Saturday, January 31, 2009

New for 1955 Chevrolet.

One of the great things I like about American auto ad's of the 40's and 50's is the names given to some of the different aspects of the cars.
For example we have already seen on these pages those beautiful 'Futuramic' Oldsmobiles fitted with 'Rocket' engines and 'Hydraglide' transmissions, I love the use of those names!

New for '55 this 'Motoramic' Chevy was fitted with the all new 'Turbofire' engine, while it's 'Glideride' and 'Outrigger' suspension took care of comfort, it also has something called 'Blueflame' but didn't quite catch what that does!

Friday, January 30, 2009

A trip to France.

Just recently my partner and I have been house hunting in our nearest European neighbour-France.
There are many reasons behind the desire to leave England but relocating to France wasn't the obvious choice! Especially as neither of us speak the language, and due to this we have always found the French rather aloof!
On our many trips over there though, one of the things I did notice about France is that they certainly have their share their old cars, and after meeting many 'ordinary' French people we learned that it is simply necessary to forget any preconceptions of national traits and you will find a people as interested, and enthusiastic about old cars and life in general as any.

To a Brit used to the small dimensions of his own land the European continent appears huge, and the French have one of, if not the largest land mass in western Europe. The one thing that the visitor does notice (especially if he/she is an old car nut) is that in France they seem to put their old or disused vehicles out to grass - a little like old horses! LOL!

With a keen eye it's possible to find some very rare cars, trucks, buses, or just about anything out there... hidden in bushes or standing in fields it's a true classic fans paradise. The French seem to keep hold of their old vehicles so often they are to be seen lying around the grounds of the home, deteriorating slowly into patterns of rust.

These are some of the paintings that I did of vehicles found 'in the wild', I'm sorry for the poor quality of the photographs but the paintings were sold before I could get more than a snapshot each.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Bond Minicar.

During the mid 1950's Britain became involved in military action in the middle east (sound familiar?) in what became known as the 'Suez crisis'.
The upshot for the many motorists at home was a scarcity of fuel, with many garages running dry.
Since the end of WWII there had been a number of attempts to create small, fuel efficient cars in Europe and the UK, many seemed hopelessly inadequate even for the most cost cautious of motorists, and some were downright dangerous. One company that did thrive however was the Bond company

The mini-car came as a four seater, (though I would hate to be the one forced to sit in the rear) and was powered by a small single cylinder air-cooled two stroke motor. Originally there was no self starter, and the car had to be started by lifting the bonnet and with one leg inside the engine compartment the owner would then kick start the car!

Despite the glamorous photographs, the reality was that these glass fibre bodied 'three wheelers'
were basic in the extreme, the interior offering little more than the bare basics.

Despite this they were popular and I remember as a kid in the early 1960's seeing and hearing many on the roads as I walked to school (which was my main 'car spotting' time!) I could always tell when one was approaching by the distinctive 'Pop Popping' of the exhaust note, and as they passed by the air filled with the aroma of two stroke oil which was mixed with petrol to make the Villiers engine run!

Today these cars are highly prized by collectors and have many avid fans. There are special clubs and meetings to cater just for the Microcar genre. One of the great things about seeing something like this after all these years is that the moment I hear that two-stroke drone and the pop-pop on the over run I am transported back in time, I am six years old again, and I still feel that same excitement today that I did so long ago.

The painting at the top of the post is a departure from my usual depictions of rust and ruin, primarily as these cars were glass fibre they didn't rust! I did however manage to find a photo of a rather tired looking example!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Britain's 'Shoe Box' Fords.

I believe it was in 1949 that Ford USA launched a radical new concept - the Ford Tudor sedan was first of a range of cars that would come to be known as the 'Shoe box' Fords.
The name 'shoe box' refers to the 'three box' design of the vehicle , as almost any automobile of the pre, or immediately post war period had a rather tall or upright profile by comparison.

As is always the way with these things we British had to wait until 1951 before Ford GB launched our very own version of the shoe box. The range came in three models, with each offering up to the minute improvements in comfort, ride, handling, and steering.
There were also hydraulic brakes, and new unit construction build rather than the old method of mounting the body on a separate frame (or chassis as we call them).
All three models, which were named Consul, Zephyr, and Zodiac were outwardly similar, the differences being in specification and power levels.

The base model was the Consul, (above) which was distinguished by the vertical strip style radiator grille, this car was the only one to run on a four cylinder engine. As an economical family car it was an instant hit.

After the Consul came the Zephyr, or the 'Zephyr six' as it was known. Outwardly similar to the Consul except for the treatment of the radiator grille, the 'six' clue in the name told potential buyers that this car had a little more power!
The Zephyr six performed well and it's six cylinder in-line engine was quick enough for all but the most hardened speed freaks of the day!

Above - A rare survivor, the 'Zephyr Six' and Below - an even rarer model the Convertible option, given Britain's soggy climate not many of this type sold here making them ultra rare today.

The final model of the trio was the Zodiac, or Zephyr-Zodiac as it was officially called. This had everything option wise, it was the car that the boss drove to work.
The 'top of the range' features on the Zodiac meant that big six engine, two tone paint, leather interior, spotlights, they even included gold plating to the 'Zephyr-Zodiac' script applied to the bodywork!

I have always liked these MkI cars in preference to the models that followed, (there were four in the series) produced between 1951 and 1956 they represent a milestone in British motoring as for the first time a mass produced Ford could rival a more expensive vehicle in terms of speed and comfort. Added to which, the build quality of these early Fords was I believe superior to the later products.

The painting at the beginning of this post is one that I did as part of a series of old cars, although the car is a Zephyr, artistic licence allowed me to give it the two tone finish of the more expensive Zodiac! A similar car to the painting can be seen in the photograph below, this time in the correct single colour.
The final photograph shows once again how many of these ground breaking fords have ended their days.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A picture for its own sake!

No words needed!

Showroom fresh!

Above is an actual period photo from 1955 showing the shop window of an Oldsmobile dealership. The cars displayed are pristine, factory fresh models just waiting to be owned and enjoyed.
I can almost feel myself pressing my nose against the plate glass of that showroom! :-)

The ads for them were seductive, with those cute lines and two tone paint topped off by acres of chrome who wouldn't be tempted?

Once again the bright colours and 'futuristic' styling spoke of optimism, the look said of the owner 'Here's a man that's going places'. So as we look back on those far off days and wonder how what happened to that optimism, maybe a clue can be found in what happened to the cars!

I suppose it's kinda sad when you look at that way, both in terms of the lost optimism and the fate of those once glittering old beauties...but such is the passage of time I guess.
Not all those old cars have ended up like this of course, there are those few that have been carefully tended over the years, yet more that have been restored to their former glory thus giving us a taste of the sights, sounds, and feel of a bygone age.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 fastback sedanette

1949 was the year the OHV V-8 changed the face of the American auto industry. Oldsmobile's new 303 (5.0L) Rocket Eight made it the darling of racers and speed demons everywhere.

I came across this very restorable and rare Oldsmobile Rocket 88 2 door fastback sedanette while looking through an American website dealing in all types of Collectable and restorable old cars. The most amazing thing about this car, and many of the others available is not only the excellent solid condition considering many years of neglect, but also the price -

This particular fastback 88 was priced at just $875. For a restorable motoring icon! That's around £400 in the UK... Man! If it wasn't for the Atlantic ocean between us I'd have a yard full of them!

The next car featured below is an an original survivor that is still in service after 60 years! the facts and photographs that follow are courtesy of a fellow classic fan, larger pictures available here.

With the Rocket V-8, lighter 88 coupes were popular with hot rodders, and became successful stock car racers. A Rocket 88 could do 0-60 in around 12.5 seconds, with a top speed of close to 100 mph. Note the ringed planet badge; the Oldsmobile lettering that should be under it is missing.

Under the hood is Oldsmobile's new 303 cu. in. (5.0L) OHV "Rocket" V-8, initially rated at 135 hp. Hydra-Matic -- a four-speed automatic that had been a world first in 1940 -- was standard on 1949 88s. The following year it became a $185 option.

About 5,800 Town Sedans were sold in '49, split roughly equally between standard and Deluxe trim. Base price was $2,254 for the standard, $2,385 for the Deluxe. This car does not have backup lights, which were still a $15 option in 1949.

The lettering on the trunk handle, nearly worn away, says "Hydra-Matic Drive," a reference to the 88's standard Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. Deco-like Oldsmobile lettering is a classy touch.

Curvy flanks make it look smaller than it is -- this is a 202-inch car, weighing around 3,900 lb. Competitors spread rumours that the fastback was prone to lift its tail at high speeds. Small backlight did nothing for visibility.

Riding a 119.5-inch wheelbase, the four-door fastback was called a Town Sedan. It was dropped after 1950. Fastback styling was introduced across the GM line in 1941-1942, but having come out just before the war, by the end of the decade it was considered old hat.

Chrome-encrusted "Futuramic" styling was introduced in 1948 for the bigger Olds 88, this year extended to all Oldsmobile models.

Airplanes and rockets were very much in vogue in the late 40s and early 50s, and this Oldsmobile is covered with them. The sound barrier had just been broken, and new speed records were being set every few weeks.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The world of TED POLOMIS

If, like me you are a fan of old cars then that enthusiasm often extends to other period items. I am always on the lookout for old stuff, be it vintage advertising, old magazines, toys, in fact anything that is Automobile or motoring related.

Some time ago I came across one or two folks on the web that were making up small scale diorama's of old classic cars, (seen above). Usually they are depicted as slightly battered through use, I'm not sure if they are made of plaster or metal but they are a fantastic way to collect a series of old cars without needing too much space.

Then, completely by chance I came across the work of Ted Polomis. (above and below)
I don't know where Ted finds those old toys but each and every one is a fantastically nostalgic image. Now get this.... the model in the first (top) picture is by a model artist, the rest are pictures of Teds work but here's the rub - Ted's aren't models they're paintings!

When I first saw Ted's work t took me a moment to come to terms with the fact that I wasn't looking at a nostalgic photographic image!

Many people in the art world these days pour scorn on truly representational art such as this, implying that the multi coloured splashes and scrawls on canvas are the real works of genius, but I beg to differ! We have already seen on these very pages that nature itself can create colourful works of art that far surpass the human efforts using only a 'canvas' of old car metal. No 'genius' involved there, just the result of time and the elements.

The ability of Ted's work to conjure up in the spectator a warm feeling of nostalgia, the evocation of childhood memories, of quiet moments spent in times and places now long gone is the true indicator of talent. His phenomenal attention to detail and beautiful rendering of tones, shapes and colours are for me the mark of a truly outstanding artist.

As you may guess from my comments I'm no real fan of 'Modern art' insofar as much of it requires very little talent to produce, something that can never be said for the works of Ted Polomis!