Cars A To Z: N

Well, I’ve put this off long enough…

Charles Nash‘s life was a real-life rags to riches story. Born to a poor farming family in Illinois during the Civil War, Nash’s hard work and business acumen led him to become President of General Motors and later founder of Nash Motors. His life story is worth reading, but I didn’t want to fill this post with a 500-1,000 word biography because it wouldn’t do him justice. The Wikipedia article about him is a decent place to start, but not to finish.

This anecdote is interesting, however. William Durant, founder of General Motors, first hired Nash in 1890 as an upholstery stuffer, long before GM existed. By 1900, Nash was Vice-President and General Manager of the Durant-Dort Carriage Company.

When Durant regained control of GM in 1916–Nash was named GM President in 1912 after Durant’s first ouster–he offered Nash a $1 million annual salary (worth about $25 million today) to stay with the company. Nash described the salary as “more than a man’s worth” and resigned on June 1, 1916.

Anyway…supposedly, Nash and two other former General Motors executives (James Storrow and someone whose name you’ll recognize, Walter Chrysler) tried to acquire managing interest in Packard, but its board of directors wasn’t interested enough. How about that for a What Might Have Been scenario.

Late in 1916 Nash acquired Jeffrey Motor Company. Charles Jeffrey, son of company founder Thomas (who died in 1910), had survived the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 and decided he wanted to spend his life doing something different.

The following year Nash renamed the company after himself and it produced the first car with the Nash name, the Model 671, which was–I think–a badge-engineered Jeffrey, although that term didn’t exist then. The first real Nash was the 680 series introduced in 1918. From standard (yes, the s is lower case) catalog of Independents a picture of a 1918 Nash Model 681:

 

 

Not that this matters, but that’s the first photo shown in the blog that was taken with my new iPhone 13 Pro. Sorry for the extraneous wood.

Nash Motors pioneered unibody construction (1941), seat belts (1950), mass-produced compact cars (1950) and the modern automobile HVAC system (1954) that is still the basis for such systems in cars today. While even the post-war, pre-merger cars are not that interesting to me, I find the company story to be fascinating. Nash focused on building cars of quality that were affordable.

In 1932, during the depths of the Great Depression, Nash was the only car manufacturer–besides General Motors–to report a profit. Nash’s profit happened despite an 88 percent decline in sales compared to 1929. Nash’s profit margin was even better than GM’s despite selling barely five percent the number of cars. Before the Depression, Nash had cracked the top eight in US automobile sales in both 1928 and 1929 with more than 250,000 units sold in those two years combined.

In 1937 as Chairman of the Board, Charles Nash brought in George Mason from the Kelvinator Corporation to lead the new company, the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation. Apparently, merging the two companies was the only way Mason would consider running Nash. Mason was an excellent executive who stewarded Nash to the merger with Hudson that formed American Motors in 1954 and it is more than possible that Mason’s unexpected death in late 1954 may have doomed Packard and Studebaker as his dreams for a company consisting of all four makes died with him.

OK, I’ll show one “picture” of a post-war, pre-merger car and it’s not of a Nash-Healey that, technically, is a separate make:

 

See the source image

 

A rendering of a 1952 Nash Statesman Country Club hardtop coupe. Many of the design elements of 1952 and later Nashes were the work of the legendary Battista “Pinin” Farina.

George Romney, Mason’s successor, ended Nash (and Hudson) after the 1957 model year to focus all of AMC’s efforts on the Rambler. Without a lot of effort that frankly isn’t worth it, I could not find a figure for total Nash production from 1917 to 1957. I can tell you that from 1946 through 1954 Nash produced almost 1.2 million cars.

Nash is not well remembered today, but that doesn’t mean the company story isn’t interesting or that they didn’t make important contributions. Temporal arrogance has always existed in the human race, but I think it gets worse with each successive generation. Remember Charles Nash and his company.

 

See the source image

 

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Cars A To Z: M

The family whose name is the “M” car never manufactured real road cars, only race cars. The Maserati brothers (five of the six brothers, actually, as the sixth was an artist) had been involved in building race cars since at least 1914. They were building race cars for Diatto when that company suffered major financial difficulties and withdrew from racing in the mid-1920s.

Alfieri Maserati took over the Diatto project and founded Officine Alfieri Maserari SpA in Bologna in 1926. The famed Maserati trident is actually the symbol of the city of Bologna.

In 1938 the remaining Maserati brothers (sadly, Alfieri died in 1932) sold their company to Adolfo Orsi, but nominally remained attached to the company with a ten-year consulting contract. Orsi moved the company to Modena where it remains to this day.

It was under Orsi’s ownership that Maserati built its first real road cars. He wanted to continue to be involved in racing, but felt the real money would be in cars sold to the public.

Maserati has come close to liquidation more than once. In 1968, Citroën purchased a majority stake in Maserati. That partnership led to the amazing Citroën SM:

 

See the source image

 

The SM was Motor Trend car of the year in 1972. Two years later, Peugeot bought about 40 per cent of Citroën as a first step to taking over the company. The new owner wanted nothing to do with Maserati and, combined with the OPEC oil boycott and resulting world economic downturn, it came close to bankruptcy, but was saved by Alejandro De Tomaso, who had built the legendary Mangusta and Pantera as well as one of my all-time favorites, the Longchamp.

Chrysler bought a small stake in Maserati in 1984, but De Tomaso sold the company to Fiat in 1993 after annual sales had fallen below 1,000. It has been rumored that Fiat bought Maserati under pressure from the Italian government to save the latter. By 1997, Ferrari SpA had purchased half of Maserati with the other half still owned by Fiat. The irony of Ferrari owning its former rival was not lost on anyone.

Of course, Maserati is now part of the Stellantis group which was created when Fiat Chrysler (the owner of Maserati) merged with the French PSA Group. Ironically, Maserati is–once again–part of the same company as Peugeot and Citroën, which were part of PSA.

As I have written before, my Maserati obsession started very early, when my age was still in single digits. This rendering was the spark:

 

 

This rendering of a 5000 GTI is from The Golden Guide To Sports Cars, which was published in 1966 and purchased by me in 1968 or 1969 through my elementary school’s book buying program. One look at that and I was a Maserati guy.

Except for the MC-12, Maserati has never really made supercars. They have made great looking cars with good performance. The newest model, the MC20, is closer to being a supercar than previous models. A photo of said vehicle:

 

See the source image

 

I am hoping to see one of these in person before too much longer. Of course, any mention of Maserati has to at least show the legendary Ghibli, the first Ghibli, manufactured from 1967 to 1973.

 

See the source image

See the source image

 

For part of my teenage years I thought this car was the best looking automobile of all time. It still looks great to me.

Even as part of a large automobile conglomerate, the future of Maserati is far from secure. Ominously, worldwide sales fell from 51,500 in 2017 to 19,300 in 2019 and that was before the damn virus. Sales fell another 12 percent in 2020. Even with an SUV as part of its portfolio and the “promise” of hybrids and pure EVs, Maserati seems to have lost its way. I don’t know if any shining knight à la Alejandro De Tomaso still exists.

 

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Cars A To Z: L

Originally, I was going to use Lincoln as the “L” car and cheat a little by including the 1956-57 Continental Mark II that, technically, wasn’t a Lincoln. I decided, instead, that since Lincoln no longer manufactures cars–only SUVs–they would not be the pick.

The “L” car is a make with whom we have had a personal connection, a make that has been included in every iteration of my Ultimate Garage and a make that manufactured a car that Jeremy Clarkson called the best car he has ever driven: Lexus.

Of course, Lexus is the luxury vehicle division of Toyota. It was founded in 1989, around the same time that Honda created Acura and Nissan created Infiniti.

Lexus ranked #1 in the JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study for eight straight years from 2012 through 2019, inclusive. For 2020 it “slipped” to #2 behind Genesis, the luxury division of Hyundai/Kia, but returned to Number One for 2021.

From personal experience I can vouch for the reliability of Lexus. The picture below is a Lexus SC430:

 

See the source image

 

My wonderful wife owned a 2006 SC430 for six years and it never gave her one day of trouble. The SC430 was part of the long-running SC series that was built from 1991 to 2010. The SC430 debuted in 2001. It was powered by a 4.3 liter (hence, the name 430) V-8 that produced 288 HP/317 LB-FT of torque and could propel the car from 0-60 MPH in 6.2 seconds.

Despite what a few critics have charged, we always thought the car had a great ride, a good look and more than enough power for 99% of drivers. No, it was not a sports car, but a very comfortable highway/road cruiser.

One of those critics was Jeremy Clarkson, who called the car below the best car he had ever driven. A Lexus LFA:

 

See the source image

 

Unlike the SC series and current LC models, the LFA was a sports car, pure and simple. It was powered by a high-revving V-10 of 4.8 liter/293 cubic inch displacement that produced 552 HP/354 LB-Ft of torque. Ninety percent of that torque was available from 3,700 RPM; the engine redline was 9,000 RPM. The motor revved so quickly, from 0 to 9000 RPM in less than one second, that a digital tachometer had to be fitted as no analog type could keep up.

The LFA had a claimed top speed of 202 MPH and could accelerate from 0-60 MPH in 3.6 seconds. Only 500 LFAs were produced from 2010 to 2012. Although I did not write about the cars that just missed the cut for Ultimate Garage 3.0, either for Part 1 or Part 2, the LFA was a car I strongly considered.

The car below has been a part of every Ultimate Garage I have ever published:

 

 

This is, of course, a Lexus LC coupe. Fortunately, in this neck of the woods these cars are seen on the road more than just once in a blue moon. (How’s that for two clichés in one sentence?!)

The looks of this car ALWAYS get my attention. Having driven one I can attest that they are no slug although certainly not the same type of performer as the LFA. Still, the LC 5-liter V-8 produces 471 HP/398 LB-FT of torque and enables the car to accelerate from 0-60 MPH in 4.5 seconds.

Unfortunately, it looks as if the LC F version of this car–with a twin-turbo, 600+ HP V-8–will not be produced, at least not for the US market. What might have been…

As always, I welcome thoughtful comments from all readers.

 

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Cars A To Z: K

 

In the book shown above how many makes whose name begins with the letter “K” are listed? The answer is none. The book jumps from Justcialista (a car built in Argentina from 1954 to 1956) to Lagonda.

“K” cars are rare. Of course, I am not referring to Chrysler’s K-car platform that was built in the 1980s and is given credit by many automotive historians for saving the company.

From post-World War II USA came the Kaiser-Frazer automobile company and the Kaiser make. From standard catalog of® of American Cars, 1946-1975:

 

“Shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser decided to make the automotive industry his port of call after the close of World War II. Teaming with Graham-Paige executive Joseph Frazer–in an association often shaken by personality conflicts–Kaiser moved quickly to beat the major makers into production of an all-new postwar car. The result was a novel-looking, straightsided design with definite appeal to buyers of the day.”

 

By beating the Big Three to the punch with a new car, Kaiser-Frazer did well at first, but after the big companies started to introduce new designs of their own, along with new engines like the modern Cadillac/Oldsmobile overhead-valve, oversquare V-8, Kaiser sales slumped. For model year 1947 (Kaiser was introduced in September, 1946), more than 70,000 Kaisers were sold along with an almost equal number of Frazers. By 1950 sales had slumped so much that Kaiser was re-coding leftover 1949 cars. Exact figures are not easy to interpret, but Kaiser probably only sold about 15,000 cars for model year 1950. (Production of Frazers ended after the 1951 model year.)

Two Kaiser cars stand out to me: the two-door coupe after the 1951 redesign and the Kaiser-Darrin. Here are pictures of both cars:

 

See the source image

See the source image

 

I don’t know who Dan Palatnik is, but there’s no © or ® mark on the photo and it’s the best picture of a 1951 Kaiser two-door club coupe I could find in my admittedly brief search. The picture of the Kaiser-Darrin is from Barrett-Jackson.

While Kaiser was among the first automobile companies to offer seat belts, an instrument panel dash pad and pop-out windshields, American consumers of the 1950s were, well, consumed by horsepower, by fins and chrome. Kaiser ceased American production in 1955 after losing about 100 million dollars. Edgar Kaiser, Henry’s son, is supposed to have said, “Slap a Buick nameplate on it and it would sell like hotcakes.” The wonderful Encyclopedia of American Cars by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide® remarked, “He was probably right.”

I think a 1951-55 Kaiser two-door coupe would make a great platform for a restomod. Of course, the odds of my pulling off that project are slim and none and slim got on the 3:45 flight to Kansas City. Oh well…

 

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Time To Exhale, I Hope

Although my wonderful wife has given the OK to share these details, part of me is reluctant to do so. I guess a very small piece of my psyche worries about karma. Anyway, here goes:

A cancer diagnosis was the reason for the major surgery my wonderful wife had 11 days ago. Although she is having some post-op complications, she is feeling better every day. Most important, all early indications are good.

The tumor only minimally invaded the wall of the organ of its origin. (That organ and others were removed.) The surrounding cavity showed no evidence of malignancy. Most important, all lymph nodes tested were negative for cancer cells. She will not require any further treatment.

She is not out of the woods, of course. However, when we (finally) received the lymph node results yesterday we were elated.

Once again, I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to David Banner (not his real name) for sharing his time, expertise and good wishes.

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Today is, of course, the first day of Astronomical Winter in the Northern Hemisphere. “Sunrise” today here will be at 7:28 AM; “sunset” will be at 5:22 PM. Of course, the sun does not really rise and set; the earth turns in and out of its view.

The “sunrise” will actually keep occurring later in the day for awhile, but so will “sunset.” For example, on January 7 those times will be 7:34 AM and 5:35 PM. As I have written before, I don’t like the late “sunrises” as I am a morning person, but a morning person who does not see well enough in low light conditions to drive. Oh well, it is what it is. Having high temperatures in the 60s (Fahrenheit) during the first days of Astronomical Winter is a nice consolation.

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How about this for a nice picture:

 

 

Yes, another “consolation” for late winter “sunrises.”

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What do you think of the Cars A To Z feature? While I have every intention of completing the alphabet, I would like to read your reactions.

Of course, some letters are much more fertile ground than others. (By the way and just by chance, of the first ten cars shown five were American makes and five were not.) I think many people don’t know that despite the relatively small number of automobile manufacturers in the world now, historically there have been thousands, most of which with short lifespans.

The post about the “G” car, Graham-Paige, remains the most viewed in the series. Here is the photo shown in that post:

 

See the source image

 

This is (hopefully) a picture of a 1934 Graham Supercharged Custom Eight. Anyway, I would like to read your thoughts. Thanks.

 

#TimeToExhaleIHope

#WinterSolstice

#FullMoonOverTheMountains

#CarsAToZ

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Cars A To Z: J

First…while the weather in this part of Arizona is very nice this time of year, especially compared to most of the rest of the country, I do not like the late “sunrise.” Today, that occurred at 7:25 AM. Regardless of when daylight commences I still wake up early. Since I don’t really see well enough in the dark to drive (I lose virtually all peripheral vision in low light) I am basically stuck at home. Yes, I remember: EVERYTHING is a trade-off.

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My wonderful wife would never forgive me if I picked a make other than Jaguar as the “J” car in Cars A To Z. By the way, although we are still waiting for the final and most important result, she is feeling better every day post-surgery. Once again, we thank those of you who have offered good wishes.

Jaguar was founded in 1922 (the year my marvelous mom was born) as the Swallow Sidecar Company by William Lyons and William Walmsley. When the latter wanted to sell his stake in the company, Lyons formed S.S. Cars Limited and raised capital by selling shares in the new company in 1933. In 1945 the company name was changed to Jaguar Cars Limited.

To me, Jaguar has excelled in terms of exterior design. Consider the car shown below:

 

See the source image

 

This XJ6 coupe, of which fewer than 10,000 were made between 1975 and 1978, is not one of the company’s better known models. Still, its aesthetics are just wonderful to me. Of course, Enzo Ferrari called the next car the most beautiful he had ever seen:

 

See the source image

 

This is a picture of a lot offered at the Mecum Monterey auction in 2016: a 1964 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 roadster. While I have never named the E-Type to any of my Ultimate Garages, I do think the car has a great design. I also prefer the looks of the car shown below:

 

 

Yes, dirt and all I think the number of better looking cars can be counted on the fingers of no more than two hands, maybe just one. This is a Jaguar F-Type convertible, which was included in Ultimate Garage 3.0.

With the exception of the XJ-220, Jaguar’s recent idiom has been more in the great-looking car with good performance niche as opposed to the supercar/hypercar arena. Jaguar did have much success at Le Mans in the 1950s. Of course, Jaguar Land Rover recently announced they will make only electric-powered vehicles beginning in 2025. Let’s hope the company continues its tradition of great exterior design and doesn’t succumb to the mind-numbing sameness that afflicts most of the automobile industry.

Once again, a blog post is not an appropriate venue in which to tell the story of an automobile company with a long history. I am sure some of you know far more about Jaguar than I do and I welcome your contributions.

 

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Cars A To Z: I

Please keep my wonderful wife in your thoughts.

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The “I” company in Cars A To Z made these cars:

 

See the source image

 

Iso, founded by Renzo Rivolta in 1939, morphed from a manufacturer of motor scooters to “bubble cars” (like the Isetta shown in the top photo) to powerful GT cars, like the beautiful Grifo shown in the bottom picture.

While most people associate the Isetta with BMW, the fact is that Iso invented that car, but then licensed the concept to other manufacturers. Iso stopped making the Isetta in 1956. BMW produced the car from 1955 to 1962 selling more than 160,000 units. It is the best-selling single-cylinder car in history.

With the earnings from the Isetta (which means “Little Iso” in Italian), Iso and Renzo Rivolta decided to begin the manufacture of GT cars in the early 1960s. The two-seat Grifo, which was produced from 1965 to 1974, was a companion to the four-seat Rivolta that was introduced in 1963.

The Iso Grifo was a part of both Ultimate Garage 2.0 and 3.0. It was a hybrid in the original sense of that word in an automotive context in that it had European coachwork and in the case of the Iso cars, a European chassis, but an American drivetrain. The original Iso had a Corvette engine and two of the three available transmissions were also from the Corvette.

Unfortunately, events beyond the company’s control–such as the OPEC oil embargo of 1973-74–crippled the company and Iso went bankrupt and shut down all operations in 1974. However, the nameplate returned with a “new” car in 2017, also named Rivolta:

 

 

 

The new Iso Rivolta GTZ is essentially a re-bodied C7 Corvette Z06 and as such, it features the same General Motors 6.2 liter supercharged LT4 V8 engine as the Chevy coupe. In fact, I am 99% certain that the cost of the new Rivolta has to include the cost of a donor C7 Corvette.

This is an extremely low-production vehicle with total output limited to 19 vehicles. It’s good to see the Iso name revived, but it would be more impressive, in my opinion, if it were produced in higher numbers.

 

At the beginning of Cars A To Z I thought I would post about two a week. The feature began two months ago and this is only the ninth in the series. Life intrudes…

 

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Cars A To Z: H

First, a recap of the first seven A To Z cars and links to the appropriate posts:

 

Alvis

Bugatti

Chevrolet

Duesenberg

Edsel

Ferrari

Graham-Paige

 

I really wanted to use Hispano-Suiza as the “H” car. One of their cars (the H6) was an inspiration for Harley Earl’s first design for General Motors, the 1927 LaSalle. In the end, though, the waning but still meaningful tug of defunct American makes led to the selection of Hudson.

As stated in The Beaulieu Encyclopedia Of The Automobile, Hudson was not named after any of its founders, but after the man who financed the venture: Joseph L. Hudson, who had grown wealthy from the success of Hudson’s department store in Detroit. Roy Chapin, Howard Coffin, and Frederick Bezner, all of whom had worked for Oldsmobile, were the automotive people involved in starting the company in 1909. Hudson died just three years after the founding of the company. Chapin’s son, Roy Jr., had a long career as an automobile executive eventually becoming Executive Vice-President and General Manager of the Automotive Division of American Motors.

Hudson occasionally ranked among the top eight or ten American makes in sales and reached as high as third, albeit a very distant third behind Ford and Chevrolet, in 1929 when counting sales of its companion make, Essex. Hudson was probably the first automobile manufacturer to sell closed cars at a lower price than open models.

The “Step Down” design, introduced for model year 1948 or a year before most other American companies launched all-new postwar designs, is probably Hudson’s best-known automotive contribution. The Step Down featured a truss-type chassis frame that enveloped the passenger compartment. Frame rails were actually outside the rear wheels. The floor was even with the bottom of the rails, which meant that passengers actually had to step down into the car.

These cars had a very low center of gravity and were extremely safe for the period. The Hudson Hornet dominated NASCAR from 1951 to 1954.

Like all independents, Hudson lacked sufficient funds to keep up with automotive developments such as V-8 engines. Hudson sales peaked in 1950 with a calendar-year figure of more than 143,000 units. By 1953, that number had fallen by more than half to just 67,000 cars.

Of course, Hudson and Nash merged in 1954 to become American Motors. Hudson retained its model line autonomy for that year as the merger wasn’t officially consummated until May of 1954, well into the 1954 model year. Nash was the stronger partner in the merger as much of Hudson’s profit in the early 1950s came from defense contracts. The end of the Korean War hurt Hudson severely as the company lost more than $10 million in fiscal 1953 compared to a war-aided profit of more than $8 million for 1952.

From model year 1955 through the end in 1957, Hudsons were really just badge-engineered Nashes. The decision to drop Hudson (and Nash) actually was made fairly late in the process as sketches for 1958 model year Hudsons (and Nashes) were created as late as August of 1957.

For the nth plus nth time I lament the demise of makes like Hudson. I fear a numbing sameness will pervade the US automobile industry. Until then, we can marvel at these cars:

 

See the source image

 

This is a picture of a 1909 Hudson roadster.

 

See the source image

 

A picture of a 1948 Hudson Commodore Eight four-door sedan.

Under the heading of what might have been is this car, the 1954 Hudson Italia:

 

See the source image

See the source image

 

Directly above is a picture of a 1954 Hudson Hornet Hollywood, one of my favorite designs from the 1950s.

If anyone has information about Hudson they’d like to share, then we’d like to read it. A 500-600 word blog post is not the place for a thorough discussion of the history of almost any automobile manufacturer.

 

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Cars A To Z: G

First…many, many thanks to David Banner (not his real name) for sharing his time and expertise with me during this latest medical crisis. I am improving, which should be apparent given the existence of this post.

 

“G” is not a letter well-represented among automobile makes with any longevity. The “G” car in this series is actually strongly connected to Madison Square Garden (MSG), the famous New York sports and entertainment venue. How, you ask?

In 2015, The Madison Square Garden Company was split into two different companies by its owner, Cablevision, which itself had spun off its MSG holdings in 2010 into a separate company. In 1994, Viacom purchased majority ownership of Paramount Communications, then owner of MSG, but sold MSG to Cablevision and ITT, which sold its half of MSG to Cablevision in 1997. With me so far?

In 1989, Paramount was formed when Gulf and Western sold its non-media and entertainment assets. Gulf and Western became sole owner of MSG in 1977, but before that owned 81% of MSG stock. In 1960, the Madison Square Garden Corporation merged with its largest share holder, Graham-Paige. Two years later, Graham-Paige changed its name to the Madison Square Garden Corporation.

The three Graham brothers–Joseph, Robert and Ray, who were from Indiana–began their industrial careers in the glass business. They sold the company they built to Libbey-Owens, later Libbey-Owens-Ford, although I’ll be damned if I can tell you the exact year. From “evidence” that sale probably happened in 1916 or 1917.

The Grahams then began to manufacture trucks and tractors with their first product being pickup and truck conversion kits for Model T Ford chassis. They did not build their own engines, however, using motors built by Continental (at one time a successful independent engine builder for car companies), Dodge and Ford.

The Graham Brothers Speed Truck became so popular that Dodge entered into an agreement to sell complete trucks made by Graham through Dodge dealers. In what was apparently a surprise, the Graham brothers decided to sell the company to Dodge in 1926–then owned by investment bank Dillon, Read & Co. who bought the firm from the widows of the Dodge brothers in 1925, only to sell the company to Walter Chrysler in 1928. Still with me?

The Grahams then purchased the Paige-Detroit Motor Car Company in June of 1927, headquartered in Flint, Michigan. Six months after acquiring the company, their own Graham-Paige automobile debuted at the New York Automobile Show. The name “Paige” was dropped from the cars in 1930, but not from the company name.

I think Graham’s most significant contribution was the car shown below. I think it’s far more important than the attempt to join with Norman DeVaux and what was left of Hupmobile to manufacture cars using the dies from the discontinued Cord 810/812.

 

See the source image

 

From Pinterest this is supposed to be a picture of a 1934 Graham Supercharged Custom Eight. Prior to this car, supercharging had been the realm of high-end cars only. The Beaulieu Encyclopedia Of The Automobile shows the price of this car as $1,245, but Encyclopedia of American Cars by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide® shows the lowest price as $1,045. Regardless, that was a remarkable value for its day. The Auburn Supercharged Eight 851/852 models, which debuted the next year, were hailed as performance for the masses, although I doubt that exact phrase was used, but the cars could cost as much as $2,200. The least expensive 1934 Cadillac V-8 car, of much larger displacement but not supercharged, cost more than $2,500.

The 1934 Supercharged Eight produced 135 horsepower, an impressive number for its day especially considering that the “legendary” Ford flathead V-8 for the same year produced 85 HP. I think these cars by Graham are pretty much forgotten today, but shouldn’t be.

For Graham, though, the Supercharged Custom Eight was no savior. Of the roughly 23,000 cars they manufactured in 1934, only about 4,000 were the supercharged model. They added a supercharger to one of their six-cylinder cars in 1936 after dropping eight-cylinder engines. That model sold more than the Custom Eight (5,500 in ’36), but Graham sales declined to just 17,000. Of course, the 1930s were a tough time to be a smaller automobile manufacturer.

Graham stopped manufacturing cars in 1940 after making its Cord clone, the Hollywood. Leaving the automobile business proved to be quite lucrative for Graham as they made millions during World War II from government defense contracts as they were still manufacturing farm equipment and were able to convert that capability into making amphibious tanks. Joseph Frazer–yes, of Kaiser-Frazer–bought Graham-Paige in 1944; he/Kaiser-Frazer bought what automotive business remained in 1947. Graham-Paige dropped the name “Motors” from its name in 1952 with its departure from the farm equipment business and became an investment corporation that eventually gained majority stake in Madison Square Garden.

Quite a story, huh? Graham-Paige is just one of many US (and world) automobile manufacturers that made substantial contributions, but are forgotten today.

 

Glad to be back, but I cannot promise posts on an almost-daily basis. I’ll have to take it a day at a time.

 

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Cars A To Z: F

I really couldn’t have chosen any other make for the “F” car than Ferrari. On a tangent…I have written about how much I like the show Salvage Hunters: Classic Cars that is shown on Motor Trend. The show is shot in the UK and hosted by Paul Cowland and Drew Pritchard.

Pritchard has almost a pathological dislike for Ferrari; at least that’s how his attitude is portrayed on the show. He thinks their styling is tasteless and the cars are unreliable. Cowland is a big fan of the make, or marque in UK parlance.

Different strokes for different folks or DSFDF…

 

Almost all of us are at least part shadow and shade and ALL of us are flawed. That includes Enzo Ferrari. He was called “Enzo The Butcher” by race car drivers for his apparent disregard for their safety. According to The Beaulieu Encyclopedia Of The Automobile:

 

“Ferrari ran his factory as a Medieval city-state. He set his lieutenants against each other–Ferrari described himself as an ‘agitator’ of men…Ferrari always lagged behind in terms of technology. He was conspicuously late to adopt disc brakes, for example, a mid-engined layout or, even, scientific aerodynamics. Many a Formula One designer looked at Ferrari’s resources and could not believe why the Scuderia did not win every race it entered.”

 

Of course, his last-minute exit from a potential deal to sell his company to Ford led to Henry Ford II vowing to beat Ferrari at LeMans regardless of cost and effort. His personal life cost the company the services of key executives in the early 1960s. After the death of his son Alfredino “Dino” in 1956, Ferrari wanted to recognize the son born to his mistress. Not surprisingly, Ferrari’s wife objected, began to meddle in company affairs and that led to the departure of eight senior principals. Yes, that would almost certainly not happen today.

Still, as Beaulieu sums up, “Other makers have been more competent, but none can match Ferrari for sheer charisma.” As I do not wish to break a butterfly upon a wheel (thanks, Alexander Pope), I will just show pictures of some of my favorite Ferraris, of which there are many.

 

 

This is, of course, the 1961 Pininfarina 250 GT coupe with which I became smitten at the Mecum auction in Monterey, California in August of this year. Here’s another picture of the same car:

 

 

This is a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC. This car was part of my Ultimate Garage 3.0 published four months ago.

 

 

This is a Ferrari Portofino, which was part of my Ultimate Garage 2.0 published in 2019. I still love the car, but a person can change their mind even if there’s nothing wrong with the one they have.

 

 

This is the Ferrari California my wonderful wife test drove earlier this year, but was sold when we returned to the dealer. Of course, we really had no intention of buying the car right now. Hey, we just have no room at the inn. The California was part of my Ultimate Garage published on my first blog, which was hosted by the Evil Empire, AKA Google.

 

 

This Ferrari 456 is an underappreciated car, in my opinion. About 3,300 456 and 456 M (for Modificata) cars were produced from 1992 to 2003.

No, I haven’t written about Ferrari’s racing history or more about Enzo Ferrari. The cars speak volumes.

 

Have a great weekend; it is Friday, right?

 

#CarsAToZ

#Ferrari

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.