Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Old Car Festival

As a young boy I used to love seeing photographs of the old cars: the automobiles from my parents and grandparents day. I would comb the library for books about these classic horseless carriages (yes, they really did call them that!), and, since copy machines were pretty much few and far between, I would hand-trace them onto paper, for that would be the only way for me to have a "photo" of them. Books on the old time cars were hard to find at that time; the book stores in our area didn't carry any, and as I mentioned in a posting a few years back, history books - well, good history books - were not stocked. So tracing was the only (and cheapest) way.
And I made probably hundreds of these sketches (not a one remains) and would even sometimes attempt to draw a scene around the cars such as including brick streets or dirt roads.
That was all I had.
Of course, my favorite was the Model T followed by the original 1903 Model A, and I would dream of riding in them.
I love it when the owners of the classic autos get so into their hobby that they will even dress the part!

Now here is one of the benefits of getting older: I get to go to car shows and festivals and see these amazing machines up close, and even get to...yes!...ride in an actual Model T!!
"Ken," you say, "but you've said you have always been into pre-automobile history! What gives?"
Yes, yes I have; the 18th and 19th centuries have always been my favorite eras in history. That doesn't mean I can't enjoy other eras, too! And hearing stories of my mother riding in rumble seats have always intrigued me.
For decades, Greenfield Village has had an event they call the Old Car Festival, where for one weekend in September folks from all over the country bring their classic autos from as early as the 1890's all the way up to the more modern 1932 era and converge on the open-air museum, and visitors (like me!) can drool over these beautifully restored ancient vehicles.
So, guess who has gone to this festival for the last few years, and guess who has taken loads of photos - - - now I don't have to trace and sketch 'em!
And I'd like to share some of my favorites of the earliest cars with you here...hope you like it!

This first photo is of what can very well be considered the first automobile ever, the French-made Fardier from, believe it or not, 1770 (yes, 1770!): Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot 's steam powered Fardier (wheeled cart) was the first self-propelled vehicle in the world, making him the world's first automotive engineer. He had to design and build the first steam engine in which steam, at a higher pressure than atmospheric pressure, drove a piston in a cylinder.

The hottest seller on the 1770 car lot
He also invented a rotary valve activated by the piston to let the steam in and out of the machine’s two cylinders. The vehicle was demonstrated in France in 1770, pulling a five ton artillery cannon.

Imagine this boiler hooked onto your Ford Fusion!
The original Fardier de Cugnot has been in the collection of the Le Conservatoire de Arts et Metiers, Paris, France since 1801. This Fardier is a completely functional, faithful reproduction that was created from the ground-up by The Tampa Bay Auto Museum and brought to Greenfield Village in 2011.
"My two favorite cars? The 1965 Mustang and the 1770 Fardier. That's how I get the chicks!"

Let's jump up 95 years from 1770 to 1865 and cross the ocean to America. Chances are unless you are a real aficionado you've never heard of this steam carriage, the Roper.
To see a small steam carriage running under its own power - without horses! - was so startling that people paid to see it driven around a track.

The 1865 Roper...
Smoke-belching steam locomotives were a familiar sight to Americans in the 1860's, but this? Can you just imagine...
Yes, this Roper is the oldest surviving American automobile.
...from 1865 - located inside the Henry Ford Museum.

In 1896, thirty one years after the amazing Roper, Henry Ford built his first car, the Quadricycle. 
Here is an exact replica of the workshop where Ford built his Quadricycle.
On June 4, 1896 in a tiny workshop behind his home on 58 Bagley Street, Ford put the finishing touches on his pure ethanol-powered motor car. 
 After more than two years of experimentation, Ford had completed his first experimental automobile. He dubbed his creation the "Quadricycle," so named because it ran on four bicycle tires, and/or because of the means through which the engine drove the back wheels.
Henry Ford's Quadricycle
The two cylinder engine could produce 4 horsepower and was driven by a chain. The transmission had only two gears (first for 10 mph, 2nd for 20 mph) but Ford could not shift into second gear due to lack of torque and did not have a reverse gear. The tiller-steered machine had wire wheels and a 3 US gallon fuel tank under the seat.
The Quadricycle is located inside the Henry Ford Museum
Ford test drove it on June 4, 1896, achieving a top speed of 20 mph. Ford would later go on to found the Ford Motor Company and become one of the world's richest men. Today the original Quadricycle resides at the Henry Ford Museum.

I apologize because I have no information on this next car, and there was nothing setting near it- no note card to even tell me what it is or even an owner to speak with! But given the fact that this automobile was made in 1901/02 I thought it was very worthwhile to take its picture.
The Mystery Car

So, onto the next ancient auto, the 1902 Toledo. Upon researching this car, I found it to be a steam car. Really? I thought steam cars went out with the Civil War!
Well, anyhow, what I found on the internet about this auto was that one of many bicycle manufacturers to abandon two wheels for four in the early 1900's was the American Bicycle Company in Toledo, Ohio. Initially building lightweight steam cars such as this simple Dos-a-dos (with the rear seats precariously placed atop the rear-mounted boiler and facing backwards) with full elliptical buggy springs located by perch rods and tiller steering, the company soon shifted to gasoline power.

The 1902 "Toledo"

1903 was the first year for Cadillac. William Murphy and Lemuel Bowen founded the Cadillac Automobile Company, and their cars featured engines built by Henry Leland. Rejected by Ransom Olds, the engine was called 'The Little Hercules,' and was a one-cylinder, 10-hosrepower unit. The car is equipped with a two-speed planetary transmission. 
Henry Leland started the Cadillac Automobile Company in 1902 after resigning as one of the initial investors of Henry Ford's new Ford Motor Company. By late 1902, Henry Leland had built his own automobile which he would aptly name after the French explorer who discovered the city of Detroit - Le Mothe Cadillac.
Sales of the new Cadillac were quite successful and Leland would continue producing the single cylinder models until 1908 when Cadillac became part of the new General Motors Co. Leland would stay with GM for only a few years. In 1920 Leland started a new automobile company called Lincoln. Ironically, Leland's Lincoln Company would be bought by Henry Ford in 1922.

1903 Cadillac
Okay, let's continue in a Merry Oldsmobile...

1903 Oldsmobile Curved Dash Runabout
 This beautiful piece is actually credited as being the first massed-produced automobile, being built on an assembly line. Yes, it's true - Henry Ford did not invent the assembly line, though he is credited with perfecting it a few years later.
The Runabout from 1903
 Runabouts were small, inexpensive, open cars. Most runabouts had just a single row of seats, providing seating for two passengers. It sold for $650.
I love the headlamp on this Olds, don't you?
 Next up we have the Cadillac Service Truck from 1904.
I've searched for any information about it but came up with absolutely nothing. Still, it's a great piece to look at, isn't it?
1904 Cadillac Service Truck
 You fans of 1970's and early 80's classic rock should find this next car interesting: the 1905 REO (think: REO Speedwagon).
The Olds Motor Works, founded by Ransom E. Olds (R.E.O.), had been producing the popular curved-dash Oldsmobile for several years when, in 1904, Mr. Olds picked up and left to form the Reo Motor Car Company of Lansing, Michigan.
The REO: say you love it or say goodnight!
This car was known for quality, durability, workmanship, power, and innovation.
The REO front end from 1905
Next up is another Caddie, this time the 1906 Model K.
This car had a 98.2 cubic-inch horizontal, one-cylinder engine that produced ten horsepower. Dunlop tires came standard, as did the twelve-spoke artillery-style wooden wheels.
Imagine crossing the street and seeing this coming at you!

This '06 Cadillac, often called 'Tulip' because of the shape of the seat, had a two-speed planetary transmission and dual differential-mounted brakes. .
1906 Model K Cadillac
And yet another Cadillac is on our list, this time the Touring Car from 1908. From an advertisement at the time: Absolutely the best value in the automobile world. We ask you to compare it with any car selling under $2500, and we will leave it to your judgment...A car with character, beautiful lines, and an engine without a rival. Touring Car - $1400. F.O.B. Detroit, including 3 oil lamps and horn. Brigham & Fenn Motor Car Co., Distributors.

1908 Cadillac Touring Car

Here we have the 1909 Ford Model T, which is an icon of American innovation. Introduced in October 1908, the Model T was an immediate success and would soon transform the automobile industry, the nation and the world. The innovative design of the Model T set it apart from other cars of the day. A flexible and lightweight chassis allowed it to adapt well to rough American roads. A simple and efficient engine provided enough power to take a family on a Sunday drive in the country or run farm equipment. The Model T was easy to operate and repair. And it was affordable. Priced between $825 and $1000, the Model T fell within the price range of many Americans. Henry Ford's intent was to produce a car "for the great multitude." His inexpensive, efficient and reliable Model T put car ownership within the reach of many people - and planted the desire for ownership in the mind of nearly everyone. It put the world on wheels.
1909 Ford Model T
And that's where I think I'll end this week's posting, for we know what happened next...street lights, pavement, vacations, motels, billboards, traffic jams, stop lights, gas stations...
Yes, here we are, on a Model T ride inside Greenfield Village. What a feeling this was!
The interesting thing about this photo is that while we were enjoying our leisurely ride in the classic auto, we had come to a crossroads, much like around a hundred years ago; on the left is another Model T, and just ahead is a horse and carriage.
I found this situation pretty historically accurate!

I don't know if there is a larger collection of pre-1930s cars assembled anywhere else in the world. This is simply one of the most amazing sights I've seen, and I highly recommend, if you live in the general area, checking it out.
And if you live quite a distance away, I hope you enjoy the photos.

Until next time, see you in time.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

All these vintage cars are looking so fabulous at this particular event. Specially, all the models of Cadillac are looking very attractive and charming.
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