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 the time this interesting photo above of the Fiat Cyclone was taken, it had to have been in the racing game for close to seven or eight years. It was one of the cars in Barney Oldfield’s stable that he was using for his match and exhibition racing activities after Lincoln Beachey’s death. The car by then had been raced hard by many star drivers and crashed and repaired many times over.
Evidently Oldfield liked the small, good-handling car and so had it rebuilt yet again with new bodywork and a taller radiator. The car also had received a transplant of a 16-valve Duesenberg walking-beam racing engine. It is seen here without a hood and minus it’s tubular exhaust header, no doubt to provide additional thrills for the fans in the grandstand with flames belching out of the four exhaust ports visible at the top of the cylinder block. You can see some pictures of it and learn much more about this very unique form of engine here.
We would like to know more about the circumstances behind how this engine ended up in the Cyclone if you can add to the story. We are also interested in any period photos or literature that our readers might know of about these eight or sixteen valve walking-beam engines or the whereabouts of any others. The top photo is courtesy of Racemaker Press.
- Above Continental Tire Advertisement in the April 1908, “Motor” magazine.
Above and below are some earlier photos of and details about the Fiat Cyclone. The 60 HP overhead valve special seems to have first appeared here in America at the hands of Emanuel Cendrino for the 1908 Ormond Beach Speed Meet, seen behind the wheel above. There are many more earlier photos of the Fiat here on The Old Motor along with details covering his all-too-short racing career.
- “The Horseless Age” July 27, 1910
After Cendrino’s involvement with the car, it was rebuilt. It’s next pilot was well known racing ace Ralph De Palma. who also used it in his match racing activities. The excellent article below tells all about a race meet at the Brighton Beach race track, on July 27, 1910 where he raced 1908 Vanderbilt Cup Race winning driver George Robertson in the Simplex Zip. Take a few minutes to read all the interesting details about this event, as it really gives you a taste of what early match racing was all about.