The Nash Airflytes

My friend Katie sent
me an interesting car
advertisement from
the early 1950’s……

Comparing the experience
of owning a Stutz Bearcat
to that of a Nash Airflyte.

Now, even if you
didn’t know what
either of those cars
were, you could
probably pretty
much figure out
that this is one of
those examples of
‘literary licence’
you see so much
in automotive ads –
– more like gross
exaggeration,
in this case.

The Nash “Airflyte” was
introduced in 1949-
the car was low slung
and quite wide –
two wheelbases were
used: a 112 inch model
called the “600”
(later called “Statesman”),
and a longer wheelbase
model at 121 inches
called the “Ambassador”.

Three trim packages
were offered in both
models –
Super,
Super-Special,
and Custom.

Both versions offered
grossly under-powered
inline-6 engines, a 85 HP
in the Statesman and a
115 HP for the Ambassador.

They were built at the
Nash Assembly Plant
in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Despite the
dowdy styling,
mediocrity of
build quality, and
absolutely-nothing-special
performance of these cars,
they were the first
American made cars to
offer several innovations:
like seatbelts and a
single unit heating
and air conditioning
unit. ( Kelvinator
refrigerators were made
by the same company ).

Note:
The Nash “Rambler” was
a compact car on a 100
inch wheelbase, which was
also advertised in much of
the “Airflyte” literature –
– it was made between 1950
and 1954, mostly as a 2 door.

(After 1954, the merger of
Hudson and Nash created
a confused jumble as far
as the Rambler name is
concerned, and would
require several posts to
fully explain. )

Next week:
” Stutz Bearcat ”

!!! HOY !!!

.

 

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Pontiac’s Prototypes

1977 Pontiac Phantom

“Driving
Excitement ?

Sure……

I’ve always
had a
soft spot
in my
driving heart
(head)
for
Pontiacs..

1988 Pontiac Pursuit

… to me,
as a kid
growing up
in the 1960’s,
the “Wide
Track Sporty Pontiac”
was the image
of what an automobile
should be and would
represent in the future.

Fun, style, handling,
and power.

1963 Pontiac Scorpion XP-758

No matter how
hard GM seemed
to try to wash
out the
distinctive
qualities of
the brand
over the years,
Pontiacs always
looked pretty
much LIKE a
Pontiac.

1959 Pontiac El-Tigre XP-92

The marque
was started
in 1926 as a
General Motors
stable mate to
a car make
called the
“Oakland”
(discontinued
in 1931) and was
outselling it within
months of it’s
introduction.

1959 El Catalina

Until the
mid-1950’s,
Pontiac wasn’t
really known
for it’s good
looks or it’s
performance,
necessarily…

1970’s Pontiac Banshee XP-833

It was simply
known
as a rugged,
dependable
and relatively
inexpensive car.

1956 changed
all of that-
along with
marketing
strategies,
lead engineers,
and even
a new general manager.

1956 Firebird II

Soon, a new 1957
Bonneville was selling
for more than a Cadillac –

– and their old fashioned
stodgy image was changed
almost overnight into
” America’s Number
One Road Car “.

And Pontiac designers
continued to set this
tone, well into
the early 1970’s.

1990 Pontiac Sunfire

That new emphasis
on style and engineering
meant the development
of several prototypes
to keep ahead
of coming trends —

— so, today’s post
includes several of
Pontiac’s most cutting
edge designs from that
prolific period .

!!! HOY !!!

1956 Pontiac Club De Mer

.

The Norton ES-2 Motorcycle

48nortonES2-500OHV

1948

Today’s Car Post
is about one of
my favorite
Motorcycles-

– in this case,
a British made
rocket called the
Norton ES-2.

1935

Similar to the
Norton Model 18,
in everything, that is,
but with springs on the
rear suspension and the
overhead valve engine
configuration, the ES-2
had a girder forked frame,
and used a single cylinder
500 cc engine.

It was an
extremely popular,
durable and versatile
motorcycle –

1956

– for
the 36 years that
Norton built it –
between 1927
and 1963.

The machine
was especially
well thought of by
riders and mechanics
alike for it’s ease
of maintenance
and simplicity
of design.

1961

Alec Bennett won
the winner’s podium
at the Isle of Man TT
in 1924 on a Model 18,
and the ES-2 was even
better and more nimble.

It’s top speed was
about 90 MPH –
– not bad for a single
cylindered 500.

The last real ES-2 rolled
off the assembly line
in 1963.

1965 MK2

( in 1965 , the parent
company of Norton,
AMC, produced
a “ES-2 Mark 2” based
on a “Matchless” frame
badged as a Norton. ) –>

.

!! HOY !!
.

1948 Norton ES-2

On The Stump

driveinstumpThe folks who
were buying automobiles
in the early part of
the 20th century had
several expectations
about how they were planning on using them……

And travel –
going out of town,
out of state, maybe
even out of country
and seeing the world
in their automobile
was certainly one of them.

It was a rough and ready
kinda travel, no doubt
about it – and although
the first routes could
consist of nothing but
dirt and gravel roads,
sometimes no visitormore
than horse trails and
cart tracks- –

rustic type service
businesses were quick
to spring up to bring
fuel, food, and supplies
to these hearty travelers.

Often, these places
were not only
rustic, but unusual –
a place like ” Rex’s
Redwood Log “,
otherwise known as camper
the World Famous
Drive-In Stump
Souvenir Stand
and Hamburger Joint,
in Eureka, California.

It was cut out of a
single redwood log
about 22 feet in diameter.
The place offered cheap
hand-made novelties,pal
badly cooked sandwiches,
and a free bumper sticker
with every purchase.

It was expanded into a
full service restaurant
in the 1940’s…

There was a highway
called the
“Redwood Highway”
(Old U.S. Route 199
in Northern California
and Oregon, and
parts of U.S. Rte 101
in California)
that ran past dozens
of these kinds of cichey tunnel
places centered on the
giant redwoods–

— but if your
particular fetish
was for buildings
cut out of a
single huge redwood
log like Rex’s–

well, there were also:treehouse
gas stations,
churches,
homes,
tree houses
(a natural, I guess)
garages,
lodges,
tunnels,
art galleries,hou
rest rooms,
airplanes,
railroad cars,
inns ,
huge statues of bears,
motorhomes,
playhouses,
and plenty
of tourist traps
made outgarage
of the same
material.

Not to mention,
eventually, anyway,
the world’s largest
tree stumps
and
piles of mulch.

!!! HOY !!!

bathroom

.

redwood

If The Van’s Rockin

Something just about
every hip kid had to
have in the 1970’s
was a Van.

We call em
‘Conversion Vans’,
or ‘Customized’,
or even ‘Shaggin
Wagons’ today …..

… and you don’t really
see ’em around all
that much, but boy,
in the late 1970’s,
if you didn’t have
one, you just weren’t
getting all of the
gusto, man.

I personally had a
Chevy Van, just like
the one in the terrible
pop song from 1973.

The Chevy was a
much better looking
van than the clunky
looking Fords or
Dodges of the era,
and had a rock
solid 350 V-8 with an
automatic transmission,

—which didn’t
really seem as
important at the time
as did the Pioneer
Quadrophonic stereo
system with 8 speakers,
swing out seats,
mini-couch,
plush shag carpeting,
deep dish wheels,
or even the
bubble window.

Never mind the
back-up 12 volt
battery system
that allowed
the use of the accessories
without having to keep
the van running.

It was kind of a groovy
pad away from the
everyday pad, if you dig
what I’m layin’ down-
(especially for those cats
who lived at home) .

Mine didn’t have a fancy
air-brush paint job, but
most did — and some of
the designs on friends’
vans certainly pushed
the envelope for artistic
taste, I’ll admit.

The thing got about
10 miles a gallon
on the highway,
but who cared?

I mean, you sat way
up high so you could
see over the traffic,
and your trusty CB radio
in the overhead console
would alert you to any
Smokey’s in bubble
machines up ahead
looking to enforce the
nationwide 55 MPH
speed limit –
(what a dumb ass
law that was ) .

Now, I never had
one of  
those signs/plates,
and never
knew anybody who did
have one of those signs
or plates ……

but if you were around
in those days, I’m sure
you know which signs
I’m talking about –
and you could buy them
at any truck stop or
gas station if you were…
well, desperate enough.

Still can,
I bet.

!!! HOY !!!

The DeTomaso Pantera

QX: I have a question
about the DeTomaso
Pantera.

I remember them
being sold by Lincoln-
Mercury dealers in the
mid 1970’s, but I’d swear
I just saw a new one go
by me on the highway
last week.

Are they still
making them?

Answer:

If by ‘they’ you
mean Ford, then
the answer is that
although
Lincoln-Mercury
dealers did indeed sell
DeTomaso’s in their showrooms from 1971
to 1975, Ford’s interests were mostly financial,
(although the Pantera
did utilize their powerful
351 c.i. Cleveland engine);
but they never actually manufactured them.

It could be, however,
that what you saw
was either an item
out of a collection
getting it’s annual
airing
( oh man, is that tragic )
or something called
a ‘ gray-market import ‘ –
bringing in a car that
wasn’t built for North
America – but even so,
the car would date from
1992 or before, when the
Pantera was discontinued.

Or,
who knows–

‘Kit cars’ have been
known to exist
in the style.

DeTomaso was
an Italian car-maker
of some renown,
and offered several
other models in
addition to the
Pantera, although,
again not for the
American market.

I say ‘was’ because the
company’s workshops
and warehouse in Modena
were abandoned in 2014.

However, recently,
several auto trade magazines have reported that a Chinese
company has bought the
name and remaining stock
with the intent on
producing the car
there.

!!! HOY !!!

.

The BMW 507

Originally intended as
market competition for
the Mercedes Benz 300SL
at a lower price point,
the sporty and quirky
BMW 507 was only
produced for three
years —
– between 1956 and 1959.

The car, although
quite beautiful, had
some serious challenges
that took it, almost
immediately, out of
the running for Americans
interested in purchasing
a sporty mid-priced
roadster in the late
1950’s.

The first release of the
507 was plagued with
issues, including an
oversized gas tank
which took up valuable
trunk and passenger
room, and which leaked
the odor of gas when
the convertible top was
deployed.

The drum brakes
weren’t very good,
and an available
removable hard-top
option had to be
custom made to
each car, so it only
fit the car it came on.

And the production
costs, predicted to be
about $1500 under
the cost of a 300SL
in 1956, doubled –
and priced the car way
too expensive for it’s
intended market.
($10,700 in 1958)

By the time the car’s
issues were resolved,
BMW is said to have
lost about 5 million
dollars on it, and only
252 of them were
actually produced.

Still, the styling of
the 507 was first rate,
and the aluminum
193 V-8 produced a
reasonable quantity
of power for the car-
– about 150 HP, with
the double two-barrel
carb set up and the
4 speed manual, and
had a top speed of
over 120 MPH.

Acceleration was also
decent; zero to sixty
could be as quick as
11 seconds.

But it’s looks are what
is best remembered
about the car, and the
507 notably influenced
the styling of future
models , especially the
BMW Z-8.

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