t’s a common misconception that Hemmings Motor News for its first half-century or so only ran old-car classified ads and nothing else. That’s certainly how Ernest Hemmings started the company in 1954. However, not long afterward, he started to feature readers’ cars and, as it turns out, the first car he featured remains in the same family 60-plus years later.
With our headquarters in Bennington, Vermont, still closed, we can’t dig through our archives to confirm that Harlan C. Cratty’s 1916 Ford Model T coupelet appeared as the first featured car in the October 1958 issue of Hemmings Motor News, but we kinda don’t need to with the photos and information that Cratty’s grandson, Phil Berg, recently sent our way.
Those materials include a letter that Ernest Hemmings (then, as always, in Quincy, Illinois) wrote to Cratty (in Omaha, Nebraska) on September 30, 1958, in which Hemmings conducted some business with Cratty—the sale of a pair of camshafts for $2—and then thanked Cratty for the photos of his T. “It is our aim to have a feature car each month and as your fine car is very usual (sic) thought it would be good to start out with,” Hemmings wrote. He probably meant to write unusual.