Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Visit to the Stahls Automotive Foundation, Chesterfield, Michigan, August 1, 2017--Part 1

When visiting the Eyes on Design show at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford Estate in June 2016, we saw some cars that had been brought from a museum in Michigan, including the Cord speedster replica that was the poster car subject of the show, and met staff from the Stahl Museum who were there to talk about the cars.  We were given a museum brochure and decided to include a stop there on one of our Corvette trips.

So after visiting the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners in July 2018, we drove to Flint, Michigan for our overnight stay before going to the Stahl Automotive Museum in Chesterfield the next day.  Flint was the original home of Buick as well as the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, where General Motors founder William C. Durant had his big start in business.  Flint was also the subject of "Roger and Me," the first documentary produced by filmmaker Michael Moore, and showed the decline of Moore's hometown as General Motors closed operations there.

Durant-Dort Carriage Company Factory One (GM photo)
General Motors has restored the original Durant-Dort factory in Flint as an archive and research library, open to all.  Its material includes Billy Durant's papers as well documentation from other GM figures and items related to the carriage business and the early auto industry in the Flint area.

Flint is also the home of US Speedo, a firm that produces customized gauge faces for cars and does speedometer repair work.  We had seen their gauge faces in Corvette supply catalogues and considered ordering a set but learned that the company would install them at its premises in Flint (and at a lower cost than the faces alone from the retail supplier).  When we saw that US Speedo was only 1 mile from our hotel in Flint, arrangements were made and after 45 minutes we drove off with beautiful silver gauge faces in our car.

Our US Speedo Dayton Edition Custom Gauge Face in Silver
Chesterfield, Michigan, is near the shore of Lake St. Clair and the drive from Flint took us just over an hour.  The Stahl collection is only open a total of 17 hours a month to visitors, with admission on Tuesdays from 1:00-4:00 pm, and on the first Saturday of each month from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm so we had organized our trip to ensure we would be there on one of those rare days (a Tuesday, in this case).  The museum is run by the Stahl Automotive Foundation, whose declared goal is stated on the museum's website: 
The Stahls Automotive Foundation was created to build an appreciation for history. Our mission is to educate, motivate and inspire young people with a passion and appreciation for vintage vehicles and help them to understand their contribution to the development of the car industry as well as their impact on society, history and everyday life.
In addition to the very limited opening hours, arrangements can be made to tour the museum for school groups.  It does not appear that the Foundation undertakes research or publication and no academics are listed on staff so it is more in the nature of a collection with tax-exempt status than a true museum.  The Foundation was established by Ted Stahl, whose business is a multinational enterprise in the textile printing field, and the museum opened in 2005.

We arrived a bit early and a good crowd had already assembled in the parking lot. The Stahl Foundation is housed in an industrial park in a tidy building.  The doors opened promptly at 1 pm and we noticed that there were many enthusiastic volunteers present.  Admission is free although donations are welcomed.

On entering the carpeted lobby, the visitor not only sees some interesting cars but also an amazing selection of mechanical musical instruments.  In addition to the more than 80 cars owned by the Foundation, it boasts a truly marvelous collection of these pre-jukebox entertainment devices.  They were a feature of dancehalls and cafes in France and Belgium until the 1930s and are beautifully-crafted and quite brilliant from a technological standpoint.  Their size and complexity makes them 

Lobby of the Stahl Automotive Foundation
The first two cars we saw are quite unusual.  The museum houses (but does not often display) a replica of the 1886 Daimler Prototype vehicle.  Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, a year after testing their "Reitwagen," a gasoline engine-powered motorcycle, purchased an American Model coach made by Wilhelm Wimpf and Son and installed a 1.1 hp engine in it.  This four wheeled vehicle became the first horseless carriage to achieve a speed of 16 km/h.

1886 Daimler Prototype replica

1939 Ford Midget Racer
 A recent acquisition was on display as well.  This was a midget racer resembling a Miller Indianapolis racer and was constructed by Ford employees for Henry Ford's grandson, William Clay Ford, for his 14th birthday in 1939 (or, possibly, for his 11th birthday in 1936).  It was powered by a British Ford Model C engine and was capable of 85 mph, although William Clay Ford claimed to have reached 100 mph on the Ford test track in Dearborn.  The car was on display at the Henry Ford Museum for many years before being sold into private hands in the 1980s.

1901 Winton Runabout
 By 1899 Alexander Winton's Cleveland company was America's largest manufacturer of motor vehicles, with 100 car produced that year.  This 8 hp single cylinder runabout was priced at $1,200 and was not so different from the touring car that was the first automobile to cross the United States, a trip accomplished in 1903.  Winton left auto manufacturing in 1924 but continued to manufacture marine and stationary engines.  A successor company, Electro-Motive, continues in business to this day as a subsidiary of Caterpillar, Inc.

The Winton was purchased by a restorer in 1989 in Arizona as an intact chassis with an original, albeit in poor condition, body, along with an incomplete replica body.  The car was restored with the new body but using the original chassis, engine and fenders.  The odometer attached to the rear when the car was dismantled showed that it had only been driven 300 miles in all.

And now on to the mechanical musical instruments!  (Note: the text descriptions are taken directly from the Stahls' own placards)

1940s Wurlitzer Jukebox
Mortier Cafe Organ (1930)
This instrument was a self-contained unit designed to play background music or dance music in European cafes and dance halls in the early 20th century. Made in Antwerp Belgium by Theofiel Mortier .SA in 1930, this particular organ was known as the “style 51” and came in an Art Deco case. This is one of two known examples of this façade style.

There are approximately 600 pipes and percussion traps, this would have originally played from rigid cardboard books with hole perforations, like a player piano roll. When this unit was completely restored in 2000 it was also fitted with MIDI control, allowing more modern music to be played than was produced by Mortier in 1930.

Classic hotel bar reconstructed at the Stahls Museum
Mills Deluxe Violino-Virtuoso (c. 1924)

This instrument was built in Chicago by the Mills Novelty Co. This particular instrument was known as the “shipboard model” as it uses springs in locations where standard units use weights. This instrument uses spinning discs of rosin to play the violin strings, each driven separately. The piano is mounted behind the violins, and because there is no direct mechanical linkage to the strings, as with traditional pianos Mills arranged the strings in a symmetrical pattern to distribute the tension load of the strings evenly.

This particular example also is equipped with manual-play features: Soft, Sostuneto and Sustain pedals located at the bottom of the cabinet and two keyboards that slide out from the lower cabinet compartment to allow manual playing of the violins.

Hupfeld Phonoliszt-Violina (c. 1926)
This instrument is thought to be the most human-like of all automatic musical instruments. This was manufactured by Ludwig Hupfeld A.G. of Leipzig Germany. Three vertically mounted violins, arranged in a semicircle are played by a rotating bow having 1344 individual strands.

The action of this instrument is entirely pneumatic, an electric motor operates a vacuum pump, motive action for all other functions is created by use of vacuum. Individual mechanical “fingers” made of steel, with wooden pads having leather pads simulate the texture of human fingers to fret the individual notes. The violins can play at varying degrees of volume from soft to loud, and can play with a vibrato when called upon by the roll. The piano is expressive, having the ability to play from soft to loud as well.

These instruments were popular in European cafes and restaurants; they provided background music in the age before electronic amplification. Their sheer size saw the destruction of many of the instruments as they fell out of use, making survivors like this very rare.

Hofbauer Organs
Carl Hofbauer founded his company in 1923 in Bavaria to specialize in the production of organ pipes.  After the upheavals of World War II, the company moved to Göttingen under the direction of the founder's son and restarted production in 1946.  The company still operates under the direction of the founder's daughter-in-law.  The Stahls collection includes a fine street organ, the Model 54 (above), as well as a example of the Model 26 Harmonipan (below).  Both examples are equipped with modern digital control units.

Porter Twin Disc Music Box
The Porter Music Box Company of Randolph, Vermont, continues to offer old-time mechanical music boxes, including the twin disc version.

Fortune-telling automaton (left); 1940s Wurlitzer jukebox (right)
1923 Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ
The Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ installed in the Stahl Museum has its origins in the instrument the Wurlitzer factory built for its founder. The console and select sets of pipes were from the Wurlitzer mansion in Cincinnati Ohio. Built in 1923, there was no record of this instrument ever having been sold; it was never invoiced to the family!
Wurlitzer was the premier manufacturer of Theatre Pipe Organs, from 1915-1940 they made over 2,500 of them, these instruments were the voice of the silent film.
In 1999 the instrument was re-designed and enlarged to be a complete concert grade theatre organ, the new specification was made by theatre organist Lyn Larsen, utilizing select ranks (sets) of pipes from many 1920s vintage Wurlitzers. The organ was completely rebuilt by master restorer Ken Crome, and installed in the Milhous Museum in Boca Raton Florida. The Crome Organ Company installed the organ in the Stahl Museum.
The organ has three keyboards, 23 sets of pipes ranging from Trumpets and Saxophones with brass resonators (horns), Violins, Viols, Flute, Clarinet, Tuba, Oboes and other orchestral instruments, 1,524 pipes and 208 tuned percussion notes in total. The percussion section includes a Marimba, Xylophone, Glockenspiel, Chimes, Celesta, Vibraphone, Piano and tuned Sleigh Bells. “trap” Percussions include Snare Drum, Cymbals, Castanets, Tambourines, as well as silent movie sound effects like bird whistles, Door Bells, Surf, Slide Whistle, Locomotive Whistle and of course—auto horn! 
1924 Mortier 97 Key Dance Organ
This  instrument was designed to supply dance music in European dance halls, with a heavy beat and loud volume! These instruments were made in a modular fashion, comprised of five cabinets and side and top dress panels that came apart for transport. This particular instrument was moved and set up at 17 different fairs every year in its native Belgium.
By far the most impressive the Stahl musical machines, this mammoth organ played originally by way of “Books”, stiff cardboard sheets hinged at the edges, with perforations, like a player piano roll. A Modern MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) unit was added at the time of its restoration to save wear and tear on the rare books and to allow for music from more recent times to be played on this instrument. Master Belgian organ builder Johnny Verbeek completely restored this instrument and added the MIDI player. Many of the more modern tunes heard from it are his own arrangements.
In addition to the interesting collection of mechanical music machines, all of which were set up to actually play tunes, the Stahls Museum also has an excellent collection of motoring mascots on display.

Lalique Crystal Hood Ornaments
Leaving the lobby, we then entered the main area of the museum and its very impressive collection of cars, with examples from the Brass Era to the Muscle Car Era.  The building is also home to an excellent selection of gas pumps, signs and memorabilia.

Polly Gas Pump
Polly Gas memorabilia is quite rare today.  It was the brand name for the Wilshire Oil Company based in Los Angeles and used from the 1930s until the 1950s.

1948 Tucker Sedan
Preston Tucker (1903-1956) was an entrepreneur and car designer. Early in life he had been an office boy at Cadillac Motors, ran a gas station, was a policeman, and settled into a sales career with many car dealerships, selling Stutz, Chrysler, Piece-Arrow, and Dodge cars. His fascination with racing led to a partnership with famed race car engineer Harry Miller in Indianapolis.

As World War II ended there was a pent-up demand for new cars, Tucker realized his dream of starting his own car company, offering a car very different from the warmed-over pre-war designs of established car companies. Tucker was a salesman, and had a lot of interesting, highly advanced ideas that his small organization with tenuous funding had no realistic hope of producing. The 1948 Tucker sedan did manage to feature many of his more reasonable, achievable ideas; a safety frame that deflected from a collision rather than absorb the force and also protected passengers in a side impact, a powerful rear engine adapted from a helicopter power plant that could propel the car to 100 mph with ease. The front passenger area was designed to be a “crash zone” that passengers could climb into if a crash was imminent, a roll bar built into the roof, and a laminated windshield was designed to pop out in a collision.

Just 51 of the Tucker sedans were produced before the company was forced to halt production, of those 51, 47 survive today, and are considered one of the rarest and most desirable collector cars today. The example seen here was purchased by the Stahls Foundation in 2008 from a museum in Stone Mountain Georgia. It was completely restored by Classic and Exotic Service in Troy Michigan and is considered to be the best example of a Tucker sedan today. In 1987 famed director Francis Ford Coppola, himself a Tucker collector made a movie of the Tucker Story, “Tucker, the Man and His Dream”. This car was one of 22 Tuckers assembled for the production of this movie.

1948 Tatra T87
The Tatra T87 was introduced in 1936 as the successor to the T77, the world's first aerodynamic rear-engined car.  Highly innovative, the T87, designed by Hans Ledwinka, was very influential and aspects of the design can be seen in cars as diverse as the Volkswagen Beetle and the Tucker 48.  The very efficient T87 was powered by a 3 litre 85 hp V8 and had performance equivalent to cars with much larger engines.  The car was manufactured until 1950, with total production having reached 3,056.  In wind tunnel testing in 1979, a Tatra was found to have a drag coefficient of 0.36.

1919 Meisenhelder Custom
Roy M. Meisenhelder's Sheet Metal, Auto and Body Works, based in York, PA, was in business from 1919 through 1924. They were primarily a coachbuilder and did body repairs. They produced four cars based on the Paige chassis. This is the only known remaining example. A unique automobile featuring a roadster body, V-shaped custom radiator, unique built-in running lights, custom split windscreen, cast-alloy running boards with running board seats, three spare tires, rear mounted trunk and a host of unusual items that Roy cast himself. Those items included hubcaps, interior trim rims, lanterns and bumper brackets. 

Many of the original casting molds used still exist, and are displayed with the car. It was owned by a collector in York, PA, until the Stahls purchased the car in 2008.  This roadster was built on a 1919 Paige Model 6-40 roadster with a 117” wheelbase.  The body was discarded and the chassis cut in half and stretched it by almost 2 feet, bringing the wheelbase to 140”.  Apparently Meisenhelder hoped his concept cars would attract investors to go into series production but this never happened.

1931 Cord L-29 "LaGrande" Speedster Reproduction
We were very impressed with this car when we first saw it at the "Eyes on Design" car show in June 2016 in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan, where it was the featured car for the event's poster that year.

Introduced in 1929, the new Front Wheel Drive Cord L-29 featured a low silhouette on a 137.5” wheelbase. The sleek boat-tail speedster design was introduced to the public in January, 1931 to motivate additional sales. The car’s design elements included aircraft inspired “pontoon fenders”, a steeply-raked v-shaped windshield and streamlined teardrop-shaped covers on the door hinges. The finished car was introduced as the “LaGrande” Speedster. Following the New York Salon, the “La Grande” was shown in Toronto, Canada and then toured Cord dealerships in North America. It was returned to the factory to be freshened for a trip to France where it received a first place award at the Paris Concours d’Elegance. Over a period of time and many showings the vehicle disappeared and was lost to time. This car is a reproduction built by a group of engineers in California using original Cord parts. There is another such reproduction at the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, Indiana, so there are twice as many reproductions as original cars!

1931 Packard Model 840 Custom Eight Phaeton

The 1931 Packard line consisted of 8 cylinder vehicles only. The less expensive model, the Standard Eight, featured a 319 cubic inch 120 hp engine that was mounted on a 126 or 133 inch wheelbase. The expensive model was the Custom Eight or 840 series which was powered by a 384 cubic inch engine mounted on either a 140 or 145 inch chassis. Approximately 8,000 Custom Eight models were produced that year as opposed to nearly 16,000 Standard Eight models. The model for 1931 featured a four-speed transmission which was used in 1931 only. This Phaeton would have retailed for $4375.

1932 Chrysler CL Imperial
Walter Percy Chrysler founded the Chrysler Automobile Company in 1924. Chrysler was the first affordably built automobile to use four-wheel hydraulic brakes and have a body that was constructed of welded steel as opposed to most automobile bodies that were framed in wood. By 1932, Chrysler was offering four different models and the Model CL was the top of the line luxury car. The CL models were powered by inline eight-cylinder engines of 125 hp and had custom bodies built by the coach building firm of LeBaron.

Only two hundred Model CL Chryslers were built in 1932 in three body styles--a Convertible Sedan, Dual Cowl Phaeton, and, in the case of the display car, a Convertible Roadster, the least expensive of the CL line at $3,295. The wire spoke wheels were on all Imperials rather than the wooden spoke wheels that were standard on other Chryslers.

1930 Packard Model 745 Deluxe Eight Phaeton
Introduced in August 1929, the Packard Seventh Series saw a new four-speed transmission used (although only for three years as the additional low gear was seldom needed) and fifteen designs were offered in the Individual Custom line, with six from LeBaron, five from Brewster and two each from Rollston and Dietrich.  1,789 examples of the 745, with its 384 cu in engine of 106 hp, were built in the 1930 model year.  This rare Sport Phaeton was built on the extra-long 146 inch wheelbase chassis and cost $4,885 new.

1932 Stutz DV-32 Sedan

Stutz was a fading operation and only 1,500 cars were built between 1930 and 1934, with only 120 cars leaving the factory in the year this example was built. Although Stutz had made its name in racing, the decision was made to enter the high-end luxury car market in 1926, and a new line of models were introduced featuring an improved eight cylinder engine, low slung chassis, and product refinements to accommodate after-market, custom body installations. High performance V8, V12 and V16 engines were introduced into this market by Lincoln, Cadillac, Packard and Marmon but Stutz lacked funds to directly compete. As an alternate move, Stutz re-designed its existing engine in 1931 by adding twin overhead cams plus 4-valve cylinder heads. The revised engine was designated as the DV-32 with a 156 hp rating. This handsome sedan, in one of some 20 body styles offered, was a LeBaron design, and would have cost over $5,000.

1930 Cadillac V16 Phaeton Series 452

The first V16 engine in the industry appeared when Cadillac introduced its 452 cu.in. 175 hp unit in 1930. V16 Cadillacs were offered in 50 (!) body styles, although many were minor variations. Only one-fifth were open cars, such as this Four Door All Weather Phaeton, which weighed in at a hefty 5,690 lbs and cost a hefty $6,650. It features a body by Fleetwood that was made in Pennsylvania as that company began to shift operations after its acquisition by Fisher. The V16 production run began in January 1930 and 3,251 cars were sold that year

1934 Duesenberg Model J Arlington Sedan

The famous Duesenberg Model J was introduced in December of 1928 at the New York Automobile Show. The car was designed to be the mightiest car ever built in America and that reputation still remains true today. The advanced straight-eight engine of 401 cu. in. produced 320 hp and featured dual overhead camshafts.

The Duesenberg Model J was also the most expensive car built in America with prices ranging from $10,000. to $20,000 during a period when a brand new Ford was less than $600. and the average American home was $4,000. All Duesenbergs carried bodies that were built by custom coachbuilders. The car on display is a Four Door Arlington Sedan by Derham.

1934 Packard Super Eight Series 1104 Coupe Roadster

At the time this car was built, Packard was continuing to weather the Great Depression and five thousand cars were built in that model year. This Super Eight was built in September 1933 and was one of the early 1934 models produced in Packard's Eleventh Series. It features an elegant Coupe Roadster body that was designed by Ray Dietrich as part of Packard's in-house line and the car would have cost $3,070.

1934 Pierce-Arrow Model 1240-A Silver Arrow
Pierce-Arrow was a manufacturer of luxury cars located in Buffalo New York. The name was synonymous with class and distinction; Pierce-Arrow was the “old money” brand in the teens, twenties and thirties.  The Depression hit the luxury brands particularly hard, after 1932-1933 sales of the very top brands became soft as wealthy buyers opted for more modest options in new cars. 

Pierce-Arrow developed a very limited production car called the “Silver Arrow” which featured a radically styled body—the fenders extended from their front peak all the way to the cowl, without the (then) traditional sweep downward to the running board. This styling feature also concealed the side mounted spare tires. Only five show cars were built when it was determined they could not be sold for less than $10,000 but Pierce-Arrow took some of the styling elements and applied them to its production cars, as is the case of this Model 1240-A Silver Arrow which sold for $3,495. It is thought that around 50 production cars were built in 1934-35, of which perhaps a dozen survive today. They were powered with Pierce's V12 engine of 175 hp and rode on 144 inch wheelbases.

1935 Pierce-Arrow Model 1245 Rumble Seat Convertible Coupe
After Studebaker's bankruptcy, Pierce-Arrow was once again in private hands and continued to offer high quality motorcars. January 2, 1935 saw the beginning of production of the Model 1245. Despite financial troubles, the federal government helped Pierce-Arrow keep its hopes alive in the gloomy days at that time by purchasing two limousines with bulletproof glass for J. Edgar Hoover. Pierce would go on to build a tiny 875 cars in 1935. From these 875, there was the option of the cars having 8-cylinders or 12-cylinders. These Model 1245 cars really incorporated some of the greatest Art Deco elements into its styling, from their headlights to their bumper to their long decorative hood vents. The Pierce-Arrows powerful engine drew in so much attention that it eventually became the engine that would power Seagrave fire engines up until 1981.

The 1935 Model 1245 was powered by a 462 cubic-inch, seven main bearing Pierce-Arrow twelve cylinder motor that developed 175 horsepower. Two wheelbases were available: 1939- and 144-inch. Its mechanical features included synchromesh transmission, safety glass in all windows and automatic choke.This Pierce-Arrow V-12 convertible coupe is one of less than ten built in 1934. With its one year only styling, this $3,395 car represents the finest Pierce-Arrow had to offer in the mid-1930s.

1934 Studebaker President Regal Roadster
Only five Studebaker President Regal Roadsters were built in 1934 and this car is believe to be the only one remaining.  The President line used a 110 hp inline eight cylinder engine displacing 250 cu.in. and the Regal Roadster was listed for $1,315.  This car was previously owned by the gentleman who invented the plastic grocery bag.

1937 Pierce-Arrow Travelodge Trailer
The Pierce Arrow Company was known for making luxury automobiles in Buffalo, New York between 1901 to 1938. During the mid-1930s automobile camping trips became a popular form of vacationing in America. As a result, Pierce Arrow built and sold a small amount of luxury trailers during this time prior to their demise. This example of a rare and desirable Pierce Arrow Travelodge retains all of its original furnishings and decorative items. It is believed that this trailer is one of twelve in existence today.

1939 Packard 1703 Convertible Victoria
Packard introduced a series of three distinctly different body styles late in 1939. These body styles were created by the noted California designer “Dutch” Darrin and became instant sensations. Built in very limited quantities, these bodies were designed with independent pontoon style fenders, reverse opening or “suicide” style doors, and v-shaped windshields with a dramatic rearward rake. The three body styles consisted of a convertible Victoria, a convertible sedan, and an enclosed four door sedan. These Darrin designed Packards were built from 1938 until 1942 and are among the most sought after of all Packards. This example, built in 1939, is likely one of the first Darrin-bodied Packards produced.

1940 Packard Convertible Victoria by Darrin
Given the times, it was inevitable that Packard would drop its expensive, slow-moving V12 (only 446 built for 1939). Thus, for 1940, Packard consolidated its assembly lines and began building the senior Packards, such as the 1940 Packard Darrin One-Eighty Victoria Convertible, alongside the junior cars. Replacing the V-12 was the Custom Super-8 One-Eighty. True, it cost $2,000 less than the V-12, but lest anyone think it didn't measure up, Packard, staged a race at its Proving Grounds, which the 160-horsepower straight eight won easily. It was, after all, America's most powerful production engine, save for the Cadillac V-16.

Style-wise, Packard maintained a conservative image, but Howard "Dutch" Darrin, noted designer of custom-built cars, had been adding pizazz to Packards since 1937. By 1939, Packard management had taken note, and so for 1940 two Packard Darrins were listed: a $6,332 Convertible Sedan and a Convertible Victoria for $4,593. The latter was advertised in the Saturday Evening Post as "Glamour Car of the Year! (Of course, it's a Packard)."

The Darrin Victoria gained its sporty looks from its cut down doors, raked windshield, sawed-off running boards, and lowered hood and grille. To its credit, the rakish Victoria went on to win "classic" status from the Classic Car Club of America. The ragtop Victoria quickly became a status symbol, catching the eye of more than one famous star. Drummer Gene Krupa, for example, bought one. So did Carol Lombard -- as a Valentine's Day present for her actor husband, Clark Gable. He had been busy during 1939 filming Idiot's Delight and playing the part of Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind, and perhaps it was for that immortal role that she bestowed upon him such a lavish gift.

Built in the old Connorsville, Indiana, Auburn plant, it is one of an estimated run of about 50.

1941 Graham Hollywood Supercharged Sedan
By 1940, the Graham Company of Detroit, Michigan was in deep financial troubles. They needed to redesign their current vehicle line but did not have the financial resources required to retool and produce new body dies. In an attempt to save their ailing business they worked out an arrangement with the nearly-defunct Huppmobile Company to build the Hupp Skylark and, with only some detail changes, the Graham Hollywood. The cars were to be produced using the body dies obtained from the E.L. Cord Company who used these dies to produce the famous Cord Beverly sedan bodies in 1936 and 1937. The Cords had been essentially hand-made and use of the body dies by Graham was fraught with problems. In spite of impressive interest in the now-rear wheel drive car, Graham did not manage to produce as many Skylarks/Hollywoods as Cord had built 810/812, albeit in only five months compared to two years for Cord. Build quality was poor and soon both Graham and Hupp were out of the car business.

1937 Packard Twelve 1507 Convertible Sedan
Packard returned to its V12 roots in 1932 with its second generation engine (the first having arrived in 1915) with 175 hp and 473 cu. in. The body was designed by Ray Dietrich and continued to be used by Packard even though the designer had already left the custom field by 1932. The Packard Twelve enjoyed its best sales year in 1937, with 1,300 cars finding buyers. The 5,345 lb Convertible Victoria was priced at $4,490 and was on Packard's longest 144 inch wheelbase chassis.

1937 Cord 812 Sportsman

Errett Lobban “E. L.” Cord produced automobiles under the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Company brand and the first Cord was introduced at the 1929 New York Automobile Show. Cord automobiles were the first American production car to feature front wheel drive. This 1937 Cord 812 Sportsman has a reverse mounted eight-cylinder Lycoming engine, which connects to a trans-axle which powers the front wheels through an ingenious arrangement of flexible shafts which allow the front wheels not only to power the automobile but steer as well. The Cord’s design by Gordon Buehrig, proved too advanced for the average automobile buyer and by 1938, Cord was no longer building automobiles.

1940 Packard 120 Station  Wagon
Sebastian S. Kresge, the dime-store king, bought a Packard One Twenty station wagon in 1940. The eight-cylinder One Twenty was the workhorse of the Packard sales line-up from 1935 to 1940. As Packard’s luxury line lost ground to Cadillac in the mid thirties, and both lost ground to changing times, Packard opened up a new market, producing the One Twenty. It may have compromised the prestige of the name “Packard”, but it also kept it alive and prosperous. 

Originally, the One Twenty was named for its wheelbase, 120 inches. The eight-cylinder engine produced 110bhp, and it had a top speed of about 85 mph. By 1940, the wheelbase was changed to 127 inches, but that year the horsepower was rated at 120, which was certainly fitting. Packard had flirted with the station wagon style on its junior cars in the middle of 1937, but production was crowded enough during the boom year, and the style was dropped. It was resurrected in 1940, when Packard had greater need to cater to market niches. Before the war, station wagons were a symbol of country life. They were rugged and inexpensive, but nonetheless they suggested relaxed wealth. But by the 1950’s, station wagons lost their panache and became the most middle-class of conveyances. One indication of this is the use of metal bodywork. 

When Kresge bought his Packard station sedan, “woodies” were made of wood: mahogany and ash, with oak trim in the interior. The company recommended that the paneling be sanded and freshly varnished once a year. This was considered a job for a servant. SS. Kresge bought his One Twenty station wagon to use on his 26-acre farm in Mountainhome, Pennsylvania, in the Pocono Mountains, not far from his birthplace. In 1953, Kresge donated the funds needed to build Kresge Hall at Harvard University’s School of Business. At the dedication ceremony, he was asked to speak. He approached the lectern and advised the students, “I never made a dime talking.” That was his whole speech. 

In the ‘50s, when Kresge’s five-and-dime stores evolved into the K-Mart empire, Kresge oversaw the change. He didn’t retire as chairman of the board until he was 98 years old. Kresge died in 1966 at the age of 99. His third wife, Clara Kresge sold the station wagon in 1974. At that time, it had 57,000 miles on the odometer. Stahls Automotive Foundation acquired the vehicle in 2000.

There were 28,138 vehicles built on the Packard 120 chassis, less than 100 of them were given the station wagon body and of that amount it is believed that fewer than 25 have survived today. Many of the “woodies” had rotted out.

1935 Chrysler Airflow C-1 Sedan
The Chrysler Airflow was a revolutionary attempt to introduced aerodynamics and lessons learned from aircraft construction into car manufacturing and design. It was one of the first cars to feature unibody construction and had greater interior space, better fuel efficiency and better safety features than contemporary but traditional cars. Nonetheless, the design was considered too extreme for the taste of the day and so the Chrysler Airflow and its Desoto sibling flopped in the marketplace.

1932 Cadillac Model 355B Convertible Coupe
This car, once owned by the former Design Vice President of the Cadillac Division of General Motors, is a fine example of the type of car that kept Cadillac afloat during the Depression. The company built 2,700 V8-powered vehicles in 1932, the same year the cars had been redesigned with lower chassis and revised body designs. This attractive car sold for $2,945

1933-34 Bud Lyons Hot Rod
This unique car was built in Los Angeles in Bud Lyons' Hollywood Boulevard shop and was commissioned by Theodore Koslov.  The car, with its totally handbuilt body, was constructed on what is thought to be a Duesenberg chassis shortened to a 100 inch wheelbase.  It was originally powered with a 1926 Duesenberg Model A straight eight engine but a subsequent owner replaced that with a Marmon V16.  In 1979 an extensive restoration of the car took place and another Duesenberg Model A engine was sourced for it.  One owner had considered putting the car into production at a cost of $15,000 but nothing came of the plan and the car remains unique.

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