About an hour away there is an auctioneers that specialise in transportation and automobilia. I managed to score a set of books called “Automobile Engineering” from 1920 published by the American Technical Society. Very interesting stuff!
Upon collection from the auction site there were a number of cars to be collected, including a Model T and a Metropolitan
Richard Edmonds auctions are in Chippenham Wiltshire and hold regular classic car and automobilia auctions.
Manuel “Matty” Moroun died on Monday at 93 years old. That name might not mean much to you if you’re not from metro Detroit or Windsor, Canada, but around these parts, he was known mainly as the billionaire who owned, among other things, the Ambassador Bridge, which just happens to carry roughly 27 percent of all merchandise trade between Canada and the U.S.
General view of the Ambassador Bridge that connects Detroit and Windsor, Canada on March 18, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. The U.S. and Canada have agreed to temporarily restrict all nonessential travel across the border after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic
Image: Gregory Shamus (Getty Images)
That’s $400 billion in trade a year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation with an average of $500 million in trade crossing the bridge daily. It generated $60 million in tolls for Moroun, according to the Detroit Free Press. At least 40 percent of trucking shipments into the US cross this bridge and the closest secondary crossing for big rigs is over two hours away, Forbes reports.
Not only is it the busiest international crossing in North America, but it is also the only one to be privately owned. Does it seem to you like this span is too important a crossing to be in private ownership? Because it always has to me! It spent two years as the longest suspension bridge in the world. How do you just own something so massive and crucial to the functioning of two huge economies?
I have lived with this strange fact in this strange town all my life and, no matter how it has been explained to me, it still boggles my mind. So I’m going to try and explain it to you, and hopefully, we can figure it out together.
Before there was NASCAR, before twisting race tracks were known for their road-racing antics, and almost before the Indianapolis 500, there was Elgin, Illinois. Located roughly 35 miles from Chicago, Elgin was the place where speed came of age, and terms such as “stock cars” were used in their truest sense.
We often think of hot rodding as a post-WWII phenomenon, but if one traveled the streets of Elgin, even before the first World War, you might have a different reality. Starting in 1910, the streets of Elgin, Illinois would once a year, turn from the typical commuter route to a roaring race track featuring some of the biggest names in racing. Noted drivers such as Eddie Rickenbacker, Cliff Durant, the son of GM founder, Billy Durant; Ralph DePalma, and Fred Frame all competed with others on this early version of automotive competition.
The Elgin Road Races were held in 1910-1915, 1919, and 1920. They were halted during World War I and were only brought back after the 1920 race as part of the World’s Fair that was being held in Chicago in 1933. In 1933, there were actually two races held. There was an “open” class, which was won by Phil “Red” Shafer, and a “stock car” race, comprised of production vehicles powered by engines less than 231 cubic-inches. It was during this race that this particular car came into prominence. One year after Henry Ford introduced the all-new flathead Ford V8, several automobiles powered by this new engine were dominating the twisting course at Elgin. The video below shows antics from both classes of cars during that race.
Don’t try to wipe your screen to clear up that blurry image above: It’s a screen-capture from a 50-plus-year-old promotional video uploaded to YouTube at a low resolution setting, so that’s about as sharp as it gets. It’s also about the only photographic evidence we’ve been able to find of a gas-turbine engine that Ford designed and experimented with in the mid-Twenties, long before other American carmakers started their own gas turbine programs.
As noted in Ford’s own 1966 promotional video on Big Red, the turbine-powered concept truck that was the predecessor to Ford’s gas-turbine engine program of the late Sixties and early Seventies, this little gas turbine engine predated Big Red by 40 years. “Since that time, Ford’s engineers have been interested in the potential of gas turbine power,” the narrator boasted, implying an unbroken thread of research and development into the engines. However, it appears Ford’s scriptwriters included the mention of the engine only to boost the company’s credentials; after a quick mention that Henry Ford and two associates built the gas turbine engine in 1925, the video switched back to the development of the 700-series gas turbines without elaborating on the earlier engine.
The gas turbine engine in the image appears to be a patent demonstration model, but we’ve yet to come across any such patent in our searches. A clearer image of the patent model would help, but we’ve yet to make any headway with Ford itself or The Henry Ford. Without much else to support the existence of the Henry Ford-developed gas turbine, we could’ve easily dismissed it as another wild Henry Ford idea or part of the accretion myth around the industrialist.
A realistic painter as well as a photographer, Sheeler rarely failed to uncover harmonious coherence in the forms of indigenous American architecture. His series of photographs of the Ford plant near Detroit was commissioned by the automobile company through an advertising agency. Widely reproduced in Europe and America in the 1920s, this commanding image of technological utopia became a monument to the transcendent power of industrial production in the early modern age.
Ladle on a Hot Metal Car, Ford Plant 1927
Charles Rettew Sheeler Jr. was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art from 1900 to 1903, and then the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied under William Merritt Chase. He found early success as a painter and exhibited at the Macbeth Gallery in 1908. Most of his education was in drawing and other applied arts. He went to Italy with other students, where he was intrigued by the Italian painters of the Middle Ages, such as Giotto and Piero della Francesca. Later, he was inspired by works of Cubist artists like Picasso and Braque after a trip to Paris in 1909, when the popularity of the style was skyrocketing. Returning to the United States, he realized that he would not be able to make a living with Modernist painting. Instead, he took up commercial photography, focusing particularly on architectural subjects. He was a self-taught photographer, learning his trade on a five dollar Brownie. Early in his career, he was dramatically impacted by the death of his close friend Morton Livingston Schamberg in the influenza epidemic of 1918. Schamberg’s painting had focused heavily on machinery and technology, a theme which would come to feature prominently in Sheeler’s own work.
Mount a pair of screw-designed and hollow pontoons on either side of a Fordson tractor and you might be able to travel pretty much anywhere, over snow, ice, even over water.
That was the idea behind the Fordson snowmobile concept vehicles — aka the Snow-Motor — created in the mid-to-late 1920s. What is believed to be the only one still operational was restored and displayed by the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum in Alaska.
Top speed is reported to be 8 mph but the device can tow 20 tons of logs out of the forest.
“What it did can only be done once,” historian Bob Casey shrewdly observes at the top of this video. “It’s the car that made people want cars.” He’s speaking, of course, of the Model T Ford. When the Model T was introduced in the autumn of 1908, within a few years it became such a phenomenal success that the notion took root that Henry Ford had personally invented the automobile. He’d done nothing of the sort, of course. Cars were around years before Ford or the Model T. What Ford did was to make the automobile a serious idea, a real possibility, to the great mass of the American people. And ultimately, that became a more significant achievement than inventing the automobile in the first place.
The Historic Vehicle Association is calling this awesome video history lesson Part 1, so naturally we’re expecting additional episodes. We can hardly wait, as the six minutes released so far are simply superb. We can’t recall the Ford Model T story being told with such expertise and visual style. If the interest is sufficient, we’ll share the following episodes here as well, but in any event, be sure to bookmark the HVA YouTube Channel so you can follow along. We trust you will enjoy the video as much as we did.
[Editor’s Note: The story of Rajo Jack isn’t an easy one to tell – he went by multiple names throughout his life and told many a tall tale of his exploits – but it’s a necessary one when discussing the color barrier in motorsports. Bill Poehler took on that task recently and the result of his research, The Brown Bullet: Rajo Jack’s Drive to Integrate Auto Racing, will hit bookstores soon. Ahead of its May 5 release date, Chicago Review Press has given us permission to run this excerpt from the book in which Rajo Jack determines he wants to be a racecar driver and takes his first step toward that goal.]
The Tacoma race was a dud. Jimmy Murphy was the biggest name driver in the race, having won the Indy 500 a month earlier. Barney Oldfield, chomping on his trademark cigar, drove the Marmon in the pace laps at such a fast pace people thought he might take off from the rest of the field and drive the full 125 laps. Oldfield eventually pulled off the track in time for the green flag, allowing Murphy and Tommy Milton to speed off from the rest of the field. Murphy won the race and the $7,500 top prize. As the prize winnings were announced over the public address system after the race, Rajo Jack could hardly believe what he was hearing. Even the last‑place money was more than he could earn if he sold dozens of Rajo heads each year for the next decade.
Dad taught Mom to drive his Model-T around 1928, and she taught me to drive my 1951 Mercury in 1960. She could shift and drive fast with the best. What a great “driver-ed” instructor. Photos by the author, except where noted.
Remember who taught you how to drive? And the car in which you learned?
Despite freezing cold, I sweated bullets waiting for the light to turn green. Looking in the rearview mirror, the car behind appeared too close for comfort. Would I roll on the steep hill and crush its bumper when I let out the clutch?
Mom, sitting next to me, wasn’t worried.
“Relax and give it some gas,” she suggested. The light turned green, I revved my 1951 Mercury’s flathead, slipped the clutch and pulled away smartly.
“Nice!” she sang with praise. I was proud, too. It was 1960 and this was my first mile of driving. I was so nervous I repeatedly stalled the Mercury. Thanks to Mom, who brimmed with confidence, my nerves calmed with each mile.
“Pull over and let me drive. I want to show you a few things,” she requested.