Archive for December, 2010

1929 Divco

Divco 1926-1986
I did not intend to bring the 1929 truck lines into this set of vehicles, but I decided to write about my favorite brands. One that has some memories for me when I was growing up in the 1960’s, is Divco. I remember every morning at 5am, my dad would wake me up to have breakfast with him, and we would shoot pool before he left for work, and I for school. (We had a pool table, dad didn’t take me to a pool hall.) The TV was on, and had a test pattern displayed, waiting on the National Anthem to play as the day of broadcast began. Around that five o’clock hour, the Borden’s milk truck would come by the house to deliver our dairy products. The truck was a Divco, an acronym that stands for Detroit Industrial Vehicles COmpany. Divco trucks have become popular collectible vehicles today. The Divco truck looked the same for many years, and only the VW Beetle stayed in production with the same basic model for a longer period of time.

In 1922, George Bacon designed a new milk delivery truck that could be driven from four positions; front, rear, or either running board. His employer, the Detroit Electric Vehicle Company, was not interested in building a gasoline powered truck, so Bacon formed the Detroit Industrial Vehicle Company. (D.I.V.CO.) After testing 25 prototypes with the Detroit Creamery in 1925, Bacon and his investors were ready to start mass production. From 1926 until 1986, Divco produced multi-stop delivery trucks unlike any others.

Rick Robinson

The Automobiles of 1929

1929 Pontiac Restoration Project

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1929 Windsor

Windsor 1929-1930
Windsor Corporation produced automobiles in St. Louis, Missouri. The Windsor Corporation was a subsidiary of the Moon Motor Car Company and shared all the same company leadership as well as the same manufacturing facility. With Moon sales falling sharply, and the company’s other subsidiary, Diana Motors Company, recently folding, it was hoped that Windsor would be an avenue for renewed sales in a struggling market. I did not have a vintage photo, a brochure or advertisement of the 1929 Windsor in my collection. The vintage photo posted above is a 1930 Windsor.

The Windsor White Prince model originally used the coat of arms of the Prince of Wales in advertising. It was placed on the radiator emblem and the hubcaps, until Buckingham Palace objected and the company had to change the logo. Above is the 1930 Windsor White Prince Victoria Coupe. Below is what I believe to be a Windsor White Prince Model 669 4-door Sedan.

On this list of the alphabetized cars of 1929 I will add the following before I post trucks;

Hamlin (Hamlin-Holmes) 1919-1930
This Chicago, Illinois based company attempted to develop a front wheel drive automobile, but as far as I know, never achieved a steady production vehicle. Although this car doesn’t qualify for my list of vehicles available to the new car buyer in 1929, prototype vehicles were produced every year.

L&E (Lundelius & Eccleston) 1922-1931
The L&E was based out of Los Angeles, California. Plans were to build a modern factory in Long Beach, California, but that never happened so mass production of the vehicle never came to be. I don’t think this would have been a car available to the average new car buyer of 1929. The last L&E cars resembled the Franklin automobiles.

Rick Robinson

The Automobiles of 1929

1929 Pontiac Restoration Project

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1929 Willys

Willys 1908-1956

In 1908 Toledo, Ohio, John Willys (pronounced Willis, not Willeez) bought the Overland Automotive Division of Standard Wheel Company and in 1912 renamed it Willys-Overland Motor Company. From 1912 to 1918, Willys was the second largest producer of automobiles in the United States second only to Ford Motor Company.

The Willys car above was photographed with actor Neil Hamilton. You may know Neil best as Commissioner Gordon from the 1966 television series Batman. (Also the 1966 movie, Batman.)

The photo on the bottom is a 1929 Willys photographed with Violet Etherlan Krauth, the early talkies Hollywood movie star. The car has a 1929 tag on the front. Violet played small roles in Howard Hughs classic film, Hell’s Angles (The best air combat filming ever) and Eddie Cantor’s 1930 Whoopie!. Not long after that, she was signed on by Warner Brothers  and her name was changed to Marian Marsh. She died in November of 2006.

Willys may best be known for marketing the first Jeep. During WWII there were many manufactures building a utility vehicle the military designated as the “GP”, for General Purpose. The soldiers started referring to the vehicle as a GEEP (pronounced Jeep.) After the war, Willys became the first manufacture to introduce the vehicle, using the name Jeep. I like the Jeepster, from the 1960’s, but the “CJ” series, (CJ stands for Civilian Version) became very popular and probably the most familiar in the Jeep family line-up. Jeep became part of American Motors, then was acquired by Chrysler when Lee Iacocca purchased AMC.

Rick Robinson

The Automobiles of 1929

1929 Pontiac Restoration Project

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1929 Whippet

Whippet 1926-1931
Whippet was another Willys (Pronounced Willis, not Willeez.) brand. John N. Willys told his dealers that the Whippet title was intended as a generic name for the broad class of vehicles of which this is the forerunner; a light, fast, economical and stylish, inexpensive car. Salesmen were urged to get the “motoring” public to talk of the new type of light car as a WHIPPET type. Willys was trying to brand his new car like Kleenex is for a tissue or Coke is for a carbonated beverage.

The publicity surrounding the launch of the new Whippet was such a success that in the first three weeks of its introduction, estimates indicated over 14.5 million people visited dealer showrooms to see the new Whippet.

It was odd that it wasn’t until January 1927 that the Whippet name was really emphasized on the vehicle itself. Up until then it had Overland hubcaps and an Overland radiator badge. Easy enough to fix, it probably had to do with left over parts and saving money.

Production of the Whippet 96A started in October 1928 in preparation for the January 1929 release. Top speed was now claimed to be 60 mph, and advertisements often featured the Finger Tip Control, whereby all functions of starting the engine, controlling the lighting system and sounding the horn are all controlled from the steering wheel. The Finger Tip Control feature was also used on the 1929 Willys Knight Model.

Rick Robinson

The Automobiles of 1929

1929 Pontiac Restoration Project

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1929 Viking

Viking 1929-1930
In 1929, as part of General Motors’ companion make program, Oldsmobile introduced the higher standard Viking brand, marketed through the Oldsmobile dealers network. Men were hired to walk the streets in “Viking” outfits to advertise the brand.

The price point would place the Viking between Oldsmobile and Buick, but it seems the bulk of the buyers were being taken from the Oldsmobile line. Viking was discontinued already at the end of the 1930 model year after a total production run of 7,224 over three model years. An additional 353 cars were marketed as 1931 models.

Rick Robinson

The Automobiles of 1929

1929 Pontiac Restoration Project

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1929 Stutz

Stutz 1911-1935
Founder, Harry C. Stutz started The Stutz Motor Company based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Stutz was a producer of luxury cars, and high-performance roadsters like the famous Stutz Bearcat. Stutz has been credited with the development of “the under-slung chassis”, that greatly enhanced the safety and cornering of motor vehicles and is still in use today.

Rick Robinson

The Automobiles of 1929

1929 Pontiac Restoration Project

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1929 Studebaker

Studebaker 1902-1966
Studebaker Corporation, was based in South Bend, Indiana. Founded in 1852 and incorporated in 1868 under the name of the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company, the company was originally a producer of wagons for farmers, miners, and the military. (General Custer’s wagons were Studebakers.)

Studebaker entered the automotive business in 1902 with electric vehicles and in 1904 with gasoline vehicles. The top photo is the Studebaker President. Dealerships all over had advertised the “President” was arriving at the local dealership. Above, is the 1929 Studebaker Dictator. What a contrast to the President name badge.

This Studebaker dealership shows a convertible in front, with what looks to me like  after-market E&J (Edmunds and Jones) bullet headlights. Some factories would give a headlight delete credit to the dealership so the after-market lights could be installed, others dealers would just swap them out. Some antique automobile show judges would deduct points for displaying the vehicle with those headlights, unless you have factory documentation for the option.  I have photos of a 1929 Pontiac fitted with E&J’s, and have posted a photo of a Packard with them below, so you can see what the aftermarket E&J bullet headlights look like a little closer up.

I don’t want those on my Pontiac, but I think they are cool looking headlights for a 20’s vintage car. I also think they are a great part of automobile history, not many people may even know about. One of the reasons I selected this photo is that Studebaker merged with Packard in the 1950’s but soon deleted the Packard brand. Studebaker was also authorized to sell and service the Mercedes brand cars before the Germans built the dealership network we know today.

The South Bend plant ceased Studebaker production on December 20, 1963, and the last Studebaker car rolled off the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, plant on March 16, 1966. The Studebaker proving grounds still has trees growing that spell out Studebaker as you can see from the air today. A link to the google maps photo is below the picture I have provided. This was still there as of January 2012.

Studebaker proving grounds google maps

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Bendix+Woods+Park,+New+Carlisle,+IN&hl=en&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=51.443116,78.310547&vpsrc=0&t=h&z=15

Rick Robinson

The Automobiles of 1929

1929 Pontiac Restoration Project

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1929 Stearns

Stearns 1898-1930
Frank Stearns was an early automotive pioneer in Cleveland, Ohio, building his first car as a student in 1896. The first production model from his Cleveland factory in 1898 was a gasoline-fuel buggy, with a one-cylinder engine (horizontal under the floor), a tiller for steering, wire wheels, and chain drive.

The Stearns above was photographed with Lilian Roth, who was a popular movie star of the day. She stared in the 1930 Marx Brothers comedy, Animal Crackers–One of my favorite Marx Brothers films in my collection of over 440 classic films. Notice the 1929 California dealer tag on the car.

Stearns Company manufactured luxury cars marketed under the brand names Stearns and Stearns-Knight. All the vehicle controls were located on the steering wheel. (Another not new idea.) My copy of the Stearns Knight brochure claims mechanical advantage no other car  of similar luxury can offer. The copy claims the more miles you put on this vehicle, it gains power and efficiency. No more valve-grinding and carbon cleaning annoyance. The armored wood-framed car weighed in at 2800 LB, seated six passengers, and sold for $3000.

Rick Robinson

The Automobiles of 1929

1929 Pontiac Restoration Project

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1929 S & S (Sayers & Scovill)

S&S (Sayers & Scoville) 1924-1930
Sayers & Scovill introduced the nation’s first gasoline-powered automobile ambulance at the 1907 Chicago Automobile show. A few years later the Sayers automobile was introduced. In May of 1924 the Sayers & Scovill Company announced that it had disposed of all of the Sayers sixes remaining in stock, and henceforth would confine production to hearses, ambulances and funeral limousines. A few months later the firm was back with another car called the S & S. Unlike the Sayers, however, the S & S was designed almost exclusively as a bearers’ car or limousine, with passenger car use being predominantly for Sunday and holiday excursions of funeral directors.

Rick Robinson

The Automobiles of 1929

1929 Pontiac Restoration Project

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1929 Ruxton

Ruxton 1929-1931
The Ruxton was a front-wheel drive automobile produced by the New Era Motors Company of New York, New York. The car was the brainchild of William Muller and was built in the Moon Motor Car factory in St. Louis, Missouri. Kissel Motors of Hartford, Wisconsin, also built a limited number of Ruxtons.

The car was low to the ground, not tall like my Pontiac, and most of the competition in 1929.  You can see the Ruxton next to a standard sedan in the photo above. It reminds me of the chopped custom cars made from old vehicles today. I don’t think I could chop a restorable vintage vehicle, I prefer the original historic stock version. Notice the Ruxton had no running boards and they probably were not needed, but they also made a unique design statement. I found a lot of pictures of the 1929 Ruxton in the LA Library photo archives, marked as unknown prototype vehicle. I knew what I found. Some of the photos show the under carriage with the front wheel drive design.

Production of the Ruxton stopped when the Moon and Kissel brands that assembled the Ruxton closed their plants. Negotians for a contract to get another assembler never materialized.

Rick Robinson

The Automobiles of 1929

1929 Pontiac Restoration Project

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