Back again with more Exciting Model T Racing Action! We get some custom lettering done on the Number 24 Car to Put it Back To How it was Last Raced along with some pre-race maintenance and then fire these beauties up! Model T Race Footage and More!
NAMED FROM ROMAN MYTHOLOGY AND POPULAR FOR OVER 70 YEARS
In the 1930s, Ford designers began work on a vehicle that would have more features and styling than was offered on any other current Ford product. As the vehicle neared completion in 1938, Edsel Ford and Ford Sales Manager Jack Davis decided to launch an all-new brand for the premium range to set it apart from the mainstream Ford Blue Oval products and Lincoln luxury cars. And, with that, Mercury was born.
The vehicles from Mercury would compete with mid-level offerings from GM, Dodge and Chrysler’s DeSoto, but would slot in just below the Cadillac lineup. Mercury filled a niche between our deluxe Ford V-8 and the Lincoln Zephyr V-12.
Henry Ford’s son, Edsel, chose the name for this new lineup. Mercury, the winged god of commerce in Roman mythology, symbolizes dependability, speed, skill, and eloquence. Ford’s vision for the Mercury brand included improved power, ride, handling, stopping distance, internal noise, and enhanced styling.
The first model, the 1939 Mercury 8, sold for $916 and had a 95-horsepower V-8 engine. More than 65,000 were built the first year. The offerings included a two- and four-door sedan, a sports convertible, and a town sedan. Just two short years after Mercury debuted, America entered World War II and production was halted. When the war ended in 1945, Mercury was coupled with Lincoln, and the Lincoln-Mercury Division was born.
In 1949, Mercury introduced the first of its “new look” integrated bodies, which became a favorite of the hot-rod generation. Movie buffs saw James Dean’s customized version of the ’49 Mercury Series 9CM when he drove a de-chromed version of the car in the 1955 movie classic Rebel Without a Cause.
The 1950s featured even more modern styling and innovations such as the industry first fixed sunroof/moonroof on the 1954 Mercury Sun Valley, with a transparent Plexiglas top. In 1957, Mercurys grew wider, longer, lower, and more powerful with what was called “Dream Car Design.” Mercury had entered its heyday as a premium brand with models like the Montclair, Monterey and Turnpike Cruiser.
During the Ford Division’s 1960s “Total Performance” era, Mercury added performance and speed with vehicles such as the S-55 and Marauder, which found some success in racing. In 1967, the Cougar was introduced, which was Mercury’s version of the Ford Mustang. The 1970s saw the introduction of the Grand Marquis, Mercury’s best-selling nameplate. Mercury sales peaked in 1978 at an all-time high of 580,000.
Source Ford Motor Company
IN 1936, FORD’S WORLD’S FAIR EXPOSITION FOUND A PERMANENT HOME IN DEARBORN AND BECAME ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES.
“FORD will participate in the 1934 World’s Fair at Chicago!” exclaimed the March edition of the Ford News. That same spring, Ford Motor Company opened the doors on a new pavilion. Sitting on 11 acres of land along the Lake Michigan shoreline, the rotunda exhibition welcomed nearly 50 million people during its two-year run.
By late 1934, it was announced that following the Fair, the Rotunda would be re-located to Dearborn to act as a visitor center and starting point for public tours of the Rouge. The original architect, Albert Kahn, was called upon to update the building design for its new purpose. One thousand tons of structural steel as well as many of the interior displays were shipped from Chicago and reassembled on a 13 ½ acre site across from the Ford Administration Building. The original plasterboard siding was removed and replaced with Indiana limestone. The newly situated Rotunda would also feature the original “Roads of the World” outdoor exhibition.
After more than a year of construction, the new Rotunda was opened on May 14, 1936. The Rotunda welcomed nearly 1,000,000 visitors per year until it was closed to the public in early 1942. Movie stars, celebrities, business leaders, heads of state, and millions of ordinary people came to learn about and to celebrate the Ford Motor Company.
During the transition to wartime efforts, the Rotunda served as office space and a school for the Army Air Corps, with barracks set up across Rotunda Drive. The theater was used as a movie hall to entertain the soldiers. Following World War II, the Rotunda was used for Dealer presentations, press events and other business meetings. In 1946, ten young army officers, soon to be known as The Whiz Kids, first met Henry Ford II over lunch at the Rotunda.
In 1953, the building underwent a major renovation in anticipation of re-opening to the public. New displays were installed, and facilities were improved to better handle large crowds. The central courtyard was covered over with a light-weight geodesic dome, designed by Buckminster Fuller. A crowd of people braved stormy weather to watch as the Rotunda, decorated like a huge birthday cake, re-opened on the evening of June 16, 1953 – as the culmination of the Company’s 50th Anniversary celebration.
Nearly 1½ million people visited the Rotunda to see the displays, ride the cars, and tour the Rouge in the first twelve months after re-opening. Visitors were able to see how a car was designed, how steel was made, and how an assembly plant worked. In 1958, the new Continental was introduced to the press under a 100 foot tall model of the Eiffel Tower. In 1959, just after Alaska became the 49th state, a display was built featuring mountains, fishermen and a stuffed grizzly bear. Flower shows and custom car shows were also held within the Rotunda’s walls. However, among the most memorable displays was the annual Christmas Fantasy. Opening just after Thanksgiving, there were typically 60,000 or more guests on the opening Sunday. Children could visit with Santa or look at his workshop, while the rest of the family viewed the latest car models.
On November 9, 1962, as the Rotunda was preparing for the Christmas Fantasy, a fire started on the roof of the building where workers were making repairs. The fire quickly burned through and dropped onto the Christmas decorations. Fire crews from Dearborn and the Rouge were unable to stop the flames, and the Rotunda was destroyed.
Source Ford Motor Company
The company looked into building a full lineup of trucks
Would Nash-Kelvinator have done better if World War II never happened? Conventional histories have usually said the American independent automakers were helped by that conflict, not hurt. That’s because the independents were awarded lucrative contracts for war materiel that gave them decent profits while enabling them to vastly improve their tools, machinery, and production facilities. That certainly was the case with Willys-Overland, winner of the Jeep contract along with a mountain of other war work. Willys was an insignificant company in the 1930s, but by the end of the war, it had completely modernized its factory and machinery. It also gained the one automotive product— Jeep —that it could sell without worrying about competition.
Studebaker and Hudson also made out well in the war; Packard less so because it took on very difficult and costly production jobs that probably weren’t as profitable as they should have been. Nash did pretty well, even though it kept its profit margin on war work very low, out of a sense of patriotism.
One unhappy result of the war, which arose in the postwar automotive market, proved both a curse and a blessing: Postwar demand for new cars soared to stratospheric heights, and that’s when all the independents, Nash included, were able to make tremendous profits that helped build up their capital reserves and strengthen their balance sheets. So, it’s true the 1940s were very profitable years for the Little Five.
But a result of all that demand was that some new automotive introductions were delayed and finally cancelled because the automakers couldn’t acquire enough parts and components to build enough of the cars they already had, let alone some new product. Willys, for example, had an all-new car ready to introduce in 1946 but was never able to produce it due to a lack of steel, components, and materials.
But in my opinion, Nash was hurt the most. The company, eager to grow its sales volume, investigated the pickup market and decided the time was ripe to enter. Using the front clip from a Nash sedan, company engineers developed a great-looking pickup that was both roomy and solid. It was built on a Nash convertible frame and featured an amply proportioned pickup body; it would have been a great addition to the truck market. In early 1946, Nash was reported to be developing three truck models: 1/2-, 3/4-, and 1-1/2-ton jobs. A March 1947 press release said the new trucks would soon go into production. However, by November 1948 the company reluctantly concluded that the truck project had to be postponed indefinitely
Interesting little snippet of history from The Boise City News in 1942 plus a YouTube video from Crittenden Automotive Library
Edsel Ford announcing a driver safety initiative not too long before he sadly passed away.
I wonder how successful the “Ford Good Drivers League” ended up?
It’s 1973, and Al Parkes has decided it’s time.
For too long his father’s old Reo Flying Cloud has served as little but a brooding hunk of metal beside the family’s suburban home in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
He has petrol, spark plugs and enthusiasm – but it hasn’t run since before he was old enough to remember.
At this time Parkes is in his early 20s and life already has many ingredients of the American Dream.
He has ditched university for a career with McDonald’s, feet on the first rungs of a corporate ladder but heart set on owning one of the hot rod-era V8s that regularly shake the drive-through window.
His father, Don, is an engineer and there’s barely any distance between apple and tree when it comes to things mechanical.
The Reo’s straight-six coughs on its first taste of gasoline in more than two decades.
The last time it moved without the help of a tow was in the moments before Don was forced off the road into a ditch in ’53.
The front bumper was buckled and the wing bent – and with a growing family, a replacement vehicle with more seats was an easier prospect than repair.
And so the Reo sat, disturbed from its slumber only when the Parkes family moved home.
Like a stray dog it followed from garage to barn to driveway, including the one upon which it now sits rocking rhythmically to the tune of its tired starter motor.
Another cough. A longer splutter. Then it fires – filling the neighbourhood with thick white smoke, and Parkes’ head with dreams of a full restoration.
It was the beginning of a journey with the Flying Cloud that would go on to last most of a lifetime.
This Reo has been part of the Parkes family for longer than its owner – 71 years and counting – so he has lived a full spectrum of experiences with the coupe, from unexpected child’s toy to retirement plaything.
“My first memory of the car is in the family barn when I was about five years old,” he smiles. “We used to run up the fenders and leap off into bales of hay, hoping to avoid bruising from those great big chrome headlamps.”
At that time the ‘Old Brown Reo’, as it came to be known, was probably only about 20 years old, but such was the pace of car design in those days it already felt like a relic.
Living so close to Detroit, the streets were always full of the latest models and even though Parkes’ father was rarely in the market for new metal, he would frequently chop and change from used car lots.
Somehow the Reo lingered, in stasis between jalopy and classic.
“The first time we saw any value in it was in the early ’60s, when a guy walked past the house and offered my dad $1000 for it,” Parkes recalls. “I never thought to ask him why he said no; he worked six days a week and any time left was given to his hobby, flying planes.”
The car’s value – sentimental, at least – was creeping up.
Don had owned the Reo for only a few years before the accident, having traded down from a 1948 Buick with onerous finance repayments.
It had been well kept in the hands of a local doctor and perhaps he felt it too good to scrap, or that someone else would reap the benefit after an easy repair.
Either way, there was never an active decision to keep it, but equally no desire to let it go. Instead it waited for familiarity to mature into nostalgia, and for that moment in 1973 when Parkes would crank it over
This is not my story. I read a lot of it in Peter Drucker’s book, Adventures of a Bystander. It’s the story of Nicholas Dreystadt, and I consider Dreystadt’s life interesting and inspiring enough to pass along. But I’ll do it in my own words, because I think Mr. Drucker might be upset if I plagiarized him directly.
I should explain that Peter Drucker, who passed away in 2005, studied and wrote about business management. Business Week called him “the founding father” of that discipline. Before Drucker formalized management, business managers didn’t think much about the subject. And in the course of his 95-year life, Drucker advised international leaders, including three of our presidents. He studied the workings of major industry leaders, taught at Bennington College, Sarah Lawrence, Claremont, and NYU. He wrote 81 books and received 10 honorary degrees from universities around the world.
What caught my eye in Adventures of a Bystander was the chapter in which he talked about General Motors. Mr. Drucker wanted to study GM to discover how it was organized and how it ran itself. In doing so, he contrasted the management styles of two divisional “presidents,” what we now call general managers: Marvin Coyle of Chevrolet and Nicholas Dreystadt of Cadillac. Both names were familiar to me, but I hadn’t known much about either man.
According to Drucker, Marvin Coyle ran Chevrolet with a heavy hand. His people were generally afraid of him, and he was very much the off-putting autocrat. Dreystadt represented the opposite: easygoing, friendly, good-natured, casual, with a good sense of humor. Coyle, though, had built Chevrolet into GM’s powerhouse—the corporation’s main source of income—and despite being dictatorial, Marvin Coyle earned the respect of his peers.
I think it’s time for something old. Really old. Like 1930s and pre-War ’40s old. We’re talking Muroc dry lake and the birth of hot rodding–though not by that name, yet. The Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), the first “umbrella” organization gathering dozens of already existing roadster clubs, was formed in early 1938.
Also, for me, it’s time for something a little simpler. It just is. So what I decided to do was another “one proof sheet” column. That is, all the photos you see here today came from one roll of 35mm film, in this case 35 exposures, contact-printed (actual film size) on one 8 x 10 sheet of photo paper. These are analogous to thumbnails on your computer. They’re about an inch wide, and you really need a loupe magnifier to see them clearly.
So I went to my files, opened a drawer marked B&W Negs, and then selected a file marked “Early Lakes.” There were about 100 proof sheets in it. But I know what most of them are, and what I was looking for–an old one with notes written on the back. I’m really not into doing research this week.
I found it quickly, and the first note on the back said, “All photos ’39-’40.”
But a quick scan through them showed me that wasn’t quite correct, since the photo above was listed as “Strokers club from Whittier/La Habra at Irvine Park ’47(?). All cars raced lakes, too.” That’s probably correct. You’ll note all are A and ’32 Ford roadsters. There were more in other shots. And I’m pretty sure this was Frank Currie’s club, and also pretty sure that’s who had all these photos and let me copy them with my camera. Besides building 9-inch Ford rearends, Frank was a consummate hot rodder all his life.
I should also explain that (a) I shot this roll of film, developed it, printed the proof sheet, and wrote the notes on the back 45 years ago. Wish I had a loupe that would sharpen my memory. And (b) not only are some of the notes hard to read, but some photos don’t have any. But given those caveats, let’s just dive in. This will be primarily a picture show, and I’ll relate what I know (or don’t) as we go.
Pretty much every history of automotive tailfins establishes the Harley Earl-led field trip of GM designers in 1940 to see the then-secret P-38, then jumps right on ahead to 1948, when the newly restyled Cadillac debuted, tailfins and all. Franklin Q. Hershey often gets a nod, and that’s about all most people care to dig into it.
Were they to dig a little further, though, they might discover a more meandering development path for the tailfin, one that nearly placed the feature onto Vauxhall’s postwar cars instead of Cadillac’s.
The story of the tailfin—at least, as it appeared on postwar production American automobiles and not on the odd custom car or land-speed racer—does indeed begin with that field trip to Selfridge Field near Detroit, where Earl pulled some strings to get his studio chiefs a good look at the twin-boom Lockheed P-38 Lightning, a plane designed specifically as an interceptor. And indeed, as Michael Lamm and Dave Holls noted in A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design, the P-38 proved plenty inspiring.
Pretty much every history of automotive tailfins establishes the Harley Earl-led field trip of GM designers in 1940 to see the then-secret P-38, then jumps right on ahead to 1948, when the newly restyled Cadillac debuted, tailfins and all.
The designers got all excited about the P-38, especially since they could see its twin tails as extensions of a car’s rear fenders. They went back to their studios and started doing sketches of cars with tailfins. The P-38 also prompted other aircraft motifs: Plexiglas canopies, various types of air intakes, grille spinners and bumper bullets.
Among those who Earl invited: Bill Mitchell; Ned Nickles; and Hershey, who returned from a stint in Europe the year before to head the Cadillac advanced studio. Hershey reportedly became fascinated with the tailfin idea before moving on to other projects and, eventually, going back overseas to serve in the Navy during the war.As William Knoedelseder wrote in FINS: Harley Earl, the Rise of General Motors, and the Glory Days of Detroit, Hershey saw nature and poetry in those fins.
When the GM streamliners first made their appearance in 1941, they looked like the most advanced cars on the road. But the futuristic shape didn’t age well, lasting barely a decade.GM’s Fleeting Fastback Phase: The 1941-52 Streamliners — Mac’s Motor City Garage