Tag Archives: 1934 Ford

The McMillan Tire and Automobile Service Station – Part I

Today we’re featuring the first of three sets of photos that we’ll post in the next few days of a very busy McMillan Tire and Automobile Service Station located on Cascade Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia. These first shots date from October, 1946 and show a variety of older model cars getting all manner of attention. Parked in front of the ’33 or ’34 Ford coupe in the foreground is a ’33 Dodge sedan that appears to us to be a fairly rare eight cylinder DO model.

Our second image today shows the same location from another angle on the same day. The sparkling clean ’41 Ford Tudor on the right appears to be the newest car on the street. Not surprisingly, the Coca-Cola sign on the property is actually larger than the one advertising the Texaco (scroll down) gas sold at the station, since Atlanta was and continues to be the soft drink company’s home town. Stay tuned for Part Two in which we will reveal a different sort of “horsepower” passing by on the street. Photos courtesy of Georgia State University.

Posted in Auto photos 1946 - 1965, Garages and Dealerships, Gasoline stations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

The 1934 Ford and the Century of Progress International Exposition

In 1931, Model “A” sales in Great Britain were going rapidly downhill. Because of it’s comparatively large displacement, buyers were taxed more heavily than those of smaller British built cars, causing potential customers to stay away from Ford agencies in droves. In a crash effort to regain lost market share, Edsel Ford commissioned Eugene T. “Bob” Gregorie, then an unknown Lincoln stylist, to design a new, much smaller car. The resultant 1932 Ford Model “Y” was a smashing success.

Our domestic 1933 Model 40, surely one of the best looking American cars of the era at any price, came to be as the direct result of the English car’s stellar sales record. Upscaling the diminutive Model “Y” design for the U.S. fell to Clare Kramer, whose full sized drawing was quickly approved by Gregorie and Ford management. Chevrolet sales had been topping Ford since 1931, and the radical restyling of the Dearborn product so soon after the introduction of the revolutionary ’32 V-8 was no doubt an attempt to regain the lead, a goal that would be reached in 1934. Seen above is an example of that year’s production, aptly demonstrating both the rigidity of it’s frame and body and the flexibility of it’s transverse leaf spring suspension.

The Century of Progress International Exposition opened in Chicago in 1933. Built on 427 acres on the shores of Lake Michigan, it provided a welcome opportunity for Depression weary Americans to have a look at what a brighter future might have in store for them. It was a lavish extravaganza of Streamline Moderne structures and re-creations of historic buildings combined with amusements and side shows that rivaled any circus of the time. National exhibits from countries all over the world were joined by those celebrating the scientific and technological wonders of the age.

Of course, GM, Chrysler and Ford each put it’s best foot forward. The 11-acre Ford Motor Company exhibit (above) became the most talked-about exhibit at the Expo, featuring a central Rotunda designed to simulate a graduated gear cluster . Originally, the fair was scheduled only to run until November 12, 1933, but it was so successful that it re-opened on May 26, 1934 and ran until October 31. Look for more on the Expo, including a video, in a future post.

Shown below is an incredibly complex cutaway of another Model 40 on display at the Ford exhibit there, this one sliced right down the middle to show every detail of it’s construction.

Photos courtesy of  The Henry Ford Museum. Many other interesting photos from The Henry Ford, (scroll down) can also be seen here on The Old Motor. You can also visit with the Early Ford V-8 Club of America, that celebrates all flathead V-8 powered Ford products. They are one of the oldest car clubs in the country, currently celebrating their 50th anniversary.

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

Edsel Ford’s 1934 Speedster

Befitting the March 31st anniversary of the introduction of Ford’s milestone motor, the flathead V-8, The Old Motor is featuring one of the most celebrated and well documented cars ever to roll behind one such powerplant.


Better known and more highly skilled writers than myself have related the history of this car, from it’s initial concept as the second of two sport cars inspired by cars Edsel Ford saw on a trip to Europe in 1932, through his work with collaborator  E. T. “Bob” Gregorie on the design, to it’s careful fabrication by Ford master craftsmen.


The original 1934 design (seen below) was somewhat different.  Although Mr. Ford used the car for personal transportation for six years, in 1940 he again consulted with Gregorie about modifications to improve engine cooling.

The solution, seen below on the left in a 1/25th scale model built by Gregorie, shows the modifications intended to increase air flow to the radiator. Clearly visible on the print is a handwritten note from Edsel Ford to Gregorie approving this reconfiguration of the grille and relocation of the headlights. The thumbnail on the right shows the completed car’s new look.


But in the ensuing years, this unique roadster didn’t remain quite as visible as it was when Edsel cruised the streets of Grosse Point Shores in it. After Mr. Ford’s untimely death in 1943, this significant automobile changed hands several times in the next 67 years, undergoing some engine modifications, but thankfully none to it’s one-of-kind coachwork. Between 1958 and 1999, Earl and later his son, John Pallasch of Sebring, Florida owned it. That last year, an article in Special Interest Autos led Bill Warner, founder of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, to the famous car. A deal was struck and Edsel’s beautiful speedster changed hands once again. While in his care, it underwent a sympathetic refurbishment that returned it to running condition, but retained the soft patina that had developed over the years. It was in this state of preservation, after it’s acquisition by the Edsel and Eleanor Ford Estate, that I encountered the car in 2010 at the Saratoga Automobile Museum’s “Barn Find” exhibit.

Shortly after it’s appearance in Saratoga, the ambitious task of a total restoration of this historic automobile began.  Photos documenting that meticulous process can be seen here.

The end result, depicted in the fine photographs at the beginning of this post, is stunning. While it’s design was clearly influenced by the best Europe had to offer at the time, it seems to your writer that this sleek roadster exists at the nexus where those memorable cars, contemporary American open wheel racers and the hot rods of future decades come together. No doubt it made a strong impression on any budding backyard car builder who saw it when it was new and inspired many to try to replicate it’s clean lines and lithe shape in the following years. I, for one, am very happy that this special car has returned to it’s Michigan roots where it’s preservation seems assured.

We at The Old Motor gratefully acknowledge the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House for allowing us the use of the excellent photos that accompany this article. The car will be displayed at exhibition called: Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles at The Frist Center in Nashvile, TN. starting on June 14, 2013.

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