Category: Classic Journal

Meet the Father of NOS: Mike Thermos – Tom Stahler

Meet the Father of NOS: Mike Thermos – Tom Stahler


Nitrous Oxide (N2O), has been a performance enhancer to piston-driven engines going all the way back to World War II. The guy behind the widespread use of Nitrous Oxide in dragsters and street racers with NOS is Mike Thermos. While Mike isn’t a household name, in the car world, his contribution is revered.

Consider the scene in the very first The Fast and the Furious where we are introduced to Brian O’Connor, who working as an undercover cop out of a speed shop. The youngster needs an add-on edge in street racing. “I need NOS!

He tells us his story…

“Well, nitrous oxide was, was kind of an underground trick for some of the guys. They had learned that you can squirt a little bit in, and it picked the car up.  In NASCAR, they used the stuff for many years.”

“It came from the Germans actually, during World War II, where they’d put it in the planes that would go high altitude, they needed oxygen. But then the jet came in and the jet took over and all the technology kind of just fell by the wayside for propeller type of plane. The Americans did it too. I read all that history on it. At the time, I had a tune-up shop and a funny car. I had been through the whole gamut and it was eating me out of house and home.”

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Pick of the Day: 1928 Pierce-Arrow Series 80 rumble-seat roadster – Bob Golfen


Pierce-Arrow was one of the greatest luxury brands from its start in 1901 until its demise in 1938, building a succession of advanced automobiles of all kinds, as well as trucks, buses, boats and motorcycles of the highest order.

The Buffalo, New York, automaker was in its heyday when it produced the Pick of the Day, a 1928 Pierce-Arrow Series 80 rumble-seat roadster.  This sporty number would have been the cat’s pajamas while touring speakeasies, impressing the sheiks and flappers alike.

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Bronco’s back! In fact, there’s a whole herd of them – Larry Edsall


Ford is bringing back its Bronco sport utility vehicle, and this time with a three-vehicle “Built Wild” herd of 4x4s that includes a classic 2-door Bronco and the first 4-door Bronco, which also is available in Bronco Sport guise. Production of the new Broncos will begin in early 2021 in Michigan, Ford said.

In addition to revealing the vehicles on July 13, Ford said it was accepting $100 refundable deposits on the new, sixth-generation Broncos. A base price of $29,995 was announced for the 2-door Bronco, and Ford said that price includes $1,495 for destination and delivery charges. Potential buyers can make their deposits through the Ford website.

The Broncos will be equipped with EcoBoost engines and will offer 7-speed manual or 10-speed automatic transmissions, as well what Ford says is “best-in-class” 94.75:1 crawl ratio, ground clearance, suspension travel and water-fording capabilities.

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Like ESPN, we offer our own Top 10: Favorite Fords – Larry Edsall


During the recent Fourth of July weekend, Disney+ debuted the original-cast performance of the historic Broadway musical, Hamilton. To help promote the event, and its parent company, ESPN’s Sports Center offered up one of its 10-best segments, this one featuring the 10-best Hamiltons.

The list didn’t include everyone’s favorite Hamilton, the $10 bill, but it did include two racing drivers, Bobby Hamilton of NASCAR and F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, and was topped at No. 1 by Olympic gold-medalist figure skater Scott Hamilton.

My first response was, “What! No Hamilton Burger, Perry Mason’s favorite courtroom opponent?” But then I thought about the exercise and wondered if there was a way to twist it for use here, and thus this list of my 10 favorite Fords.

Yes, I considered 10-favorite Chevrolets and some other automotive brands, but to get variety desired, it seemed was quickest and, yes, easiest to focus on Fords. So, with apologies to Henry Ford II, Francis Ford Coppola, Ford Frick, President Gerald Ford, and Harrison Ford, here’s my list:

10. The Model A — Yes, the Model T was the car that put the world on wheels, but if you’ve driven both the T and the A, you know that the A is the way to go. No crank starter. No complicated set of levers. Standard pedals and shifting.

9. Tennessee Ernie Ford — Hey, we never said this was going to be a list only of Ford vehicles.  I remember sitting at my grandparents’ home as they watched this “pea-pickin’ good” entertainer. Besides, in writing this, I discovered that Tennessee Ernie studied classical music at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, a school my father attended before he switched to the University of Cincinnati’s pharmacy college.

Mixing history and whimsy, Top-10 favorite Chevrolets – Larry Edsall



Inspired by ESPN’s recent promotion of the debut of the Broadway musical Hamilton on Disney+, we recently presented our twist on the Sports Center Top-10 with our Top-10 Favorite Fords. But, hey, we realize we can’t do Favorite Fords and ignore other brands, so here, in the same spirit of history and whimsy, we present our Top-10 Favorite Chevrolets:

10. Chevrolet El Camino — The car-based “ute” may have originated with Ford of Australia, but it was Chevrolet that made such a vehicle widely popular in the United States with its El Camino. Although some said it was the worst of both worlds — not quite a real pickup truck and not quite a real passenger car — the El Camino was in production from 1959-1987 except for a 3-year hiatus in the early 1960s and remains popular with car collectors.

9. Drove My Chevy to the Levee… — “… but the levee was dry, And them good old boys were drinking whiskey ’n rye, Singing, ‘This’ll be the day that I die, This’ll be the day that I die’.” Those lyrics are from the chorus of the popular, 8½-minute 1971 ballad American Pie by Don McLean, a sad tale inspired by the 1959 plane crash that claimed the lives of early rock ’n’ roll stars Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.

8. Chevy Chase — Cornelius Crane Chase was nicknamed “Chevy” by his grandmother, not because of the city in Maryland by that name but because of The Ballad of Chevy Chase, a medieval English folk tune about a British hunting party enters Scotland, where it is taken to be an invasion and a bloody battle ensues. Centuries later, young Chevy Chase becomes a comedic actor starring in Saturday Night Live, the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies and Caddy Shack.

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Pontiac Fiero museum destroyed in Michigan flooding was labor of love – Bob Golfen


There are so many sad stories of loss coming out of the recent dam collapse and flooding in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, with many homes ruined and lifetimes of possessions destroyed, and adding to the overall misery in the midst of a deadly pandemic.

One of the more-painful stories, at least for car people, is that of Tim Evans and his Fieros Forever museum, which was brutally destroyed by the flood waters rushing through.  Located in Sanford, just a quarter mile down from one of the two dams that failed during several days of rain, the museum focusing on the mid-engine Pontiac two-seat sports cars was a labor of love for Evans.  He pretty much lost it all.

“The building got 8 or 9 feet of water,” Evans said in an interview with Autoweek magazine. “The garage door blew out and everything got washed away. We had a car up on the hoist; it’s now upside down in the back yard.”

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Dealership in HBO series sues after fire destroyed building, vintage cars – Bob Golfen


A car dealership featured in the HBO series “I Know This Much is True” has sued the production company for negligence after a massive fire destroyed the business and its contents, including dozens of vintage cars used in the making of the show.

The Ellenville, New York, car dealership seeks around $8 million from Calling Grace Productions, which filmed the dramatic series starring Mark Ruffalo for HBO.

The dealer claims that a transformer used to charge camera batteries burst into flames after midnight on May 9, 2019, and that a security guard on duty had fallen asleep and was not alerted until explosions occurred when the fire was well-advanced.

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Deere me: This car is not farm implement – Larry Edsall


Today we know John Deere for its green-and-yellow farm tractors, but more than a century ago, the company from Moline, which forms a quarter of the Quad Cities on either side of the Mississippi River, also was in the motorcar business.

Facing bankruptcy in Vermont, blacksmith John Deere moved in 1804 to Illinois and began making tools. In 1837, he turned a steel saw blade into a plow that could strip itself of the rich soil of the Midwest and the rest, as they say, is history.

Deere’s son, Charles, and son-in-law, Stephen Veile, would become major stockholders in what in 1868 became Deere & Company

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Mustang II with a fascinating history – Larry Edsall


Sometimes collector cars are bought simply because of their rarity and value. But sometimes they are bought because of their story. For example, Jay Leno says he doesn’t buy cars, he buys stories.

The Pick of the Day is a car with a story. The car is a 1978 Ford Mustang II, certainly not widely to be considered a collector car even if there is a small cult out there of loyalists.

But here’s the story, as shared by the private seller in Romney, West Virginia, advertising the car on

“This Mustang II is as close to perfect as a 42 year old car can be,” the seller reports. “It has the V-6, power steering and brakes, automatic transmission, AM-FM radio, and some décor option that included the white band around the bottom with a blackout grill.”

The seller adds that the car has been driven only 4,800 miles since new, and that’s part of the car’s story.

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Garage In the 1920s, Fordson tractors were turned into snowmobiles – Larry Edsall


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.

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