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 excesses 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.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

1960: The Alexander Brothers Show You How They Chop A 1949 - 1950 Mercury - Part Two

Here's the second part of the step by step instructions by the Alexander Brothers on how they chop the 1949 - 1950 era Mercury....

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1960: The Alexander Brothers Show You How They Chop A 1949 - 1950 Mercury

In this installment, we get some great advice from the legendary Alexander Brothers out of Detroit on how they chop the tricky roof of the 1949 - 1950 era Mercury sled. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

AMX / Javelin Hop-Up Stage One

Hi-Performance Cars began it's look at the Javelin with this first overview, titled PROJECT 390 SUPER JAVELIN: DYNO-TUNING PART 1 OF A NEW SERIES.
Here's the info they presented that issue...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Installing AMX / Javelin Exhaust Pipes

It's not easy to find vintage information on how the AMC crowd beefed up their rides back in the day. Fortunately, Hi-Performance magazine was all over it, and did a series of pony car hop-ups, including this nice spread on hanging pipes off your street rig for maximum breathing, and great looks!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The 1958 Wichita Drag Wagon Dragster

The Wichita Drag Wagon dragster was the brainchild of Duane Rose and Lloyd Davis. They decided to make the switch from a 1948 Mercury flathead to this 1956 Pontiac set-up with Potvin stick and four stromberg carbs providing the breathing. It won over 25 trophies, and was one the rare engine set-ups running at the time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Vintage Star Trek Harley Dash

Leave it to Harley owners to flout convention, especially back in the day when things like "speed limits" were a nuisance, not a guideline. This guy decided 120 wasn't going to cut it, and reconfigured his readings to "Warp Factor" 500!
Another classic hog rider!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Dissect A Dash: The Fred Stebbins Roadster

The Fred Stebbins homebuilt special is a masterpiece of ingenuity. Using fiberglass molds, a boat windshield and a Crosley donor, he made a throwback-styled to-scale hot rod, that even for his time was a 50's tribute, in 1970.

The dash is simple, clean, and unique. He's running the Sun Tach (at first blush; it could be SW, very hard to see through the pixels), a Stewart Warner pressure gauge, and the timeless Stewart Warner -made Crosley "four-in-one" gauge cluster.

Here's a closeup shot of that Crosley cluster. It's really a beautiful set.

Sometimes using what you have results in the perfect design; in this case, it's 100% true!

Monday, October 13, 2014

More Vintage Hot Rod Dashes From 1961 (Custom Craft)

1961 Custom Craft, November

This is an interesting article that features not one, but two Stewart Warner Hollywood gauge panels, and both are using the Sun Tach. That should tell you about the problems that SW had with it's electric tachometer business in the late-50's, early sixties.

Interestingly enough, this panel is using the Sun Tach AND an electric SW speedometer, which is curious since the SW tach and the SW speedo are based on the same technology, yet they still went with the Sun instrument.

Here you see, again, a Sun Tach in a Hollywood panel...

All Stewart Warner, from gauge to panel, except the Sun gauge. At least the speedo is a regular, non-electric instrument.

It's very telling that you would see, consistently, this arrangement; pure SW, and a Sun tachometer. This tach gave Sun foothold in the aftermarket gauge market, breaking the Stewart Warner stranglehold.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dashboard Lights: Part Five, The Signal Indicator Corporation

Not much is known today about the Signico Company today. They seemed to be one of the war cottage industries, that supplied equipment for military and electronic use, then fell by the wayside due to better-funded competitors.

One cool aspect of their light designs was that hot rod double-step in the bezel, both in the lens bezel and the holder as well. This gave it more of a true beehive styling appearance, and it stood out from Dialco, Gothard, Drake and the others. These are VERY hard to find, only a handful have crossed my collection.

It's too bad they at least didn't hold on to their New York building till today (16 Hudson St., downtown Mahattan); you're looking at tens of millions in value... that'll buy a lot of faceted glass!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dashboard Lights: Part Four, The Mallory - Yaxley Company

By the 1940's, Mallory was already a well-known manufacturer of capacitors, and with their merger with Yaxley, they became a multi-faceted producer of many radio parts, including lights.

1940 Mallory Yaxley catalog

Formed in 1916, by P.R. Mallory, the company was a real pioneer in battery technology, becoming associated with Duracell later in the Century. In 1931, they acquired the Yaxley Company, and became a full-line producer of radio parts, including the jeweled light style pictured above.
It's a 3/8" style, with a rich red faceted jewel, and is easily interchanged with a 6 or 12-volt bulb for your hot rod dash.

Mallory Factory in Indianapolis
Although they didn't produce much, if any of the wider range of light styles that some of the other spotlighted companies did, in the end they were one of the most successful, leading the way in battery technology.