The Kaiser Aluminum “Idea” Cars

Not being a rich
tycoon myself,
I dunno for sure,
but I would think that
for a big business man,
it would seem natural
enough, I guess, to try
and find a way to expand
the market for your
product in anyway possible.

Such was Henry J. Kaiser,
of the Kaiser Aluminum Company –

starting in the late 1940’s,
Kaiser had challenged his
engineers and designers
to come up with automotive
concepts that were built
with almost 100% aluminum.

These were called “Idea Cars”,
and were intended to bring
Kaiser’s flagging Automotive
Division back from the brink,
despite a sense of real world
practicality that pervaded
this particular project.

Interestingly, Kaiser had
visited Hawaii in the late
1940’s, and bought a large
amount of property there-
he then chose to use
Hawaiian names for several
project cars – including 
“Heleakala”, “Panole”,
“Pele ” and “Waimea” .

Other concepts were called
“Golden Gate” ,” Grenada”,
“Piedmont” and “Del Mar”.

Although none of the
“Idea Cars” were ever
produced, their designs
certainly have a special
retro-futuristic look that
makes one wonder
what they really would
have been like to drive….

One inventor, named
Blake Larson, was so
inspired by a design
created by Kaiser engineer
Rhys Miller, the
” Waimea “, that he took
a 1960 Corvair Lakewood
Station Wagon and
converted it into ….

.. well, let’s just say his
idea of what one of these
idea cars would have
been like.

It’s builder called it a
” Corvair Futura ” —
and it was recently acquired
by a rich gleep car collector
who had very little nice to
say about it once he
actually had it in his garage.

Oh well…

as Mister Spock once
informed a fellow
Vulcan:
After a time, you may find,
that having is not so pleasing
a thing as wanting
.”

Man, I think you got
words to live by, there.

!! HOY !!

 

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The 1975 Peugeot 504 Cabriolet

I’m not much
into import cars….

although, of course,
vintage English
sports cars
are completely
excluded from that rule.

And, truthfully,
in Europe,
and for that matter –
most of the rest
of the world,
you won’t see a
ton of vintage
cars puttin’ around
that you’d really wanna
bring home to American Mother.

Unless you got the money
for the one Ferrari Modulo
ever made, ( with the cute
blonde driver included )
or a vintage 288 GTO,
in which case,
I ain’t talking to you anyhow.

😛

But, this little French
number is certainly
pretty enough –
and rugged enough –
to meet Mom, Dad, or
any of the bad roads
in your old R.F.D.-

It’s the tough as nails
1975 Peugeot
504 Cabriolet.

Yes,
it is French.

Sure, I know —

France is the land
of architecture,
sensuality,
art, and love.

Mechanics?

They are not,
generally speaking.

Just ask Monsieur Hulot.

Just remember
the infamous
Citroen 2CV – a top speed
of 60 and a rollover
just waiting to happen —

France was also the home
of the K-V Mini 1 – the
car that made it seem
possible for anybody to
build one in the garage
out of scrap metal and
motor parts.

— and don’t forget
Renault’s answer
to the Chevette —
“Le Car”.

ACK.

But, I have to tell you,
the 504 is different.

Rough and ready, used 504’s
are still popular in all those
places where car comfort
is important, but road
quality ain’t a priority……

Which is one of the reasons
over 3 million were built and
sold between 1968 and 1983.

I like the ’75 504 Cabriolet –
the first year with the new
163 c.i. V-6 making about
120 horsepower —
– sure, not powerful enough
to show off your speed
on the Autobahn, but perfect for
most of the roads in Europe
of that era…. and the body
design on the Cabriolet
was top notch and
beautiful.

There was also a 2304 cc
diesel offered that year,
which was less powerful
(70 HP) but absolutely
bulletproof.

As proof of how
great a car
the 504 was-
I only need
to offer these
examples of
the road rally
championships
the car won in
the mid 1970’s–

The East Africa Rally
in 1975 and 78
The Morocco Rally
in 1975 and 76-
The Ivory Coast Rally
in 1978 –

These races were over
some of the worst roads
and roughest terrain in
the world.

So, next time you see a
vintage 504 pass you on
some dusty back road —
remember to shout:

” Vive l’automobile
Peugeot 504 Française ! “

.

!! HOY !!!

The Ford Gyron

Motorcycles are my thing.

And I can tell you one thing:
just because something
has two wheels and a motor
does not make it a motorcycle.

The first motorcycle was
developed in 1894-
the first car
(it had three wheels) in 1885 –
and there’s been a lot of cross-over development since then, of course.

Certain automotive concepts
along with the way have
attempted to combine
the efficiency and handling
of a two wheeled vehicle
with the all weather comfort,
capacity and safety of a car —

The first ones were:
The Bi-Autogo  —->>
in 1908,
and
the Wolseley Gyrocar,
way back in 1914.

One of my favorite attempts
at the two wheeled car
was the Ford Gyron.

Introduced at the 1961 Detroit
Auto Show, it was Ford’s look
into one possible automotive
future –

– filled with dramatic aerodynamic
designs and gyroscopic
controls.

Two passengers would, theoretically,
sit side by side, under
a rear hinged poly-plastic
canopy , as the driver
used a pad that looked very much
like a computer game controller to
drive the car –

— molded plastic seats that
kinda reminds me of my Mom’s
short-lasting ‘mod’ furniture craze
completes the interior.

The body was fiberglass
and plastic,
with motorcycle type stands that
would support the vehicle when
it wasn’t moving —

–but, since it was just a prototype,
it didn’t actually have to function –
( and the technology to do that
was still many years off — )
so, small wheels were put
in their place to hold it up.

The prototype’s main function
was simply to produce
a wow factor in the folks
who got a glimpse of it.

And in that aspect,
it worked great.

Today, several vehicles use
a similar concept but are still
very experimental —
like the Lit Motors
C-1 Electric Car.

Just don’t call it a motorcycle.

!! HOY !!

Automatic, My Ass

Today we’re gonna explore
the wild, weird, conditionally
wonderful world of
automated office
rest room furnishings…

Oh sure, it doesn’t
sound all that exciting….

but it was
either that or a post about
the ” most deeply
philosophical quotes
from Mr. Bean ” –

– and nobody wants
that, man.

If you got any better ideas,
well, that’s why I got
an email, ya know.

Ahem.

I don’t know who designed
some of this stuff, but
thinking out of the box
was merely their starting
point apparently……..

At work, we’re surrounded
by such over-technologized
gadgets, especially in the
bathrooms.

Like:
The damn hand towel dispenser that never
wants to give you any
paper unless you give
it a firm punch right
above the ‘ sensor ‘ ?

Or:
the automatic soap dispenser
that dabs out a fingernail size
amount of cleanser just sufficient enough to
clean your thumb and
half of one palm ?

Or:
the automatic sink that
gives you almost enough
the amount of cold
water for the amount of soap
you just received from it’s
mechanical cousin.

Or:
The ‘water limiting’ urinal
that shoots water all over
the peeing party …
( I guess in retribution?)

And who really needs an
auto-flushing toilet that
flushes itself every
minute or so while
you’re sitting on it ?

What the fuck purpose
does all this stuff serve
except to make your work
day more aggravating ?

That’s not my idea
of saving water–
and it gets down
right irritating.

It’s not like we’re
out in space and gotta
have a lot of technical
controls to keep us
from drowning in
our own ….

well, you know.

Now, to be fair,
I have used those high
fallootin’ Japanese toilets
that everybody talks about
in hotels over there,
and they’re actually pretty
nice once you figure out
what everything does….

— maybe that’s the fun part
for many folks, I dunno ..

but you really go get to
missing that nice, warm
stream of water once you
don’t have it anymore.

Squeezin the charmin
just don’t make it in
comparison.

It’s not like you can’t
get one here —
— if you’ve got
$5000 bucks
to splurge on it
(after installation).

If I ever spent that on a toilet,
I’d be so bound up, I’d never
be able to use the thing,
at least in the spirit in
which it was intended.

So it’d end up just being
a very expensive seat for
checking my phone messages
and reading comic books.

And of course, the low tech
alternative –
— the garden hose —
seems temptingly manageable
when viewed in that limited
perspective.

Hey, the hose end
is adjustable.

Bad idea?

Sure…
I’m full of em.

And other stuff, too.

Maybe I should start
inventing stuff for the
office.

!! HOY !!

Not The DeLorean DMC-12 Again

Okay….

So, every car-oriented blog
eventually talks about the
famous (or infamous)
DeLorean DMC-12 –

– you know, the car that was
used as the time machine
by the mad professor in
“Back To The Future”.

But, there are some
interesting historical
tidbits that are usually
skipped over that we
might have some fun
with on our Saturday car
post- since we’re less of a
car oriented blog and
more of a smart-assed
one, anyway.

Most folks think that the
DeLorean DMC-12 was the
first stainless steel bodied
automobile — it was not —
the 1936 Ford SS Tudor
Deluxe was.

Stainless Steel is an excellent
material from which to make
a car– rust-resistant, durable –
– and John DeLorean definitely
had the right idea.

There are several reasons that
automakers use to explain
why it isn’t used — but the
truth has some to do with
added expense and a lot to
do with planned obsolescence.

Cars that don’t wear out
fast, don’t get replaced fast.

Sales suffer.
Auto executives don’t get
their million dollar bonuses.

So it was, certainly, something
that rankled his competition-

– but, truthfully, the failure
of DeLorean’s company had
very little to do with his choice
of material.

You might know
that the car
was made in a plant in
Northern Ireland, near Belfast.

But, did you know that
originally, DeLorean had
planned his factory to be
located in Puerto Rico,
and that the government
of Northern Ireland gave
him about 170 million bucks
to build it there instead.

DeLorean had several popular
celebrities as large investors
in his company as well —
including Johnny Carson
and Sammy Davis, Jr.

The engines in the DMC-12’s
were descended from the one
in the Renault Model 30 –
– a Peugeot-Renault-Volvo
2.8 liter V-6, and were built
in France.

So were the gearboxes-
the car was available in
automatic and a 5 speed
manual transmissions.
It had a top speed of
about 110 MPH.

DeLorean originally considered
calling his new car the ” Z-Tavio ”
– a conglomeration of his son’s
middle name, and his father’s
first.

But the ” DMC-12 ” designation
was chosen instead, because the
planned retail price for the car
was going to be around
$12,000 U.S. –
– after production began,
it turned out the MSRP was
more than twice that –
and the selling price was
about $15,000 over that –
making the average price
paid, in 1982, about $50,000.

Never intended as an
economical car, three
gold-plated DeLoreans
existed as of 1983-
2 were manufactured for the
American Express Company,
and one —

well, that’s part of another
interesting DMC-12 story…

It seems that there were
several hundred cars left in
some state of assembly when
the DeLorean company went
belly up.

Those cars, along with spare
parts, licenses, stock,
everything – got sold after
receivership to a company
which finished as many of
them as they could.

One of them was the
third gold DMC-12.

And the company?

Consolidated International.

Otherwise known as Big Lots.

Funny how stuff turns out
sometimes, ain’t it?

!! HOY !!

What Wasn’t New In 1946

” Packard —
Brand New For 1946 “.

That’s what a brochure
for the first post-war Packard automobiles
said.

But,
as everybody knows –
civilian motor car production
was cut off in early 1942 ,
subsequent to the U.S. entry
into World War II, and new
car development and design
hadn’t yet restarted in time
for the 1946 models.

So,
which was it?

Simply put,
they lied, like
any ‘good’ advertising
agency did back then.

Put in their parlance,
they made lemonade
out of already squeezed
lemons.

I’m usually shocked when
it’s so obvious, but these
examples from the 1946
Packard advertising brochure
really take the cake.

Packard officials later
admitted there was
little or no ‘new’ content
in the 1946 models- and in
the “Standard Catalog of
American Cars, 1946-1975,”
G. Marshall Naul noted:
“The 1946 Packards were
an extension of the 1942 Clipper line with practically no changes.”

And of course, plenty of
automotively-savvy folks
caught on right quick —

Which caused Packard to
take a different tack —

In a later ad , they explained
their reasons for all the
non-changes in the ‘all-new’
Packard ‘strategy’ :

1. “By continuing to build this superlatively fine motor car over into 1947, we do not have to stop production to ‘tool up’ for changes. This means more cars sooner for people who are so eager to become Packard owners.”

2. “By continuing the present styling,
Packard fully protects the motorist
who buys today’s new Packard.
He
knows that the stunning new Packard he buys today
will not become ‘dated’

in appearance tomorrow.”

3. “The stacks of orders now on hand are gratifying evidence that today’s new Packard is the car America wants.”

4. “Because of its advanced Clipper
styling, today’s new Packard is not
only conceded to be the best-looking
car on the road, but is actually
ahead of its time.”

5. “No car we have ever built, in all our 46-year history, ever won such spontaneous, enthusiastic, nationwide acclaim as today’s beautiful new Packard Clipper.”

Still, with all these non-reasons,
they managed to convince
over 30,000 folks to buy a
‘brand-new’ Packard in 1946.

But one wonders if this
kind of overtly-false advertising destroyed the car-maker’s credibility with buyers in the end —

— which came for Packard in 1957.

!! HOY !!

Buying A Car At Sears

First of all —
A Happy St Patty’s Day!

Today’s
Saturday Car
post
installment
is called :

Buying A Car At Sears ” –

– and as unlikely as that
might seem to modern
readers, it was possible
during two specific time
periods in U.S. history,
to do just that.

In the first era,
between 1908 and 1912,
you could actually order
your “Sears Motor Buggy”
from the Sears catalog,
and have it delivered to
your nearest railroad
station.

Made by Lincoln Motor
Car Works, 9 models
were available,
ranging in price
from $350 to $500 —
with two-cylinder air
cooled engines making
between 10 and 15
horsepower, and was
propelled by a
chain-based
friction-drive
transmission.

They were considered
very durable, and came
with a ten day money
back guarantee.

The models on offer
included :

the upper-level “Model L”,

and economy “Model G” –

but the differences seem
to have been in extras
like:

a fabric top,
running boards,
and pneumatic tires.

Sure, those ‘extras’
probably sound
pretty necessary to
you and I,
but back then,
it was simply
a “motor buggy” ,
after all.

The second coming
of the Sears automobile
was in 1950- –

For three years, they
marketed a car through
their retail outlets,
which although already
on the market and sold
as the Kaiser-Frazer
“Henry J” , was rebadged
and rebranded as the
Sears “Allstate”.

Advertised as “the
lowest-priced full-sized
sedan on the U.S. market ”
– it caused considerable
consternation among
Kaiser Frazer dealerships,
many of whom refused
to service the Sears sold
cars, despite being almost
identical to the Henry J’s.

It had been, for all
practical purposes,
just a marketing scheme
invented by Henry J. Kaiser
to unload surplus new cars –
and it broke down before it
ever had a chance to really
come together.

Two lines of Allstates
were offered –
– both two
door fastback sedans –

called the “Series 4″
with a 134 c.i. 4-cylinder engine making about
70 horsepower,

and the ” Series 6″, with a
L-head 6 cylinder making
around 80 H.P.

The engines were
made for
Kaiser (and thus, Sears )
by Willys-Overland –

the 4 cylinder engine in
the “Series 4” was an only
-slightly modified Jeep
CJ-3A motor.

After two model years
(that varied little
from each other)
only about 2400 of
the “Allstate ” cars in total
were sold, the lines were
discontinued, and Sears
got out of the car business
for good.

Still, they continued
to rebrand and sell
many lines of
motorcycles,
scooters
and mopeds,
made by Vespa,
Puch and
Cushman,
bearing the
” Allstate ” logo
until the late 1960’s.

.

!!! HOY !!!