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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