Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wooden Wheels and Whizzers

Thought for the day:  No other man-made device since the shields and lances of ancient knights fulfills a man's ego like an automobile.  [Lord Rootes}

There weren't any shields and lances to be seen, but there were plenty of vintage cars. This past Saturday, my hubby and I went to a Model A swap meet.

I mean, how cool is THIS ... to see nothing but Model As parked on both sides of the road? The fourth one up on the right is my hubby's rat rod. The body is a 1930 Model A, but it's an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink hybrid from there. Ergo the rat rod designation. (Hmmm, come to think of it, there ARE a couple former plumbing parts under the hood... if there WERE a hood.)  Has a new powerful vroom vroom Chevy engine, is built on a 1987 S-10 chassis, has a 1959 Mercedes grille, and the cedar bed is made out of our old hot tub. Can you see it? No?

THERE. Is that better?
It is soooo much fun to bounce down the road in the ol' girl. Even with multiple mufflers, she's still pretty loud, so people tend to turn their heads to look when they hear us coming. And they smile. Point. Laugh. Wave. Give us a thumb up. She's low on weight and heavy on power and performance, so given the opportunity, I have a feeling she'd fly down the track. So far, my hubby's shown great restraint on the road, and except for the occasional exuberant burst of speed on an occasional irresistible straightaway, we cruise down the road and simply enjoy the experience.

I won't bore you by showing you a picture of each of the Model As at the meet, but this is one of my favorites. It's unusual (at least, in my experience) to see one in this particular color combo. Very classy-looking. (NOT a rat rod.)

Last year, a couple of the cars were done up with a theme in mind. My favorite was done up like a moonshiner's truck, complete with a still in the bed. Lots of neat little whimsical details, too. Natch, I didn't have my camera last year, and also natch, it didn't show up this year when I DID have my camera in hand. Oh, well. Maybe next year.

One of the things my husband likes best about this annual meeting is the opportunity to purchase Model A parts and accessories for a decent price. One of the things I like best about this annual meeting is where it's held... outside a building filled with a fabulous private car collection ... and on this day, the owner opens the doors for us. WOW!

This collection has been a work in progress since the early '50s, and not only is every vehicle a thing of beauty, but each one is completely road-worthy. When we went last year, the Tucker was out getting transmission work, so I was looking forward to seeing it this year. No such luck. It sold recently ... for more than a million bucks. (YOWZA!) But there are plenty of other award-winning cars there to oooh and ahhhh over. I'll just give you a little peek.

A long, sleek, shiny Dusenberg with a bunch of blue ribbons. She was actually in the owner's garage area, which was open to us for the first time this year.

How'd ya like to take a trip in this baby? (Back when "Woodies" were actually made of WOOD.)

Okay, which of you smarties know what this is? This is a close-up under the hood of an old Cadillac. (Vintage '20s maybe?) Would you believe it's a cooling system? Water inside of those copper valve covers keeps the temperature down. Cool, huh?

I never saw one of these before. It's called a Mitchell.

How about THIS? An honest-to-goodness wooden wheel! Sorry, I was so fascinated by the wheel, I don't remember a darned thing about the vehicle itself.

An unusual hood ornament, huh? It's an archer, and fittingly enough, it's on the front of... (ta-DA!) a Pierce Arrow.

I thought this was pretty neat, too. It's the front grille of a Packard. (1939, I think) Anyhow, what's neat is the fact that the grille contains louvres that automatically open ... or close ... depending on how much air cooling the engine needs at any given time. Innovative engineering, eh?

Anybody remember the Whizzer? It's something a lot of kids used to aspire to, but few (nobody I knew, anyhow) could afford. The company started making and selling bicycle engines in 1939, and later, also sold the bike with engine as an already assembled unit.  Alas, they stopped making them in '55, and by '65, parts were no longer being manufactured for them, either. But guess what? The good ol' Whizzer made a comeback in '98, and can once again be purchased in the U.S.

This is one of my hubby's dream cars. A Shelby Cobra. Right color, too. (Guess I'd better start playing the lottery ...)

If someone were to ask me for a shortcut to sensuality, I would suggest he go shopping for a used 427 Shelby Cobra. But it is only fair to warn you that of the 300 men who switched to them in 1966, only two went back to women. [Mort Sahl]

This Indian with sidecar is almost a hundred years old. But, ooooh, is she ever pretty!

Okay, I won't bore you with any more pictures, but if you'd like to see more of this collection, take a gander right HERE (Click on any picture to find more info about the vehicle in it.)

We also went to a different car show on Sunday, but lucky for you ... I forgot my camera, darn it. And there was a reeeeeally cool Model T race car there, too... and a nifty-looking camouflage military-looking VW with oversized tires and the engine up front ... and an old Pinzgauer troop carrier... and several rat rods. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

So, what's your favorite car? Something you've owned ... or wished you owned? If money were no limit, what vehicle would be sitting in front of your house? I know. Tough decision. I've got a thing for the '65 Mustang, the '54 MGTD, and the Morgan. (ANY year will do!) The new retro Camaros are pretty darned cool, too. But ya know what? When it comes right down to it, my little ol' 1999 fire engine red Pontiac suits me just fine.

                               Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

The car has become ... an article of dress without which we feel uncertain, unclad, and incomplete. [Marshall McLuhan]


  1. wow..know this must be fun!! there is a car show by our house once a yr...the highways and all surrounding roads are clogged for miles and miles...definite interest in cars in the world!! Not me..if it drives forward, i like it.

  2. Wonderful post, Susan. Until 1954 the family car was a Model A (a rare black one). I'd sit on mom's lap and older siblings got the rumble seat. Teens would hop onto our running boards for a quick lift thru the neighborhood. But my favorite car to drive belonged to a girlfriend's dad in the '60s, a '36 Cadillac LaSalle convertible. He'd toss me the keys and off we'd go. Gosh, sounds like I grew up in Mayberry. Good memories. Thanks!

  3. Great post - two thumbs up!
    I love your hubby's rat rod (somehow that doesn't sound exactly the way it was meant to sound).
    The photos are fantastic and have definitely put me into a Gatsby Mode.

  4. I like the Chevy Belair in turquoise and white but not to own...just to look at once in a while at car shows. I'd be too nervous to take it on the road.

  5. Fantastic post, Susan--those pics are so cool! I love your husband's rat rod. Power AND style!

  6. My ownership of cars has been very lacklustre; I regret that. But I have driven some beauties.

  7. I'll take a Whizzer... and an Indian... and that is one cool cooling system!

    Mustang... agreed. I used to have a thing for the '69 Corvette Stingray. :)

  8. Annmarie- You're right; there's definitely a lot of interest in cars in the world. We've never been lonely at a car show before. (Driving forward is important, but sometimes ya need reverse, too!)

    Geo- Glad ya liked it. Neat that you remember riding in your family's Model A as a kid. The T was only available in black, but the A was offered in four different colors, so depending on what percentage of people chose to stick with black when they bought a Model A, your dad's car might've been rarer than you thought. What's REALLY rare, though, is your girl friend's father trusting you with the keys to his LaSalle. WOW! That must have been a blast to drive.

    Jon- Ooooh, I like that. Put you in a Gatsby Mode, huh? Nice way to put it. (Oh, and I'm rather fond of my husband's rat rod, too...)

    Delores- Oooh, good choice! As long as the brakes have been upgraded, those old Chevies are as safe, or safer, than a lot of the modern cars on the road. Steel vs. plastic. But I'd be hesitant about driving one of those beauties we see at the car shows, too, for fear of putting a scratch in it.

    Linda- Glad ya liked the pics. Yeah, power and style... that's my baby!

    Cro- Ah, but if you've at least had the experience of driving some of the beauties, the upshot is you didn't have to worry about maintaining them... just enjoying them, and then moving on. Kinda like sweet little affairs, as opposed to supporting a bunch of wives. (Um, not that I'm advocating affairs, mind you...)

    CarrieBoo- Maybe when Roz is a little older, you can buy "her" a Whizzer. I'm sure she'd let you borrow it. Love the early Corvettes. We have a '77, the last year of the Stingray. Still needs quite a bit of work, though. It's in great shape under the hood, but still needs some interior work and a paint job.

  9. I do so like the old cars. Alas, we just sold our '53 Chrysler Windsor limo with suicide doors! Thanks for sharing pictures of your fun weekend. :)

  10. Love that quote, Susan!

  11. J.B.- Oooh, bet it was tough seeing the old girl go. If you're looking, I hope you find a suitable replacement.

    Linda- Thanks. Glad ya liked it.

  12. The grille on that Packard may be my favorite image amongst all these beauties and pics of interest.

    When I looked at the cooling system, the first word that flashed through my mind was 'compressor' so I wasn't too far off, right!?

    Sus, if I were to see you drive by in the loud 'ol' girl' I would flash you the thumbs up, too. You and your hubby seem like the coolest people!

  13. My brother-in-law has a Cobra exactly like that one. He never has given me a ride come to think of it.

  14. Oh, how I'd like to see a Tucker! I had a Mustang, must have been about a '65, when I was a teenager. My brother bought it from me when it didn't run anymore. He was going to refurbish it. Sadly, he let it sit in his driveway and rust. I don't know what happened to it when he died.


  15. I make very boring and reasonable choices when it comes to my cars, but I do enjoy car shows. My favorite car that always shows at the Lake Mirror Classic here in Lakeland is a 1950-something BMW Isetta. The midwife who delivered me and her husband used to own one (maybe that's the "connection" I feel, LOL).

    I'm impressed with all your car knowledge - I just go and look and enjoy and let my husband provide me with some background.

  16. Suze- I was fascinated by that Packard grille, too. Pretty forward-thinking engineering for that time. The part in the lower left-hand corner of the picture is a compressor, so you get a brownie point for that. I don't know how "cool" my hubby and I are, but we do know how to have fun.

    Mr. C- Wow, I'm impressed. An original Cobra or a kit car? Those Factory Five cars look almost as good as the real thing. Whichever it is, it seems to me your BIL owes you a ride.

    Janie- We saw a Tucker at a couple car shows a few years back, and it was really something. Not sure, but it was probably the same one that was just sold out of Cofer's collection. Not too likely there's more than one of them in this same area. It's a shame about your old Mustang.

    Pixel Peeper- Boy oh boy, don't be impressed with MY car knowledge. Anything I "know" about cars is strictly second-hand from my husband. Like you, I enjoy the shows, and I ask a lot of questions. (Don't always remember the answers, either!) Right off-hand, I'm not familiar with the BMW Isetta, but hey! maybe I'll see it at the Lake Mirror show this year.

  17. Oh man! My palms are sweaty! That Dusenberg! That woodie! A Mitchell! A Cobra! An INDIAN!

    Okay, I'm calming down.
    If I could have any car at all, it would still be Uncle Bert's 53 Packard Clipper. If for nothing else than to give it to my brother, who'd go totally nuts to have it. But I have a love of cars because of that car so I don't know if I could part with it. Or the 69 GTO that I loved and lost. Yeah, either of those... I think...

  18. Laura- HA! You crack me up! I have a feeling you would have enjoyed that car collection even more than I did.

  19. I have to say our little FIAT is the most fun I have ever had in a car.
    In a straight line it is quick for a small car. Put it on a mountain road and it corners better than anything I have ever driven!

  20. I'm really sorry to have to say this but I never heard of a Model A until this evening! My first car was an Austin A40 Farina but I think my favourite was a little old mini that stopped every time it rained.

  21. Al- Some years back, my husband had a little convertible Fiat Spider. It was a LOT of fun. The downside was... we couldn't fit the kids in there with us. The upside was ... we couldn't fit the kids in there with us.

    Rosalind- Don't be sorry. Not exactly a car you'd be likely to see on the streets of London. Oh, boy, if your mini stopped every time it rained, you must've done a LOT of walking!

  22. Hi Susan,
    Apologies, it's been some time since I visited your excellent site. Was away for a bit and stayed away from a computer. Quite the achievement.
    I'm absolutely loving those photos of the days when cars had 'personality'.
    Oh, I'm with you on the 65 Mustang.
    I've had quite the range of cars, having lived in Canada and presently living in England. Had a great 1973 Dodge Polara, an AMC Javelin and here in England, I own a Chevrolet Lacetti. A very reliable car. I always wanted to own an Aston Martin or an Edsel...what am I saying...
    Take care and thanks for a great article.
    Gary :)

  23. Hi, Gary. No apologies needed. Always good to hear from you. You're exactly right about the old cars having personality. So many of the cars on the road today look alike, it's as though their engineers collaborated on them. Oh yeah, I can see you in an Aston Martin. You and 007. But an Edsel??? HA! You'd certainly stick out in a crowd!

  24. Hi Susan .. just love your 'love' for these pretty machines - sounds like a great annual gathering ..

    They had loads of minis on Bexhill seafront at the weekend .. with an artwork of The Italian Job's bus suspended off the local museum roof! Must find out more and perhaps post on it ..

    Cheers Hilary

  25. Hilary- We recently learned about a mini car museum not too terribly far from here. We haven't been there yet, but plan to go. Seeing a load of them right on the seafront would be even BETTER! (Not to mention a bus suspended from the roof.)