Speed Wagons and More at Auction

IMG_8423If you happen to be in the northwestern  Canadian prairies on the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, August 16th and 17th, 2014, you might stop by Spruce Grove, Alberta for a couple of auctions of restored, unrestored, project and parts cars – over 750 in total.

One of them is this 1949 REO Speed Wagon. Starting in  1936, REO – named for its founder Ransom Eli Olds – built only trucks. REOs were distinguished by their art deco style, especially prominent in the post war models.

1949 REO Speed Wagon instrument cluster, centrally mounted in the dash.

1949 REO Speed Wagon instrument cluster, centrally mounted in the dash.

This one still bears the name of it’s proud owner on the doors. You can’t see it in these pictures, but traces of the original, elaborate pin-striping still adorn the wooden stake sides.

IMG_8435As well as this eminently restorable classic truck, there’s a 1929 REO Speed Wagon Coca Cola truck, a 1947 International KB-2 Flat Deck, 1949 Dodge 1 ton and many more. Details are on the auction website here.












More pictures can be seen on our Facebook page.

Update: now in the news






Sterling Dump Truck

The original Sterling truck company – no relation to the current Sterling subsidiary of Daimler Trucks – built heavy trucks until 1950. The company was originally founded in 1907 by William Sternberg as the Sternberg Company. Because of anti-German feelings surrounding the Great War, it was renamed Sterling in 1916.  Sterling Motors Corporation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin was bought by White in 1951; the operation then moved to Cleveland (the home of White) in 1952. Sterling-White trucks were built there until 1953 when the name was retired. Sterling HB2002 Dump sn 20002HB646 Built 1950 Right SideWarren Richardson owns this one and told us a bit about it:

This truck was built in 1950 and was sold new to the Vincent Barletta Co., in Roslindale, MA.  Barletta was one of the major contractors in the construction of the Southeast Expressway through Boston in the early ‘50’s.  As I understand it DeMatteo and Boston Sand & Gravel who also ran Sterling’s, were fellow contractors on this major construction job.  Later in its commercial life this truck was operated by Alfred Vosella. In “retirement” it has been owned by Francis Walsh, Ed Andres and Byron Fishel during which time it was in Canada and Pennsylvania among other places.  Today it is owned by Ken Ochenkowski and me and it is housed in southern CT.

Sterling HB2002 Dump sn 20002HB646 Left Side Waukesha 779 cu. in 145GK engine

This one is a Sterling Model HB2002 Dump, S/N 20002HB646. It’s currently powered by a Waukesha 145GK 779 cubic inch 6 cylinder. This engine came from a Roto Wing Manufacturing unit, about 1947 vintage, but it’s similar to the original that the truck was built with.  The 145GK was a large gasoline engine with a 5 1/4″ bore and 6″ stroke using a single large Zenith 63AW14 updraft carburetor.  Parts for these carburetors are available here. The engine was built until the early 60s and was original equipment in a variety of vehicles and machines including American Hoist & Crane, Bay City, Berger, Hahn, P&H, Kenworth and Peterbilt.

Sterling HB2002 Dump sn 20002HB646 Built 1950 Zenith 63AW14 Carburetor


Birth of the Mustang

1964 FMC Styling X-Cars-01Can you describe how you want your car of the future to look?  Probably not?  But given the chance to inspect a variety of “styling X-cars” (X for experimental), you can say pretty clearly what you like or don’t like about each design.  This “pulse-taking’ is one of the purposes served by cars such as the Allegro, Cougar II and Mustang II – three of many experimental designs from the studios of the styling office of Ford Motor Company.  These studies in styling are viewed by millions of persons every year, providing valuable information to stylists, engineers, product planners and other Company executives who must look ahead several years in making decisions for production.  The car in your future from Ford Motor Company, as a result, might well resemble one of the styling X-cars.

1964 FMC Styling X-Cars-02Described as “a car of the future that could be built today,” the Allegro was developed by advanced stylists and engineers as a study in new design features and unique mechanical devices. The exterior is distinguished by a long hood with the grille extending forward of the headlights, a compact passenger compartment and a “fastback” roofline. Inside, the Allegro contains refinements of control features introduced on the original Mustang experimental sports car—and adds some new ones of its own. It incorporates further advances in adjustable brake and accelerator pedals, fixed seats and retractable seat belts. Most prominent of its pioneering features is an entirely new concept in driver comfort—a unique cantilevered-arm steering wheel with a memory unit. Dimensions of the Allegro are such that it could accommodate four passengers by use of rear floor space for minimal searing. The wheelbase is 99 inches; over-all length, 169.5 inches; over-all height, 49.6 inches; over-all width, 63.6 inches.

The steering wheel is mounted on a horizontal arm which pivots on the centrally-mounted steering column. Button controls allow the driver to move the wheel to the most comfortable position.

Buttons on the column arm power-adjust foot pedals forward or backward. This mechanism, which accommodates drivers of various sizes, is related to the fixed seat design, an innovation that contributes to rigidity and allows for a reduction in over-all height.

1964 FMC Styling X-Cars-03A two-passenger GT car, the Cougar II has a fastback roof, concealed “pop-up” headlamps and a businesslike, fully instrumented interior. (GT, or Gran Turismo, is a term usually applied to two-seat coupes designed for ultra-fast highway travel.) Exterior design is simple, yet unique, and intended for total performance. The Cougar II, powered by a 260 cu. in. high-performance V-8 engine, could be engineered to attain speeds in the 170 miles-an-hour range. This styling X-car has a 90-inch wheelbase. Over-all length is 167.8 inches; over-all height is 47.8 inches; over-all width is 66.6 inches; tread width is 50.5 inches in front and 52 inches in the rear. The interior of the Cougar II has an all-black color scheme with two individually adjustable bucket seats, a console-mounted four-speed gear shift lever and a straight-line array of gauges on the instrument panel. The wood and aluminum steering wheel telescopes fore and aft with three inches of adjustment.

By means of a new window-lift mechanism, occupants may raise or lower instantly the curved side glass to any position. A single handle with a spring-loaded tab can be moved up or down a ratcheted track in the door panel. When the tab is released, the window is locked.

The Cougar ll’s pop-up headlamps are operated by small individual electric motors. At the push of a button, cover plates pivot forward and down, and the headlamps swing into place. Raising or lowering the headlamps takes less than three seconds.

When interior air pressure exceeds 15 pounds per square inch, a relief panel across the rear of the passenger compartment opens automatically. This device is necessary because of possible extreme pressure against the backlight (rear window) at high speeds.

1964 FMC Styling X-Cars-04Inspired by the original Mustang experimental sports car, the Mustang II is a sporty, personal vehicle aimed at the growing “fun-to-drive” market. In auto buff lingo, Mustang ll is a two-plus-two, meaning it is designed to accommodate comfortably two front-seat passengers plus two more passengers in a minimal rear seat area. The model is capable of outstanding performance from its front-mounted, 289 cu. in. V-8 engine with a four-Venturi carburetor. The Mustang II is 186.6 inches long on a 108-inch wheelbase. Over-all width is 68.2 inches, over-all height 48.4 inches. The hardtop roof, a refinement of the Thunderbird roof design, is detachable.

The two- plus-two- interior has thin-shell bucket seats front and rear. Individual dial-shaped gauges are deeply recessed in the padded instrument panel.

More Mustang brochures





French Army 1936 Buick

Frédéric wrote to us from Dijon, France about his 1936 Buick:

Here are some pictures of my Buick8 of 1936.
It is being restored, but there are very few mechanical parts in France!
It was commissioned by the French army before WW2. In 1940, the Germans would have captured this car. In 1944, the U.S. military recovered the car and given back to the French army in 1946 … !
The speedometer is in kilometers / hour and not miles / hours.
There are currently only 5 models in Europe. I am looking for sponsors to help me restore this lovely car!

It’s a fascinating bit of history on wheels.  If you would like to contact Fred, please drop us a line and we’ll pass the message along. Click on any of the pictures for a full-resolution view.

The Old Car Manual Project has the 1936 Buick brochure here and some 1936 Buick ads here.

1936 Buick ad

Lacombe Show and Shine



1955 Chevrolet Bel AirBack in July, the annual Lacombe Show and Shine was on and there were some really interesting vehicles as always.

This one is a 1955 Bel Air (Canadian production), equipped with a dual Fenton intake and headers.  Our shop built a pair of Rochester model B carbs for the owner.  It took a lot of tuning to get these to run right – I think the he may still be tweaking these.

With this set up there is less manifold vacuum at part throttle, so you need to shorten the power piston springs to keep the carbs from getting into the power mixture under light load.  Also, the jets need to be on the large side because of a weaker vacuum signal (due to the larger venturi area).  As well, the carbs should be synchronized.  Finally, you have to consider that Model B carbs came with various sizes of power channel restriction – essentially a fixed jet that determines how much additional fuel flows when the power system is engaged.

GMC Cab Over Engine truckAnother one I really got a kick out of was the GMC COE truck.  These are getting as rare as hen’s teeth.  You sometimes see Chevrolet Cab-Over-Engine trucks, but not so many GMC’s, at least not here in the Great White North.

Notably, GMC trucks like this usually used a Zenith updraft carburetor while the Chevy versions used a Carter BB updraft.  Of course the reason for the updraft carburetor was because of clearance around the engine.  This is why these continued to use updraft carbs until 1962, while GM cars had gone downdraft by 1932.

Radio-fuel autos may solve gas problem

(originally posted 14 June 2010; recovered from archive.org 17 May 2013)

Gracing the cover of Modern Mechanix magazine from August, 1936 is this nifty induction powered buggy.

Being a physical scientist myself, I thought I might work out some of the energies involved in transmitting power this way. Suffice to say, it seems to me that there would be much frying of brains and possibly vegetation well before highway speeds were achieved. This may explain the grim look of determination on the pilot’s face.

Nonetheless, this is not a principle to be discarded lightly, so I have scanned the article and posted it on The Old Car Manual Project site.