Seeing The Sights

z1Ahhhh…….

The many
splendorous
wonders of
vintage travel
postcards.

Train travel,
something that most
folks today wouldn’t
be able to tolerate
simply because it
seemed too damn
slow, was really
the way to
get around
in the 1920’s
through the 1940’s.

Oh sure,
there were airplanes —

And if you enjoyed
travelling in what
looked like a wooden
travel trailer with wings – 

— with a lack of heat,
comfort, food,
pressurization
and overall safety,
you might even
consider taking one –

Although whether you
got there faster and in
one piece was kinda a
crap shoot …..

You could take a car –

And with that option
you got bad roads, 
lousy motels,
dirty rest-rooms,
speeding tickets,
wrong directions,
non existent
road amenities,
unreadable signage,
and
frequent break downs.

But,
gas was cheap,
anyway.

When you could find it.

No, the train was
the way to go.

You could get a sleeping
berth and have your meals
in the dining car…..

Baked French Toast
on the
Sante Fe Railroad’s
” Super Chief ” line.

Yum.

Or:

— view the slow moving
scenery in an observation
car,

— have a smoke (if that
was your thing, and
back then it was just about
everybody’s) in the smoking
car,

— play cards or socialize
in the club car,

— even consume adult
beverages in the comfort
of the lounge car. 

New York to Los Angeles
in a little over 3 days.

Now,
that’s civilized travel.

The rocking of the cars
and the noise were part
of the charm — you got so
used to it, you’d think
you weren’t even moving
most of the time.

Yep–

I like trains,
and I miss that mode
of getting around.

I miss the cavernous
stations and the excitement
endemic in those places…

.. folks going here and there
in no particular hurry, often
for the first time.

People would wear their best
clothes to get on a train —

I’ve seen people wearing
what looked very much
like pajamas on an airplane.

Shit… 

Somebody just turned the
dial back to ‘the present’.

Damn it.

!!! HOY !!!

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Sunbeam Cars

Today on our
Saturday Car post ,
we’ve got some
very cool automotive
advertising posters,
featuring another car
that you’re not very
likely to see at your
local dealership…
or even at the car rally
for that matter.

They’re vintage,
and they’re rare.

Mostly, they weren’t
really very good cars
to begin with.

But their ads make
them unforgettable.

Sunbeam.

The earliest British made
Sunbeam Rapiers, which
were manufactured
from 1955 to 1976,
and sports-cars like
the Sunbeam Alpines
and Tigers might be
exceptions, for two
reasons.

One, as far as British
car building is concerned,
the pre-‘Chrysler Europe’
Sunbeam line in general
seem to have met people’s
performance expectations
at the time ……

And two, despite the
very limited availability
of the Sunbeam Rapiers
in the United States,
their dramatic looks reflected
ground-breaking design that
had been influenced by a
whole range of American
made Studebakers in the
early 1950’s.

Surprising?

Yes, considering the same
people who made the
Sunbeams also produced some
of the most mediocre cars in
Britain during that same period.

The company that produced
the Sunbeam line was called
the Rootes Group, and over the
years also built vehicles like the
Singer, Hillman, Humber,
Talbot, Karrier, and Combers.

Yes, I know-
not exactly Jaguar
or Triumph, is it?

Rootes was later acquired
by Chrysler Europe,
and then absorbed into
Peugeot and Renault.

But today :
— the Sunbeam Tiger MK I
from the mid 1960’s,
with their Ford-made
8 cylinder engines designed
by Carroll Shelby, are very
highly thought of —

( I wouldn’t mind having one
myself, if I could only fit into it )

– and along with the earliest
Sunbeam Rapiers (1950’s)
are the most desirable
of the line.

Note:
There was also a variant
on the Rapier ‘Fastback’
in 1967-1975, made strictly
for the United States market,
(and sold at Chrysler
dealerships nationwide)
called the Sunbeam Alpine GT —

If you’re tempted to find
one of those and restore it,
my advice is to just take a
flight over to Las Vegas and
put the money you woulda
spent down on the double zero.

Cause you’re gonna end up
there one way or another.

Or–
you could always
bet on 86, or 99.

!!! 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 !!!!

.