Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hispano 1924

When Hispano-Suiza was formed in 1904, they soon found success producing trucks to meet a need in Spain, a poor country at the time with mountains and inefficient railways. They did produce cars as well, which soon built a strong reputation for their reliability and performance. Most were sold to European heads of state which established the brand in luxury circles. Their reputation continued to grow as they enjoyed success in racing.

In 1919, at the Paris Motor Show, Hispano-Suiza introduced the H6 powered by a 6.6-liter overhead cam aluminum six-cylinder engine offering 135 horsepower and a top speed of 85 mph. One of the more advanced features found on the H6 were the power-assisted brakes, the first in the industry, driven with a special shaft from the transmission. Upon deceleration, the cars momentum drove the brake servo to provide additional power. There were around 2,350 examples of the H6 produced through 1933.

In 1922, Hispano-Suiza introduced the more powerful H6B. This example features a Coupe deVille body built by the legendary coachbuilder Saoutchik, and includes many fine French accessories.

Panhard 1907

The first automobile manufacturer in France was Panhard-Levassor and is only second in the world to Daimler-Benz. These two companies worked together sharing ideas and designs and Daimler actually supplied Panhard with engines during their first years of production.

Panhard-Levassor was an established woodworking and machinist firm. They constructed their first prototype automobile in 1890, and production vehicles in 1891. By 1900, the firm had over 850 employees and were building 75 cars per month. Even at this capacity, they were unable to keep up with demand. One of their earliest customers was the Honorable C.S. Rolls who, a few years later, would build his own car, the Rolls-Royce.

Along with being an early producer of automobiles, they were also leaders in technological advancements with one of the first driveshafts instead of chain-drive and the first to use a pressed-steel chassis frame. They used racing to promote their produce and captured many significant wins in many early races, including the Paris-Bordeaux Race.

The work performed by the French firm of Panhard et Levassor aided in the technical evolution of the automobile. The work that they did and the innovations that they produced helped acceleration the popularity of the automobile.

Soekarno Mercedes-Benz 600 limousine

President Soekarno is known to have a Mercedes-Benz 600 limousine between different brands of cars his official. However, during his rule (1945-1967), no photographs or news in the media that shows or states that the President never used the car.

The only one who tells the story that President Soekarno used Mercedes-Benz 600 obtained from the writings of drg. Oei Hong Kian, who was President Soekarno dental care for several months, before and after his rule ended.

In his article published in Essence magazine in October 1988, Oei Hong Kian tells drg, beginning September 1967, at exactly 9:00 pm, Sukarno, whose rule ended in early March 1967, came to her home for medical treatment using the Mercedes-Benz 600, accompanied by five jeep full of soldiers, who guard it closely.

Ethanol and Classic Cars

The next time you take your classic out for a cruise night or car show, do an impromptu poll with those in attendance and see how many folks feel that the ethanol now used in modern fuels is detrimental for their older vehicles. We wouldn't be surprised if the majority said yes and had a story about how they thought ethanol was the culprit in a mechanical malady.
Insurance companies specializing in classic car policies may even contain an ethanol clause and will not pay out claims if it has been found to destroy your engine. Hagerty Insurance, a leader in insuring vintage vehicles, was so concerned that they, in conjunction with the Kettering University Advanced Engine Research Laboratory, conducted a study to determine how much danger ethanol really poses to vintage cars.
Preliminary results have recently been reported on Hagerty’s website and they conclude:
"The results from the tests with the SU carburetors and fuel pumps suggest that E10 can be used in older vehicles, although the owner is likely to be faced with the additional costs associated with sealing fuel tanks and cleaning and rebuilding fuel systems more frequently than in the past. However, it’s best to be cautious about reading into these preliminary results until the tests of the five other fuel systems are complete. Until then, it’s safe to assume that you can continue to drive your collector vehicle using E10; it may just cost you more in the long run."
The complete article for the Kettering study, Ethanol: Demonic or Devine, leaves us feeling like E10 is not the bad guy that it has been made out to be, you just need to be aware of the additional care your classic car will need over time..

By , About.com

Bristol, the Last True British Made

Bristol Cars has manufactured hand built luxury automobiles in Filton, near Bristol, England since 1947. They have no distributors or dealers; you must call the company direct to order one of the few cars they build each week. They claim to be the last wholly British owned luxury car builder, but their beginnings were found in the bombed out remains of Germany.
It was 1945 and the end of World War II. Bristol Aeroplane Company was looking for new means of revenue, since orders for aircraft engines were drying up, and decided to make automobiles. The company initially developed a prototype sports coupe, but due to the car’s highly dangerous handling problems, it literally destroyed itself during testing on the company’s airfield.
Bristol then decided to manufacture an existing car design. Various accountings of how Bristol got an existing car design are a little fuzzy, so let’s say somehow, they got blueprints for and several examples of late 1930s BMW cars out of Germany and into England. Then the Bristol Aeroplane Company secured the release of a former BMW designer, Fritz Fiedler, from military detention, and the Bristol was born.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The History of the Hudson

After the Great Race of 1908, when the world saw an automobile go from New York to Paris, via Alaska, Japan, Siberia and Berlin in 169 days, car companies started being formed in great numbers. The one we are highlighting today was created by four former associates of the Olds Motor Vehicle Company when they got together and began building a line of cars that became known for value, performance and solid engineering, the Hudson Motor Car Co. The company was founded in late 1909 and got its name from its largest investor, Joseph L. Hudson, department store magnate.
The 1909 Roadster with a four cylinder engine was Hudson's first model run and got the company off to a great start. By Hudson’s second year, they ranked eleventh in the US in automobile production. Hudson was one of the first automakers to develop a "closed" model car to protect their customers from the elements, an innovation that sent sales soaring. By 1911, production doubled to over 8000 cars built.
Another good decision by the founders was to put a six cylinder engine in their standard priced cars in 1913. High performing sixes had been limited to luxury cars, but now it Hudson was making it available to a larger car buying audience. By 1915 Hudson was advertising itself as the "world's largest manufacturer of six cylinder cars."
Hudson continued its success with its "Super Six" with the first “balanced” crankshaft which gave the car a smoother ride, and together with its companion car, the low priced four cylinder Essex. By 1925, sales had grown enough to make Hudson the third largest US automaker behind Ford and Chevrolet.
The stock market crash of October 1929 and the decade-long Depression that followed, hit Hudson particularly hard. Had it not been for the speedy, inexpensive Essex Terraplane, Hudson might have folded by 1940. The “Great Eight” they introduced in 1930 wasn’t that great. At 213.5 cubic inches, its engine was actually smaller than previous Hudson sixes and had just 80 horsepower to move a heavy chassis.
Like all major U.S. automakers, Hudson ceased building cars for the duration of World War II to manufacturer machine guns, aircraft components and huge engines for naval craft. But once the war ended in 1945, the demand for cars was at an all time high and Hudson’s new Super Six hit the road running. This Super Six engine evolved into the "308" Hornet powerplant which made Hudson the king of stock car racing. Overall, Hudson won 27 of the 34 NASCAR Grand National races in 1952, followed by 22 of 37 in 1953, and 17 of 37 in 1954.
Despite its racing successes, Hudson's wasn’t seeing the sales numbers climbing and re-engineering their cars would be too expensive due to their unibody design. Hudson's competitors used separate body-on-frame designs, and could change the look of their models on a yearly basis without expensive chassis alterations. In an effort to survive, Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator on May 1, 1954 to form American Motors Corp.

Why Do Car Restorations Take So Long?

In our most recent restoration, the 1961 Mark 2 Jaguar, we were astonished to note that we have owned the car now for 17 months and it’s still only 90% complete. So we reflected on why the job is taking so long, and along with the many conversations I have had with friends and enthusiasts, generated the following observations and thoughts about how to short cut this time.
  • Evaluate the project well and plan, plan and plan and include contingencies for low probability but still possible events. When we bought our car, we assembled a lengthy list of what needed to be done, and what we assumed needed to be done. Much of this stood us in good stead for both the negotiation on the purchase price, as well as to acquire the right parts and schedule the restoration in a logical order. So we pat ourselves on the back here.
  • Double or triple the amount of time that your sub-contractors estimate for crucial jobs. We have had 2 examples of this. The first was where the bodyman was so disorganized and eager to accept any and all jobs, that the body work, preparation and painting took 4 months, instead of 4 weeks, and would have taken longer except for my constant vigilance. The second was on the rebuilding of a Borg Warner Automatic Transmission which took 3 months, instead of weeks as originally promised. This took so long because the shop was very busy (they do great work, at a reasonable price!) and they neglected to order / find long delivery time parts early after stripping down the transmission.

Morgan - The Car That Hasn't Changed for 100 Years

Some things never change would be a good way describe Morgan Motor Company. For almost 100 years the Morgan remains a made to order motor car, built on an ash frame to the specifications of the individual owner. The Morgan Motor Company can also claim honors as the worlds oldest privately owned motor car manufacturer. Unless you're a Morgan aficionado, most folks couldn't tell a 1940's Morgan 4/4 from one just off the show room floor. Morgan has retained its distinct styling over the decades and unless you get a look at the engine or the instrument panel, it's hard to tell the old from the new.
On December 26th 1910, Morgan entered the London to Exeter and back Reliability Trial and as a result, won a gold medal and favorable press coverage. This was the first of thousands of awards and races the Morgan was to win. These successes took Morgan's sales to their highest point by the time the World War I broke out in 1914,.
Despite the fact that part of the factory had to be converted to produce shells and other munitions for the war effort, limited production of Morgans were able to continue through out the war. Many three wheeler manufacturers weren't so lucky and closed production for good. There were approximately twenty three manufacturers in 1913 which fell to seven by 1917.
After the war, most auto manufacturers were unable to switch to full production for nearly a year due to the lack of materials. H.F.S.Morgan got his factory back into full production right away using wood and aluminum to build his cars, and had record sales and profits in the two years following.
In 1936 the government announced that it was going to abolish the Road Fund Tax, which did away with the three wheeler's tax advantage. That year Morgan Motor Company introduced their first four wheeled car called the 4/4, for the four cylinders and four wheels. The 4/4 model Morgan is still in production today, looking very similar to the way it looked back then.
But just as Morgan had to change in 1936 to stay alive, they once again accepted change and unveiled the hydrogen-powered LIFECar at the Geneva Motor Show. It still has the traditional Morgan silhouette with a long hood, rounded rear glass and upright tail, but providing the power now is a fuel cell and electric motor system. The concept, according to Morgan, "takes a fresh look at transport, offering as revolutionary an approach to personal freedom as did the brilliant Morgan Three Wheeler introduced by HFS Morgan nearly 100 years ago."