Co-author’s Note: This is a collaborative piece written by my seventh-grade daughter and me. We went to the museum as a history lesson and it’s a follow-up of sorts from my last trip to the museum three years ago. Unlike last time, we had cameras with ample battery life; we both took the pictures you will be seeing. JS
JS: Two of the best things you can do on a Saturday is look at old cars and spend time with your child. Being able to do these two things together, as we recently did by taking a jaunt to a museum twenty-five miles north of us, simply made for a wonderful day.
So sit back and enjoy what you are about to see. This is our first collaborative piece and I’m just as curious as you to see how it goes!
Miss Shafer: Let’s start with this 1960 Imperial. I like its appearance; it looks like it has a sly grin, similar to when someone is about to play a prank.
The weirdest thing about this car is it has a square steering wheel! But if it’s square, that doesn’t make it a wheel, does it?
JS: Seeing this Imperial is a treat, but I just enjoy 1960s era Mopars of all varieties. This particular Imperial is a sedan, making it less popular than the four-door hardtops available that year. This car has enough presence for a half-dozen more ordinary cars.
JS: While I didn’t mention it earlier, the lighting in this museum was not overly conducive for photography. However, some pictures, like this 1917 Oldsmobile V8, turned out quite well. This engine displaces 248 cubic inches and pumps out 58 horsepower.
For 1917 Oldsmobile had a significant uptick in sales, with this seven passenger Model 45 being a contributor to that.
Miss Shafer: This is one of the first vehicles to run on biofuel. It was mostly grass, hay, and oats with an occasional carrot or apple. It didn’t exactly produce a lot of horsepower.
JS: Emissions testing was also defined differently back then. The museum does cover a very broad expanse of time.
JS: One very nice thing about this museum is the cars are not roped off, maximizing one’s ability to see it from all angles. Also in many cases the windows are down allowing you to peer inside. This 1932 Hudson was a car that really caught my eye.
Given the darkness present, I was only able to tell the brake and clutch pedals are shaped like the Hudson emblem subsequent to taking this picture. Thank goodness for a strong flash. This theme of the Hudson emblem was present on multiple aspects of the car, including the headlights.
Miss Shafer: Here is another 1932 model year car, a 1932 LaSalle. My dad says less than 3,400 LaSalle’s were built for that year. I really don’t know this stuff.
JS: All LaSalle’s were powered by a 353 cubic inch V8 producing 115 horsepower. It truly was the next best thing to a Cadillac.
Miss Shafer: This is a rather unusual hood ornament. To me, it looks like a mermaid is about to smack someone with a piece of cloth but that mermaid could really use a shirt to cover herself.
JS: I’m glad you think that way. There were a number of fascinating hood ornaments to be found. However, if you go back a year, this next car surprisingly did not have a hood ornament but did not hesitate to tell you what it was.
It is a Marmon V16.
This is a 1931 Marmon Series 16 Limousine. Production numbers aren’t easily found, but let’s call it scant. The V16 displaced 490 cubic inches. The seven passenger V16 weighted 5,400 pounds and cost $5,400.
The window wasn’t down all the way, but I made it work to my advantage.
Miss Shafer: My dad would look at this car and say, “It’s a such-and-such year Cadillac.” Not me.
I will look at the tail fins and say “Those make it look like a fish.” I do like the greenish-blueish-tealish seafoam color.
Here is a better look at that tail fin. Look at those double tail lights! I would hate to lean up against this car. Ouch!
Something in the backseat caught my eye. Is it just me, or is that a fold up armrest? I must say I’ve become quite the expert at spending time sitting in the backseat of various cars.
Miss Shafer: When I first saw this DeLorean, the first thing that came to mind was a quote from one of my favorite movies, “Fly away Stanley; be free!”
JS: The Stanley Steamer was in a different room and somehow we didn’t get a picture of it. Since the doors were open on the DeLorean, here’s a shot of the rather uninspiring looking interior.
JS: Here is something both inspriring and aspiring. A Pierce-Arrow on the left and a Packard on the right. There was no Peerless to complete the Three P’s of American luxury cars.
Miss Shafer: Quick! What is this hood ornament stuck on?
A 1952 Kaiser Manhattan with a lovely blue hue, of course.
JS: Blue hue? Gesundheit. And speaking of German things, here’s one I particularly liked…
A 1969 Mercedes 280 SL.
I’m presuming it had a manual transmission at some point?
JS: Since we’re talking European cars, here is a 1903 Humberette, from England.
A 1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom II…
Miss Shafer: The hood ornament on this Rolls looks like a superhero ready to start flying. She’s even holding her cape back to catch the wind.
JS: Well, the Rolls-Royce hood ornament is known as the Spirit of Ecstasy and the Flying Lady, so you are spot on.
Miss Shafer: I didn’t know there were superhero capes back in the 1910’s.
JS: Superheroes were rather different back then and Rolls has adapted their hood ornament over the years. Here’s another one on a 1928 Rolls-Royce Drop Head Coupe.
Miss Shafer: Did you miss the ferry and stay in England? You never got to the Continent(al).
This is one of the prettiest hood ornaments I have seen so far. It resembles a cross between a comet, an Indian war chief’s head dress, and ghost trying to eat an orange. I really like the contrast between the brass ball and the chromed steel. It looks really pretty against the blue of this Lincoln.
JS: Aren’t you concerned about the rest of the car?
Miss Shafer: No…not really.
Miss Shafer: This is a 1986 Litestar GCRV. The GCRV stands for Ground Cruising Recreational Vehicle. It can reach speeds of up to 130 mph.
Of the cars older than me that I would like to have, this is definitely one of them. I just like it; it looks cool.
JS: These were built in Ossowo, Michigan, between 1985 and 1990. Powered by a four-cylinder motorcycle engine, only 347 were built and it was street legal in 27 states. It’s a little too small for me.
Miss Shafer: Another car that looks cool is this Stingray – whatever year it is.
JS: It’s a 1963.
Miss Shafer: I could so see myself driving this thing. Personally, I think it would look cool with a hot pink racing stripe down the center, although I think my dad would disagree with me.
JS: To each his own. Or, in your case, to each her own.
Miss Shafer: One can definitely see why the designer called this the Stingray. See the resemblance? I still think the critter one is cuter.
JS: While the range of cars at the museum spanned from around 1900 to the 1980s, there was a heavy focus on pre-war cars. There were some you simply won’t see outside of a museum, cars that I’m not sure if we’ve ever mentioned here. So let’s scan them for your sensory pleasure.
A 1917 Scripps-Booth roadster.
I’m sure other cars had offset seats like this, but none are coming to mind.
This is definitely a memorable logo for a car company. It sure gives the perception of flight.
Miss Shafer: Did a hunter design that logo?
JS: Likely so. What car is it attached to?
Miss Shafer: I don’t know.
JS: You don’t? Well, it’s a 1922 Wills Sainte Clair. Named in part for Harold Childe Wills, a former Ford engineer heavily involved with the Model T, the Wills Sainte Clair company only manufactured 2,700 cars for 1922 due to Wills’ ambition for flawless cars and ceasing production anytime he thought an improvement could be made.
If one isn’t careful, some of these names might tend to blend together, like this 1926 Willys Knight.
Miss Shafer: Knight? Where does it keep its armor?
JS: You are definitely on the right track. The Knight part of the name comes from Charles Knight, an Englishman who persuaded John North Willys to use a sleeve valve engine in 1913. Curious, Willys drove 4,500 miles of English and Scottish roads in 15 days in a car having a sleeve valve engine. To obtain rights to using the Knight engine design, Willys skipped negotiating with Knight and simply purchased the Edwards Motor Company in New York State. Edwards had a license to built the Knight designed engine.
Here’s a view of the engine in this particular Willys Knight.
This 1932 Willys Knight is nearly the end of the line for the company. It, along with the related Stearns Knight, ceased production in 1933.
Miss Shafer: When most people hear of 1950s cars, this is what they think. I think it looks pretty good, minus the “updated” 1970s interior which was absolutely vomitating – in my opinion.
JS: Yes, these cars are like belly buttons; it seems every museum has one.
Miss Shafer: I LOVE the green color on this Buick. Plus I like the chrome. I normally don’t say this about a car, but this is kind of pretty.
JS: Would you be so enamored of this 1950 Buick if it were a different color, say black or dark blue?
Miss Shafer: Not quite as much, but I would still like the chrome.
JS: Since you enjoyed the Buick so much, here is one I really like – a 1929 Cord Cabriolet. It was sitting across the room from the Marmon, both products of Indiana.
Miss Shafer: I really love the paint detailing on this Cord. It is something I just don’t see very often.
This door handle is sooooo pretty. Those were the days when car designers actually got artistic.
Miss Shafer: This solar car looks really neat. I would hate to know how long it took to hang it vertically. As long as it doesn’t topple over, we’re good.
JS: This was built some time ago by engineering students at the University of Missouri – Columbia. Others know it as MIZZOU. If those engineering students wanted a real challenge, they would have built a canoe made of concrete. That’s what was done where I went to college.
Our tour is just about over, but we wanted to photograph one last car before leaving and going to get ice cream.
A 1928 (or earlier) Chevrolet. This is the first Chevrolet I have seen with a wooden frame and it captivated my attention. We hope you have enjoyed this tour.
Miss Shafer: Yes, I hoped you enjoyed it. And I’m glad I went; I finally believe my dad from when he told me there was a pink engine here.