Car Auction Surprise

GRAHAM

A car enthusiast friend of mine sent a link to a car auction that took place last weekend November 3,4,5, 2011. It is the Lee Hartung collection in Glenview, IL. I learned that Lee Hartung collected anything that interested him. Most of it dealt with transportation, i.e. cars, trucks, airplanes, motors, toy cars, bicycles, motor cycles, out board motors.

He lived on a four-acre plot surrounded by upscale subdivisions and accumulated an amazing amount of junk since he started collecting in 1949. There were no upscale subdivisions in Glenview in 1949, so he got there first and did what he pleased with his piece of heaven. I spent an hour watching the videos on u-tube showing the various stuff. Today I thought, why not see if there is anything on the auction results. For fun, Google Results Lee Hartung Auction and look at some of the stuff and the prices it brought.

I had to learn about Lee Hartung. Who was he? What did he do for a living.  There is not much about the man, but I did find one news article that said he dealt in scrap metals and hauling. I guess there is money in junk. His collection is testimony to that.

All of this stimulated my memory to recall a work associate Carl Swanson telling me in 1964 that when he was young there was a car company for every letter of the alphabet. Carl was already sixty-eight when I met him so his youth went back to the nineteen ten through twenty period. I started a spread sheet and began listing American car companies by the letter of the alphabet. I thought I did pretty good listing thirty-eight cars and covering nineteen letters. Then I got the idea to Google American cars A to Z. I got a pretty extensive list, but the one I chose to study was the Wikipedia list of defunct United States automobile manufacturers. WOW! The list put me in shock.

Not only are there manufacturers for every letter of the alphabet there are hundreds of them. I counted seventeen hundred and ninety-four manufacturers. All out of business by bankruptcy or by assimilation into another company.

The early nineteen hundreds was a prolific time for car makers. Everyone had a better idea for how to make a car, but only a few have survived. When you think about it, there are only three manufacturers left in the United States, Ford, GM, and Chrysler. Between them they produce Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, Dodge, and Chrysler. Eight out of seventeen hundred and ninety-four is a worse average than I had with my list.

Collectors have a long way to go to find a single item from each company. I think it would be just as hard to find a photo of all the defunct cars listed by Wikipedia.

What happened? Competition. The weak fell or were bought out. Currently the American car companies continue to struggle in the competitive battle against foreign companies to decide who will eventually win.

What is your guess? Will the United States automobile industry fade into oblivion, or will it survive for many more years?

Here is my list:

111107-American Car Companies A

The Thief Got Away With the Crime

Photo from myoldpostcards' photostream


During one of my jobs in high school I served as a soda jerk at the Woodlawn Café.  The owner, Joe Fejes let me work evenings.  My job was to make shakes, malts, sundaes, ice cream sodas, pour coffee, and serve pie. Near closing time, I cleaned the fountain and took out the trash.

On this particular night I drove Dad’s green Buick to work. This Buick was the newest car he ever owned even though it was ten years old when he bought it. The nineteen thirty-nine Buick became his favorite.

Woodlawn Cafe sat on the corner of Ninety-fifth Street and Woodlawn Avenue, less than a mile from home. On this dark, cool October night I got permission to drive to work. I wasn’t old enough for a license, but I was driving around the neighborhood on special occasions.  I parked the Buick on Woodlawn next to the restaurant, right in front of the back door.

The Buick had a defect which we tolerated.  The ignition did not work with the key.  All we had to do was turn the knob on the key port, and the starter jumped to life. We continued to stick the key into the switch as a security measure and as a place to keep it while driving.

That evening, business was normal.  It was never super busy at night, but a steady stream of customers came in for coffee and pie, or an ice cream soda.  I also filled some orders for banana splits and sundaes.

At eight p.m. it was time to take the garbage out to the alley.  I opened the door fully expecting to see the Buick standing there, but  it was gone!  My heart jumped into my throat.  Where was it?  I ran to the alley and to the parking lot around the other side of the building, but there was no car.

I rushed into the building and told Mrs. Fejes what happened.  She told me to call the police to report it stolen.  I ran home to make the call.  How would I tell Mom and Dad that someone stole the car?

I fumbled through the phone book to find the number for the Burnside Police Department and dialed. It seemed like forever before I got an answer.  The officer asked me a lot of questions about the car to get a description.  One thing they asked which I couldn’t answer was the license plate number.  I had to get Dad to find the number in his papers.  The police said they would keep their eyes open for it, but until I called them back with the number they couldn’t do much.

At nine o’clock, Mrs. Fejes called us from the restaurant. She saw a car like ours parked by the back door of the restaurant.  I ran all the way back there to check, and sure enough the Buick stood  right where I had originally left it.  I drove it home and parked it in the garage. Early the next morning, before I left for school, two detectives came to the front door. They were following up on the stolen car report.  I told them the story, and showed them the car in the garage before they closed out their report.

I never did find out who took it or why. The only story that makes sense to me is that someone who knew the about the quirky ignition switch took the car for a joy ride and quietly brought it back. They may have enjoyed the ride, but I sure as hell didn’t have any joy that night.

Turn Off the Bubble Machine

Just how many bubbles can the U.S.A. take before it too blows up?

Turn Off the Bubble Machine

The New GM Dealership

The government doesn’t belong in the car business, but it now owns two major companies. I would much rather we gave Chrysler to Hyundai than to the Italians.  General Motors will be a handful for POTUS to manage, but he will have big time help from the UAW. They know how to manage well. After seventy four years of striking, they finally achieved their goal to put the company out of business rather than give in to management demands. 

Here is the future at a vehicle dealership:

Government Motors Dealership

People’s Car 2

2009-Barack-Lucerne People's CarFirst People's CarRemember the first people’s car? That’s the car Hitler established to put a car in every German’s garage. He called it the Volkswagen, aka People’s Car. Now we have our own People’s Car. No doubt the models will carry names like Coupe de Obama, Maliburack, Barack Lucerne, or Camarobama. 

Hitler used the money he raised for the Volkswagen to fuel his  war machine. What is the  POTUS going to do with GM and Chrysler?

POTUS should wise up and turn the management of the car companies over to the zealous UAW leadership. They have bad mouthed GM management about their stupid decisions for fifty years. They especially ranted over decisions  that  earned truckloads of money off the sweat of their labor. I’d like to see the UAW workers designing, and deciding how many units of government mandated fuel efficient cars to build when the customers want horespower, torque,  and speed. I’d like to see the UAW meet government fuel economy and emission standards. I’d like to see how the UAW would handle their fringe benefit programs and actually make a profit competing against the rest of the world’s automakers.

Initially, I ranted that GM, and the UAW should be allowed to fail (Wealthy Middle Class.)  After thinking about it, I changed my mind and wrote about why the government should loan them the money (Give ‘em the Loan!.) In hindsight, I was wrong on the second count. A loan from the government is the same as suicide. Now, we find our country headed for mass ownership of private enterprise companies.

Initially, I thought POTUS would take the country toward socialism, but this is now sounding like Communism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communism).  Will the next step be government take overs of all privately owned property?  We all know how that experiment turned out now don’t we? Or do we?

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