Saturday, November 7, 2015

The 1948 Playboy

Perhaps there was another more appealing car that came along at the exact peak time that it's design was in demand, but unfortunately for the Playboy Motor Car Corporation, it couldn't capitalize on the public's enthusiasm for it's novel look, economical design and mechanics.

The car came to fruition in New York under the auspices of Louis Horwitz, Charles Thomas, and Norman Richardson. So confident were they in their creation that, despite having scant automotive production experience, they teamed up to fund the production through the granting of dealer franchise fees.

Unfortunately, their offering came hard on the heels of the Tucker scandal, and the resultant tide of investor skepticism cooled the influx of funding needed to bring the Playboy to the mainstream. The result was a run of less than a 100, a few neat brochures, and the unfilled promise of the right car, at the right time, but that still couldn't succeed.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Beautiful 1930's Illustrations of Roadsters roadstering

In my mind, this is where my long sleek mid-30's roadster is taking me, not the muddy Fairgrounds of a crappy swap-meet in October. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

1934 Ford Phaeton, Or 1935 Renault Nerva Phaeton

Seeing this vintage shot made me do a double take. Taken from a vintage French Auto magazine, at casual glance it seems to be a lightly-modified 1934 Ford Phaeton, but mais non! 
It's a 1935 Renault Nerva Phaeton, with suspiciously similar grille treatment. I have to admit, I think I'd take the Renault with it's big two-door treatment, and fender skirts. What do you think?

Friday, October 9, 2015

1935 Mercedes Grand Prix Car Dashboard

Here's a rare shot of a 1935 Mercedes Benz instrument panel set-up (a particular fetish of mine, as you know). Not the engine-turned surround, and no speedo, but they make sure there is an MBZ medallion there!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The 1935 Jean Bugatti Faux Cabriolet

I've touched on the tragedy of Jean Bugatti before, the scion of the Bugatti dynasty, who met a tragic fate testing out their latest Grand Prix racer on what they thought was a closed-off road.

His legacy as a designer is breathtaking. He also grew up on the factory floor, and often tuned and altered the race cars that his father's company produced. But he was always as concerned about the styling panache and the creature comforts of the Bugatti vehicle, knowing that his customer didn't just want to go fast, but to look good doing it.

Here are a couple of vintage, and rare, shots of the roll-down feature on a Jean Bugatti original, from a 1935 French auto magazine, and a nice color publicity shot from the time.  Enjoy the genius of elegant simplicity, by Jean.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Back From Vacation: The Salem Speed Shop

The best way to end my hiatus from the electronic world is to reach back to the Golden Age of hot-rodding, with one of the last of the original pioneers, Glen Volz.
 Glen founded his high-performance shop in 1950, and has lived through and participated in the hot rod racing business permutations since. From Bonneville to the drag strip to SCCA, Glen has had a hand in it all. His building is just like he is; outwardly a little worn, a bit old-fashioned, but the insides are filled with rare power and singular knowledge. 

Glen Volz and his 1950's era louver punch.

Built in the 1890's, used today.

 There have been other, in-depth features on Glen, like this one
but he has so many tales from his history, that everyone hears something new. I asked him about Harry Eyerly and his Bugatti rod, and he recounted the times that Harry pulled up to his shop and took him out for spins, or the time he was driving to Bend, when a Jaguar XK-120 passed him going the other way. Glen pulled a u-turn in his Ford hot rod, mashed it to the floor, but couldn't catch the Jag. A few years later, he had the chance to take Harry's Jag out for a test, and when he stepped on the gas... he was underwhelmed. He couldn't believe that this model British roadster had outrun his Ford, until he realized that the Jaguar beneath him hadn't stopped accelerating. The top end of that car was far beyond the capabilities of his low-geared, high compression flathead.

Here's a few more shots of his equipment (much of it vintage Army surplus).