Wednesday, April 10, 2013

One-Offs #1: Stewart Warner 200mph Police Speedometer 1952

This is the first of a random series that I call One-Offs. These are custom-faced, or very rare gauges or panels that I have come across over the years.

One of my favorites is this professionally-done alteration of the standard issue SW Police Speedo from the very late Forties to early Fifties, with it's factory model face of 100mph jacked up with custom graphics and recalibrated to a ridiculously-optimistic 200 miles-an-hour.

As I said above, this series was generally confined to a 100mph range, although there are a few transition gauges where they marked up to 120. There were a couple different color schemes for the badge star in the middle as well, with black and red in varying combination.

1954 Stewart Warner Catalog

Stewart Warner 120mph Police Speedometer
In addition to the above 120mph, which was a factory SW job, Youngs Instrument Service of Cleveland made a beautiful and straightforward "dealer option" variation on the 120, with their company name emblazoned across the face.

Part of the customization of the 200mph speedo is that when I had it, it didn't have the "gear" that is part of a police speedo: No push-down lock button, no visor or drill-holes for the visor, just the face and speedo. These were a 5" gauge, front-mount, just like the Crosley of that era. The 1957 through 1962 Police Speedometers were black-faced, with 150mph graphics.

The last picture shows an interesting dash-mount collar for the speedo. Most were column or a simpler extended collar mount.

Here's a later model, with a KPH ring in the middle. Very unique...

Did hot-rodders actually use these in their rigs? 
Hell yeah. Here's a pic from an vintage "mini-mag" hot rod magazine showing one lucky guy burying the needle...

You'll probably never see another 200mph Police Speedo, but hey, nowadays anyone with a printer and a graphics program can bang out that face. I'd love to see it if you do!

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