Monday, September 9, 2019

Canadian Automotive Museum, Oshawa, Ontario, August 22, 2019


Having many times driven on the 401 through Oshawa and seeing the signage for the Canadian Automotive Museum (CAM), I finally had a chance to drop in as I was passing and had a free morning during my long road trip of 2019 to Kentucky and the National Corvette Museum.

Housed in a 1920s one-time car dealership, the collection, first opened in 1963, is much more extensive than one would imagine from the outside of the building.  It is a rather eclectic mix of vehicles as the ground floor offers a selection of classic European cars, while the upper floor, where cars can still be moved via the old dealership's working freight elevator, has an emphasis on domestic cars.  The museum claims "the most significant collection of Canadian cars" and there is no reason to doubt this.  In all, there are some 70 vehicles on display.

1929 Chevrolet Six
This Chevrolet was built by GM at its plant in Regina, Saskatchewan and marked the first year of Chevrolet's new six cylinder engine, a successful competitive response to the Ford Model A, which only offered four cylinder motors.  Ford's eventual reply was the famous V8 but Chevrolet had taken leadership in the lower priced end of the market.  Sixes were built in Oshawa as well as Regina, the latter cars distinguished by wire spoke wheels while the Ontario cars had disc ones.



1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, with open touring body by Barker
This magnificent Silver Ghost was originally delivered to its first owner in England before coming to Canada in 1919 following the First World War.  Owned then by tobacco magnate Sir Mortimer Davis, it served as transportation in Montreal for the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) during his three month official visit to Canada in 1919.  On subsequent visits to Canada, the prince was provided with his own McLaughlin-Buick to avoid being under an obligation to a private citizen, which he had resented.  The car eventually was sold in 1959 to noted industrialist and car collector John "Bud" McDougald, whose family donated it to the museum in 1995.


1915 Ford Model T (left), 1909 Ford Model T (right)
1915 Ford Model T, Canadian version
Ford of Canada was established in Walkerville (now Windsor), Ontario, in 1905 to build Ford cars under license for sale in the British Empire (except for the United Kingdom).  Within a decade, the Canadian operation was exporting cars to India, Australia, South Africa and even Japan, and produced more than 757,000 Model Ts.  First built from US-made kits, by the 1920s almost every part in the Windsor Fords was sourced from Canada.  Canadian Model Ts can be distinguished by having a working driver's door, conceived for right-hand drive cars, whereas the American car only had a door on the passenger side.


1912 Rolls-Royce  Silver Ghost 40/50, limousine body by Barker
"Ladybird" was one of three Rolls-Royces delivered to Lady Flora Eaton (1880-1970), the others having open bodies and named "Yellowbird" and "Bluebird."  Lady Eaton, noted for her style and extravagance, was the wife of department store president and heir Sir John Craig Eaton.  The Eaton's chain controlled some 60% of all department store sales in Canada by 1930 but ceased operations in bankruptcy in 1999.  "Ladybird" was owned by Lady Eaton until 1952 when it was sold to American singer James Melton, who established the Autorama museum for his car collection in Florida.  The museum's contents were dispersed following Melton's death in 1961 and "Ladybird" eventually made its way back to Toronto in 1972 when it became part of the Craven Foundation collection.  That collection was broken up in 1986 when the foundation was dissolved and "Ladybird" was donated to the Canadian Automotive Museum.


1934 Rolls-Royce 20/25, open touring body by Park Ward of London
This Rolls-Royce was one of numerous Rolls-Royces owned by Canadian industrialist J.P. Bickell, who made his fortune in gold mining and the Famous Players movie theatre chain. He was co-founder and Chairman of the A.V. Roe Canada aircraft company.  He was actively involved in management of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, of which he became Chairman, and was instrumental in financing the construction of Maple Leaf Gardens during the Depression.  Following Bickell's death in 1951, collector Bud McDougald acquired the Rolls-Royce and it was used for ferrying royalty and other celebrities around Toronto.

1902 Orient
The oldest vehicle in the collection is the 1902 Orient Buckboard, manufactured in Waltham, Massachusetts by the Waltham Manufacturing Company, which had been established in 1891 by Charles Metz to build bicycles.  The Buckboard was a simple vehicle powered by a 4 hp air-cooled single cylinder engine and was surprisingly successful in racing due to its light weight.  Priced originally at $500, the Buckboard actually outsold almost all other models of car and was produced, in improved versions, from 1902 to 1907, at which time Metz returned to the company.  It became the Metz Company, noted for its Metz Plan which sold cars in 14 component packages at $27 each!  

1936 Talbot 110, Alpine Sports body by Vanden Plas
This handsome, and rather hidden away, British sports car had impressive performance for the day, with a 110 doing the Brooklands track at an average speed of 129 mph in 1938.  The company, which had originally been formed in 1902 to produce French Clement cars under license but soon was entirely British.  It was part of a trans-Channel company whose brands included Sunbeam, Talbot and Darracq but was unable to weather the Depression.  British operations were acquired by the Rootes Group in 1936 and the company renamed Sunbeam-Talbot and then just Sunbeam, while the French operation was taken over by its managing director, Tony Lago, and produced a series of famous luxury and racing cars under the Talbot-Lago name.



1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III
Another car from the McDougald collection, this Phantom III, with its Sedanca de Ville body by Barker, is identical to the model and body of the car used by the villain in the 1964 James Bond film "Goldfinger."  It is powered by a V12 and was the last Rolls-Royce model to be overseen by Henry Royce, who died in 1933, a year into the car's development.  727 Phantom IIIs were built between 1936 and 1939.  This particular car was owned by Syma Cohen, one of the founders of the successful Lady Esther company, which flourished in the 1920s and 1930s as the nation's biggest seller of cosmetics, and was headquartered in Chicago.  The company, which faded in the 1940s, still exists as a trademark in the United States and Germany.  Syma Cohen, an immigrant success story, died in Chicago in 1990 aged 99 after what must have been a very eventful life.



1931 Alfa Romeo 1750 Gran Sport
Considered perhaps the finest Alfa Romeo ever made, the 1750 Gran Sport was introduced in 1929 and came first and third that year in the celebrated Mille Miglia race.  Around 2,600 examples of the 1750 were made between 1929 and 1935 but the Gran Sport model, produced only to 1933, is very rare and a Zagato-bodied car in the spider configuration even rarer.  A similar car sold at auction in 2015 for US$ 2.5 million. This car was owned by Bud McDougald, who died in 1978, and the story is that his cars remained in their garages until donated by his family following the death of his wife in 1996.

1928 Hispano Suize H6B, with limousine body by Mulliner
One of the main drawbacks to the CAM is that the building is simply too small given the number of cars crammed into it.  It was disappointing to not get a good look at the Talbot and even more so with this interesting 1928 Hispano Suiza H6B 7 passenger limousine.  Sadly, at some point the car was "improved" for better driveability and neither engine nor chassis are original but owner Bud McDougald was happy enough to smoke his pipe in it as the car had a vent in the roof in addition to numerous ashtrays and he referred to is as "his car with the chimney."





1926 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A
This very rare Isotta, purchased in 1926 by an Irish woolen mill owner who saw it at the Olympia Motor Show in London that year, is one of only two examples known to have been built with a Cesare Sala torpedo body.  The car was purchased from the original owner in 1951 by D. Cameron Peck, a Chicago collector who is believed to have had over 1,000 cars in his personal collection, most of which was sold in 1952.  At that time Bud McDougald and a partner purchased the Isotta-Fraschini.



1928 Bugatti Type 37
This Bugatti has had some modifications made to it, such as removal of the cycle fenders as well as changes to the exhaust.  It was apparently painted black during Bud McDougald's ownership instead of the usual blue, the national colour for French racers.  The Type 37 is considered one of the most iconic cars to have been produced by Bugatti, but there was no indication of its race history at the museum.  It has been suggested that with a proper restoration, this Type 37 would be the star of the collection.



1926 Bentley 3 Litre Speed Model, body by Vanden Plas
Introduced in 1922, the 3 Litre was Bentley's first commercial product and by 1926 had undergone modifications that had improved it considerably.  The signage accompanying this car indicated that the 1924 24 Hours of LeMans race was won by a 3 Litre Bentley but, curiously, fails to mention that one of the two drivers was John Duff (1895-1958), a Canadian, and the only Canadian to ever win the overall LeMans competition!  Duff, who was born in China but whose parents came from Hamilton, Ontario, had an amazing life.



1921 Kissel 6-45 "Gold Bug"
Another car from the McDougald collection is this charming Kissel Speedster.  Built from 1919 to 1927, the Kissel, nicknamed "the Gold Bug," was popular with celebrities including silent film stars such as Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo, William S. Hart, Mabel Normand and Fatty Arbuckle, along with other notables such as Jack Dempsey and Amelia Earhart.  The car's official model designation of 6-45 indicated that it had a six cylinder engine, producing 45 hp.  The Gold Bug's sporty appearance belied its actual performance capability, although someone sitting in that mother-in-law seat on the right side would have thought the car plenty fast.  Some 35,000 Kissels of various types were built between 1907 and 1931 and an estimated 200 survive.  The company, based in Hartford, Wisconsin, was crippled by the Great Depression and did not survive a hostile takeover attempt connected to New Era Motors and the Ruxton front-wheel drive car.

1937 Buick Roadmaster Series 80 Convertible Phaeton
The Roadmaster name was introduced into the Buick line in 1936 and in 1937 three body styles were available, including a formal sedan, a trunk back sedan and a phaeton.  Of the last, 1,040 were produced but only 27, including this car, are known to exist today.  The car originally cost $1,856.

1929 Ford Model A Cabriolet
Leaving the museum's ground floor, the upper floor is devoted to cars either made in Canada or made for the Canadian market by major manufacturers, really obscure Canadian manufacturers and some interesting cars that there was no room for on the ground floor.  Given the location of the museum, it is not surprise that an emphasis was on the preeminent brand  in the area, namely McLaughlin in Oshawa.  It was originally a carriage company, the largest in Canada, but began to build cars using Buick drivetrains in 1907.  A close friendship between General Motors founder William C. Durant and Col. Sam McLaughlin saw business ties that continued when McLaughlin built Chevrolet cars in Canada and then strengthened when GM bought control of General Motors Canada and the McLaughlin Motor Car Company in 1918, soon after Durant had returned to control of the parent General Motors after a brief exile when he built up Chevrolet.  Sam McLaughlin remained Chairman of General Motors Canada, as well as serving on the parent company's board until his death in 1972, aged 100 years.

1931 McLaughlin Buick 67 4 Door Sedan


The most popular of Buick's 60 Series, the 67 offered a 90 hp straight eight cylinder engine and a three speed syncromesh transmission.  Although capable of a sustained 80 mph cruise and offering mechanical improvements, the 67 was not capable of halting a downward slide in Buick sales as the Great Depression continued to worsen.  List price of the 67 was $1,400.


1922 McLaughlin Buick 22-49 Special
1922 was the last year that cars were sold only using the McLaughlin name and henceforth would only be known as McLaughlin Buicks.  This six cylinder 7 Passenger Touring Car offered considerable load carrying capacity and in addition to carrying big families the Special could be used for other purposes, such as ferrying alcohol from Canada to the United States during Prohibition.  The Special was favoured for this and earned the nickname "Whiskey Six" in some circles.




1934 McLaughlin Buick 66S Sport Coupe
1936 marked the 25th year of Canadian production at McLaughlin, and the cars that year were marketed as Silver Anniversary models.  This handsome car shows strong Art Deco design influence and, surprisingly for this late stage of auto development, features a rumble seat.  It was powered by a straight eight engine of 100 hp and cost $1,375 new.  The first owner was an RCMP officer who used it for his daily 150 km round trip commute to Ottawa, and the car remained in the area subsequently.  It was eventually left to rot in a quarry until rescued by a gentleman from Smith Falls, Ontario, who restored it, donating it to the museum in 1993.


1949 Meteor
One of three Ford brands built exclusively for the Canadian market along with Frontenac and Monarch, this Meteor two door sedan came with a V8 engine and a three speed transmission.  Meteor sales accounted for 51% of Ford's Canadian production, centred on the Walkerville assembly plant, by 1951.  That year the Meteor was available with an automatic transmission, called the "Merc-o-Matic."  The Meteor was meant to compete with GM's Pontiac line in Canada and was sold through Mercury-Meteor dealerships; the separate brand was discontinued in 1962.


1960 Frontenac
A recent acquisition of the museum is this Frontenac, a separate Canadian Ford marque, which was built in 1960 in my hometown of Oakville, Ontario.  The Oakville Assembly Complex opened in 1953 and currently builds SUVs.  The Frontenac, a version of the Ford Falcon with a revised grille, taillights and external trim that included red maple leaves, was meant to provide Mercury dealers with a compact car to sell.  It was produced for just one model year and while 9,536 Frontenacs were built in 1960 in various body styles, only are believe to remain today.

1925 Ford TT Tanker
In 1925 Ford sold one quarter of a million commercial vehicles, providing chassis that were used for a variety of purposes.  The museum vehicle was a tanker used by the British American Oil Company for the delivery of petroleum products.  Although somewhat improved over the first Model Ts, this large truck nonetheless still used that vehicle's 20 hp four cylinder engine.  Price for the chassis alone from Ford was $365.

1957 Dodge Regent 2 Door Hardtop
Another car available exclusively in the Canadian market was the Dodge Regent, which was basically an American Plymouth with a Dodge front end, and first launched in 1951.  In 1956 the Regent, assembled in Windsor, Ontario, was the most popular model built in Canada, with sales of 17,000, and that year Dodge production in Canada reached a highwater mark of 50,000. This car is equipped with a Powerflite pushbutton automatic transmission, which was introduced in 1956.

Cars of the 1950s sold in Canada
1908 De Dion- Bouton Roadster
This interesting little French car came from a company that was, in 1900, the world's largest auto manufacturer.  Unfortunately, there was no sign providing information about the car, which apparently was another vehicle in the McDougald collection, and it is not even clear if it was a 1908 or 1911 model.  De Dion-Bouton, which was formed in 1883, commenced by building steam cars but began to switch to internal combustion in 1894, although continuing to build steam vehicles until 1904.  The company's products were noted for their quality and durability but the firm entered a decline after World War I and ceased building passenger cars in 1932.

1928 Hudson Sedan (left)
Hudsons were built in Detroit from 1909 to 1954, were aimed at the mid-price market, and generally powered by straight six engines.  The example at the museum seems noteworthy only in that the owner of the car was unwilling to part with it when buying a new car and instead knocked a hole in a wall and stored the car in a ground floor bedroom of his house.  This accounts for the car's excellent original condition.

1912 Wolseley
Established as a motor car manufacturer in Birmingham, England, in 1901, Wolseley was the largest British carmaker prior to the First World War, building 3,000 cars by 1914.  A sales and service office was opened in Toronto in 1912 and Wolseleys were imported to Canada until 1920 but never sold in the United States.

1952 Vauxhall Wyvern Station Wagon
This oddity was produced by the British GM subsidiary Vauxhall to the order of Col. Sam McLaughlin, who used it at his vacation home in Bermuda.  Its custom body, by the Grosvenor Carriage Co., compressed the overall length of the car to bring it into conformity with Bermuda's regulations on the maximal allowable length for motor vehicles.

1931 Gardner Phaeton

Also jammed into the back row of the museum was this handsome Gardner Phaeton, car more interesting than the terse description on the sign suggests.  Russell Gardner, originally a poor boy from Tennessee, had gone into the buggy business in St. Louis, Missouri, but recognized the coming thing in the automobile.  He began building Chevrolet bodies and by 1915 was manufacturing complete cars in his St. Louis factory, controlling all Chevrolet trade west of the Mississippi.  Gardner sold his Chevrolet interests to GM in 1917 but was to re-enter the car business in 1919 with the establishment of the Gardner Motor Company with his two sons.  The first Gardners were produced in 1920 and were a superior example of the "assembled car."  All Gardners used Lycoming engines until production ended in 1931, another company felled by the Depression but which lasted longer than most assembled car builders. There had been an attempt to develop a prototype of a six cylinder front wheel drive car and discussions about possibly producing the Ruxton car for New Era Motors but these measures came to nothing. Gardners are qualified as "Full Classics" by the Classic Car Club of America. They used the best components available (such as four wheel hydraulic brakes when these were a rarity) and were handsomely styled for mid-priced cars, this one selling for around $2,500.  The museum's example was apparently purchased by the son of the Gardner dealer in Oshawa.

1911 Cartercar L Touring Car
Another car I would have liked to get a closer look at was this Cartercar, another oddity from the early days of motoring.  Byron J. Carter established his company in Jackson, Michigan, but soon moved to Pontiac due to favourable financing for his project.  In 1906 production began of the Cartercar, with its novel friction drive transmission, which used paper (!) discs to allow an infinite selection of gear ratios, a forerunner to the modern CVT transmission.  By 1907 sales had reached a heady height of 264 cars when Billy Durant swept in and bought the company to add to his rapidly expanding General Motors portfolio.  Sales never reached the expected levels and following Durant's ouster from GM in 1909 and before his temporarily triumphant return to the company in 1915, the GM board had decided to end Cartercar production and switch the factory in Pontiac to the manufacture of Oakland cars.

There is a footnote to this: there is an established but apparently apocryphal story that the invention of the electric starter was due to the death of Byron J. Carter in 1908 following injuries resulting from a gallant attempt to hand crank a stalled car for a lady,  Carter was a friend of Henry Leland, the founder of Cadillac, who was apparently distraught that his friend had died while attempting to start (even worse) a Cadillac and asked Charles Kettering of DELCO to come up with a solution.  This is supposed to have resulted in the electric starter, which appeared on Cadillacs in 1912. Although the story is constantly repeated, there appears to be no basis in fact as Kettering had already been working on the electric starter prior to Carter's accident.


1971 Manic GT
This unusual Canadian sports car was produced in Granby, Quebec.  It is named after the Manicouagan River in Quebec and not the psychiatric condition--company founder Jacques About was unaware of the English meaning of the word, although in French it is pronounced "Man-EEK." About, who had been Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's martial arts instructor, was a public relations manager for Renault in Canada.  There had been consideration given to importing the Renault Alpine 110 sports car to Canada and when this did not happen, About set about on his own to build a car using Renault running gear and a fiberglass body.  Funding was obtained from sources in Quebec in government and industry and a factory established.  The car offered light weight and very good handling, with advanced steering, suspension and brakes for the day.  Unfortunately, Renault parts delivery was slow and unreliable and the car was priced so that it was not competitive with the popular Ford Mustang.  It is estimated that 135-160 cars were built between 1969 and 1971.


1965 Amphicar Model 770
In production in West Germany from 1960 until 1965, but marketed until 1968, the Amphicar was an amphibious vehicle of modest performance.  It was powered by a 1100 cc. Triumph engine producing 43 hp, although some later cars had slightly more powerful motors installed, and the engine found continued application in the Triumph Spitfire sports car. 3,878 Amphicars were produced and remain an appealing novelty.


1903 Redpath Messenger
This Redpath, with a runabout style body popular in the pre-WW I era, was built in Kitchener, Ontario, where it was thought that the region's growing prosperity would boost sales.  The lack of skilled machinists increased costs and doomed the project, which was taken over by a Mr. Robinson who had supplied bodies for the cars.  He continued to work on the cars in his shop in Toronto and may have even assembled a few (no more than three) before going to work for the McLaughlin Motor Car Company.  He retained ownership of this car, the sole surviving Redpath, until his death in 1962.


1908 Tudhope-McIntyre
The successful Tudhope Carriage Company of Orillia, Ontario, went into the car business in 1908, striking a partnership with W.H. McIntyre of Auburn, Indiana, in which the Canadians would import the mechanical parts and build the wooden bodies in their factory.  This "high-wheeler" style vehicle was popular for driving on unimproved rural roads and the Tudhope (essentially a McIntyre with some extra styling flourishes) was popular due its quality construction.  However, in 1909 the Tudhope factory burned down and while it was back in operation the following year an attempt to build the 30 hp four cylinder Everitt car under license did not succeed due to mechanical problems and a shortage of capital.  Tudhope stopped building cars in 1913, but, surprisingly, the carriage operation continued to thrive into the 1920s.



1923 Rauch & Lang Electric Brougham
In 1911 the McLaughlin company gained distribution rights for the expensive Rauch & Lang electric car of Cleveland, Ohio, but following the invention of the electric starter, which appeared a year later on Cadillacs, the company quickly lost interest in the Rauch & Lang.  The example here was produced in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, where the company built its cars from 1920 until the end of manufacture in 1932.

1930 Marquette 30-30 2 Door Sedan
Displayed here as a "barn find" car, this Marquette was built in Oshawa.  The brand was meant to be a lower-priced "companion car" to Buick, analogous to Pontiac and Oakland, or LaSalle and Cadillac, but the Great Depression put a rapid end to this plan and the Marquette was phased out after only one model year.

1929 McLaughlin 29 5 Passenger Touring Car
 Although powered by Buick engines, the Canadian-made McLaughlins (interchangeably referred to as McLaughlin-Buicks) featured more elaborate finishes and stylistic touches than their American counterparts.  This four cylinder 4 cylinder 30 hp open car would have retailed for $1,530.

1915 Chevrolet 490 Touring Car
Designed as a direct competitor of the Ford Model T, this Chevrolet was christened after its base price of US$490.  Recognizing its importance, Col. McLauglin persuaded William Durant of GM that the car should be built by his company in Canada, which meant ending the McLaughlin connection to carriage building to make space for the new technology.  Production was underway in late 1915 and the museum car is one of 347 built that year in Oshawa.  By 1916, production was up to 7,500 cars.  Interestingly, the McLaughlin carriage interests, including the use of the name for some time, went to Tudhope in Orillia.


1918 Chevrolet 490 Snowmobile
This 490 was converted to a snowmobile by the North East Hope Telephone Company in the early 1930s to service their lines during the winter months.  A second axle was added to the rear and old tires and chain used to make tracks, while skis were made by simply cutting the front wheels in half and adding runners.


1937 REO Speed Delivery Express Truck
The REO Motor Car Company was founded in Lansing, Michigan, after Ransom E. Olds left Oldsmobile in 1905.  The company established a factory to manufacture trucks in St. Catherines, Ontario, in 1910, using a vacant Oldsmobile plant.  REO ended production of passenger cars in 1936 to concentrate on trucks, eventually becoming part of the White truck manufacturing enterprise.  In 1937 REO built only seven half ton pickup trucks in Canada and the museum's example is believe to be the only one extant.




1910 McKay Roadster
The McKay Brothers began producing cars in Kentville, Nova Scotia, using imported American engines by Buda, in 1910.  The cars were high quality and priced to compete with other luxury brands of the day, such as Packard.  The McKay car was based on the American Penn car produced in Pittsburgh from 1910 until 1912.  Invited by local boosters to relocate to Amherst, Nova Scotia, a booming railroad town, with the offer of cheap land and low taxes, the McKays built a factory there and production was underway by 1914. However, the building cost more than expected and by 1914 the company was in serious financial straits and closed after producing around 200 cars.  It appears that at least two McKays survive, contrary to the sign in the museum which suggests theirs is the sole remaining one.

1911 International Harvester Commercial Car
1924 Gray Dort 23B Special Touring Car
Another carriage maker looking to get into the car business was William Gray and Sons of Chatham, Ontario.  They made arrangements with the Dort Motor Company of Flint, Michigan, for a transfer of technology and became one of Canada's more successful car manufacturers.  Gray Dort became the largest employer in Chatham with 800 workers at its height but when the American company was liquidated in 1924 when J. Dallas Dort, a former partner of William C. Durant and head of the firm, retired, Gray Dort found itself unable to sell cars due to the loss of confidence and access to technology.  It ended its own production that year amid rising losses, after having built 26,000 cars.



1925 Brooks Steamer Sedan
Any new industry throws up all kinds of get-rich-quick operators but one of the odder ones has to be the saga of the Brooks Steam Motors Ltd., formed by Oland J. Brooks, a US financier resident in Toronto after 1920.  The company showed a steam car, modeled after the already-obsolete Stanley pattern in 1923 and the Canadian National Exhibition and an agreement was reached to manufacture the car in a former threshing machine factory in Stratford, Ontario.  The era of steam cars was essentially over at this point (unless one includes the hyper-expensive and commercially unsuccessful albeit technically advanced Doble cars) and it appears that Brooks, who sold shares in his company door-to-door, was less interested in producing cars than getting cash.  The Brooks accelerated slowly and even then could only reach a top speed of 35 mph.

There were grandiose plans, including building steam buses at a plant in Buffalo, NY, as well as export sales to the UK.  Production claims were fraudulent and it is believed that Brooks siphoned off $2 million of the $4 million raised, although it is estimated that around 180 cars were actually built before operations ended in receivership in 1929.



1926 Willys-Overland Whippet Coupe
The Whippet, introduced in 1926, was the budget marque of the Willys auto empire, which from 1912 to 1918 was the second-largest manufacturer of automobiles in the United States after the Ford Motor Company.  Stylish and surprisingly advanced little cars which were successful in their four cylinder rather than six cylinder variants, the Whippet was produced until 1931.  Production in Canada took place in the former Russell Motor Car Co. plant in Toronto, which Willys-Overland had acquired in 1915, and the Toronto plant built both right- and left-hand drive cars for the British Empire market.

The Whippet in the museum is a recreation of the first Speedy Auto Glass service vehicle.  Speedy Glass is a major chain operating in Canada and the United States.  Its founder Bernard Kliger established the company in Toronto in 1928 and modified his Whippet to serve as a workshop on wheels, converting the rumble seat into a utility box, with glass stored behind the seats.

1927 Dodge Brothers Model A 
John and Horace Dodge began their careers manufacturing bicycles in Windsor, Ontario, before relocating to Detroit and become the most important suppliers to Henry Ford.  They eventually moved into manufacturing their own cars in 1914 and quickly became the fourth largest automaker in the United States.  In March 1924 Dodge Brothers (Canada) began assembling cars in a plant on Dufferin Street in Toronto but relocated to Windsor following purchase of the company by Walter Chrysler in 1928.

1928 Durant Sedan
From Autos.ca: Durant Motors of Canada was established in 1921 to manufacture American-based Durant and Star cars under licence from Durant Motors Inc. This American company had been formed by General Motors founder William “Billy” Durant in 1921 after he was deposed as the head of GM for the second and last time in 1920.
Durant Motors prospered for several years in Canada, assisted by being the exporter of all Durant products to British Empire countries where Canada got more favourable tariff treatment than the United States. Although by the late 1920s the fortunes of the American company began to flag, Durant Motors of Canada continued to prosper under the leadership of its very capable president Roy Kerby.
Durant managed to hold on in the U.S. until 1932 when the Depression and the competition forced it out of the car business. Enough Canadian capital was found to take over the Canadian operation in 1931. It was renamed Dominion Motors Ltd. and obtained the rights to continue building Durant-based cars and Rugby trucks.
And finally:

Full scale model of Lightning McQueen, star of "Cars" 
While the Canadian Automotive Museum has no Corvettes or association with them, the museum does exhibit Lightning McQueen, the anthropomorphic stock car from the Pixar movie "Cars" and its several sequels.  The creators have described the car as being a combination of a stock car with a more curvaceous LeMans racer, with some Lola and Ford GT40 thrown in.  There is no question in my mind that there is considerable C6 Corvette influence, particularly when viewed from the front.  The C6 came onto the market in 2005, the year before “Cars” was released.

The Canadian Automotive Museum has an excellent collection of interesting cars but suffers from facilities that are cramped and poorly-lit.  Signage is a mixed bag but the museum is soliciting help in making the signage more attractive, professional and informative.  A new curator was hired a few years ago and it is to be hoped that his energy will help the museum.  It is sad to consider that General Motors, which purchased the McLaughlin operations in Oshawa in 1918, announced 100 years later the closure of the Oshawa Assembly Plant, once one of the largest car assembly plants in the world, at the end of 2019.  The story of cars in Canada is an interesting one and more can be found here.