The Daily Retro: In Car Record Players

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The Crosley Hotshot

As regular readers
of the Saturday Car post
have probably already
noticed–

I have a thing for
concept cars, rarities, and forgotten automotive brands.

Maybe some of them
deserve to be almost
forgotten, I dunno….

but not this one.

Because this was America’s
first post-war production
sports car —
— the Crosley Hotshot.

Crosley had been building
automobiles since 1938,
selling mostly compact cars
and station wagons —

but after the war,
a market for a domestic
sports car, created by
soldiers returning from
the war in Europe,
was seen as a huge
potential sales window –
– and the Crosley brothers
set out to fill it.

The first Hotshot was unveiled
in 1949 – and was so new and
trend setting it appeared in
Macy’s display window.

It was a two seater, light weight,
nimble, with a low profile and
remarkably inexpensive
price tag- just under $1000.

Of course, options,
like a heater,
radio, and
ashtray were extra —

there weren’t side doors,
— and even the hood
was unhinged
to save on costs-
but for the price,
it was a good buy –

It could hit a top speed of
around 70 MPH, with the
44 c.i. cast iron ‘CIBA’
four cylinder engine.

It proved itself in the
endurance race at Sebring
in 1950 – and again at both
the Swiss and the Tokyo
Grand Prix in 1951.

Many believed the Hotshot
could save the flagging
Crosley Company, but
it was not to be —

and in the end (1952),
only 2500 of the Hotshots
were ever produced.

Still, it had it’s moment
in the sun, and,
as are most
first times,
remembered fondly.

Vintage Marital Sex Guides

Something that always
strikes me as funny
about our modern
technology levels…..
is just how simple it is
to get information on
just about any subject.

I mean, it’s not
necessarily accurate information, granted,
but just type any
old term into a
search engine and
**PRESTO** —
there’s a gazillion or so
references of one type
or another.

Now, I remember just
how it was to find
information on stuff
before the net —
especially controversial,
esoteric, or anything the
slightest bit ribald .

(three of my favorite subjects.)

Digging through the stacks
at the college library was
absolutely no picnic, and
usually you came out of
there with more allergies
than new information.

And if your interests were
more on the risque side ,
well…

— all you could hope for
was something they used
to call ‘marital aid books’
like these.

I doubt anybody really
read them expecting
advice even at the time,
but as far as openly
obtainable books,
these were about it in
the 1950’s and 1960’s,
anyway.

I’ve always liked to
read them –
early on in life,
hoping for a cheap thrill,
and then later-
because they really
are pretty funny,
especially as
regards to the way
they avoid the ‘nub’ of
whatever topic they’re
supposedly discussing.

For instance,
you might
find an article
on cunnilingus,
but it’ll end up being a
couple of ‘case studies’,
some vapid research facts,
and an over-technical
definition
(perhaps in Latin)
that won’t exactly
send your prurient
imagination into
outer space.

The illustrations,
if there were any,
seemed more in line
with an anti-VD textbook
than anything else….

and after reading them,
you usually ended up
walking around why
they bothered even
printing the damn things
in the first place.

But they were
MONEY ,
MONEY ,
MONEY
to the publishers .

As silly/simple as the
information provided
often was, the local
authorities would often
raid the sellers
and publishers
‘to protect the public ‘ —

— which drove up both
demand and prices
on the things.

Ads advertising books like:

” Sex Life in Marriage “
” Eugenics and Sex Harmony”
” Picture Stories of the Sex Life ”
” 10 Lessons In Sex Technique ”
” Ideal Sex ”
” The Modern Sex Manual ”
” The Pleasure Primer”
” True Love Guide ”
” Freud to Kinsey ”
” Marriage Mischief ”
” Sane Sex Life & Sane Sex Living”
” Sex and Marriage ”
” Yours Alone “
” The Love Life of
Modern Homo Sapiens”
“Secrets of a Healthy Sex Life”
” The Ideal Sex Life ”
appeared almost everywhere
– – even in comics.

And if one good publication
was banned from the mails
as ‘obscene’ (like several
early guides on birth
control were) several
of lesser quality
would quickly take
their place –
which meant
that by the early 1950’s,
it was almost impossible
to read anything on the
subject in the U.S. that
had any substance.

It wasn’t until the
early 1970’s that this 
trend started to reverse.

Books like the ‘Joy of Sex’
demystified the genre once
and for all —
with detailed and accurate
information and illustrations.

And while I very much appreciate that fact —

— occasionally I do
miss the more furtive
and hush-hush tone
of the old marital
sex manuals;
just a tit.

!!!!!!! HOY !!!!!!

The Saturday Car Post: 1954 Plymouth Explorer

In the early 1950’s,
Chrysler’s head stylist
Virgil Exner was looking
for a way of updating
Chrysler’s rather
old-fashioned image,
by introducing some
new concept cars ,
developed and built
by Italian automotive
designers at Carrozzeria
Ghia in Turin.

The six or seven years 1954PlymouthExplorer
immediately after the war
hadn’t really seen a
lot of important styling innovations
among the big car
makers of the time,
and Chrysler–

— which included:
Desoto, Dodge, and
Plymouth lines as well — 

especially certainly
needed a boost.

These cars were designed by
Exner and Ghia’s Luigi Segre,
and were built on existing
Chrysler, Dodge, Desoto
and Plymouth chassis.

They included the Chrysler K-310,
and C-200, the Dodge Firearrow,
Desoto Adventurer I,
and this car–
the Plymouth Explorer.

Despite being only 54 inches high,
the Explorer was built upon a
standard 114 inch wheelbase
Plymouth chassis…

… and it’s sleek hand-formed
looks belied the fact that it
was sorely underpowered
by a 230 cubic inch straight-six
that only made about a
104 horsepower, with the
semi-automatic gearbox  .

(There was a ‘Red-Ram’
‘Hemi’ V8 engine made
available for the Dodge
Fire-Arrow III, later in 1954 )

Underpowered, certainly,
and not good gas mileage
to speak of, even for the time.

Still, for early 50’s styling,
it certainly was a beauty.

!!! HOY !!!

rear

.

The Difference In Decades 1940-1959

Yes, when it comes
to choosing a car to
start that restoration
project the difference
really is in the decades.

I’ll show you what I mean.

Is it about style for you?

The general shape,
the aerodynamic
characteristics,
and the amount
of chrome and trim
on a piece is largely
related to the decade
in which it was created.

Looking at a 1940’s car,
you’ll probably note
the long hood, a vertically
pointed front grill ,
extremely roomy interiors,
and the heavy chrome trims.

‘Clunky’ is a word
that comes to mind.

However, there were some
very stylish pieces–
although mostly in the
post-war years,
around 1948, and 1949.

A beautiful example
of this pre/post war
contrast in styling
can be seen by comparing
the 1940 Ford Deluxe
(above ) and the 1949
Buick Roadmaster.
(at right )

In the 1950’s,
automakers
went for a more
aerodynamic feel,
– despite still being boxey –

– they wanted their cars to
be seen as cutting-edge,
and not ‘stodgy’ or
old fashioned.

The trim could be quite
over the top,
with massive fins,
or it could be very understated,
like in the early Corvettes.

You can definitely see the
impact of war-time
technologies
coming to the automotive
marketplace by
the early 1950’s –
– and ‘streamlining’ was
the watchword for styling.

And of course,
there were a lot of aviation
references – ‘jet’ this
and ‘rocket’ that.

Styling, of course,
is one thing –

So, you ask:
what about the
drive-trains, engines, etc ?

No matter how great a car looks,
if it drives like a rock, who needs it?

Right.

Suspension systems:
king-pin front suspensions
still dominated in the 1940’s
replaced in the 1950’s by
systems more oriented toward
comfortable ride and control.

Power Steering-
Chrysler came out with optional
power steering on their 1951 Imperial,
followed by Cadillac the following
year — then, as standard equipment
in 1954.

Brakes- almost all cars
in the American market
used unassisted hydraulic
drum brakes after 1939 –

– and while 4 wheel discs
didn’t become a standard
until the 1980’s,
(front disc brakes were
first introduced as standard
equipment in the 1962
Studebaker Avanti )
power assisted brakes were
optional on many 1950’s
vehicles…. and on
Cadillac and Buicks
it was standard after 1954.

Automatic Transmission:
Available on most cars in the
1940’s as an option, it wasn’t
a common feature until the
mid-1950’s.

Engines:
Engines improved vastly
by the 1960’s —
V-8 technologies like
over-head cam (‘OHC’),
Y-Block and hemispherical
combustion chambers “Hemi”
came into their own in
1950’s models like:

the 1951 Studebaker Commander,
1955 Chrysler C-300,
1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, etc.

Tires: All domestic cars were sold
with Bias-Ply tires standard
until the 1970’s, with the
exception of the 1967 GTO.

Take all together, this might indicate
to the novice car enthusiast that the 1950’s automobile would be a better bet for a starter restoration job than an earlier one –
and I think
that’s a logical assumption.

Some of the most highly
thought-of domestic cars
are from that decade —

the 1953 Chevy Corvette,
the 1955 Ford Thunderbird,
1953 Studebaker Starliner,
1953 Buick Skylark,
1955 Packard Caribbean,
1951 Chrysler New Yorker,

and as for internationally
made models:
( if you insist ), there’s the :
1959 Austin-Healey 3000,
1957 BMW 507,
1955 Jaguar XK140,
1958 Aston-Martin DB-4,
and 1954 Mercedes Benz 300-SL.

Whatever you choose,
remember —
you’ll only finish it,
and then drive it,
if you love it.

!!! HOY !!!!

.

Choosing A Classic Car To Restore

Man, I know I’m getting
myself into some trouble
here committing myself
to a list of Top 5
Collector Cars
worth the aggravation
of restoring —

Which is what this
Saturday series
is going to attempt to do. 

Cause I really can’t help myself
in throwing my 2 1/2 cents
worth into what is already
a controversial subject.

My perspective is limited,
of course, by the lack of
having a lot of money (any)
to throw at a project –

so, whatever I choose for
my list has to be relatively
economical to acquire and
restore, and almost
completely accessible
to the home garage mechanic.

The after market parts have
to be readily available, too.

And that’s a challenge
in itself–
you can’t just inherit your
Great-Uncle Jeffrey’s 1949
Plymouth Special Deluxe,
tow it off the back 40,
and start restoring it
by ordering a
replacement transmission
from XCheapPartX.Com.

It don’t work that way —
chances are good that
after-market parts for
that thing will be harder
to find than gold nuggets
in a bowl of oatmeal.

And the parts designated
as ‘N-O-S’ –
(or ‘new-old-stock’ –
left over from when
there even WAS a car
company called Plymouth )
are now probably so rusty
and crusty as to be
completely unusable.

Consider —
Gaskets crumbling as
you open the package.
Lost and irreplaceable
repair manuals ?
Part-specific tools
nowhere to be found?
Man, there’s so many
different potential issues –
– it should scare you to death…
unless of course,
you own a machine shop,
are a master machinist
as well as a mechanic,
have oodles of tools
and garage space,
and plenty of time
and money to burn.

It also helps to be deaf,
’cause boy, are you
gonna hear about that
wreck taking up all that
primo storage room out
there that your wife
and kids can’t use
(or even go into).

I’m not hating on the idea,
hey- I’m on your side.

You just gotta be careful
which mechanical zombie
you choose to commit
to bringing back to life.

It just wouldn’t be
ethical to get it half way
and then stop — leaving it
to become just another
vegetable, right ?

So- let’s talk about some
of the important criteria
that will give you a fighting
chance to make this thing
of ours work – which all
comes down to
research ahead of time.

1: Can You Get Parts?
By that, I mean, not
just the chrome hood ornament…

can you get rocker arms,
piston rings, differentials,
water pumps, etc, etc, etc.

Remember a lot of
cars before 1960
used a 6 volt
electrical system —
even this has to be
contemplated.

2: Can You Find A Car
Like You Want That’s
Worth Restoring –
— considering these
especially:

A: Rust and General Body Condition

B: Drive-train , Engine,
Suspension, Brakes

C: Interior, Electrics
and Accessories

In other words,
how much work
does it really need?

This is where you have to be
brutally honest and realistic
with yourself – can you really
replace a rocker panel in
your garage?

Do you have the capacity/desire
to remove an engine
and transmission?

Where you start is often
where it ends–
so, answer carefully.

So you want the best ‘starter’
car you can afford –
with those things you
don’t want to do/can’t do
already done.

The truth is, that the more
common the car is in the
collector market, the higher
the chances that there will
be a good one for a project
out there —
— if you’re thinking
late 1960’s Mustang or Camaro,
you’ll have a lot of good starting
points to choose from.

There are actually companies
that specialize in making
almost every conceivable
part for certain collector
cars like that –

and if you’re not
going to be a total fanatic
about ‘originality’,
it’s even easier.

3: And then — think —
After all the work and money-
Is this car really going
to make me happy?

For instance,
I like Studebakers.
Actually, I love em.
I love the way they look.
Very cool.
But, they were pretty much
rolling junk after 1956.
Honestly, you can throw an
awful lot of cash at one, and
still have something that
handles like their original
model of 1852 Conestoga Wagon.
Go west, young man.

Ok- we’re done with part one —

and hopefully, we’ll ready
to talk about which models
can fit into these criteria.

Next time.

( If you’re really
chomping at the bit,
maybe a clue or two
about the list
might be gleaned
from the cars
featured on this post,
but I dunno….
most of them
just wouldn’t work.)

!!!! HOY !!!!

.