Category: History

Elmer Liimatta’s 1934 Ford @Hemmings

Elmer Liimatta’s 1934 Ford @Hemmings


[Editor’s Note: Elmer Liimatta sent in this story of his first (full-size) car for Reminiscing in Hemmings Classic Car. Got a story about cars you’ve owned, cars you’ve worked on, or working for an automaker? Send it in to]

I grew up in Detroit, Michigan. My dad, with only a fifth-grade education, was a good mechanic and had a job at Packard Motor Company. During World War II, Packard had contract work building Rolls-Royce engines for the North American P-51 Mustang fighter planes and PT boats—more than 9,000 of those engines. During that time, we rebuilt used cars because the production of new civilian vehicles had ceased. It was something we still did afterwards; believe it or not, cars were still scarce in 1949. It was a problem, as I was 17 years old and had thoughts about a car of my own.

One day, my cousin—who was “bird-doggin,” or spotting cars for dealers—came over and said, “Elmer, I have a car for you.” That Sunday afternoon we went to his house, which was about 10 miles away. There sat a 1934 Ford Victoria. It was hard to miss with that front end, and it had doors that opened from the front. The car had been used as a paint truck by a previous owner and it had big hooks on the left side that were used to hold ladders between jobs. Someone had made a wood floor in the back that covered the factory recessed floor.

The Ford looked good, but it was tired. I was able to buy it for $50. When I drove it home there was a cloud of blue smoke billowing from the exhaust. Its engine had used all the oil by the time I got home. During lunch that Monday I took three buddies for a ride. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long because the engine stalled, and it was so worn it would not start. We pushed it home.

The solution was to rebuild the engine. While we were at it, we made our own dual exhaust system using 1.50-inch diameter flexible tubing. My Ford had a nice snap to it. Later, I put two Smithy mufflers on it. But now that it sounded good, it needed to look good. We found a pair of doors at Ford Salvage over in Highland Park and bough a can of metallic blue (a silver-blue) paint. Dad took the compressor from an old refrigerator, and an old army surplus air tank, and put them together to create his own air compressor. To make it portable, he made a little cart with casters. It worked well enough that we painted the Ford’s 17-inch spoke wheels yellow

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Complete History Of The Chevy S-10 PIckup Truck – @S10Spotter


Today, the historic Chevy S-10 pickup truck appeals to auto enthusiasts around the world. It became the first genuinely compact pickup ever built on U.S. soil by a leading automaker. The S-10 underwent extensive permutations during its development. This pickup inspired versions of the Colorado in some overseas markets today.

A Quick Overview of Chevrolet Company History

Chevrolet began producing the Chevy S-10 in 1981. It marketed the truck for the first time as a 1982 model. Chevrolet served as an important division of one of the nation’s top three automakers, General Motors during this period.

Founding Chevrolet

On November 3, 1911, race car driver Louis Chevrolet joined auto executive William C. Durant and others to launch the Chevrolet Motor Car Company. By 1918, General Motors acquired a significant interest in the firm. Chevrolet became a General Motors division in 1916.

Auto Industry Success

Alfred Sloan, Jr. became President of General Motors in 1923. The firm, often known by its initials “GM”, prospered under his leadership. By 1929, General Motors surpassed the powerful Ford Motor Company in terms of its U.S. sales figures.

During the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, General Motors competed with other automakers in North America. GM designed affordable vehicles for a mass market of consumers. The company started producing the sporty two-seat Chevrolet Corvette in 1953 and the innovative compact Chevrolet Corvair in 1960. Chevrolet exercised considerable influence over the U.S. auto industry during the 1950s, the 1960s, and the 1970s, too.

A Changing Era

Chevrolet released the Chevy S-10 pickup under the tenure of innovative (and controversial) CEO Roger B. Smith. High interest rates during the late 1970s impacted General Motors. The automaker initiated steps to streamline its products and cut costs by modernizing its production facilities and co-venturing with foreign manufacturers.

Even as the company introduced its compact S-10 pickup during the 1980s, GM began scaling back on the production of medium and large trucks. Several GM divisions underwent consolidation during this period:

  • Chevrolet
  • Oldsmobile
  • Pontiac
  • Buick
  • Cadillac

This transformation ultimately impacted the development of the “S” series (and the Chevy S-10).

A Complete Exploration of Different Chevy S10 Body Styles And More!

The Chevy S-10 underwent extensive appearance changes during its history, as did the closely related S-15 series. Automakers frequently modify popular brands in order to maintain currency. Consider 27 body types and special packages influenced to varying degrees by the Chevy S-10:

1. Chevy S-10 Regular Cab Truck: Both the first and the second generation Regular Cab accommodated either a short bed or a long bed. The cab transported up to three people on a bench type seat but it also came with bucket seats instead. The regular cab pickup was a little too tight and uncomfortable for a tall person. Personally, I always preferred the Extended cab because I am 6′ 1″ tall and always felt crammed in in a Regular Cab.

2. Chevy S-10 Short Bed Truck: The short bed rested on a wheelbase of 108.3 inches with a Regular Cab, or on 122.9 inch wheelbase when used with an Extended Cab. The short bed is only 72.40 inches long, that is a little over 6 feet, and it is great for recreational use but is too small for any semi-serious pickup needs.

3. Chevy S-10 Long Bed Truck: The Regular Cab truck with a long cargo bed measures 88.30 inches long which is a little over 7 feet long. Not quiet 8 feet you need to haul a piece of plywood but it is better than a short bed for utility purposes.

4. Chevy S-10 Extended Cab Truck: The Extended Cab only permitted the use of a short truck bed. It first became available during the 1983 model year. Starting in the 1996 model truck, it offered a standard “third” door on the driver’s side for easier access to the area behind the seats.

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The Street To The Strip: New England Hot Rods 1945 – 1965 Virtual Opening – Audrain Museum


 The Street to the Strip: New England Hot Rods
1945 – 1965

August 28 – November 14, 2021
(on view during the 2021 Audrain Newport Concours & Motor Week)

Automobile owners have been customizing their cars since the automobile became common place in American society. Hot rodding first became popular in Southern California in the late 1930’s, though enthusiasts from around the country quickly caught the spirit of what was going on. While the West Coast hot rod and custom scene is well known and extensively documented in period magazines, books and film, the no less vibrant hot car culture of the East, specifically New England was equally interesting. 

This show will focus on the builders resident in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts who designed and built cars that garnered national attention at shows such as the famed Autorama shows in Hartford, CT, at speed at Connecticut Dragway, New England Dragway, Seekonk Speedway and everywhere club members gathered to enjoy their creations.

A wide selection of period hot rods and customs, from the 1940s through the 1960s will tell this little-known story and further spread the fame of these underappreciated talents.

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A Brief Illustrated History of Chevrolet 1911-1970 – Robert Tate @MotorCities


In 1970, Chevrolet launched a huge advertising campaign reflecting on their history from 1911 to the present. Customers were greeted with a booklet published by General Motors called, “The Chevrolet Story 1911-1970.”

Today, the Chevrolet timeline is a part of our automotive history. Two of the early pioneers that founded Chevrolet were William Crapo “Billy” Durant, one of the founders of General Motors in 1908, and Swiss racing car driver and engineer Louis Chevrolet.

It all started on November 3, 1911 when Chevrolet Motor Company of Michigan became incorporated. The Classic Six models produced in 1912,1913 and 1914 were almost identical. In Chevy’s first production year, 1912, the price for their models was $2,150, a lot of money during the early days of automobile manufacturing.

1914 was the year when the famous Chevrolet “Bow Tie” logo had its debut. The Chevrolet models were introduced as a touring model only, and many consumers admired the styling. In ensuing years, Chevrolet sales were continued to grow rapidly. New options like an electric starter and electric lights were now becoming available. In 1916, Chevy manufacturing had grown to 70,000 units and 125,882 units the following year. In 1917, the first Chevrolet V8 engine was introduced in the D-series. Chevrolet also introduced its first truck models in 1918, which later would become a huge success. In 1919, Chevy produced its final models with wooden bodies, which have become rare and very collectible almost a century later.

The early 1920s were also very prosperous times for Chevrolet. In 1922, more Chevrolet manufacturing plants were opened to keep up with consumer demand. That momentum obviously slowed in 1929, when the stock market crashed and the country entered the Great Depression.

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6 hot rod body styles you need to know – Phillip Thomas @Hagerty


In many ways, the terms used to describe the myriad body styles of hot rods read like scientific names for chemical compounds. Take dihydrogen monoxide, for instance: two atoms of hydrogen with one atom of oxygen. While it sounds like some complicated chemical jargon, it’s really just water, H2O.

When you’re equipped with the nuts and bolts of hot-rodding vocabulary, you can easily decipher the plethora of terms used to denote different body styles. Similar to chemical nomenclature, the different names are highly specific—and useful to know. Today we’re going to break down the terms used to describe the exact molecular chain of automotive features that comprise some of our favorite custom rides.

Gow job

Strange name, right? Before the term “hot rod” was in vogue (many early gearheads actually found the term derogatory), the preferred nomenclature was “gow job” or simply “gow.”

Most people consider the genesis of hot rodding to take place after WWII,  when soldiers returned to the U.S. fascinated by mechanized transportation and eager to use their newfound mechanical skills. However, these pre-war gow jobs were the true pioneers. (At the time, the term “hot rod” was reserved for the retro equivalent of a vape-smoking dude-bro in his straight-piped 350Z.) Gows were machines of function over form and often sported a somewhat ragged appearance, thanks to their builders’ penchant for removing “unnecessary” body panels to save weight in early land speed and beach racing.

While the term is usually applied to hopped-up Model-Ts, the etymology of the word “gow” goes back to the 1800s and the Cantonese word for opium, “yao-kao.” The term was used in horse racing to describe drugged-up or “gowwed-up” horses, and the phrase made a short leap to early hot rods that were similarly hopped up for performance. It wasn’t until the post-war era that “hot” evolved to describe something cool, hip, or fast and “hot rod” became the universal term for a modified car.


Similar to “gow,” the term “coupe” hails from the horse-and-buggy days before the advent of automobiles. Horse-drawn carriages—specifically, coaches—were the four-door sedans of their time, equipped with multiple rows of seating to carry around a group of people. The word “coupe” itself comes from the French verb meaning to cut. In contrast to heavy, people-hauling coaches, horse-drawn coupes were shortened carriages centered around a lighter package with single-row seating for personal transportation.

It comes as no surprise that two-door cars with fixed roofs quickly donned the title. Of course, there are many shades of coupes, so …

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The John Collins Roadster – Ryan @TheJalopyJournal


Yesterday’s feature got me digging into my archives – specifically, the pre-A directory. While doing so, I ran across a true gem that I had forgotten about. John Collins’ ’27 Ford Roadster Pickup.

Not a ton is known about John’s little race car. He brought it out to a 1947 S.C.T.A. meet as a Class B Roadster and ran as quick as 111 mph, but the car doesn’t appear on any other rosters as far as I can tell. And, I’ve never seen any other photographic evidence of the car at all.

So… This is all we have. It is, however, enough to be confident in the fact that the John Collins Roadster was cool as shit.

The Jalopy Journal is here

Filling in the blanks of automotive history with 3D modeler Dan Palatnik – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings


A frustrating number of blanks keep turning up the deeper one gets into automotive history. Fuzzy photos and half-heard tales leave our understanding of certain brands and models and one-offs incomplete. Automotive historians pore over original source material to fill in some of those blanks; pickers sift through dusty and rusty piles of parts to fill in others; but many remain for the imagination to color in and embroider – or for Dan Palatnik to envision.
No doubt you’ve seen Dan’s work at some point while browsing the Internet. His 3D renderings depict a wide range of vehicles, from Russian diplomat cars to American chromemobiles to tiny European sports cars. We’ve even featured his cars here once or twice some years back. Dan’s renderings look tantalizingly real, detailed down to the full interiors and individual wheel cover fins. Indeed, many of the renderings depict cars that one might traipse across at the local cars and coffee or cruise-in.


The History Behind Ford’s F-Series Trucks – Chris Flynn @HotCars


While the F- Series officially debuted in 1948, the concept was already set in motion back in 1925 with a rudimentary truck Model T.T. based on the Ford Model T. This factory-assembled truck had a longer wheelbase and a heavier frame than Model T. It was replaced by subsequent Ford Model A.A. and B.B.

Prior to the Second World War, Ford’s Model 50 was a restyled pickup truck, with its notable shifting of the spare tire from the front fender to the bedside. The body boasted a curved roofline and styled grille. It was powered by a flathead V8 that developed a small 85 horsepower.

Ford’s Model 50 production halted in 1941, and after the war, Ford officially dubbed its new pickup line as “F-Series Bonus Built Line” in January 1948. The comprehensive line-up covered trucks from 1/2-ton-rated pickup models to three-ton-rated F-8. In 1951, Ford reworked its first-generation series with modified front fenders, grille, dashboard etc.

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Kaiser-Frazer and the Making of Automotive History, Part 2 – Richard M Langworth


Transcript of a speech to the Kaiser-Frazer Owners Club, 30 July 2015. Continued from Part 1.

Delving in

Kaiser-Frazer and the Making of Automotive History

While I received no extra pay for writing the Kaiser-Frazer book, I did have the use of an expense account for travel. That was where Bill Tilden came through again. He helped me track down and interview many of people responsible for the cars Kaiser-Frazer built. Others were located through the deep tentacles of Automobile Quarterly, its many contacts in the industry. We also searched for archives, large and small.

Our greatest archival find was at Kaiser Industries in Oakland, California: the Kaiser-Frazer photo files, placed on loan for AQ’s use. They documented virtually every design drawing, clay model and prototype the company built. Bill and I pored over them for several days, bleary-eyed as the secrets of the company came to life. Fortunately we were able to reproduce many in the book.

There were so many, it was hard to choose. Toward the end of the second day I picked a photo up, saying, “Ever see one like that before?” And Bill said, “I think we’ve seen a dozen like that, but let’s use it. It has a good looking tailpipe.” Later the archive disappeared. I don’t know if it ever resurfaced. I hope it’s in good hands.

“You know,” I said to Bill after Oakland, “this is going to be one helluva book. We’ve found this massive archive, and all these people to interview. All concentrated within ten years. I have a chance to go into far more detail than if I were writing a history of, say, General Motors.” So it proved.

Kaiser-Frazer and the Making of Automotive History

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Related – Moto Exotica – 1953 Kaiser Dragon

Kaiser-Frazer and the Making of Automotive History, Part 1 – Richard M Langworth


Kaiser-Frazer and the Making of Automotive History

Two Kids Hooked by the ’54 Kaiser

Joe Ligo of AutoMoments, who produces highly professional YouTube videos on vintage cars, has published an excellent video on the 1954 Kaiser Special he’d admired since high school. No sooner did I start watching than I heard Joe say his liking for the ’54 Kaiser was bolstered by my book—as well as the car: “My ninth grade self thought it was beautiful…. In person, I still think the design is drop-dead gorgeous.”

Well, I too was in the ninth grade when a ’54 Kaiser (on the street, in 1957!) swept me off my feet. It lit a fire that I only put out twenty years later with my first, and perhaps my best, car book.

Kaiser-Frazer: Last Onslaught on Detroit (1975, reprinted 1980) was based on dozens of interviews with company engineers, stylists and executives, and packed with rare photos from prototypes to personalities. In 1975 it won both the Antique Automobile Club of America McKean Trophy and the Society of Automotive Historians Cugnot Award. It won, I think, because of the plethora of primary sources. They all were still alive! They had vivid memories, strong opinions, and scores of inside stories.

Kaiser-Frazer and the Making of Automotive History

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Related – Untouched 1953 Henry J