Category Archives: Out Of The Box
*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.
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.
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.
Surely one of the greatest automobile related exhibits at any World’s Fair ever, this enormous replica of the Studebaker streamlined 1934 Land Cruiser in many ways represented the company’s optimistic forward outlook at a time when their future seemed less than bright. They had fallen into receivership early in 1933 but, rather than be forced to liquidate, Paul G. Hoffman and Harold S. Vance convinced the bankruptcy court that the organization would have a better chance of paying off creditors if it was allowed to stay in business than if the company was dissolved.
Studebaker had merged with Pierce-Arrow in 1928 and shared engineering and styling talent through 1933. In a move calculated to capitalize on the attention that their Pierce Silver Arrow had attracted at the fair in 1933, Studebaker embarked on a crash program to develop a similarly futuristic design on a less exclusive chassis for 1934. In just a few short months, Studebaker chief body engineer James R. Hughes and Paul Auman’s crew adapted some features of the Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow’s dramatic styling to a production Commander four door sedan and created one of the great designs of the era.
To guarantee drawing fair goers to their exhibit, Studebaker constructed this immense and finely detailed replica out of plaster over a wood framework and billed it as the largest automobile ever built. Below it, an eighty seat theater showing films promoting their cars was almost always filled. A 5 3/4-inch long pot-metal miniature, molded on site by National Products with Replica of Giant World’s Fair Studebaker cast into it, was sold as a souvenir. These may have very well have been the first promotional models offered by a car maker and are very collectible today. You can find out more about the Century of Progress International Exhibition and the Studebaker here on The Old Motor. Bottom photo via Ronald Butler.