Saturday, May 23, 2015

1906 Broadway Play "BEDFORD'S HOPE" Features A Race Between A Car And A Train

   In January of 1906, the latest technological wonder, the automobile, took on the stalwart symbol of transport, the train.
   Bedford's Hope was an old-fashioned melodrama with a new-fangled twist; instead of racing against time to save the damsel/home/ investment on foot or by horse, an automobile was integrated into the action, leading to a climactic race with everything on the line. Guess who won? Hint: The bad guys were on the train.
   Here's a local review from when the Broadway production went on the road to Fort Wayne, Indiana...

 Bedford's Hope Opens a Three Days' Engagement. No theatergoer can fail to be much entertained by the Play, "Bedford's Hope," which opened a three days' engagement at the Majestic theater last evening.; While the play hovers pretty closely about the melodramatic much of the time, and is certainly a thriller. It Is not an impossible play or a "blood and thunder" mixture. To the contrary, it's wholesome, exciting and interesting. The company is a fine one and the stage setting is unusual and a wonderful demonstration of stage mechanism. The race between an automobile and a locomotive in the third act has the chariot race in "Ben Hur" smashed to smithereens. One did not have to make heavy demands on his imagination to see the locomotive and the automobile move, neither did the wheels of the big engine seen in the distance, stand still. They moved. So did the automobile, clear across the stage with its excited occupants, who were riding to reach a certain bank and stop payment on a paper before the holder of that paper, who was on the train, could get there. There is considerable preliminary to the race, such as the cutting of telephone and telegraph wires to hinder the movements of the brother and sister, who finally win the race. There are two love threads binding the story together and considerable comedy. Character parts are particularly well acted. E. M. Kimball and Harry B. Robinson in the roles of Judge Fair and Long Pete made the fun of the play. George Staley, as William Bedford; owner of the old Pard Mine and fine, honest man; Walter Law,  his son, Harry Grifflth with a hidden past, and his, son, Abe, ably taken by Ogden Wright, each and all contribute greatly to the success of the play by their sterling acting. Emma Butler is easy and natural as Mrs. Merley, and Mary Servoss handles the part of Alice Bedford pleasingly"

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dissect A Dash: The 1937 Ford Daniel La Lee Streamliner

Here we have the Daniel La Lee Streamliner, built around 1937 on a Ford chassis, a one-of-a-kind homebuilt that looked like all the ideas of a Chrysler prototype design meeting glued together. 

A very slick and smooth surface reduced resistance by 50% (according to the designer), but the array of gauges in the dash had to have also reduced the drivers attention by at least that much behind the wheel. Even the brakes were operated from the dashboard!We have a banjo steering wheel, a couple of Duesenberg type panel slide switches, and also there is a 1936 Chevrolet speedo. 
And a ton of black-face Stewart Warner gauges! There's a 5000 tachometer, three (?) pressure gauges, two fuel gauges (again, ?), a start button on one side, a headlight switch, I think, on the other.

Here in the second picture, we have more pressure gauges, it looks like several oil and water temperature instruments, and more slide-switches, and pull-switches, and a single clock. Yes, just one.
Obviously, this car was designed for maximum visual impact, from bumper to bumper, and sometimes that's fun, like getting cherry ice cream instead of popular chocolate and vanilla. If every car was this over the top, I'd quit writing about them, but once in awhile, a car emerges from the foggy automotive past that's worth spending an extra few moments on, like this one. 
So enjoy this strange, once in a blue moon, dessert, it's a palate cleanser!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Hill and Davis Streamliner Cutaway Illustration - HOP UP Magazine, 1952

The City of Burbank streamliner was a record-breaking salt flats car that was sponsored by the California city. 

Built by Bill Davis and George Hill, it ran until 1955, when a patch of wet salt led to the racer flipping and crashing. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt.
Here's the record ledger for this legendary car, and a nice cutaway illustration from HOP UP magazine...

Records set by the Hill-Davis streamliner

venueyeardriversanctioning bodyclassdistancespeed (mph)
Bonneville SCTA Speed TrialsAug 1952George HillSCTAB/Sfl. mile230.16
Bonneville AAA Speed TrialsSep 1952George HillFIAIntl. A, I, Cfl. km226.898
Bonneville AAA Speed TrialsSep 1952George HillFIAIntl. A, I, Cfl. mile229.774
Bonneville AAA Speed TrialsSep 1952George HillAAANatl., Cst. km85.485
Bonneville AAA Speed TrialsSep 1952George HillAAANatl., Cst. mile104.01
Bonneville SCTA Speed TrialsAug 1955George HillSCTAB/Sfl. mile236.842

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dissect A Dash: The 1948 Tasco

The 1948 Tasco sits, like an orphaned puppy, in the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Mueseum, a prime example of too many ideas in one design.


Back in the early post-War years, manufacturers were attempting to establish what the new American public wanted in cars and other consumer goods. America was quickly becoming a "luxury" market, with the World's dominant economy and spending power. It was tough to keep up with the demand for housing, hard goods, and cars.

The Tasco (from The American Sports Car COmpany) was a stab at the upscale sports car market, combined with the excess of American luxury. The designer, Gordon Buehrig, had a hand in several beautiful Cord and Auburn designs, timeless classics, but when he swung for the fences on the Tasco, he whiffed. He even called the project "my Edsel".

The pontoon fender look was immediately dated, reminiscent of the 1930's, not the high-revving upcoming '50's. But one aspect was prescient.  The interior was highly influenced by modern airplane design, with levers and thrust-style composure. 

You could easily imagine you were in the cockpit of some sort of Cessna trainer, with it's engine-turned inserts and even a couple of actual plane gauge casings (lower right) to accent the resemblance. The other gauges are all Stewart Warner. The lower left tach pictured seems to be a later years replacement; it's a much later time period gauge.

Even the "three on the tree" shifter makes sense. There's something about that hand positioning that smacks of flying more than a floor shift does. Or maybe it's just me. But that's exactly what I would have done.

All in all, this is a shade above "novelty" or tribute. It's a car dash, but unique to this esthetic, and a worthy achievement for a designer with an incredible resume.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Dissect A Dash: The Bud Groner 1932 Ford Roadster (1953)

The Bud Groner Deuce roadster, as featured in this article from a 1953 issue of Speed Mechanics, was highlighted as a paragon of safety in the hot rod era, with protected car batteries, fuel shut-off valve, strengthened frame and other cutting-edge approaches.

But of course, the main attraction for this observer is the cockpit. It's a sweet custom panel, packed with Stewart Warner gauges.

To the right, of course, is the fuel shut-off valve, a rarity in a commercial cab. The panel surround is custom shape, very reminiscent of the 1933 Pierce...

1933 Pierce Arrow panel

The instruments, as mentioned, are all SW. The interesting aspect in this is that even though the new tachometer from SW was available, and this was a cutting edge hot rod, Bud went with an older style tach, a style standby from the 1940's, and purely mechanical. He chose it even though it's an obvious orphan style in that panel lineup.

The rest of the gauges seem to be all Wings-insignia, except perhaps the water temperature. The other switches and knobs (headlights, indicator lights) are all off to the left-hand side. 

All-in-all, it's a clean, classic look, with traditional touches, and a great example of mid-1950's hot rod styling.