The Ford Model T was painted using a process known as “Japanning.” Japanning is a traditional method of applying a durable and glossy black finish to metal surfaces. It was commonly used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for a variety of products, including furniture, clocks, and metalware.
In the case of the Model T, Japanning was used primarily for practical reasons. Black enamel paint was a cost-effective and durable option that provided a uniform finish across all Model T cars. Additionally, black paint was less likely to show dirt and grime than lighter colors, which made it easier to keep the cars looking clean.
There were also some technical reasons why Japanning was used for the Model T. The enamel used in Japanning was resistant to chipping and corrosion, which was important for a car that would be driven over rough and dirty roads. Japanning also provided a smooth, even finish that could be applied quickly and efficiently.
Another factor that may have influenced Ford’s decision to use black Japanning was the availability of materials. Black pigment was relatively cheap and abundant, making it a practical choice for a car that was designed to be affordable for the average consumer.
Overall, Japanning was a practical and cost-effective way to paint the Model T, and it helped to contribute to the car’s success and popularity.
The Shay Thunderbird is a replica of the Ford Thunderbird, which was produced by the A. J. “Art” Shay Company from 1980 to 1982. The Shay Thunderbird was designed to be a modern interpretation of the classic Thunderbird, which was produced by Ford from 1955 to 1957.
Like the Shay Model A, the Shay Thunderbird was produced using a mix of new and old components. The chassis and drivetrain were taken from the Ford Mustang II, which was a compact car produced by Ford from 1974 to 1978. The body and styling of the Shay Thunderbird were designed to resemble the classic Thunderbird, with a long hood, sweeping fenders, and a sleek, aerodynamic profile.
The Shay Thunderbird was available in a variety of different body styles, including convertible and hardtop versions. It was powered by a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that was based on the engine used in the Ford Pinto. The engine produced 88 horsepower and was mated to a four-speed manual transmission.
One of the benefits of the Shay Thunderbird was its affordability. It was much less expensive than an original Thunderbird, which had become a sought-after classic car by the late 1970s. The Shay Thunderbird was also easier to maintain and repair than an original Thunderbird, thanks to its modern chassis and drivetrain.
However, the Shay Thunderbird was not without its drawbacks. Some enthusiasts criticized it for not being a true classic car, since it used a mix of old and new components. Others criticized it for not being as powerful or luxurious as an original Thunderbird, which was known for its V8 engine and stylish interior.
Overall, the Shay Thunderbird was an interesting and unique car that was designed to appeal to enthusiasts who wanted a modern interpretation of the classic Thunderbird. While it was not without its flaws, it remains a popular choice among collectors and enthusiasts today.
The Shay Model A was the brainchild of A. J. “Art” Shay, a successful businessman and car enthusiast who wanted to bring the classic Model A to a new generation of drivers. Shay believed that the Model A was a timeless classic that deserved to be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their budget or mechanical expertise.
To create the Shay Model A, Shay partnered with Ford Motor Company and used a mix of new and old components. The chassis and drivetrain were taken from the Ford Pinto, which was a compact car produced by Ford from 1971 to 1980. The Pinto’s chassis and drivetrain were modified to accommodate the body and styling of the classic Model A, which was designed to resemble a miniature version of the larger Ford Model T.
The Shay Model A was available in a variety of different body styles, including roadsters, phaetons, and coupes. The body and styling of the Shay Model A were faithful to the classic Model A, with a rounded grille, curved fenders, and a distinctively retro look. The body was made of fiberglass, which was a lightweight and durable material that was well-suited to the demands of modern driving.
The Shay Model A was powered by a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that was based on the engine used in the Ford Pinto. The engine produced 88 horsepower and was mated to a four-speed manual transmission. While it was not as powerful as the original Model A’s engine, which produced 40-60 horsepower depending on the year, it was still capable of providing adequate performance for most drivers.
One of the benefits of the Shay Model A was its affordability. It was much less expensive than an original Model A, which had become a sought-after classic car by the late 1970s. The Shay Model A was also easier to maintain and repair than an original Model A, thanks to its modern chassis and drivetrain. Parts were readily available and could be found at most auto parts stores, which made it easier and less expensive to keep the car running properly.
However, the Shay Model A was not without its drawbacks. Some enthusiasts criticized it for not being a true classic car, since it used a mix of old and new components. Others criticized it for not being as reliable or durable as an original Model A, although these concerns were largely unfounded.
Overall, the Shay Model A was an interesting and unique car that was designed to appeal to enthusiasts who wanted a modern interpretation of the classic Model A. While it was not without its flaws, it remains a popular choice among collectors and enthusiasts today.
The Dynaflow transmission was developed by Buick, which was a division of General Motors, in the late 1940s. At the time, automatic transmissions were still a relatively new technology, and most vehicles were equipped with manual transmissions.
The Dynaflow transmission was designed to provide a more comfortable and effortless driving experience. It used a hydraulic torque converter to transmit power from the engine to the transmission. The torque converter allowed the engine to continue running even when the vehicle was stopped, which made it easier to start moving from a standstill.
The Dynaflow transmission did not have a traditional set of gears like a manual or traditional automatic transmission. Instead, it used a hydraulic coupling and a variable-pitch stator to provide a continuously variable transmission ratio. The stator changed the shape of the fluid flow within the torque converter to match the driving conditions, which provided smooth and seamless acceleration and deceleration.
One of the benefits of the Dynaflow transmission was its smoothness. The lack of gear changes meant that there were no noticeable shifts in power delivery, which provided a more comfortable ride. The Dynaflow also had a reputation for being reliable, which was important for drivers who wanted a trouble-free driving experience.
However, the Dynaflow did have some drawbacks. Because it did not have fixed gear ratios, it was not as fuel-efficient as newer transmission technologies. It also had a reputation for being slow to respond to driver inputs, which made it less sporty and engaging to drive.
The Dynaflow transmission was eventually phased out in the 1960s in favor of newer transmission technologies, such as the Turbo-Hydramatic transmission. However, it remains an important part of automotive history and is still remembered for its pioneering use of hydraulic technology in automatic transmissions.
Plenty of cars from the ’60s and ’70s offer beautiful designs and gutsy power plants but don’t neatly fall into the muscle car category. In the past, we’ve offered up some more affordable, midsize alternatives to the typical muscle car. This time, let’s delve into some of my favorite full-size cars from the era. Sure, they were bigger and heavier than their drag strip–hero counterparts, but they brought some big V-8 power to bear.
These cars were often the premier models in their showrooms. They featured a plusher interior and often prioritized a smoother ride. While their rowdier muscle car brethren featured some of the same power plants in smaller, lighter packages and dominated the drag strip, these cars were built for the highway and are still perfectly suited for weekend cruising or road-trip duty.
Whether totally stock, lightly resto-modded, or fully customized, here are six full-size hardtops that are overdue for some adulation. Translation: When you can find them, these fantastic cars are often a bargain.
How have these cars flown under the radar for so long? From the front three-quarter view they look long and low, with a jutting grille that resembles the mid-size Mercury Cyclone. However, its rear three-quarter view is among the best of any car built during the decade. The roof is so low it looks chopped, and the taillights frame the car perfectly.
Barrett-Jackson sold a customized 1970 Thunderbird at its 2019 Las Vegas sale—the purple car you see above—that had the front of a 1967 Thunderbird seamlessly grafted on. The hidden headlights were a fantastic addition, but even in stock form they look amazing. The custom version, absolutely regal in metallic purple, went for $55,000. A well-preserved model will cost much less.
Power came from a 360-hp 429-cubic-inch V-8, and while a Boss 429 would be killer, the Thunderbird’s engine bay should be a bit more accommodating of the massive engine than the Mustang’s.
We’ve sung the praises of the Buick Wildcat before, but here’s the chorus one more time: The Wildcat offers up a lot of the performance of the Impala SS, without the premium price that comes with the collectibility of the “SS” badge. It brings fantastic looks, solid big-block power plants, and smooth cruising. The only problem is that they don’t come up for sale as often as their more popular B-body platform mates.
That said, because Wildcats have the benefit of riding on GM’s long-lived B-body chassis, OEM brake and suspension upgrades are simple and affordable. Spindles and calipers for big disc brakes can be found on junkyard ’90s Caprice cop cars or Impalas. Rear axle brake upgrades are just as simple.
The 1969 models with Buick’s 360-hp, 430-cubic-inch V-8, or 1970 models with the 370-hp 455, are still affordable and look every bit as good as their Chevrolet counterparts.
The Pontiac Bonneville could be ordered with a more formal roofline, like the one found on the Grand Prix, but with the more traditional lines of the LeMans. The result is an upscale car without the polarizing nose of the Grand Prix. (That look would come to the Bonneville the following year.) I also love the rear view of the Bonneville, with taillights that almost drape over the rear of the car, as they would a year later with the Thunderbird.
Pretty much everything I mentioned about the Wildcat applies to the Bonneville, as it also rides on GM’s B-body chassis. The difference is that the Bonneville got Pontiac’s potent 390-hp 428-cubic-inch V-8. What’s not to love about this pavement-pounding full-size?
Mercury’s take on the personal luxury coupe for 1970 seemed a bit more forward-thinking than its Ford Thunderbird counterpart. Its squared-off leading edge was more formal and anticipated the look of future American cars, yet it boasted a sporty fastback roofline. The overall package is a perfect amalgam of luxury and sportiness. Bonus points for hidden headlights.
Under the hood was Ford’s familiar 429, again in 360-hp trim. That’s modest power by today’s metrics, but even full-size cars of that era weren’t terribly heavy. Bump the displacement to 460 cubes or more, add a roller cam, massage the cylinder heads a bit, and you’d have all the makings of a sleeper.
The author (left) and friend, with a car then owned by the former. He would never look so cool again. Michael Darter
Sam’s columns are usually around 1500 words, a few minutes’ reading. Sometimes, though, he trips a breaker in his head and goes long, and we let it run. This is one of those times. It doubles as one of our Great Reads. Enjoy! —Ed.
You probably know the story. If not, maybe the name rings a bell. At minimum, you can probably pick an early Ford Mustang out of a lineup.
The shape means something. Add that name, it means something else.
Shelby American built just a few thousand GT350s for 1965 and 1966. Thirty-four of those machines began life as race cars, a GT350 R, the bare-bones factory competition variant. Shelby people call them R Models, and every single one is now worth seven figures. Which is not to paint the ordinary cars as less than special. Even in road-going form, they were Fords but also not, Mustangs but also not, an uncommon version of a common object.
September 27, 1965: An SCCA race in Riverside, California. The man at the wheel is Trans-Am ace Jerry Titus, a former journalist. (Ha!) The “B” on the door is for B Production, a racing class. This is GT350 #5R002, the first Shelby Mustang to win a race, the famed Ken Miles “Green Valley” car, and one of two R Model (competition) prototypes that Titus drove to a ’65 SCCA championship. It sold at auction last year for $3.75 million. The Enthusiast Network via Getty Images
Google says this site has run the phrase “Shelby GT350” on more than 500 separate pages. We come back to that name for many reasons. For one, our readers love Mustangs. Still, the GT350 story is different.
Unlike many high-dollar 1960s performance cars, the Shelby was not hammered into life in some artisan’s shed; it was based on a Ford sold in the literal millions. Its origins hold lessons on the power of romance and origin, and on how a simple marketing exercise can, without much planning, come to represent something far more important.
A few nights ago, I was digging through an old hard drive, looking for snapshots from an old vacation. In the process, I stumbled onto a long-forgotten folder of photographs of the first GT350 I ever drove. That folder also held an interview I once conducted with Chuck Cantwell, the GT350 project engineer at Shelby American.
The thoughts and images below—some of the Cantwell chat, bits of trivia, some drive notes—contain no grand thread. There is no great reason behind their assembly, not even an anniversary to celebrate. If you do not already love the car in question, you will not find yourself converted, may wonder why I spent so much time on a simple Ford.
All I can say is, the kind of person who can unconditionally love an old machine is also often the type to get lost in memories and story. Perhaps you can relate.
Factory One in Flint, Michigan is a historically significant industrial site that holds great importance in the automotive industry. It is also known as the Durant-Dort Carriage Company Factory Complex. The complex played a crucial role in the early days of the automotive industry and the formation of General Motors (GM).
Factory One was established in 1886 by William C. Durant and Josiah Dallas Dort as the headquarters and manufacturing facility for the Durant-Dort Carriage Company. The company produced horse-drawn carriages and became one of the largest carriage manufacturers in the United States. Durant, who later became a prominent figure in the automotive industry, used Factory One as a base to expand his business ventures.
The Buick headquarters building is on the left; Factory #1 is behind it.
During the early 1900s, as the demand for automobiles increased, Durant transitioned from carriages to automobiles. In 1904, Factory One started producing Buick automobiles, which eventually became one of the foundational brands of General Motors. Buick’s success led to the formation of General Motors in 1908, with Durant as its first president. Factory One served as the birthplace of GM, hosting the company’s headquarters until 1919.
The Factory One complex itself is an architectural gem, featuring a blend of late Victorian and early 20th-century industrial design. It consists of several interconnected buildings that housed various manufacturing processes, offices, and warehouses. The buildings are made of red brick and feature large windows, tall ceilings, and distinctive architectural details.
In addition to its historical significance, Factory One now serves as a museum and event space. General Motors has restored the complex to preserve its heritage and showcases the evolution of transportation and the automotive industry. Visitors can explore exhibits on carriages, early automobiles, Buick history, and the founding of General Motors.
Factory One in Flint stands as a testament to the pioneering spirit and entrepreneurial vision that shaped the automotive industry in the United States. Its historical and cultural significance make it an important landmark in Flint’s industrial history and a must-visit destination for automotive enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
The Sport Coupe has been exhibiting the long standing brake a little more as time goes on. The left hand front drum has always had a few issues so it was time to swap it out with the one I acquired a while back.
As you can see the drum is quite marked up and has transferred the marking to the shoes.
The brakes shoes cleaned up well and the replacement drum was fitted. As you can see it differs slightly having the later grease cap. Everything fitted up OK. The white wall needs a good clean. Will run the car and see how the brakes perform. The previously fitted brake drum will go off to be resurfaced and will return at some point.