Car Stuff

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My buddy Bob with whom I stood on street corners sixty years ago watching all the girls go by sent me this fascinating list of automobile trivia. Thank you Bob.

Trivia about cars.
 
Q:  What was the first official White House car?
A: A 1909 White Steamer, ordered by President Taft.
 
Q: Who opened the first drive-in gas station?
A: Gulf opened up the first station in Pittsburgh in 1913.
 
Q:  What city was the first to use parking meters?
A: Oklahoma City, on July 16, 1935.
 
Q: Where was the first  drive-in restaurant?
A: Royce Hailey’s Pig Stand opened in Dallas in 1921.
 
Q: True  or False? The 1953 Corvette came in white, red and  black.
A: False.  The 1953 ‘Vettes were available in one color, Polo White.
 
Q: What was Ford’s answer to the Chevy Corvette, and other legal street racers of the 1960’s?
A: Carroll Shelby’s Mustang GT350.
 
Q: What was the first car fitted with an alternator rather than a direct current generator?
A: The 1960 Plymouth Valiant
 
Q: What was the first car fitted with a replaceable cartridge oil filter?
A: The 1924 Chrysler.
 
Q: What was the first car to be offered with a “perpetual guarantee”?
A: The 1904 Acme, from Reading, PA. Perpetuity was disturbing in this case, as Acme closed down in 1911.
 
Q: What  American luxury automaker began by making cages for birds and squirrels?
A: The George N. Pierce Co. of Buffalo, who made the Pierce Arrow, also made iceboxes.
 
Q: What car first referred to itself as a convertible?
A: The 1904 Thomas Flyer, which had a removable hard top.
 
Q: What car was the first to have its radio antenna embedded in the windshield?
A: The 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix.
 
Q: What car used the first successful series-production hydraulic valve lifters?
A: The 1930 Cadillac 452, the first production V16
 
Q: Where was the World’s first three-color traffic lights installed?
A: Detroit, Michigan in 1919.  Two years later they experimented with synchronized lights.
 
Q: What type of car had the distinction of being GM’s 100 millionth car built in the U.S.?
A: March 16, 1966 saw an Olds Tornado roll out of Lansing, Michigan with that  honor.
 
Q: Where was the first  drive-in movie theater opened, and when?
A: Camden, NJ in 1933
 
Q: What autos were the first to use a standardized production key-start system?
A: The 1949 Chryslers
 
Q: What did the Olds designation 4-4-2 stand for?
A: 4 barrel carburetor, 4 speed  transmission, and dual exhaust.
 
Q: What car was the first to place the horn button in the center of the steering wheel?
A: The 1915 Scripps-Booth Model C. The car also was the first with electric door latches.
 
Q: What U.S. production car has the quickest 0-60 mph time?
A: The 1962 Chevrolet Impala SS 409. Did it in 4.0 seconds.
 
Q: What’s the only car to appear simultaneously on the  covers of Time and Newsweek?
A: The Mustang
 
Q: What was the lowest priced mass produced American car?
A: The 1925 Ford Model T Runabout. Cost $260, $5 less than 1924.
 
Q: What is the fastest internal-combustion American production car?
A: The 1998 Dodge Viper GETS-R, tested by Motor Trend magazine at 192.6 mph.
 
Q: What automaker’s first logo incorporated the Star of David?
A: The Dodge Brothers.
 
Q: Who wrote to Henry  Ford, “I have drove Fords exclusively when I could get away with one. It has got every other car skinned, and even if my business hasn’t been strictly legal it don’t hurt anything to tell you what a fine car you got in the V-8”?
A: Clyde Barrow (of Bonnie and  Clyde) in 1934.
 
Q: What car was the first production V12, as well as the first production car with aluminum pistons?
A: The 1915 Packard Twin-Six. Used during WWI in Italy, these motors inspired Enzi Ferrari to adopt the V12 himself in 1948.
 
Q: What was the first car  to use power operated seats?
A: They were first used on the 1947 Packard line.
 
Q: Which of  the Chrysler “letter cars” sold the fewest amount?
A: Only 400, 1963, 300J’s were  sold (they skipped “I” because it looked like a  number 1)
 
Q: What car company was originally known as Swallow Sidecars (aka SS)?
A: Jaguar, which was an SS model first in 1935, and ultimately the whole company by 1945.
 
Q: What car delivered the first production V12 engine?
A: The cylinder wars were  kicked off in 1915 after Packard’s chief engineer, Col. Jesse Vincent, introduced its Twin-Six.
 
Q: When were seat belts first fitted to a motor vehicle?
A: In 1902, in a Baker Electric streamliner racer which crashed at 100 mph. on Staten Island!
 
Q: In January 1930, Cadillac debuted its V16 in a car named for a theatrical version of a 1920’s film seen by Harley Earl while designing the body. What’s that name?
A: The “Madam X”, a custom  coach designed by Earl and built by Fleetwood. The sedan featured a retractable landau top above the rear seat.
 
Q: Which car company  started out German, yet became French after  WWI?
A: Bugati, founded in Molsheim in 1909, became French when Alsace returned to French rule.
 
Q: In what model year did Cadillac introduce the first electric sunroof?
A: 1969
 
Q: What U.S. production car had the largest 4 cylinder engine?
A: The 1907 Thomas sported a 571 cu. in. (9.2liter) engine.
 
Q:  What car was reportedly designed on the back of a Northwest Airlines airsickness bag and released on April Fool’s Day, 1970?
A: 1970 Gremlin,  (AMC)
 
Q: What is the Spirit of Ecstasy?
A: The official name of the mascot of Rolls Royce, she is the lady on top of their radiators.
 
Q: What was the inspiration for MG’s famed octagon-shaped badge?
A: The shape of founder Cecil Kimber’s dining table. MG stands for Morris Garages.
 
Q: In what year did the “double-R” Rolls Royce badge change from red to black?
A: 1933
 
Trivia: Ford, who made the first pick-up trucks, shipped them to dealers in crates that the new owners had to assemble using the crates as the beds of the trucks.  The new owners had to go to the dealers to get them, thus they had to “pick-up” the trucks.  And now you know the “rest of the story”!

 

Why Drive a Volt When You Can Soup Up Your Own Car

2011 Chevrolet Volt exhibited at the 2010 Wash...

2011 Chevrolet Volt exhibited at the 2010 Washington Auto Show. The Chevy Volt is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This do it yourself video is for my Green Friends who love to drive the Volt and other Green Cars.

Porcelain Carburetor

CARS I HAVE KNOWN

The automobile is still a big part of my life.  My dad raised us with a car in the family just as I raised children with cars, and now my grandchildren are growing up cars.  Even though I used streetcars and buses to go everywhere, we always had a car in the family.

The earliest car I can remember was Dad’s 1929 Buick Century.  He also had an earlier Chrysler, and a Huppmobile before that.  He might have had others, too, but it is too late to ask him.

The 1929 Buick served him well for many years. I remember standing on the front seat as a toddler. I could barely see over the seat back. I was a teenager when he got rid of it.  He eventually sold the Buick to the welder who lived at the end of Avalon.  It seemed strange to watch the Buick drive past with someone else driving. Two years later, the welder cut it up for junk metal.

Dad’s  replacement was a 1937 Dodge.  He bought that car used too.  In fact, he didn’t buy a new car until 1959.  The Dodge only lasted a year when Dad sold it to buy a 1939 Buick Century.  I called it the Green Hornet after my favorite radio program.  This is the car I got my driver’s license in.  I was driving it by eighth grade.  The Buick lasted until my junior year in high school.  Two years after Dad bought it the Buick started making some horrible knocking noises. The rear universal joint needed new bearings.  Rather than spend money to fix the car, Dad traded it in on a two-year old 1954 Plymouth.  The Plymouth was beautiful. It had two toned paint with a white top and turquoise blue bottom, and lots of chrome.  The leatherette and cloth seat colors matched the exterior colors.  I moved back and forth to college with the Plymouth.

Finally, in 1959, dad bought a new Ford Fairlane. The Fairlane was also blue and white, with giant round tail lights; the front fenders hung over the top of the headlights. It had an automatic transmission and a radio that worked.  I was at the University of Illinois by this time and used it during the summers to go to work.  Dad walked to the Illinois Central yard on 95th and Cottage Grove so I could drive to International Harvester on 26th and Western.  Even though Dad hated the Ford because of it’s poor reliability, he kept it until another car hit him broadside while driving in a funeral cortege..  In l969 he traded it in for another Ford.

The ‘69 Ford lasted through most of his retirement.  He and Mom used it a lot to go back and forth to the farm in Michigan.  Dad’s final car was a 1983 Chevy Celebrity.  He began to slow down with this car, and eventually gave up driving when he reached his late eighties.  He sold the Celebrity to one of the grandchildren.

In a later episode I’ll tell about my first car, and every other car I have owned after that.  Each one played a role in my life as a transportation appliance.

A Great Piece of Advice for Life

    One of my best friends and work associate sent me this piece is by  Pulitzer Prize winning editorial author Michael Gartner.  I want to meet him and thank him for this eloquently written story about his parents.

This is a piece by Michael Gartner, president of NBC News; in 1997, he won a Pulitzer Prize. It is well worth reading, even if it looks too long for you to read right now, and a few good chuckles are guaranteed. Please take a few minutes to absorb the meaning of this
 story, and then go hug someone…..Here goes…

      My father never drove a car. Well, that’s not quite right. I should  say I never saw him drive a car.
 He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

     “In those days,” he told me when he was in his 90’s, “to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life  and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it.” At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in:
      “Oh, bullshit!” she said. “He hit a horse.”
      “Well,” my father said, “there was that, too.”
        So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars — the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford — but we had none. My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines, would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the  streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three  blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

     My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we’d ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. “No one in the family drives,” my mother would explain, and that was that. But, sometimes, my father would say, “But as soon as one of you boys
 turns 16, we’ll get one.” It was as if he wasn’t sure which one of uswould turn 16 first.
 But, sure enough , my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts  department at a Chevy dealership downtown.
It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded  with everything, and, since my parents didn’t drive, it more or less  became my brother’s car.

      Having a car but not being able to drive didn’t bother my father, but  it didn’t make sense to my mother. So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her  to drive. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my  two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father’s  idea.

     “Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?” I remember him  saying more than once.
     For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps — though they seldom left the city limits — and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.
      Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn’t seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of
 marriage. (Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)  He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin’s Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the  back until he saw which of the parish’s two priests was on duty that morning. If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a  2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home.
 If it was the assistant pastor, he’d take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests “Father Fast” and “Father Slow.”
     After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he’d sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. In the evening, then, when I’d stop by, he’d explain:

      “The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored.”
      If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the  bags out — and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream. As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, “Do you want to know the secret of a long life?”
      “I guess so,” I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre

     “No left turns,” he said.

     “What?” I asked.

      “No left turns,” he repeated. “Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic.
As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn.”

      “What?” I said again.

      “No left turns,” he said. “Think about it. Three rights are the same as a left, and that’s a lot safer. So we always make three rights.”

      “You’re kidding!” I said, and I turned to my mother for support.

     “No,” she said, “your father is right. We make three rights. It
works.” But then she added: “Except when your father loses count…” I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing.

      “Loses count?” I asked.

      “Yes,” my father admitted, “that sometimes happens. But it’s not a  problem. You just make seven rights, and you’re okay again.”

      I couldn’t resist. “Do you ever go for 11?” I asked.

     “No,” he said ” If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it  a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can’t be put  off another day or another week.”

      My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her  car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90. She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102. They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought  a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom — the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)

      He continued to walk daily — he had me get him a treadmill when he  was 101 because he was afraid he’d fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising — and he was of sound mind and sound body
 until the moment he died.

      One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging  conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news. A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, “You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred.” At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, “You know, I’m probably not going  to live much longer.”
      “You’re probably right,” I said.

      “Why would you say that?” He countered, somewhat irritated.

     “Because you’re 102 years old,” I said…

      “Yes,” he said, “you’re right.” He stayed in bed all the next day. That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night.  He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us  look gloomy, he said: “I would like to make an announcement: No one in this room is dead yet”

     An hour or so later, he spoke his last words: “I want you to know,” he said, clearly and lucidly, “that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have.”
     A short time later, he died. I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I’ve wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long. I can’t figure out if it was because he walked through life, or because he quit taking left turns. ”

 Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So — love the people who treat you right. Forget about the ones who don’t. Believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it and if it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy; they just promised it would most likely be worth it.”

      ENJOY IT, BECAUSE LIFE HAS AN EXPIRATION DATE!

Louie,

 Thanks for sending this story. It brought tears to my eyes.

LUV,

Grumpa Joe

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