Tag Archives: Cord

Flying Low in a Chrysler Airflow – “High Speed Harry” Hartz at Bonneville

In 1934, high speed endurance runs were the thing to do for a manufacturer wanting to establish a reputation for their cars. We’ve recounted Ab Jenkins’ exploits for Studebaker, Pierce-Arrow and Cord previously on The Old Motor, and today it’s famous racer Harry Hartz’s turn. Hartz was a veteran of the Indianapolis 500 and the big board tracks, but a serious accident at Rockingham Speedway in Salem, New Hampshire in 1927 took him out of the game.

  • Hartz
  • Harry Hartz, co-driver Tony Gullota and A.A.A. representative Lee Oldfield on a Economy Run, this time in a DeSoto Airflow.

Chrysler picked him to pilot a stock Chrysler Airflow Imperial around a ten mile circle at Bonneville in mid-August. In doing so, he set 72 class B records, averaging 84 miles per hour for 24 hours as certified by the A.A.A. At the end of the month, he drove a DeSoto Airflow from Los Angeles to New York City, setting an economy record of 18.1 miles per gallon. Our videos today offer accounts of both events, but these accomplishments were not enough to make Chrysler engineer Carl Breer’s baby a sales success. You can see other previous posts about Harry Hartz and Ab Jenkins here on The Old Motor.

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The Automotive Fine Arts Society

From the earliest days of motoring, advertising was the primary venue for auto-related art. Accomplished painters like Peter Helck produced some very high quality work from the 1920′s through the 1940′s but for the most part the fine art community considered such stuff mere illustration. However, in recent years, the genre has come into it’s own, due in no small part to the efforts of the Automotive Fine Arts Society.

We are very happy to be able present some beautiful examples of their work here today. Be sure to check out the Societies members work at the exhibit at the upcoming Pebble Beach Concours and next year at the Amelia Island Concours. See the Society’s president, Ken Eberts earlier work here on The Old Motor.




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Ab Jenkins and a Cord at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,1937

Amongst our favorite subjects here at The Old Motor are the endurance runs made in the earlier days of motoring. Whether on a race track, dry lake or public road, the effort it took to perform such feats cannot be fully appreciated by anyone who hasn’t spent time behind the wheel of an older car. One of the best known names in the very small fraternity of drivers who have set these records is, of course,“Ab” Jenkins.

In 1927, Rome, New York millionaire Samuel B. Stevens, himself an auto pioneer and pre-war racing veteran, issued a challenge to any man who could average a mile a minute or better for 24 hours in a production car at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Stutz and Marmon had succeeded in doing so in 1927 and 1931, respectively. Jenkins took up the challenge and is seen above (center) posed with the 1937 Cord in which he began the run on June 22, 1937.

Jenkins posing with a representative of the Wilkinson Motor Co. of Salt Lake City, Utah, earlier in September of 1936. Photo courtesy of the University of Utah.

But he did not complete that epic drive in the same car. Although he lost his right front wheel on the front straight at almost 90 miles per hour, Jenkins was able to bring it to a safe stop without hitting the wall. He quickly switched to a backup car to complete the event, averaging 79.57 miles per hour for the entire distance, including stops for  fuel oil and tires. However, his heroics did not help Cord sales and production of the distinctive car ceased less than seven weeks later.

The trophy was retired in 1954 after Tony Bettenhausen, Pat O’Connor and Bill Taylor collaborated to raise the mark to 89.89 miles per hour in a Chrysler. Ford made an unsuccessful attempt in 1956 and became the fifth and last team to accept Stevens’ challenge, almost thirty years after it was first issued. You can read more about “Ab” Jenkins long record breaking career in some earlier posts on The Old Motor. Photo courtesy of  Isabelle Bracquemond.

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Sensuous Steel – Art Deco Automobiles at the Frist Museum

The Delahaye 135MS Figoni and Falaschi Roadster first seen at the 1937 Paris Auto Salon from the Collection of The Revs Institute for Automobile Research at the Collier Collection.

An exhibition of some truly remarkable automobiles is currently in progress at The Frist Center for Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee and runs until September 15, 2013. A must see for lovers of Art Deco and “French Curve” design, visitors unfamiliar with those genres will likely be even more impressed by the striking style of these cars. Superb lighting shows them off to their best advantage as seen in these images courtesy of Bruce Sweetman.

They come to the Frist from some of the finest collections in the country. Well known automotive journalist and guest curator Ken Gross brief gives a  brief introduction to the exhibit in the video below.

A preview of just some of the cars you will see there follows below. You can find out more about this display and the Frist Center, including hours and directions, here.


L to R (above) : The Collier Collection’s Delahaye 135MS Roadster Roadster features leather interior and matching carpets by Hermès.  Another gorgeous Delahaye, a 1936 135M Competition Coupe from the collection of Jim Patterson also sports coachwork by Figoni and Falaschi . 


L to R (above) : The Patterson Delahaye 135M, and a 1934 Voisin Type C27 Aerosport Coupe from the Collection of Merle and Peter Mullin


L to R (above) : The Mullin Museum’s 1934 Voisin Type C27 Aerosport Coupe and a stunning 1934 Packard Twelve Model 1106 Sport Coupe by LeBaron belonging to Robert and Sandra Bahre.


L to R (above) : Front view of the Bahre’s Packard and a very rare 1930 Jordan Model Z Speedway Ace Roadster from the Collection of the Edmund J. Stecker Family Trust.


L to R (above) : The instrument panel of the Jordan Speedway Ace and the 1939 Bugatti Type 57C Vanvooren Cabriolet built for the Shah of Persia on loan from Margie and Robert E. Petersen of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.


L to R (above) : The dashboard in the Bugatti Type 57C and a 1929 Cord L-29 Cabriolet first owned by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s currently part of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Automobile Museum Collection.


L to R (above) : The unique Hispano-Suiza H6B Dubonnet “Xenia” Coupe on loan from The Mullin Automotive Museum. Conceived in 1937 by André Dubonnet of aperitif fame, it was designed by Jean Andreau and built with coachwork by Jacques Saoutchik.

All photos courtesy of Bruce Sweetman.

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