The Packard Predictor

You might think that
development of a
concept car as the
last gasp to save a
failing luxury car
company sounds
like a bit of a long shot –
– and it turns out to have
been just that for the
Packard line.

Actually, it was an
investment that they
could ill afford  —

— losing money left and
right after swallowing up
the larger, but nearly
bankrupt Studebaker
Corporation –

– and is best remembered
as the last of the bad
corporate decisions that
Packard executives were
free to make.

The long history of Packard
(since 1899) and reputation
for quality was quickly being
washed away, especially after
the death of the merger’s
chief architect, George Mason,
(of Nash-Kelvinator fame) who
had envisioned the combination
as the start of creating a
competitive “Big Four” car
maker.

Still, the company’s management was hopeful,
and introduced the
new concept car at the
1956 Chicago Auto Fair.

The one-off car was
originally conceived by chief
designer William Schmidt
and designated the ‘Projector’
in the early 1950’s –

the layout and build of the
car was left to famed Packard
stylist Dick Teague,

and the body was created in
Turin, Italy by Ghia –

— before it was equipped with
a 352 c.i. 260 HP V-8 back
in Detroit.

True to it’s name, the Predictor
integrated many advanced
features, including an almost
bullet proof transmission –
(Packard had previously
been having a lot of quality
issues with their transmissions)
– a pushbutton controlled
Twin-Ultramatic 2-speed
planetary automatic with
torque converter and direct
drive lockup.

Some more goodies were
hidden headlights, an
electrified deck-lid, roof
panels, and windows.

Features of the car ended
up appearing in later
competitors cars
( borrowed – or down-right
swiped from the Predictor )
as wide ranging as the sloped
back-glass on a 1958 Lincoln
Continental, tail-light details
on a 1957 Plymouth, roof line
on a 1959 Mercury, roll-top
panels similar to the T-Tops
on a 1968 Corvette, grill trim
on a 1958 Ford Edsel, etc, etc,
not to mention the road stance
of a 1960’s Pontiac, and the
‘planned platform sharing’
idea that is now employed
by all the major manufacturers
today.

Also, it’s dramatic tail-fins
were styling cues used in many
cars after the Predictor, running
through the early 1960’s.

The car may very well have
saved the company –
but it was too late, and
Packard-built automobiles
disappeared from the
market in 1957- with the
remainder of it’s assets
going back into a revamped
but also ill-fated Studebaker
Corporation.

The fully functional Predictor
concept car can still be seen
as part of the Studebaker
National Museum in South
Bend, Indiana.

HOY !

A Campin’ We Will Go

In search of fresh places
in which one can spread
his wings and fly away
from his ordinary daily
scenes into new vistas
of fun and recreation,
people will do just about
anything –

– even buy a travel trailer.

It’s true.

On first glance, travelling
by trailer might seem like
a good way to get outta
town and to See America
first.

That’s cause you’ve never
owned one —

or you have the pain
tolerance of a zombie
out of an Ed Wood movie.

Because unlike someone
who travels in relative
comfort, eats in restaurants,
and sleeps in a nice hotelImage result for vintage camper postcard
when they’re on the road –
the poor travel trailer guy
has a lot more to do –
before, during, and after.

Relax, huh?

No way.

And if you’re sick of
home cooking now,
imagine what it’ll taste
like from a mini-microwave
and two bunsen burners.

Oh sure, there are multi-
million dollar
‘travel trailers’
that are basically Hiltons
on wheels –

— but in order to
own one of those you have
to qualify as ‘ one of them ‘ –
– and even then, you have
to hitch your Land Rover
to the back if you really
wanna get around.

Putzez.

But we’re not talking
about ‘ them ‘-
no, what I mean is the
average Joe camper-
the one that requires
generators,
propane fills,
septic dumps,
and running water
through a garden hose.

There’s so much more
trip planning required –

– whether a road will
accommodate your rig –

– whether there’s a camp
site near where you
wanna be –

– elevations, road grades,
gas and tire pressures —

– down to what food, water,
pots and pans you’re going
to take –

– weight distribution,
hitching and wiring –

– lifting, toting, clearing-
a lot of backbreaking
physical labor….

– and the potentials for
disaster are substantially
increased as well.

Did ya ever try to steer a
truck/camper combo into
a 30 mile per crosswind ?

It’s like trying to drive
one of those cars on the
Tilt-O-Wheel at the carnival.

Let’s assume you didn’t
have three flat tires,
an overheated engine,
a generator that took 27
pulls minimum to start,
and costly damage from a
misjudged bridge clearance
on a particular trip –

– you still had to deal with
a ‘wilderness’ campsite
next to a smelly
communal latrene –

– a campground pool that
only was in season from
July 15 to July 30th,

– muddy looking ‘potable’
water that wasn’t even
clean enough to poop in —

and woods full of trained
killer attack bees that were
pissed off at you,
and only you,
for no specific reason.

Nuts, man.

When I told my buddy
that I was gonna write
about this subject, he
was kind enough to remind
me that they no longer call
these things ‘campers’ ,
but ” RV’s ” –
which stands for
‘ recreational vehicles ‘ –

– sorry, but all things
considered, I see absolutely
nothing recreational about em.

!!! 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 !!!

Way Off The Cobb

6

I had an interesting conversation
with my daughter the other day,
explaining the difference between the counter cultures of the mid 1950’s and that of the hippies of the mid 1960’s.

Yes, there certainly was a
counter culture predating
the unfortunate American
involvement in the Vietnam War.

Actually, several….2

….including a very interesting
movement during the roaring 20’s.

But, the one we’re gonna talk
about today were the “Beats”
— or the ‘Beat Generation’.

You know, as in BEATNIK.

Of course,
a member of the Beat
generation wouldn’t have
appreciated ya calling
him a Beatnik….

Even though Jack Kerouac
was one of the people who
first wrote about the
“Beat Generation”,

…. he vehemently rejected the
whole ‘beatnik’ stereotype,abeatnik
and with good reason.

It was originally a
mean-spirited term coined
by San Francisco columnist
Herb Caen as a derogatory
way of inferring the
“Un-American” nature of
beat culture…..

—- the “NIK” being an allusion
to the Russian satellite “Sputnik”.

But, being interested in
free expression is about
as ‘American’ as burned
crust on an apple pie,
as far as I’m concerned,

1…… and the Beats were
all about that.

A lot of folks think the term
“Beat Generation” came from their love of bongos or
downbeat, discordant jazz–

…… but it actually meant something entirely different.

The term ” BEAT ” was shorthand
for “Beaten Down”….

… and as a movement was always
about the struggle between the
establishment and nonconformity.

You don’t hear much
about the Beats nowadays…..

….. maybe cause most people
can’t see what anybody had to
be counter-culture about during
the Eisenhower years.

But you had a lot going on…..

Many of the Beats were veterans
of the World War who came home
and suddenly realized they just
didn’t fit in anymore.

The Eisenhower years was the
height of the post-war economic
boom, but also a period of strict
socially enforced conformity.

The Beats were those who
fought against that
rigid imposed uniformity,
and thus, were mainly
comprised
of social outsiders, disenfranchised
artists, poets, writers
and other
creative people.

They dressed agreeable
to their outsider status—abobble

— no poodle skirts and slicked
back hair among the beats —

They were fond of wearing pork pie hats, beards, sunglasses, and sandals…

…. and shaggy haircuts.

But beat culture wasn’t
just about how you looked.akerouac

Kerouac’s own writings might give
you some idea of what the movement really represented…..

from the “Philosophy of the Beat Generation” :

“The Beat Generation, that was a vision that we had, John Clellon Holmes and I, and Allen Ginsberg in an even wilder way, in the late Forties, of a generation of crazy, illuminated hipsters suddenly rising and roaming America, serious, bumming and hitchhiking
everywhere, ragged, beatific,
beautiful in an ugly graceful new way—

a vision gleaned from the way we had heard the word “beat” spoken on street corners on Times Square and in the Village, in other cities in the downtown city night of postwar America—
—beat, meaning down and out but full of intense conviction.

We’d even heard old 1910 Daddy Hipsters of the streets speak the word that way, with a melancholy sneer. It never meant juvenile delinquents, it meant characters of a special spirituality who didn’t gang up but were solitary Bartlebies staring out the dead wall window of our civilization… ”

abeatnikwantonKerouac mentions that the phrase never meant “juvenile delinquents”

— which is indeed what it came to mean in the popular jargon after the media co-opted the movement …..

Ann Charters, Kerouac biographer,
explained what happened next:

“The term caught on because it could mean anything. It could even be exploited in the affluent wake of the decade’s extraordinary technological inventions. Almost immediately, for example, advertisements by “hip” record companies in New York used the idea of the Beat Generation to sell their new long playing vinyl records.”

Movies allegedly portraying4
ersatz beat culture were everywhere….

It became so much
mainstream mulch.

The real Beat Culture stressed personal experience of art , music, and life —

…….. a Beat was more at home
in a coffee house than
an opium den …….

But,

Hollywood and the rest of the
media made millions of dollars
by trivializing it,

co-opting it,

and sensationalizing it–

by describing sordid and rampant sex and drug orgies of all kinds.

Phrases like ‘ways like a mowing machine’ were soon used as proof the lifestyle was about nothing but sex and drugs —

and the experience of getting
‘Dixie Fried’ became the end 3
all/be all to the lifestyle,

…. as far as the squares
were concerned.

The back to basics minimialism
of the beat view —-

—- was reduced by the media
to an abject nihilism.

You know….

…………………….. to make money.

Sorry to sound so ‘off the cobb’,
— but you might as well
‘know your groceries’.

Much of what beat culture
remained was absorbed…
…. into the later anti-war
and Hippie counter cultures
of the sixties…..

Some signs of it still were
extant as late as 1965,

when,
for instance,

Sonny and Cher released their
first album “Look At Us”.5

One should not under-estimate
the effect the Beat had on the
culture at large, music and
literature in particular.

Many of today’s recording artists,

from Tom Waits, the Doors,
Van Morrison —

to the Beastie Boys and
Rage Against the Machine,

have been directly influencedakit
by the Beat Generation.

So……

what survives of the Beat culture itself today, you might ask?

Well, every time you say “Cool!” and mean “Great!”…

— you’re speaking the
lingo of the Beats.

You can add to that expressions like:

“Have a Blast”,
“Wingman”
“Don’t Bug Me”,
“Groovy”,
“Crash”
“I dig what you’re saying”,
“Make Out”,
“Hipster”

“Don’t be a Square”……..

Want a more personal
experience with the Beat?

( after all —
personal experience was
what it really was all about.)beret

—— you could read a couple
of the classics of the
Beat genre —-

the works of Jack Kerouac
( “The Dharma Bums” ),

Alan Watts
( “Beat Zen Square Zen and Zen” ) ,

William Burroughs
( “Naked Lunch” )

Allen Ginsburg ( “Howl” )

…. or you can read Carolyn Cassady’s
Off the Road: Twenty Years
With Cassady, Kerouac and Ginsberg”

Or, you could rent the movie
“Two for the Seesaw” (1962) —
…. to get a feel for what a
Beat chick was like.

Or even better —
discover the music of Blossom Dearie,
— and some of her cool tracks —
’cause she’s ‘everything plus’.

Well, I’m gonna blow this
popsicle stand’ fer now…………

……… I’m, like,
‘slated for crashville’,
so I’m ‘agitating the gravel’ .

I hope ya dig what
I laid down.

I’ll leave you with these classic
patter platters’ from Bob Dorough.

.

PS: My friend DistantShipSmoke added:

To really know Jack Kerouac and the “Beat Generation” instead of looking into the conservative 50’s and 60’s social conformity that actually got a firm hold of “beat” and bastardized it into Beatnik so “the man” would “own the issue” and define it to suit the “Establishment” . Beatnik or Hippie was very little “Beat” and perhaps never was. Jack lived to despise being at all associated with either. Hippies and beatniks unfortunately excepted not “beat” of J.K. but the stereotype created by their social conformist parents, specifically, sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.
To know Kerouac’s “Beat down” generation influences look back to Woody Guthrie, Walt Whitman and the many service men and civilians that came back out of WWII and the Cold War fucked up and displaced trying to fit back into the artificial Conservative social straight jacket of the 40’s and 50’s grey suited “American dream”. There, in those misfits, you will find J. Kerouac and the beat generation.
Beatnik and hippie were a creation of American commercial and political capitalism, believe it or not. And the “Baby Boomers” fell for it.

.

HOY !

The 1950’s Hudsons

Started in 1909, the Hudson
Motor Car Company was an
innovator in automotive
manufacture and design
until it’s eventual dissolution
into the corporate mess that
became American Motors
beginning in 1954.

It’s probably most
remembered today
as the “sleek and spacious”
car that Sal Paradise,
Dean Moriarty and Marylou
traveled cross-country in
during their adventures
in Jack Kerouac’s seminal
novel ” On The Road ” —

— a 1949 Hudson
Commodore Custom.

Interestingly enough,
most people think of it as a
Hudson Hornet, but that
model wasn’t produced
until 1951.

Still, both the Commodore
and the Hornet were probably
the most well-regarded of
the Hudson line:

Introduced right before the
U.S. entry into World War II,
the Commodore was the
biggest and most luxurious
car that Hudson made —

— much of the interior and
some of the body styling
were fashioned by Detroit’s
first female automotive
designer, Betty Thatcher.

The timing of the war delayed
what would have been more
dramatic styling changes –
but when they were finally made,
(1948) the Commodore seemed
to be running a bit in front of
their competitors style-wise.

The step-down uni-body
construction made the car
quite a bit lower and much
more nimble.

And technically, it had all
the bells and whistles.

Commodore consumers could
choose from a 102 HP
straight-six or a 128 HP
straight 8 cylinder 254,
and at the end of 1941
could order a “Drive-Master”
transmission with three
shift modes:
1: automatic,
2: automated clutch only,
or 3: fully manual.

By 1952, however, the car
was surrounded by competitive
cars that were more aggressively
styled – and after 1953, the
Commodore line was scrapped
to concentrate resources on the
storied Hornet, the Wasp
(replacing the Pacemaker),
and their compact entry in
1953 and 1954, the short-lived
Hudson Jet.

The Hudson Hornet had a lot
to offer consumers in 1951-
it featured a ‘step-down’
uni-body similar to the
slightly more expensive
Commodore, with streamlined
design, superior handling
characteristics and low center
of gravity which made it great
for family cars or for racing.

But it’s straight-six H-145
engine’s power was a bit lacking-
which was certainly improved
in 1952 when a flat-head
L-6 308 with a two barrel
carburetor, called the
” largest six-cylinder engine
in the world ” was offered
as an option.

After 1954, the Hudson line
was absorbed fully with Nash
Kelvinator into the new AMC
company,

— the long awaited
‘new generation’
1955 Hornet turned out
to look like just another
old-fashioned looking
Nash –>

— and the bottom of their
disappointed buyer base
fell out.

By 1957, the Hudson name
was dropped completely,
replaced by the Rambler marquee.

But the flat-head Hornets
of 1952-1954 —
well, those were the
“Twin-H-Power” set ups
that won the hearts of
NASCAR fans in the early
part of the decade,
and what still makes
those vintage Hudson
Hornets very memorable
cars even today.

!! HOY !!

You Got Me Sticky

I don’t drink it
a lot anymore….

but when I was
a kid, boy, did I
have a yen
for soda pop.

I wasn’t allowed to
have it, usually
(it’s ‘bad for your teeth’)
but every once in a while,
we as a family would
get ourselves invited
to my great-uncle Frank’s house –

— and his eleven kids had no
such draconian dental health
decree hanging over them …

so I could practically drown
in the stuff over there –

when my parents weren’t
looking, anyway.

And drink my fill,
I surely did.

So much so, that now,
I barely can tolerate
the stuff.

Maybe the substitution of
HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)
for sugar is part of the problem..

– but truthfully, I just don’t
need all those empty calories,
anyway.

Despite being in the gymImage result for vintage soda poster
five days a week, my weight
has started to challenge me
a bit at my age, and the
trade off between a bottle
of soda pop and an extra
hour of cardio hardly seems
worth it.

(Exception:
if you’re a Southerner,
try to find some
Blenheim Ginger Ale
– the one with the red cap —
— I highly recommend it —
assuming you love
ginger, like I do )

It’s also true that a lot of the
really cool soda brands that
I liked are all gone now…

Hell, as a teenager,
I even liked the
original Fresca.

Remember old Coke in
those 6 ounce bottles ?

Cold as the iceberg that
sank the Titanic .

Ahhh…..
man, that was good.

Yes, you can still get original
Coke in 6 ounce bottles
(with sugar and not HFCS )
— in Mexico.

Interesting.

It tastes like you
remember it, too.

I won’t bother meditating 
on why such a thing
is such a thing.

Just another reason to look
forward to going back to the
Yucatan, s’all.

(Don’t forget the fish tacos
and the pretty señoritas. )

Anybody remember
the old fable about how
you could get a cheap
high off an RC Cola
and aspirin?

Nope.
It doesn’t work.

But the making a rocket out
of a 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke
and Mentos really does —
— stand way back, jack !!!

I hope you don’t mind getting
sticky soda all over everything.

Ah well.
Sticky ain’t always bad, right ?

!! HOY !!

.