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*Updated* A Mystery Car in New York City – It is a Mercedes


*Update* At the bottom of the post.

This attractive touring car is filled real estate men and newspaper reporters who were guests that day of Joseph P. Day. The photo was taken at the Woodmanston Inn, which was located on Pelham Parkway in the interesting and historic Morris Park area of the Bronx, one of five boroughs of New York City. Day was a real estate broker and a very successful property auctioneer in the City between the 1890s and the 1940s.

  •                  Mys2                         Mys3

After learning all of the above about Day, the mystery car that we believe to have identified, would fit right in as being used by a man of his stature. The photo is dated as having been taken on May 27, 1914, which would lead us to believe that the car might have been as much as a couple of years old or possibly more. Your job is to positively identify and date it, and if you can send us a link or some documentation about it. We will post all correct responses on Friday.


*Update*:  After seeing this photo, a record number of comments from readers have come in about this car. It is a circa 1908 to 1910 45 HP Mercedes wearing coach-work equipped with a cape top. It features either Solarclipse or French Bresnard magnifying-lens headlamps and the coach-builder is likely to be by either J.M. Quinby & Co. from nearby Newark, New Jersey or Fred R. Wood & Son from New York City.

Thanks to all who participated and to the following who correcly identified it as a Mercedes: Shenton King, Christer Campler, Steve Evans, Karl Darby, Tony Costa, Frank Barrett, John Saylor and Ariejan Bos who included the most information about the car which you can read in his comment below.

Posted in Auto photos 1885 - 1920 | Tagged , , , , , |

Jack Landon and the Baby Cars He Built


In the late-twenties if you wanted a baby car built for fun or to use in some sort of an act or promotion, Jack Landon of Los Angeles, California was the man to see. Information was found about the cars he built after noticing his name on the side of the small tire resting inside of the larger one in the bottom photo. An October, 1927 Popular Science article tells of him building his first machine after cutting down a small car, but what he used as a basis for it remains a mystery.

Lan1      Lan2      Lan3

The photos that exist show a small L-head four-cylinder unit power plant used in a tiny chassis, on which little replicas of Westinghouse shock absorbers were installed. He may have made his own wheels on the feature car, but airplane units may have been used on others. An outfit in Los Angeles made the tires with his name on the sidewall, as seen in the middle photo above. The car on the left above he also built, and the car on the right is wearing one of his tires. You can learn more at Pepito and Joanne and Popular Science.


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Posted in Auto photos 1921 - 1942 | Tagged , , , , , |

The Kurtis That Inspired The Muntz Jet


An enthusiastic response to his prototype Kurtis Sports Car from the press and public at the 1949 Indianapolis 500 helped convince Frank Kurtis to produce it in limited numbers. While he had built a number of attractive one-off customs throughout his career, he had never manufactured a road car in any quantity before.

Early plans called for using a rumored Studebaker V-8, but when that engine failed to materialize, Kurtis struck a deal with Benson Ford for engines and running gear including entire 1949 Ford independent front suspension assemblies. The car was offered in various stages of completion for between $1,495 for a bare bones kit to $3,495 for a complete car.


But after a devalued British Pound dropped the cost of a new Jaguar XK-120 to less that $3,000, many potential customers opted for those and other imports, prompting Kurtis to sell the production rights and tooling to Los Angeles used car dealer Earl “Madman” Muntz in early 1950. He manufactured a stretched version of the car as the Muntz Jet until 1954.

Our photo courtesy of The Revs Institute shows one of the Kurtis cars in an American Automobile Association booth at an unknown event with some lettering on the front fender that cannot be made out. We invite anyone who might know what it says, recognizes the location or the two fellows in the photo to send in a comment. See the 1949 Kurtis Motor Trend cover car, which has survived.

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Posted in Auto photos 1946 - 1965 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , |