 to live a long life of achievement and has gone down in history as an automotive legend. CNBC’s biography mainly focused on the later years and hardships Henry faced during his life. Before starting the Ford Motor Co. in 1903, Ford farmed and worked at a mill to support his family, Clara Ala Bryant and his only son Edsel Ford (1893). Throughout Ford’s life Clara and Edsel played a large role in some very drastic decisions. Ford worked his way up through the Edison Illumination company to become chief engineer in 1893. In 96 he created his first vehicle: The Quadricycle. In the upcoming years Ford would see the beginning of many companies. Detriot Automobile Company 99’-01’, with William Murphy; Henry Ford Company 01’-02’ Ford resigned due to Henry Leland’s hiring as a consultant. Murphy created Cadillac Automobile Company from these predecessors. Ford then joined forces with Tom Cooper and Alexander Malcomson and formed Ford & Malcoomson, Ltd. The Dodge brothers, John and Horace demanded payment and became investors in the newly reincorporated Ford Motor Company in 1903.

The Biography:

Starting with the Model-T in 1908, CNBC details the steps that were taken along Fords journey through the Model-T’s success and explained how in 1918 half of all cars in America were Ford’s model-T. Overall over 15 million were produced. This record stood for almost half a century. Historian Robert Casey was featured in this biography and further discussed the Tin Lizzy and ford’s relationship with his son Edsel. He goes on to explain how in 1927 the Model A was produced with a V6 but due to the depression production halted in 1931 with plant shutdowns. Throughout the production of these vehicles Ford was made famous for his $5 workday ($120 in today’s value). In 1932 Ford supported Herbert Hoover. March 7th 1932 “Marches on Ford” left four workers shot dead by the Dearborn Police Department and Ford’s security guards. Over 60 people were injured from gunshots and riot wounds, one more died months later from complications. As mentioned earlier Clara Ala Bryant, Henry’s wife, spoke up and put an end to the violence. At her command Ford was now a Union shop in 1941. David Moor was interviewed on the topic of working for Ford: “It was like hell” working with people looking over your shoulders the ‘star men’ managers.

CNBC does its best to inform the viewers of Fords family life. They go into the details of his relationship with his only son, Edsel Ford II. Henry wanted Edsel to be tougher and more assertive, they said. During the time of WWII, Henry Ford’s V8 Ford Triumph was the top vehicle in the states. He received many thanks from famous people including Salinger, and Bonnie & Clyde, on the handling and supreme speed and acceleration of the vehicles. The Biography finishes with more of a somber mood, explaining the later years of his life, and how Ford changed when his son Edsel died at 49 from a stroke. Ford was 80 and still running the company. Ford continued to do so until he was too fragile and Clara his wife encouraged him to pass the company on to his grandson Henry Ford II in September 1945. Ford Passed away in 1947 at the age of 83. A cerebral hemorrhage was the cause. Some 15,000 people walked by his casket the day of his funeral, roughly 5000 and hour. Over 7 million employees took part in some type of memorial act. Without a doubt, Henry Ford changed the course of history and will forever be remembered.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Problem with Tach "Bounce" on My 1971Porsche 911 -- Solved!

Hi folks --- out of the blue yesterday my Tach started to bounce -- a first just a bit at idle, then crazy no matter at what RPM. So I started by checking grounds -- and the one between transmission and body was a suspect because I moved it ever so gently when I re-did the rear calipers last week. I sincerely doubt that the ground underneath was the problem however. Since the Tach runs directly off the distributor the next thought was check all grounds around the distributor. And take off and put back on all major connectors, two of which are located in the engine compartment.
I then opened the distributor and found a rotor with a contact that was pretty much cruded up. I took a burnishing file, cleaned it up and ran the car for 45 minutes for so -- no more bounce! Of course, I ordered a new rotor from Rockauto -- probably should order two, one as a spare.

There is always something to do on my 1971 Porsche 911T!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Marilyn Monroe and the Automobile -- Photos

In Chrysler 300

A Big Nash

1953 Singer

1950s Jeep

Hi folks -- I was preparing a lecture on the post-WWII Jeep and found this photo of Marilyn. I began to wonder what else is easily available on the web. Here are a few other shots!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Volt, New Technologies, and the Gartner Hype Cycle

In understanding the introduction and diffusion of a new technology, the Gartner Hype Cycle graph can provide some valuable insights as to why the plug-in electric vehicle hasn't become a smashing success overnight. To be sure, the Volt has become "Obama's Car" in the eyes of many Tea Party Leo-Luddite naysayers, and the vehicle has been politicized to no end. Second and third generation vehicles will be forthcoming and slowly will gain an increasing number of adherents, that I am sure of. The key here is price, quality, reliability, and market size. Look to the historical example of Henry Ford and the Model T, for example. For Henry the market was rural inhabitants bound to the land and isolated. For the likes of the plug-in, it is the city dweller, and the majority of Americans live in cities. It comes down to price! Drop it substantially, and the buyers will come in droves. That is the challenge facing GM, and indeed the other makers of plug-ins and zero emission vehicles. Elon Musk can make rather expensive technological demonstrator toys, but whoever comes up with the "People's Plug-In" or electric car, will transform the 21st century.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review: Chris Paine's "Revenge of the Electric Car"

Hi folks -- finally got a copy of of the recently released "Revenge of the Electric Car" and viewed it this evening. Not as shrill as "Who Killed the Electric Car," and quite different in focus. Whereas "Who Killed the Electric Car" centered on the car,the EV1, this film was all about people -- Bob Lutz, Elon Musk, Carlos Ghosn, Dan Neil, and "Gadget." The character portrayals are excellent and I recommend the film for no other reason than that. "The Revenge" traces developments between 2008 and 2010, and does end a bit flat, but then the electric car right now is in sort of an "equilibrium" in terms of future developments. With the production of the Volt halted for the next five weeks due to a disappointing demand (not a surprise since it is a car in search of a market), one wonders will the transition to a zero emission motor vehicle world and electrics proceed at a slow pace, or will events push things along beyond current levels? Like many others, I do feel that the future is in electrics, and not hydrogen or natural gas, but "when" is the $64,000 question. If we in the U.S. wait long enough, we may just find ourselves in the slow lane of technological change and economic growth.

Chrysler's Turbine Car -- A class visit by author Steve Lehto

Jay Leno, owner of a Chrysler turbine car, and author Steve Lehto

Hi folks -- had a great visiting lecture in my HST 344 class today. Steve Lehto, author of a very fine monograph on the history of the Chrysler Turbine car project, came in and did an excellent job teaching the students about this unique car, its technology, and the negineers behind it. Thank you, Steve!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Sad Fate fo the Volt -- A Short Poem, contributed by Ed Garten!

In light of GM halting production for a spell of the Volt, I found the following "poem" on the Internet. I assume that "Progs" mean "Progressives." None the less, the poem is a bit humerous given the pickle that GM seems to be in re: the Volt.
O and his Progs are crying today,
No one will purchase a new Chevrolet.

Though rebates, incentives and good vibes were offered,
The people refused to be hoodwinked and haltered.

We looked at the Volt and were slightly offended,
Then looked at the price in the tax dollars tended.

"No Volt" and "Buy Ford" we repeated and screamed,
And the Volt sales just stopped; their sales numbers creamed.

A lesson from US to His Highness, King O,
Stop trying to snow us. You know where you can go...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Ryan Burg's Porsche 924S Project

Hi folks -- Photos still coming for this post!

Ryan is a student in my HST 344 Class.

An Update: 1987 Porsche 924s Project.

Some background: My father and I bought a 1987 Porsche “The Poor Man’s Porsche” off of craigslist a few years ago. I spent a summer driving this sports car with a 2.5 inline 4 cylinder 5-speed manual transmission with a short shifter on it. It’s a fun car. It is a front engine, rear trans-axle, rear wheel drive well handling Porsche. We purchased it for around $3500 and enjoyed riding around in it. I had planned on driving it to school and using it as my daily driver until the motor gave out. The culprit seemed to be oil circulation.

As many of you know that oil gets circulated through the oil filter that you screw on to the engine block hand tight then 3/4ths a turn with a wrench. Less understood is that when you rev the engine and the oil pressure peaks not all oil goes through filter, because the filter cannot withstand the pressure. There is a release valve that allows oil to bypass the filter and keep the bearings and parts lubricated at high rpm. We believe this valve to be the root of all evil, but there is no real way of knowing what went wrong, other than the seal around the oil filter was blown out and all the oil drained out of the car. This started a series of bad things. Broken camshaft belts, destroyed bearings, locked up balance shafts, and oil and coolant mixed to name a few. Above you can see the brown/black burn marks taken of the crankshaft where the main bearings burned out on the old motor. In another picture you see an empty engine bay. The last two pictures are of the old motor on an engine stand, and our used motor now in the engine bay. We use the old motor for reference while we install the motor we recently purchased off of craigslist for $400. We took the new purchase to a mechanic to test the compression and change the timing and camshaft belts.

We have put close to a grand into rebuilding this car, which I consider to be very modest considering the options we discussed. Choices such as sell the car as is dismantle it for parts (potentially profitable), buy a new refurbished motor $$$, convert it to electric, and all sorts of goofy ideas. However we stumbled across this motor on craigslist for cheap, drove to Akron, OH and took a shot in the dark trusting a stranger on his word that it runs. Some preventative maintenance and now the motor is in the car, not an easy job. The motor has been taken in and out a few times while attempting to line up the clutch housing with the torque tube, and while getting the steering column U-joint to bolt to the steering knuckle. Tasks still needing completed: exhaust installation, starter installation, radiator installation, air intake installation, sway bar installation, oil and coolant flush and fill, and other miscellaneous tasks. These German engineers really cut out some work for those DIYers. The moment of truth is soon to come, and with some more electrical and fluid upgrades this car may be running soon.

UAW Conference -- "The Auto Industry Bailout was the Single Most Important Decision by President Obama"

So reads the news this morning related to a quote by former President Bill Clinton as he addressed more than 1,000 UAW members in Washington. Clinton went on to say that Milt Romney's father George would be "turning in his grave" over the 2008 New York Times op-ed piece Milt wrote that argued against a taxpayer - financed industry bailout.

Would George Romney be turning in his grave of late? Probably so, but perhaps not for the reasons Clinton mentioned. In fact, George had argued during the late 1950s and the early 1960s for a break up of Big Three, so that small independents like AMC would have a bigger chance to succeed in the marketplace. Furthermore, George might be turning over in his grave if he could see the America of 2012 -- a once great economic power house now dependent on China and the Middle East, wracked with political turmoil and moral decay.