Tag: 1952

The Kaiser Darrin – “A Forgotten American Sports Car” – Ben Branch

The Kaiser Darrin – “A Forgotten American Sports Car” – Ben Branch


The 1954 Kaiser Darrin you see here is number 281 of the 435 that were made, it was an innovative car with a lightweight fiberglass body, doors that slid forward into the front fenders, and elegant styling that was designed to compete with the popular European sports cars of the time.

The Kaiser Darrin was based on the Kaiser Henry J platform and powered by the Willys F-head inline-six with a displacement of 161 cubic inches (2.6 liters) and approximately 90 bhp. This means that although the Kaiser Darrin is rare, sourcing spare parts is often fairly simple.

Fast Facts – The Kaiser Darrin

  • In 1952, the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation, established by Henry J. Kaiser and Joseph W. Frazer, tasked Darrin with creating a sports car to compete with the popular European sports cars on the market. The goal was to elevate the company’s profile in the sports car market segment.
  • Darrin was a renowned American automotive designer Howard “Dutch” Darrin, who had previously worked with luxury car manufacturers like Rolls-Royce, Hispano-Suiza, and Packard. Darrin was known for his innovative design sensibilities and luxury car expertise.
  • The Kaiser Darrin 161 featured a fiberglass body, just the second American production car to use the material. Additionally, it had innovative sliding doors that disappeared into the front fender, a three-position Landau convertible top, and a distinctive grille.
  • The Kaiser Darrin was officially unveiled in 1953, but production delays and financial difficulties at the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation meant that the first models were not produced until 1954. The car was sold for just one year, with 435 made in total and far fewer surviving today.

Howard “Dutch” Darrin

Howard “Dutch” Darrin was a prominent American automobile designer who had made a name for himself through his work with European luxury car manufacturers like Rolls-Royce, Hispano-Suiza, and Packard.

Above Video: This episode of “Deep Dive” by The Petersen Automotive Museum covers the history of the Kaiser Darrin, and it offers an excellent look back at the history of the model.

Born in 1897, Darrin began his career as an aircraft designer before transitioning to automotive design in the 1920s working in Paris with with fellow American designer Thomas L. Hibbard, together the two men formed coachbuilding firm Hibbard & Darrin in 1923. Darrin’s innovative design sensibilities and a reputation for producing luxury vehicles quickly garnered him recognition in the industry.

Before the outbreak of WWII Darrin returned to the United States, establishing his own coachbuilding firm on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. He was soon working under contract with Packard on some of the most influential of the company’s designs of the 1930s and 1940s, including both the Packard 120 and Packard Clipper.

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Book – The Wild Wheel : The World of Henry Ford by Garet Garrett (1952)


This book is a real addition to anyone with an interest in the early history of Ford Motor Company. I concur with the review from Good Reads below.

No one, but no one, tells the story of the Ford Motor Company like Garet Garrett. He loved machines and technology, and the markets that create and distribute them. He loved the car and its transforming effect on society. And he lived through it all and knows what he is talking about.

Here he sees Henry Ford for the genius that he was, as an entrepreneur who saw the possibilities and seized on them. He tells of how Ford faced and overcame incredible obstacles on his way to becoming one of the great capitalists of all time.

Garrett doesn’t stop there. He chronicles Ford’s battles with the government and, in particular, the unions that ended up robbing the company and turning it to their own selfish ends. This was in the 1950s when he was writing, but he could see the future of one long slow decline. And how right he was!

This isn’t just a great business history for the regular person, one that provides a window into the making of a great company. Garrett has written a book that will interest people of all ages. It is a wonderful read for the young person who cares about cars. It shows that they are not somehow built into the fabric of society but rather came from the productive system of capitalism, a result of marvelous human ingenuity working within an atmosphere of freedom.

Garet Garrett was a talented writer, researcher, and story teller who knew how markets work. This is a book for all times – a capitalist classic

Source – Good Reads

Cummins Diesel Indy Car 1952 – Moviecraft Inc/Goodwood


Fascinating story of the development and racing of the Cummins diesel race car at the Indianapolis 500 in 1952. Number 28, the Cummins Diesel Special, clocked a qualifying track record that year of 138.01 MPH, using a truck type Cummins diesel engine. What a story! Transferred from a 16mm Eastman Color film, with significant color fade.

At the 1952 Indy 500, Don Cummins entered a diesel-powered race car that was revolutionary for its time. It featured a 401ci (6.6L) 380hp turbocharged diesel engine mounted on its side in a radically low chassis built by Kurtis Kraft. Not only did the 3,100-lb car win the pole position in qualifying that year with a speed of 138.010 mph, it also outran Ferrari’s 12-cylinder race car by nearly 4 mph

More here

In 2017 number 28 appeared at the Goodwood Festival of Speed

It’s the perfect ecosystem-come-melting-pot, therefore, for something like the Kurtis-Kraft Cummins Diesel Special to sprout. The ‘50s had to be one of the most developmentally lucrative periods in the history of motorsport. The world was shaken, battered and bruised by war, determined to forge better lives for all and blossoming economically as international trade exploded. The pot of cash and hunger for growth that was the bow-wave of post-war recovery swept all industries and with innovative products being produced in unprecedented numbers that needed to be sold, concepts needed to be proven. Where else other than the racetrack does automotive technology prove its chops?

Technical challenges forced innovation. The high centre of gravity that was the 1950 car’s Achilles heel meant that the Cummins 6.6-litre commercial engine had to be laid on its side – the happy side-effect of which was a left-hand weight bias for the left-turn-only machine. It was the first car to race at Indy to feature an exhaust-fed turbocharger, as well as the first car to be tested in a wind tunnel. Driver-activated radiator shutters were developed such that a boost of 18 horsepower could be accrued with their operation. The newly developed layout made it the lowest car on the grid, too. The car was heavy (in spite of a lightweight alloy block) but it was slippery and very powerful with the monstrous lump good for over 400bhp. Cummins had proven the advantages of diesel at Indy before in 1931 when a car went for the full 500 laps without a pit stop. They would move to avenge their fateful 1950 attempt in ‘52 with the game-changing new car. 

Don Cummins had designs on San Francisco’s 32-year-old race ace Freddie Agabashian to pilot but it was a difficult sell. When approached, Freddie was sceptical of the car’s weight and overall competitiveness. On a drive out around Indy with Freddie, Don had a point to prove. He stopped the car, pulled a 5-inch Coca Cola crate out of the boot and set it on the ground outside the car upside down. He gestured for Freddie to sit, following “That’s all the farther you’ll be riding above the pavement in a new roadster”. Convinced of the innovations the new car would bring to the fight, Freddie was sold

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Sources – Moviecraft Inc, Goodwood Road and Racing

This Is What A 1952 Mercury Monterey Costs Today – Josh Ko @HotCars


With a name inspired by Monterey Bay, the Mercury Monterey was introduced in 1952 as an improved version of the Mercury Custom.

The 1952 Mercury Monterey (72C) was first introduced as a luxurious two-door coupe, that later evolved into something more. Named after the Monterey Bay on the Central Coast, the Mercury Monterey was part of the Mercury Eight series to compete with other hardtops in the era.

Popular in the Hot Rod scene, the Monterey still holds its ground today. The Monterey serves to be the upscale version of its predecessor, the Mercury Eight, and remains popular amongst the crowd, resulting in the price they go for today.

Here’s more about the 1952 Mercury Monterey, and how much it costs.

Brief History Of The Mercury Monterey

Mercury was founded in 1939 with the original purpose of filling in the void for an entry-level, yet luxurious car. All production Mercury models are a product of other Ford components, and the long-roofed coupe is no exception.

The Mercury Monterey has a technical name of the Model 72 and was in production from 1952 to 1954. During the span of its production, it served multiple purposes: entry, mid, and high tiers. Mercury featured the Monterey with a 255 cubic-inch flathead V8, and while it didn’t make a lot of power, it obviously made all the right noises. The Flathead V8 from Ford wasn’t pioneering technology, but it became insanely popular upon mass production and the affordable price tag.

The Monterey platform ran from 1952 to 1974, posing in all shapes and sizes. Formerly, Mercury had been known as the “little Lincoln” due to its similar characteristics, which weren’t sitting right with them. In 1952, the Monterey got a styling refresh from the company, resulting in a convertible, four-door, and station wagon version of the car. While this didn’t exactly appeal to the purists, it did attract a wider crowd of people to the platform.

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Pick of the Day: 1952 Mercury Monterey convertible in brilliant stock condition – Bob Golfen @ClassicCars.com


The Mercury was completely redesigned for 1952, along with other Ford vehicles, with the brand moving away from the rounded form of previous years, which was much-beloved by lead-sled custom builders.

The new look was taller and squarer, and more in line with modern taste as the chrome-bedecked cars of the ‘50s got under way.  The Monterey became its own top-drawer model, with premium trim and features.

The Pick of the Day is a highly attractive 1952 Mercury Monterey convertible in red with a black-and-red interior, powered by the correct 255cid, 125-horsepower flathead V8 linked with a 3-speed manual transmission and overdrive.

The Mercury has had “limited ownership” during the past 35 years, according to the Canton, Ohio, dealer advertising the convertible on ClassicCars.com.  Presumably, that means it’s been in the hands of just a few people during that time

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Restoration Conundrum: Keep it in driving condition, or give it the works? – Matt Litwin @Hemmings


In October 1998, somewhere in the vast sea of Hershey vendors, I was looking at fabric samples assembled in book form by Bill Hirsch. My all-original 1952 Buick Roadmaster had seen some miles under its two prior stewards, which had caused the fabric behind each door handle to fray, while the floor carpet and driver’s-seat back had seen far more glorious days. With a snippet of the car’s upholstery in my hand for comparison, the debate running through my head was, “Which do I start with; what would be the easiest?”

At 26 years old, I was determined to take the next step in automotive restoration. I had replaced the brakes, fixed a power steering fluid leak—the system an option on the Roadmaster that year—and replaced a few weather seals. Upholstery seemed simple enough. Especially floor carpet. Frankly, I was a little more than proud to own, drive, and display the car—I wanted it looking its best, despite my meager budget.

As I pondered my ability against a “close enough” color match, I was asked if I needed help by—I assumed—a staff member. Instead, I found myself talking to Bill Hirsch himself. He must have taken a keen interest in the plight that I had to have exhibited. After explaining the situation, Bill asked, “Do you enjoy driving your Buick?” Yes, was my quick reply, to which he said, “Then drive it. I’d love to sell you upholstery today, but honestly, I can tell by your enthusiasm that you enjoy using the car. You’re young; there will be plenty of time to restore it later when the whole car needs to be done, and we’ll still be making upholstery for it. When it’s ready, call me.” And with that, he shook my hand, slipped me copies of the samples I had been ogling, and flashed a reassuring smile.

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1952 Ford F-100 Is Fully Custom, Restomodded With LT1 Corvette V8 Engine –


1952 was the final year for the original F-Series pickup, and the most powerful engine that Ford offered for the half-ton model was the Flathead V8 with 239 cubic inches of displacement. The F-100 we’ll talk about today is a little different under the hood, though.

1952 Ford F-100

Not only did it win “First Place for Outstanding Engine and Interior at the ISCA Summit Racing Equipment Auto Show,” but the single cab in the photo gallery sports a Corvette powerplant from the small-block family. The LT1, to be more precise, and the automatic transmission comes from General Motors as well.

The Turbo Hydra-Matic 700R4 is one of the finest choices you can make for a restomod. Smooth but also stout, the four-speed gearbox switched from hydraulic logic shifting to electronic in 1993 when it was known as the 4L60. 1987 and newer transmissions are extremely popular with race, street, and even off-road builds.

Turning our attention back to the custom truck with sparkling light tan over brown paintwork and a bright orange pinstripe, the Ford F-100 “took over a year to build” according to Worldwide Auctioneers. Offered at no reserve, the go-faster pickup features a TCI chassis with chrome plated arms, Coy wheels, and Nitto radials.

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The Magic Tree air freshener: where it came from, and why it’s so successful


The Magic Tree car air freshener – now more commonly known as the LITTLE TREES air freshener – has become a motoring icon. Invented in 1952, there are now over 60 different varieties available.

Julius Sämann is credited with the invention of the Christmas tree air freshener in Watertown, N.Y. But the story of how it all came about is rather interesting.

Being a chemist, the Canadian-born Sämann spent an extensive amount of time extracting oils from Canada’s evergreen tress. He applied this knowledge when speaking with a milk-truck driver about the noxious scent of spilled dairy in the cab. Anything is better than a build-up of spoiled milk.

Sämann patented the freshener, cellophane bag and string and was off to the races with his unique invention. The shape itself was inspired by the trees in forests of Canada.

While the shape remains the tree – heck the name says it all – the scent list is constantly changing to meet the demands of the market.