Tag Archives: World War II

The Birth of Jeep Willys

When John North Willys bought the Overland Automotive division of the Standard Wheels Company in 1908, he likely would have never expected such confusion over the name of his most popular selling vehicle.  The name Jeep Willys has had its share of misspellings, mispronunciations, and rumors about where the name came from, but that is one of the reasons the Jeep Willys is so interesting.

1953 Buick Super

Buick Super: Today, not much in the way of auto companies remains in the heart of Michigan. Back in the day, though, it was the place to go, whether you were looking to start life anew with a new job or hoping to visit a sort of mecca for car manufacturers, all over the country. In the early 1950s, as the post-war economy boomed, consumers were out in flocks, purchasing anything and everything. They bought anything from new kitchen appliances, new homes to put those appliances in and even new cars. Buick was ready and taking full advantage of their new-found buying power.

Pontiac Revived: The Chieftain

Pontiac Revived: The Chieftain

1950 Pontiac Chieftain When World War II had come and gone, many car companies were looking for new car designs to boost their sales to the pre-World War II levels. Pontiac was no different from this.  They decided on a vehicle that was much like their lower level Streamliner in terms of engine, dimensions, trim level and options, but it would use the sportier GM A-Body style instead of the B-Body style of the Streamliner.  This vehicle was called the Pontiac Chieftain and it rose to its expectations by replacing the Torpedo as Pontiac’s top automobile in its first year.

Ford at the Le Mans Race

Ford at the Le Mans Race 1964 Ford GT40The Le Mans race is the oldest continuous car race and has been going on since 1923, other than 1936 and the years between 1940 and 1948 due to World War II. Racing teams keep their car going for 24 hours as drivers drive prestigious and fast cars for two hours at a time. They rest for two hours and then get back to it again. Most recent changes have changed the teams from two drivers to three drivers. The race has been held in Le Mans, France and is always scheduled in the summer. 1954 JaguarOver the nearly 90 years of racing, the majority of winning automobiles have been made by European carmakers. In the first ten years of the race, the majority of winners were cars made by Bentley or Alfa Romeo. In the 1950s, the majority of winners were manufactured by Ferrari or Jaguar. The winners seemed to flip-flop between cars made in Italy and in the UK, until the late-1960s, when Ford GT40 models were back-to-back winners for four straight years. The Ford GT40 was the first American-made car to win the Le Mans. After the four Ford GT40 wins, the only other American-made entry was a McLaren F1 GTR in 1995. The first year that the Ford GT40 won, it did not just win, but a GT40 finished in first, second, and third place. The winning drivers in 1966 included Bruce McLaren a driver from New Zealand and Chris Amon. The following year, AJ Foyt and Dan Gurney took first, with McLaren’s team coming up in fourth. In 1968, only one Ford GT40 finished in the top 10 and it was raced by Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi. In its final year of racing, the 1969 winning team included Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver. A second Ford GT40 finished in third place that year. Interestingly, two of the GT40 drivers, AJ Foyt and Jacky Ickx, were some of the most successful drivers in the history of the Le Mans races. Foyt won three times, which was exactly how many times he participated in the race. Ickx won six times.

The Woodie vs the Wooden Body Tub

The Woodie vs the Wooden Body Tub

'47 Ford WoodyIn today’s world of carbon fiber, steel, and aluminum auto body parts, we often forget that real wood was regularly used. In the 1930s and 1940s, American car makers used actual wood to enclose the passenger compartments in style. These lovingly named “Woodies” had an interesting history. The first Woodies were custom crafted cars with attractive wood paneling, then as World War II cause the production of automobiles to stop, carmakers turned pre-existing sedans in to station wagons by using wood paneling to extend the length and usefulness of the vehicles. Today, the Woodie is synonymous with California surfing.

Chevy Fleetline and the Rules of WWII

Chevy Fleetline and the Rules of WWII '48 Chevy FleetlineThe 1940s was the decade where cars began to look like modern vehicles. Gone were the days of the cars that resembled the Model-T with exterior mounted headlights, gloomy radiator jackets, and heavily spoked wheels. Harley Earl modeled the cars of the 40s after the Y-Job designed for Buick.

Sadly, as soon as the aerodynamic vehicles, like the Chevy Fleetline, were introduced to the American public World War II began. Within two months of the attack on Pearl Harbor, on February 2, 1942 the federal government halted production of civilian passenger cars. Automotive plants were retrofitted so they could be used to produce military vehicles, weapons, and airplanes.

1953 Pontiac Chieftain

Pontiac, a division of General Motors, took advantage of the post-war era that quickly followed the end of World War II. As troops made their way home and young families began to grow across the United States, there came a need for a fresh look on automobiles. The division worked hard and fast to produce a car that was all new. During the war years, only minor changes had been made to existing models for various reasons. Once those years were over, Pontiac, along with other manufacturers, developed very different-looking cars. For Pontiac, the Chieftain was the perfect vehicle to usher in the post-war era of vehicles.

1938 Delahaye

Delahaye: As promised, we are featuring the first of several cars which will be making an appearance at this year’s Rétromobile, the Paris auto show. In the middle of the Great Depression, not long before the start of WWII, few things stood out in a community as much as a shiny, new, low-riding vehicle that made any classic gangster command the respect they so desired on the streets. One such car was the 1938 Delahaye Type 165.

The Life Of DeSoto

the very first DeSoto

There is no doubt that the Greatest Generation shaped the way we think about society and the way things used to be- their deep sense of community, patriotism, and respect sometimes seems to be a thing of the past. Perhaps that’s why we idolize the way they lived-the music, the old Coca-Cola bottle, the dancing…the cars. While the young men were fighting in “The War,” as so many veterans still say, the women anxiously awaited their return. The jubilee that followed the end of World War II, when combined with the booming economy led to great innovations and some of the best story lines for the love stories movie producers can hardly depict fast enough, it seems.

Panhard Dyna X

The Panhard company, which is based in Paris, France, was one of the very first automobile manufacturers in the world, and they remain in business today. (Though these days they are focused on the production of vehicles intended for use in military applications.) Panhard was founded in 1887, and it was originally a partnership between René Panhard and Émile Levassor. They were able to debut their initial model in 1890, and they are widely considered to have pioneered the transmission as we now know it, which first appeared in the 1895 Panhard. A Panhard driven by Émile Levassor took home the top two spots in the first automobile race in history, the Paris to Bordeaux to Paris event that was held in 1895. He covered the distance of about 732 miles in just under 49 hours. https://www.google.com/images/cleardot.gif