Category Archives: Out Of The Box

*Updated* An Armstrong Siddeley Mobile Machine Tool Showroom


*Updated*: Thanks to reader Michael Rhodes who has informed us that this unique car still exists in pickup form minus the dome. Andy Blatchford adds: The Sapphire Utility is owned by the Armstrong Siddeley Owner’s Club Ltd. and is currently undergoing restoration with the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust, Coventry Branch at its workshops in Derby.

Adcock & Shipley Limited was a machine tool builder based in Leicester, England. The enterprise was formed in 1914, as a partnership of George Adcock and Howard Shipley, and turned into a long and successful venture. In this press photo dated January 27, 1960, can be seen a British Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire, which was cleverly turned into a rolling showcase for one of the firms horizontal milling machines.

With this unique vehicle, the salesman could drive to a prospect’s shop or factory, and conveniently demonstrate the machine tool at any time of the year, and in any type of weather. The sales car was equipped with a power cord that could be used to quickly connect to the client’s electrical service for the demonstration. Photo courtesy of the Benjamin Ames Collection.

Posted in Auto photos 1946 - 1965, Out Of The Box | Tagged , |

Signs of the Times – Early Highway Markers in the U.S.


Many younger drivers today barely know what a road map is, so accustomed are they to GPS navigation systems. A time when roads and highways were devoid of even the most basic markings is probably well beyond their imaginings. In those earliest days, intercity travel was the exclusive domain of the railroads. An automobilist had to be a brave and hardy soul to venture very far from town on the poorly marked and undeveloped roads of the day. An article we found in the February, 1907 issue of Good Roads Magazine called not only for improved highways, but made the case that adequate signage was second only to those very necessary upgrades.

sign3      sign4      sign6

In 1905, Homer Sargent Michaels, an automobile agent based in Chicago, developed a clever solution to the problem. He took photographs of every major intersection along a given route and published the results in some very useful books. In New England, the Automobile Green Book issued by the Automobile Legal Association provided road maps and directions to keep the motorist on his desired route. But these efforts were not practical as the number of motorists and cars exploded in the ‘teens and twenties.


It was the pioneering of the Lincoln Highway in 1913, that accelerated the movement for permanent and uniform signage. Although enthusiastic efforts got most of the route marked within the first few months, thirty to fifty percent of those markers fell victim to thieves and vandals within the first year and had to be replaced. The solution was a system of thirty four hundred concrete markers that would not be so easily disturbed.

By the late twenties, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials had worked out a standardized roadway numbering system that continues to serve to this day. Lincoln Highway sign photos from the Peter Helck Collection courtesy of Racemaker Press. Right thumbnail above courtesy of Iowa Public Television. Missouri highway signs photos from 1926 courtesy of the Joe Sonderman Collection.


Posted in Auto photos 1885 - 1920, Out Of The Box, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , |

Don’t Forget to Feed the Meter – Parking by the Minute

  • meter
  • A press photo dated 1937 showing newly installed parking meters

They are the bane of motorists and a boon to merchants and municipalities. They are parking meters and, in the last eighty years, they have become a part of city life everywhere in the U.S. As the numbers of automobiles on the road grew in the first half of the last century, so did the problem of parking them all. In Oklahoma City in the late nineteen-twenties and early thirties, downtown merchants became increasingly concerned that the lack of turnover of cars parked at the curb made it difficult for customers to patronize their stores.


It all came to a head in 1932 when the Chamber of Commerce appointed newspaper editor Carlton Cole Magee chair of the Traffic Committee, charged with the specific task of solving the problem. He built a crude model of  a small, clockwork powered device to time the use of each space and filed a patent on December 21 of that year. Because he was not an engineer, he enlisted the aid of Oklahoma State University Professor H. G. Thuesen and 1927 OSU graduate Gerald A. Hale to refine the design. By late 1933, Magee, Thuesen, and Hale had a working prototype and began looking for a manufacturer.

  • meter3
  • An early Magee-Hale “Park-O-Meter” in Long Beach, California, circa 1940

They chose the MacNick Company of Tulsa, makers of mechanical timers used in the Oklahoma oil fields to detonate nitroglycerin. On July 16, 1935, 175 meters were installed and tested. The system was a resounding success and the city wasted no time placing more all over the downtown. Magee went on to incorporate the Dual Parking Meter Company ( later the Magee-Hale Park-O-Meter Company) to manufacture his meter and his penny pinching products quickly spread across the country. Top photo courtesy of the Benjamin Ames Collection. News article courtesy of parking network. Bottom photo courtesy of History by Zim.

Posted in Auto photos 1921 - 1942, Out Of The Box | Tagged , , , , , , , |