Category Archives: Auto photos 1921 – 1942
Another work week has come to an end, so it’s time to gas up the car for a big night out. And what better way was there to go to the drive-in or the dance in the late 1950′s than in a slick 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air? Even though the 1957 Chevrolet was basically a reskin of the ’56, it’s longevity in the hobby has outpaced the Fords and Plymouths of the same year. Production numbers of the Plymouth may have lagged behind the other two somewhat, but it seems to us that a disproportionate percentage of these Chevrolets have survived.
Whether it was because of it’s “baby Cadillac” styling, robust drivetrain or rugged engineering overall, it has become a mainstay of the old car hobby much like the Model “A” Ford and 1949 Mercury before it. But whatever you drive or choose to collect, we at The Old Motor hope you have a pleasant weekend. Today’s photo was used courtesy of the Joe Sonderman Collection. You’ll also find many great Route 66 related articles and photos in Joe’s new book, Route 66 in Texas.
By Michael Dudley:
The Chrysler Six was unveiled at the New York Automobile Show in January of 1924. It was produced by Maxwell and had been developed by the legendary team of Fred Zeder, Owen Skelton, and Carl Breer (ZSB). The car incorporated an improved Lockheed four-wheel hydraulic brake system; the first on a moderately priced production vehicle. The engine that ZSB designed resulted in a 201 cubic inch, high compression, L-head, six cylinder engine that was successfully tested to perform at 3,000 rpm for fifty hours. It produced 68 horsepower and was capable of powering the automobile at 75 mph.
- The engine as seen above and full details below of the new Chrysler in the “Automotive Industries”, December 27, 1923 issue.
Walter P. Chrysler had sought the services of ZSB when he was asked to rescue the Willys Corporation from bankruptcy in February of 1920. While at Willys, the team worked on developing a car that would have been named Chysler and manufactured by Willys and introduced in 1922. When the Willys Corporation was ultimately thrust into bankruptcy on November 30th, 1921, the team of three men were hired by Billy Durant when he formed Durant Motors.
- Chrysler four-door sedan bodies, photo courtesy of Chrysler Heritage
Because Durant had bought the Willys plant in Elizabeth, New Jersey where ZSB had been working on the Chrysler prototype, they were able to continue to build and test prototype engines there. It was in November of 1922 that Chrysler saw the results of the final testing of the L-head engine and gave ZSB the go ahead to build a prototype car for Maxwell-Chalmers, who Chrysler he had been with since August 1920. In April 1923 he approved the prototype and requested that five automobiles be completed for the New York Automobile Show.
The early years of Chrysler were promising, starting with 50,622 cars sold in 1924. The early success of the new car propelled Walter P. Chrysler to form the Chrysler Corporation on June 6th, 1925. By the end of 1926 the Corporation was producing up to 750 cars a day and for 1927 the goal was to roll 200,000 off the assembly line. While they didn’t reach 200,000, they were close with 192,083 – a number that wouldn’t be surpassed until 1965. With the introduction of the Plymouth (to compete in the low price market with Ford) and DeSoto (designed to fill the gap between the Plymouth and Chrysler) in 1928 along with the purchase of Dodge Brothers Company, Chrysler emerged as one of the Big Three in 1929 along with Ford and General Motors.
- An example of the innovate engineering in the new Chrysler. The tubular front axle only weighed in at 27 pounds and worked well with the front-wheel brakes. It soon became popular for use on racing cars.
Photo at the top of the post from the Walter P. Chrysler Boyhood Home and Museum shows him standing with one of his early personal cars. It’s interesting to note the “F.D.N.Y” plate in front of the radiator; letters that all Americans have connected with for the past dozen years but were also important to Chrysler.
Editors Note: We are happy to have Michael Dudley join us here on T.O.M. for occasional articles. Mike is a McPherson College Auto Restoration program graduate and has started his own shop, Flatwater Restorations.
The endless creativity of the pioneers of motor transportation and the variety of their creations are what keep things interesting for us here at The Old Motor. It has been our “mission”, so to speak, to bring you interesting images and provide some historical information about them. But every now and then we come across photos of things that are great fun but so far out of the box that we can’t find out much about them. Such is the case today, so we invite you to join in with any information you might have about these unconventional machines.
To our eyes, the most practical of this group is the motorcycle/canoe combination in the our top photo. The starboard placement of the bike makes us think that it’s probably from the U.K., but as to the make, please tell us. The SIMO trike in our first thumbnail is a complete mystery to us. The caption on the second photo said that it’s The Grand Duke Alexis of Russia’s landau being drawn by a Heilmann electric tractor, c.1898.
If that’s correct, it makes us wonder if it’s the same Heilmann responsible for these unusual machines. And it seems that the curious 1926 Peugeot boat-car in our last image was not amphibious but was designed to promote the company’s newly formed marine engine division, Peugeot Maritime. You’ll find more uncommon subjects covered on The Old Motor. Today’s photos courtesy of the Yacht club des Avions de la Route.