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Student’s Cars at Stanford University

Stanford University, founded in 1885 is one of the premier colleges in the US, it is located in Stanford, CA, forty miles southeast of the city of San Francisco. The automobiles pictured in this post were owned by students at the College in the 1920s and ’30s and are the oldest vehicles in a series of images we will be sharing with you courtesy of the Stanford University Library.

The lead image and the enlargeable version of it (above) contain a pair of 1929 Chrysler Model 75 roadsters posed together with an airplane at the Palo Alto School of Aviation which opened a year earlier in 1928.

  • This 1930 or ’31 Model “A” Ford deluxe roadster somehow ended up in a ditch and is being pulled out of it with a chain attached to another vehicle. Note the non-original wire wheels with lock rings fitted with over sided tires.

  • A trio of late-teens or early-1920s Model “T” Ford speedsters and the owners pose for a photo. 

  • Four young men on a trip pose with a mid-1920s Model “T” Ford touring car in 1927.

18 responses to “Student’s Cars at Stanford University

  1. David, not to be too picky, but Palo Alto is about 26-27 miles southeast of San Francisco, whereas San Jose is about 40 miles SE. Mission Santa Clara de Asis (1777), the closest mission to the city of San Jose is in the neighboring city of Santa Clara.
    Mission San Jose (1797) is actually in current-day Fremont on the east side of the bay…and would be about 45 miles land distance from Mission San Francisco de Asís or, more commonly, Mission Dolores (1776).
    The missions were generally 30 to 40 miles apart, considered to be roughly one day’s travel on horseback.

    • It’s possible the mileage calculator defaults to the nearest Interstate highway which would be I-280 and even that indirect route yields just about 32 miles. A direct route on US 101 is just over 28 miles.

  2. I believe the airplane is a Monocoupe 70.
    The type received its ATC (type certificate) in late 1928.

    Early Monocoupes were built by Willard Valie, of Veliie automobile fame. The aircraft were built in Moline, Illinois.
    Velie was a grandson of John Deere.

  3. That is such a wonderful picture of the three speedsters. The cars were fairly old at the time, yet jazzy, snazzy, and probably popular with the less well-off students. The non-Ford roadster parked in the street behind them appears to be mid to late ’20s, while all three speedsters appear to ’20ish (two of them have the early style hand cranks last used about 1920 by Ford). All three speedsters are excellent examples of what was really better than average speedsters built by literally thousands of people, with catalog type bodies, wire wheels, and numerous other accessories prized by collectors today. Notice the drum headlamps on one, steering wheels on two of them, Hassler shocks on one, and that wonderful plated radiator shell with a grill on it. I can’t link to it here, but there is a very popular era photo of a parts supply store counter with one of those radiator shell/grills hanging at the top of the shelving. People often comment about that shell in their comments. Over the many years I have played with these things, I think I have seen about four original shells.

    The model T touring car is also interesting. It appears to be a ’21 or ’22 (three panel rear tub section). The car looks a bit beat, dented fenders, missing the top. But it has a Stewart V-Ray spot light! The other thing that struck me when I looked this one over, was the car appears to be missing the hand starter crank! That is one you do not see very often. So was his battery and electrical system that well maintained? Or maybe he relied on student pushers to start his car?

    The “School of Aviation” photo is fantastic! Wish I had more to say about it. I do see some earlier cars parked by the hanger, but in the shadows, can;t see much.

    One must wonder how that model A ended up there?

  4. 1931 deluxe roadster (one piece splash aprons in 1931). Broken front bumper, windshield posts and the top and top irons are missing. I have not seen the balloon tires and wheels with the “B” logo before.

  5. Fun fact: At the same time these photos were taken, students at Princeton were forbidden to own cars.

  6. The 30-31 Ford Roadster wheels have a B on the hub cap centers, there will be a mad rust to check Buick lug nut patterns now. great photos! bob

  7. It’s probably unlikely that any of the young men in that Model T are still with us, but I wish they were, to tell us about the adventure they were about to undertake.
    I wonder how far they went and what they encountered with that Ford along they way.
    BTW, that left rear tire looks just a bit low….did it have to be changed before they reached their destination?
    That trip must have been fun.

    • It looks like a serious field trip rather than just a jolly.One sees the same sort of thing today but larger parties in elderly minibuses.

  8. The two cars have 1928 California plates on them, though the color scheme seems reversed. Possibly the light is just right and the gold-on-blue reflects strangely. If these cars are ’29s, they must be only a few weeks old at the most.

  9. Again great early photos David. I also notice that the two speedsters on the left have plate numbers that are fairly close in sequence but the one on the right has a very diferent plate that has a star on it. I’m sure these were cars driven from home to college so were the two with similar platres from maybe the same town and the other guy from another area? Another question we will never know the answer to.Any Old Motor Heads know what the star on that plate meant?

  10. The star on the California license plates indicates a number over a million. This was a less expensive way to display the larger number because it eliminated the need to make a larger plate.

    • Wow! this I never knew and I have been in the hobby in California since I was 16 ! Goes to show you at 57 there are still many interesting tidbits to learn and store away…… now if i could only use them for some cash on JEOPARDY!

  11. If that is a Monocoupe, and I can’t tell for sure in the head on view, It’s likely to be a Veliie radial engine–a cute little thing of 65HP. Not sure that it was used in any other production aircraft, but there were 350 Veliie-Monocoupes built. Early ones detonated like crazy, and tended to shed parts. I have heard that later ones shed parts without going to the trouble of detonating.

  12. Those 3 speedsters are really cool! And that Model A looks like an early Gow Job. Slightly lowered and the leaned back windshield are good signs. Fella was probably showing off which led him to the ditch.

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