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Wednesday, April 25th 2012, 4:10am

Automotive Companies

General Motors Corporation

General Motors was founded on Wednesday, September 16, 1908, in Flint, Michigan, as a holding company for Buick (then controlled by William C. Durant).

Durant's company, the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, had been in business in Flint since 1886, and by 1900, was producing over 100,000 carriages a year in factories located in Michigan and Canada. Prior to his acquisition of Buick, Durant had several Ford dealerships. With springs, axles and other key components being provided to the early automotive industry by Durant-Dort, it can be reasoned that GM actually began with the founding of Durant-Dort.

Durant acquired Oldsmobile later in 1908. The next year, he brought in Cadillac, Cartercar, Elmore, Ewing, and Oakland (later known as Pontiac). In 1909, General Motors also acquired the Reliance Motor Truck Company of Owosso, Michigan, and the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company of Pontiac, Michigan, the predecessors of GMC Truck. A Rapid became the first truck to conquer Pikes Peak in 1909.

Durant left the firm and co-founded the Chevrolet Motor Company in 1911 with Louis Chevrolet. After a brilliant stock buy back campaign with the McLaughlin and DuPont corporations, and other Chevrolet stock holders, he returned to head GM in 1916, with the backing of Pierre S. du Pont. On October 13 of the same year, GM Company became incorporated as General Motors Corporation. Chevrolet entered the General Motors fold in 1917; its first GM car was 1918's Chevrolet 490.

In 1918 GM acquired the McLaughlin Motor Car Company of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, manufacturer of the McLaughlin automobile since 1907 (later to be renamed McLaughlin-Buick) as well as Canadian versions of Chevrolet cars since 1915. The company was renamed General Motors of Canada Ltd., with R.S. "Colonel Sam" McLaughlin as its first president and his brother George as vice-president.
GM's headquarters were located in Flint until the mid-1920s when it was moved to Detroit. Its building, originally to be called the Durant Building, was designed and began construction in 1919 when Durant was president, was completed in 1923 (Sloan became president that year) and officially dedicated as the General Motors Building in 1929. The Buick Division headquarters remained in Flint.

In 1925, GM bought Vauxhall of England, and then in 1929 went on to acquire an 80% stake in German automobile manufacturer Opel. Two years later this was increased to 100%. In 1931, GM acquired Holden of Australia.

In 1926, GM created the Pontiac as a "companion" to the Oakland brand, an arrangement that lasted five years. The companion outsold its parent during that period, by so much that the Oakland brand was terminated and the division was renamed Pontiac.

GM surpassed Ford Motor Company in sales in the late 1920s thanks to the leadership of Alfred P. Sloan. While Ford continued to refine the manufacturing process to reduce cost, Sloan was inventing new ways of managing a complex worldwide organization, while paying special attention to consumer demands. Car buyers no longer wanted the cheapest and most basic model; they wanted style, power, and prestige, which GM offered them. Sloan did not neglect cost, by any means; when it was proposed Chevrolet should introduce safety glass, he opposed it because it threatened profits. Thanks to consumer financing via GMAC (founded 1919), easy monthly payments allowed far more people to buy GM cars than Ford, as Henry Ford was opposed to credit on moral principles.

During the 1920s and 1930s, General Motors assumed control of the Yellow Coach bus company, and helped create Greyhound bus lines. GM formed United Cities Motor Transit in 1932. General Motors also bought the internal combustion engined railcar builder Electro-Motive Corporation and its engine supplier Winton Engine in 1930, renaming both as the General Motors Electro-Motive Division.

Divisions and Subsidiaries of GM include:

United Motors Service
Allison Engine Company
North American Aviation
General Motors Acceptance Corporation
General Motors Engine Division
General Motors of Canada
General Motors do Brasil
General Motors Chile
General Motors South Africa
General Motors India
General Motors-Holden
General Motors Philippines
Adam Opel AG
Vauxhall Motors
Electro-Motive Corporation
General Motors Diesel Division
Rochester Products Divison
Yellow Truck and Coach Manufacturing Company
GMC Truck
Bedford Vehicles

This post has been edited 1 times, last edit by "TheCanadian" (Jun 8th 2012, 4:34am)


Thursday, June 7th 2012, 6:04am

Ford Motor Company

Henry Ford's initial foray into automobile manufacturing was the Detroit Automobile Company, founded in 1899. The company floundered, and in 1901 was reorganized as the Henry Ford Company. Ford had a falling out with his financial backers, and in March 1902 left the company with the rights to his name and 900 dollars. The Henry Ford Company changed their name to Cadillac, brought in Henry M. Leland to manage the operation, and went on to be a successful manufacturer of automobiles.

Henry Ford himself turned to an acquaintance, coal dealer Alexander Y. Malcomson, to help finance another automobile company. Malcomson put up the money to start the partnership "Ford and Malcomson" and the pair designed a car and began ordering parts. However, by February 1903, Ford and Malcomson had gone through more money than expected, and the manufacturing firm of John and Horace Dodge, who had made parts for Ford and Malcomson, was demanding payment.

Malcomson, constrained by his coal business demands, turned to his uncle John S. Gray, the president of the German-American Savings Bank and a good friend. Malcomson proposed incorporating Ford and Malcomson to bring in new investors, and wanted Gray to join the company, thinking that Gray's name would attract others to invest. Gray was at first uninterested, but Malcomson promised he could withdraw his share at any time, so Gray reluctantly agreed. On the strength of Gray's name, Malcomson recruited other business acquaintances to invest, including local merchants Albert Strelow and Vernon Fry, lawyers John Anderson and Horace Rackham, Charles T. Bennett of the Daisy Air Rifle Company, and his own clerk James Couzens.[1] Malcomson also convinced the Dodges to accept stock in lieu of payment.

On June 16, 1903, the Ford Motor Company was incorporated, with 12 investors owning a total of 1000 shares. Ford and Malcomson together retained 51% of the new company in exchange for their earlier investments. When the total stock ownership was tabulated, shares in the company were: Henry Ford (255 shares), Alexander Y. Malcomson (255 shares), John S. Gray (105 shares), John W. Anderson (50 shares), Horace Rackham (50 shares), Horace E. Dodge (50 shares), John F. Dodge (50 shares), Charles T. Bennett (50 shares), Vernon C. Fry (50 shares), Albert Strelow (50 shares), James Couzens (25 shares), and Charles J. Woodall (10 shares).

At the first stockholder meeting on June 18, Gray was elected president, Ford vice-president, and James Couzens secretary. Despite Gray's misgivings, Ford Motor Company was immediately profitable, with profits by October 1, 1903 of almost $37,000. A dividend of 10% was paid that October, an additional dividend of 20% at the beginning of 1904, and another 68% in June 1904. Two dividends of 100% each in June and July 1905 brought the total investor profits to nearly 300% in just over 2 years; 1905 total profits were almost $300,000.

However, there were internal frictions in the company that Gray was nominally in charge of. Most of the investors, both Malcomson and Gray included, had their own businesses to attend to; only Ford and Couzens worked full-time at the company. The issue came to a head when the principal stockholders, Ford and Malcomson, quarreled over the future direction of the company. Gray sided with Ford. By early 1906 Malcomson was effectively frozen out of the Ford Motor Company, and in May sold his shares to Henry Ford. John S. Gray died unexpectedly in 1906, and his position as Ford's president was taken over by Ford himself soon afterward.

During its early years, the company produced a range of vehicles designated, chronologically, from the Ford Model A (1903) to the Model K and Model S (Ford's last right-hand steering model) of 1907. The K, Ford's first six-cylinder model, was known as "the gentleman's roadster" and "the silent cyclone", and sold for US$2800; by contrast, around that time, the Enger 40 was priced at US$2000, the Colt Runabout US$1500, the high-volume Oldsmobile Runabout US$650, Western's Gale Model A US$500, and the Success hit the amazingly low US$250.

The next year, Henry Ford introduced the Model T. Earlier models were produced at a rate of only a few a day at a rented factory on Mack Avenue in Detroit, Michigan, with groups of two or three men working on each car from components made to order by other companies (what would come to be called an "assembled car"). The first Model Ts were built at the Piquette Road Manufacturing Plant, the first company-owned factory. In its first full year of production, 1909, about 18,000 Model Ts were built. As demand for the car grew, the company moved production to the much larger Highland Park Plant, and in 1911, the first year of operation there, 69,762 Model Ts were produced, with 170,211 in 1912. By 1913, the company had developed all of the basic techniques of the assembly line and mass production. Ford introduced the world's first moving assembly line that year, which reduced chassis assembly time from 12 1D2 hours in October to 2 hours 40 minutes (and ultimately 1 hour 33 minutes), and boosted annual output to 202,667 units that year. After a Ford ad promised profit-sharing if sales hit 300,000 between August 1914 and August 1915, sales in 1914 reached 308,162, and 501,462 in 1915; by 1920, production would exceed one million a year.

These innovations were hard on employees, and turnover of workers was very high, while increased productivity actually reduced labor demand. Turnover meant delays and extra costs of training, and use of slow workers. In January 1914, Ford solved the employee turnover problem by doubling pay to $5 a day, cutting shifts from nine hours to an eight hour day for a 5 day work week (which also increased sales; a line worker could buy a T with less than four months' pay), and instituting hiring practices that identified the best workers, including disabled people considered unemployable by other firms. Employee turnover plunged, productivity soared, and with it, the cost per vehicle plummeted. Ford cut prices again and again and invented the system of franchised dealers who were loyal to his brand name. Wall Street had criticized Ford's generous labor practices when he began paying workers enough to buy the products they made.

While Ford attained international status in 1904 with the founding of Ford of Canada, it was in 1911 the company began to rapidly expand overseas, with the opening of assembly plants in Ireland (1917), England and France, followed by Denmark (1923), Germany (1925), Austria (1925), Argentina (1925), and South Africa (1924) . Ford of Australia (1925) was formed as a subsidiary of Ford of Canada due to preferential tariff rules for Commonwealth countries. By the end of 1919, Ford was producing 50 percent of all cars in the United States, and 40% of all British ones; by 1920, half of all cars in the U.S. were Model Ts. (The low price also killed the cyclecar in the U.S.)

It also transformed technology. Henry Ford is reported to have said, "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black." Before the assembly line, Ts had been available in a variety of colors, including red, blue, and green, but not black. Now, paint had become a production bottleneck; only Japan Black dried quickly enough, and not until Duco lacquer appeared in 1926 would other colors reappear on the T.

In 1919, Edsel Ford succeeded his father as president of the company, although Henry still kept a hand in management. While prices were kept low through highly efficient engineering, the company used an old-fashioned personalized management system, and neglected consumer demand for improved vehicles. So, while four-wheel brakes were invented by Arrol-Johnson, they did not appear on a Ford until 1927. (To be fair, Chevrolet waited until 1928.) Ford steadily lost market share to GM and Chrysler, as these and other domestic and foreign competitors began offering fresher automobiles with more innovative features and luxury options. GM had a range of models from relatively cheap to luxury, tapping all price points in the spectrum, while less wealthy people purchased used Model Ts. The competitors also opened up new markets by extending credit for purchases, so consumers could buy these expensive automobiles with monthly payments. Ford initially resisted this approach, insisting such debts would ultimately hurt the consumer and the general economy. Ford eventually relented and started offering the same terms in December 1927, when Ford unveiled the redesigned Model A, and retired the Model T after producing 15 million units.

On February 4, 1922 Ford expanded its reach into the luxury auto market through its acquisition of the Lincoln Motor Company, named for Abraham Lincoln whom Henry Ford admired, but Henry M. Leland had named the company in 1917. The Mercury division was established in 1938 to serve the mid-price auto market.

Divisions and Subsidiariesof Ford Motor Company include:

Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company of Argentina
Ford Motor Company of Australia
Ford do Brasil
Ford Motor Company of Canada
Ford Motor Company Limited (Ford Britain) (1)
Ford India Private Limited
Ford SAF
Ford Mexico
Ford Romania
Ford Germany
Ford Ireland

(1) Formed in 1931, Ford Motor Company Ltd was formerly Ford Britain. The majority of the company (55%) is owned by Dearborn, with the remainder owned by British investors. While Ford Britain takes the view that it runs Ford's European operations, the view from Detroit is that its "first amongst equals".

This post has been edited 1 times, last edit by "TheCanadian" (Jun 8th 2012, 2:47am)


Sunday, June 10th 2012, 6:53am

Chrysler Corporation

Chrysler was founded by Walter Chrysler on June 6, 1925, when the Maxwell Motor Company (est. 1904) was re-organized into the Chrysler Corporation.

Walter Chrysler had originally arrived at the ailing Maxwell-Chalmers company in the early 1920s, having been hired to take over and overhaul the company's troubled operations (just after a similar rescue job at the Willys car company).

In late 1923 production of the Chalmers automobile was ended.

Then in January 1924, Walter Chrysler launched an eponymous automobile. The 70 was a 6-cylinder, designed to provide customers with an advanced, well-engineered car, at a more affordable price than they might expect. (Elements of this car are traceable back to a prototype which had been under development at Willys at the time Chrysler was there).

The original 1924 Chrysler included a carburetor air filter, high compression engine, full pressure lubrication, and an oil filter, at a time when most autos came without these features. Among the innovations in its early years would be the first practical mass-produced four-wheel hydraulic brakes, a system nearly completely engineered by Chrysler with patents assigned to Lockheed. Chrysler pioneered rubber engine mounts to reduce vibration; Oilite bearings; and superfinishing for shafts.

Chrysler also developed a road wheel with a ridged rim, designed to keep a deflated tire from flying off the wheel.This safety wheel was eventually adopted by the auto industry worldwide.

Following the introduction of the Chrysler, the Maxwell marque was dropped after the 1925 model year. The new, lower-priced 4-cylinder Chryslers introduced for 1926 year were badge-engineered Maxwells. The advanced engineering and testing that went into Chrysler Corporation cars helped to push the company to the second-place position in U.S. sales by 1936.

In 1928, Chrysler Corporation began dividing its vehicle offerings by price class and function. The Plymouth brand was introduced at the low priced end of the market (created essentially by once again reworking and rebadging Chrysler's 4-cylinder model). At the same time, the DeSoto marque was introduced in the medium-price field. Shortly thereafter, Chrysler bought the Dodge Brothers automobile and truck company and launched the Fargo range of trucks. By the late 1930s, the DeSoto and Dodge divisions would trade places in the corporate hierarchy. This proliferation of marques under Chrysler's umbrella might have been inspired by the similar strategy employed successfully by General Motors.

In the 1930s, the company created a formal vehicle parts division under the MoPar brand (a portmanteau of Motor Parts), with the result that "Mopar" remains a colloquial term for vehicles produced by Chrysler Corporation. The MoPar (later Mopar) brand was not used in Canada, where parts were sold under the Chryco and AutoPar brands.

Chrysler's Airtemp marque for stationary and mobile air conditioning, refrigeration, and climate control was launched with the first installation in 1930's Chrysler Building, though the Airtemp Corporation would not be incorporated until 1934, when it used a former Maxwell factory.

Airtemp invented capacity regulators, sealed radial compressors, and the self-contained air conditioning system, along with a superior high-speed radial compressor, and by 1941 had over 500 dealers selling its air conditioning and heating systems.

In 1934 the company introduced the Airflow models, featuring an advanced streamlined body, among the first to be designed using aerodynamic principles. Chrysler created the industry's first wind tunnel to develop them. Buyers rejected its styling, and the more conventionally designed Dodge and Plymouth cars pulled the firm through.

Divisions of Subsidiaries of Chrysler Corporation include:

Chrysler-Plymouth Division
Dodge Brothers Company
Desoto Division
Fargo Motor Car Company
Chrysler Corporation of Canada
Chrysler Philippines


Wednesday, July 18th 2012, 4:30am

Hudson Motor Car Company

The name "Hudson" came from Joseph L. Hudson, a Detroit department store entrepreneur and founder of Hudson's department store, who provided the necessary capital and gave permission for the company to be named after him. A total of eight Detroit businessmen formed the company on February 20, 1909, to produce an automobile which would sell for less than US$1,000. One of the chief "car men" and organizer of the company was Roy D. Chapin, Sr., a young executive who had worked with Ransom E. Olds. The company quickly started production, with the first car driven out of a small factory in Detroit on July 3, 1909.

The new Hudson "Twenty" was one of the first low-priced cars on the American market and very successful with more than 4,000 sold the first year. The 4,508 units made in 1910 was the best first year's production in the history of the automobile industry up to that time and put the newly formed company in 17th place industry-wide, "a remarkable achievement at a time." Production in 1911 increased to 6,486.

The company had a number of firsts for the auto industry; these included dual brakes, the use of dashboard oil-pressure and generator warning lights, and the first balanced crankshaft, which allowed the Hudson straight-six engine, dubbed the "Super Six" (1916), to work at a higher rotational speed while remaining smooth, developing more power for its size than lower-speed engines. The dual brake system used a secondary mechanical emergency brake system, which activated the rear brakes when the pedal traveled beyond the normal reach of the primary system; a mechanical parking brake was also used. Hudson transmissions also used an oil bath and cork clutch mechanism that proved to be as durable as it was smooth.

At their peak in 1929, Hudson and Essex produced a combined 300,000 cars in one year, including contributions from Hudson's other factories in Belgium and England; a factory had been built in 1925 in Brentford in London. Hudson was the third largest U.S. car maker that year, after Ford Motor Company and Chevrolet.

In 1919 Hudson introduced the Essex brand line of automobiles; the line was originally for budget minded buyers, designed to compete with Ford and Chevrolet, as opposed to the more up-scale Hudson line. The Essex found great success by offering one of the first affordable sedans, and combined Hudson and Essex sales moved from seventh in the U.S. to third by 1925.

In 1932, Hudson began phasing out its Essex nameplate for the modern Terraplane brand name. The new line was launched on July 21, 1932, with a promotional christening by Amelia Earhart. For 1932 and 1933, the restyled cars were named Essex-Terraplane; from 1934 as Terraplane, until 1938 when the Terraplane was re-named the Hudson 112. Hudson also began assembling cars in Canada, contracting Canada Top and Body to build the cars in their Tilbury, Ontario, plant. In England Terraplanes built at the Brentford factory were still being advertised in 1938.

An optional accessory on some 1935-1938 Hudson and Terraplane models was a steering column-mounted electric gear pre-selector and electro-mechanical automatic shifting system, known as the "Electric Hand", manufactured by the Bendix Corporation. This took the place of the floor-mounted shift lever, but required conventional clutch actions. Cars equipped with Electric Hand also carried a conventional shift lever in clips under the dash, which could be pulled out and put to use in case the Electric Hand should ever fail. Hudson was also noted for offering an optional vacuum-powered automatic clutch, starting in the early 1930s.

In 1936, Hudson revamped its cars, introducing a new "radial safety control" / "rhythmic ride" suspension which suspended the live front axle from two steel bars, as well as from leaf springs. Doing this allowed the use of longer, softer leaf springs("rhythmic ride"), and prevented bumps and braking from moving the car off course. The 1936 Hudsons were also considerably larger inside than competitive cars — Hudson claimed a 145-cubic-foot (4.1 m3) interior, comparing it to 121 cubic feet (3.4 m3) in the "largest of other popular cars. With the optional bulging trunk lid, the Hudsons could store 21 cubic feet (0.59 m3) of luggage, though that might have been an optimistic measurement. The 1936 engines were powerful for the time, from 93 hp (69 kW) to 124 hp (92 kW).

The 1939 models joined other American cars in the use of a column-mounted gearshift lever. This freed front-seat passenger space and remained the industry standard through the 1960s, when "bucket seats" came into vogue. For 1940 Hudson introduced coil spring independent front suspension, aircraft style shock absorbers mounted within the front springs and true center-point steering on all its models, a major advance in performance among cars in this price range. In 1942, perhaps in response to General Motors' Hydramatic automatic transmission, Hudson introduced its "Drive-Master" system. Drive-Master was a more sophisticated combination of the concepts used in the Electric Hand and the automatic clutch. At the touch of a button, Drive-Master offered the driver a choice of three modes of operation: (1) Ordinary, manual shifting and clutching; (2) Manual shifting with automatic clutching, and (3) Automatic shifting with automatic clutching. All this was accomplished by a large and very complicated mechanism located under the hood. They worked well, and in fully automatic mode served as a good semi-automatic transmission. When coupled with an automatic overdrive, Drive-Master became known as Super-Matic. Drive-Master was offered by Hudson through the 1950 model year.

In 1951, when General Motors made its Hydramatic available to all other carmakers, Hudson replaced Drive-Master and Super-Matic with Hydramatic.


Saturday, September 8th 2012, 4:42am

Nash-Kelvinator Corporation

Nash Motors was founded in 1916 by former General Motors president Charles W. Nash who acquired the Thomas B. Jeffery Company. Jeffery's best-known automobile was the Rambler whose mass production from a plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin began in 1902.
The 1917 Nash Model 671 was the first vehicle produced to bear the name of the new company's founder. Nash enjoyed decades of success by focusing its efforts to build cars "embodying honest worth ... [at] a price level which held out possibilities of a very wide market."

The four-wheel drive Jeffrey Quad truck became an important product for Nash. Approximately 11,500 Quads were built between 1913 and 1919. They served to move material during the Great War under severe conditions. The Quad used Meuhl differentials with half-shafts mounted above the load-bearing dead axles to drive the hubs through hub-reduction gearing. in addition to featuring four-wheel steering.

The Quad achieved the reputation of being the best four-wheel drive truck produced in the country. The newly formed Nash Motors became the largest producer of four-wheel drives. By 1918, capacity constraints at Nash meant the Paige-Detroit Motor Car Company began to assemble the Nash Quad under license and Nash patents. Nash became the leading producer of military trucks by the end of the Great War. After the war ended, surplus Quads were used as heavy work trucks in fields such as construction and logging.

Charles Nash convinced the chief engineer of GM's Oakland Division, Finnish-born Nils Eric Wahlberg, to moving to Nash's new company. The first Nash engine introduced in 1917 by Wahlberg had overhead valves, and Nash incorporated this principle Wahlberg is also credited with helping to design flow-through ventilation that is used today in nearly every motor vehicle. Introduced in 1938, Nash's Weather Eye directed fresh, outside air into the car's fan-boosted, filtered ventilation system, where it was warmed (or cooled), and then removed through rearward placed vents. The process also helped to reduce humidity and equalize the slight pressure differential between the outside and inside of a moving vehicle. Another unique feature of Nash cars was the unequal wheel tracks. The front wheels were set slightly narrower than the rear, thus adding stability and improving cornering. Wahlberg was also an early proponent of wind tunnel testing for vehicles.

Nash's slogan from the late 1920s and 1930s was "Give the customer more than he has paid for" and the cars lived up to it. Innovations included a straight-eight engine with overhead valves, twin spark plugs, and nine crankshaft bearings in 1930. The 1932 Ambassador Eight had synchromesh transmissions and free wheeling, automatic centralized chassis lubrication, a worm-drive rear end, and its suspension was adjustable inside the car.

The Nash was a success among consumers that meant for the company "selling for a long time has been 100% a production problem... month after month all the cars that could be produced were sold before they left the factory floor."

For the 1925 model year, Nash introduced the entry-level marque Ajax. A car of exceptional quality for its price, the Ajax was produced in the newly acquired Mitchell Motor Car Company plant in Racine, Wisconsin. Mitchell was the manufacturer of Mitchell-brand automobiles between 1903 and 1923. Sales of Ajax automobiles, while quite respectable, were disappointing. It was believed that the same car would sell better if it were called a Nash. Thus the Ajax became the "Nash Light Six" in June, 1926 and sales did improve, just as expected. In an unusual move, Nash Motors offered all Ajax owners a kit to "convert" their Ajax into a Nash Light Six. This kit, supplied at no charge, included a set of new hubcaps, radiator badge, and all other parts necessary to change the identity of an Ajax into that of a Nash Light Six. This was done to protect Ajax owners from the inevitable drop in resale value when the Ajax marque was discontinued. In this way Nash Motors showed the high value they placed upon their customers' satisfaction and well-being. Most Ajax owners took advantage of this move, and "unconverted" Ajax cars are quite rare today.

LaFayette Motors was the producer of a large, powerful, expensive luxury car. The company started in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1920, and later moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The principal stockholder in LaFayette Motors was Nash Motors Company. Other major stockholders were Charles W. Nash and friends and business associates. The high quality, high priced LaFayette cars did not sell well.

In 1924 Nash absorbed LaFayette Motors and converted its plant to produce Ajax automobiles. The LaFayette name was reintroduced in 1934 as a lower priced companion to Nash. LaFayette ceased to be an independent marque with the introduction of the 1937 models. From 1937 through 1940, the Nash LaFayette was the lowest priced Nash, and was replaced by the new unibody Nash 600 for the 1941 model year.

Before retiring, Charlie Nash chose Kelvinator Corporation head George W. Mason to succeed him. Mason accepted, but placed one condition on the job: Nash would acquire controlling interest in Kelvinator, which at the time was the leading manufacturer of high-end refrigerators and kitchen appliances in the United States. The resulting company, as of January 4, 1937, was known as the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation. Nash as a brand name continued to represent automobiles for Nash-Kelvinator. This was the largest merger of companies not in the same industry up until that time.

In 1938 Nash introduced an optional conditioned air heating/ventilating system, an outcome of the expertise shared between Kelvinator and Nash. This was the first hot-water car heater to draw fresh air from outside the car, and is the basis of all modern car heaters in use today. Also in 1938, Nash, along with other car manufacturers Studebaker and Graham, offered vacuum-controlled shifting, an early approach at removing the gearshift from the front floorboards. Automobiles equipped with the Automatic Vacuum Shift (supplied by the Evans Products Company) had a small gear selector lever mounted on the dashboard, immediately below the radio controls.
1936 marked the introduction of the Nash "Bed-In-A-Car" feature, which allowed the car's interior to be converted into a sleeping compartment. The rear seatback hinged up, allowing the rear seat cushion to be propped up into a level position. This also created an opening between the passenger compartment and the trunk. Two adults could sleep in the car, with their legs and feet in the trunk, and their heads and shoulders on the rear seat cushions. In 1949 this arrangement was modified so that fully reclining front seatbacks created a sleeping area entirely within the passenger compartment. In 1950 these reclining seatbacks were given the ability to lock into several intermediate positions. Nash soon called these new seatbacks "Airliner Reclining Seats".

In 1939, Nash added a thermostat to its "Conditioned Air System", and thus the famous Nash Weather Eye heater was born. The 1939 and 1940 Nash streamlined cars were designed by George Walker and Associates and freelance body stylist Don Mortrude. They were available in three series - LaFayette, Ambassador Six and Ambassador Eight. For the 1940 model cars Nash introduced independent coil spring front suspension and sealed beam headlights.

The 1941 Nash 600 was the first mass-produced unibody construction automobile made in the United States. Its lighter weight compared to body-on-frame automobiles and lower air drag helped it to achieve excellent gas mileage for its day. The "600" model designation is said to have been derived from overdrive-equipped examples of this car's ability to travel 600 miles (966 km) on a 20-US-gallon (75.7 l; 16.7 imp gal) tank of gasoline. In other words it would achieve 30 miles per US gallon (7.8 L/100 km; 36 mpg-imp). The design of the cars was improved by new front ends, upholstery, and chrome trim from 1942 to 1948. The larger Ambassador models shared the same bodies with the 600 but continued to use body-on-frame construction.

Divisions of Subsidiaries of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation include:

Nash Motors

Kelvinator Company


Monday, January 7th 2013, 2:39am

Packard Motor Car Company

Packard was founded by James Ward Packard (Lehigh University Class of 1884), his brother William Doud Packard and their partner, George Lewis Weiss, in the city of Warren, Ohio. James Ward Packard believed that they could build a better horseless carriage than the Winton cars owned by Weiss (an important Winton stockholder) and, being himself a mechanical engineer, had some ideas for improvement on the designs of current automobiles.

Packard was not completely satisfied with the Winton car he had recently purchased. He wrote Alexander Winton with his complaints and suggestions; however Mr. Winton, offended by Packard's criticism, challenged Packard to build a better car. Packard responded by doing so, his marque outlasting Winton's by many decades. Packard runs his first automobile in Warren, Ohio on November 6, 1899.
In September, 1900, the "Ohio Automobile Company" was founded as the manufacturer, while the cars were always sold as Packards. Since these automobiles quickly gained an excellent reputation, and there were more automobile makers that produced — or at least planned to — under the label "Ohio", the name was soon changed. On October 13, 1902, it became the Packard Motor Car Company.

From the very beginning, Packard automobiles introduced a number of innovations in its designs, including the modern steering wheel and, years later, the first production 12-cylinder engine and the first air-conditioning in a passenger car. All Packards had a single-cylinder engine until 1903.
While the Cole 30 and Cole Runabout were US$1,500, the high-volume Oldsmobile Runabout went for $650, Western's Gale Model A roadster was $500, and the Black went as low as $375, the Packards concentrated on cars with prices starting at $2,600. Packard automobiles developed a following among wealthy purchasers both in the United States and abroad.

From this beginning, through and beyond the 1930s, Packard-built vehicles were perceived as highly competitive among high-priced luxury American automobiles. The company was commonly referred to as being one of the "Three P's" of American motordom royalty, along with Pierce-Arrow of Buffalo, New York and Peerless of Cleveland, Ohio. For most of its history, Packard was guided by its President and General Manager Alvan Macauley who also served as President of the National Automobile Manufacturers Association. Inducted into the Automobile Hall of Fame, Macauley made Packard the number one designer and producer of luxury automobiles in the United States. The marque was also highly competitive abroad, with markets in sixty-one countries. Gross income for the company was $21,889,000 in 1928. Macauley was also responsible for the iconic Packard slogan, "Ask the Man Who Owns One."

In addition to excellent luxury cars, Packard built trucks as well. A Packard truck carrying a three-ton load, drove from New York City to San Francisco between 8 July and 24 August 1912. The same year, Packard had service depots in 104 cities.
Entering into the 1930s, Packard attempted to go more upmarket by manufacturing ever more opulent and expensive cars than it had prior to October 1929. The Packard Twin Six (designed by Jesse Vincent) was introduced for 1932 and renamed the Packard Twelve for the remainder of its run (through 1939). For one year only, 1932, Packard tried fielding an upper-medium-priced car called the Light Eight.
As an independent automaker, Packard did not have the luxury of a larger corporate structure absorbing its losses, as Cadillac did with GM and Lincoln with Ford. However, Packard did have a better cash position than other independent luxury marques.
Packard also had one other advantage that some other luxury automakers did not: a single production line. By maintaining a single line and interchangeability between models, Packard was able to keep its costs down. Packard did not change cars as often as other manufacturers did at the time. Rather than introducing new models annually, Packard began using its own "Series" formula for differentiating its model changeovers in 1923. New model series did not debut on a strictly annual basis, with some series lasting nearly two years, and others lasting as short a time as seven months. In the long run, though, Packard did average approximately one new series per year. By 1930, Packard automobiles were considered part of its Seventh Series. By 1942, Packard was in its Twentieth Series. The "Thirteenth Series" was omitted.

To address the Downturn, Packard started producing more affordable cars in the medium-price range. In 1935, it introduced its first sub-$1,000 car, the Packard 120. Car production more than tripled that year and doubled again in 1936. In order to produce the 120, Packard built and equipped an entirely separate factory. By 1936, Packard's labor force was divided nearly evenly between the high-priced "Senior" lines (Twelve, Super Eight, and Eight) and the medium-priced "Junior" models, although more than ten times more Juniors were produced than Seniors. This was because the 120 models were built using thoroughly modern mass production techniques, while the Senior Packards used a great deal more hand labor and traditional craftsmanship. The Junior models were very fine cars; they were just not in the same quality league as the Seniors. Although Packard most certainly could not have survived the Downturn without the highly successful Junior models, the Juniors did have the effect of diminishing the Senior models' stellar and exclusive image among those few who could still afford an expensive luxury car. Adding insult to injury, the 120 models were more modern in basic design than the Senior models. For example, the 1935 Packard 120 featured independent front suspension and hydraulic brakes, both features that would not appear on the Senior Packards until 1937.

Prior to 1937, Packard was still the premier luxury automobile, even though the lion's share of cars being built were the 120 and Super Eight model ranges. Hoping to catch still more of the market, Packard decided to issue the Packard 115C in 1937, which was powered by Packard's first six-cylinder engine since the Fifth Series cars in 1928. While the move to introduce the Six was at once brilliant—the car arrived just in time for the 1938 recession—it also tagged Packards as something less exclusive than they had been in the public's mind, and in the long run, the Six hurt Packard's reputation of building some of America's finest luxury cars.


Tuesday, January 29th 2013, 7:26am

Buick Motor Company

Buick originated as the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company in 1899, an independent internal combustion engine and motor-car manufacturer, and was later incorporated as the Buick Motor Company on May 19, 1903, by Scottish born David Dunbar Buick in Detroit, Michigan. Later that year, the company was taken over by James H. Whiting (1842–1919), who moved it to his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and brought in William C. Durant in 1904 to manage his new acquisition. Buick sold his stock for a small sum upon departure, and died in modest circumstances 25 years later.

Between 1899 and 1902, two prototype vehicles were built in Detroit, Michigan by Walter Lorenzo Marr. Some documentation exists of the 1901 or 1902 prototype with tiller steering similar to the Oldsmobile Curved Dash. In mid-1904, another prototype was constructed for an endurance run, which convinced James H. Whiting to authorize production of the first models offered to the public. The architecture of this prototype was the basis for the Model B.

The first Buick made for sale, the 1904 Model B, was built in Flint, Michigan. There were 37 Buicks made that year, none of which survived. There are, however, two replicas in existence: the 1904 endurance car, at the Buick Gallery & Research Center in Flint, and a Model B assembled by an enthusiast in California for the division's 100th anniversary. Both of these vehicles use various parts from Buicks of that early era, as well as fabricated parts. These vehicles were each constructed with the two known surviving 1904 engines. Buicks were first built to replicate the living room in a moving automobile, and were nicknamed the "moving couch of America".

The power train and chassis architecture introduced on the Model B was continued through the 1909 Model F. The early success of Buick is attributed in part to the valve-in-head, or overhead valve (OHV), engine patented by Eugene Richard and developed by David Dunbar Buick. The Model F had a two-cylinder engine, an 87 inch wheelbase and weighed 1,800 lbs. The creation of General Motors is attributed in part to the success of Buick, so it can be said Marr and Richard's designs directly led to GM.

The basic design of the 1904 Buick was optimally engineered even by today's standards. The flat-twin engine is inherently balanced, with torque presented to the chassis in a longitudinal manner, actually cancelling front end lift, rather than producing undesirable lateral motion. The engine was mounted amidships, now considered the optimal location.
Durant was a natural promoter, and Buick soon became the largest car maker in America. Using the profits from this, Durant embarked on a series of corporate acquisitions, calling the new megacorporation General Motors. At first, the manufacturers comprising General Motors competed against each other, but Durant ended that. He wanted each General Motors division to target one class of buyer, and in his new scheme, Buick was near the top — only the Cadillac brand had more prestige. Buick occupies this position to this day in the General Motors lineup. The ideal Buick customer is comfortably well off, possibly not quite rich enough to afford a Cadillac, nor desiring the ostentation of one, but definitely in the market for a car above the norm.

In 1911, Buick introduced its first closed-body car, four years ahead of Ford. In 1929, as part of General Motors' companion make program, Buick Motor Division launched the Marquette sister brand, designed to bridge the price gap between Buick and Oldsmobile; however, Marquette was discontinued in 1930. Buick debuted two major achievements for the 1931 model year, the OHV Buick Straight-8 engine and a synchromesh transmission in all models but the Series 50. The Eight was offered in three displacements, the 220 cubic inch (bore 2 7/8 in. stroke 4.25 in.), was available in the Series 50 with 77 brake HP. The Series 60 engine was a 272 cu. in. unit (bore 3 1/16 in., stroke 5 in.) giving 90 brake HP. The Series 80 and Series 90 used a 344 cu. in. version (bore 3 5/16 in., stroke 5 in.) for 104 brake HP. Automatic vacuum-operated spark advance was another new feature replacing the steering column mounted spark lever although an emergency lever was now dash mounted. Buick scored another first in 1939, when it became the first company to introduce turn signals. All 1939 models also had a steering column mounted shift lever.

In the 1930s Buicks were popular with the British royal family, particularly Edward VIII. He imported and used a Canadian built McLaughlin-Buick that were GMs top brand in Canada, Cadillac not having caught on there.

Buick Special (1936-1949)

1937 Buick Special

1948 Buick Special

From 1936 to 1958, Buick's Special model range represented the marque's entry level full-size automobile. The '36 was a very successful year for Buick and also marked the first time of using names rather than the simple serial numbers which had been in use before. The Special continued to also be known as the 40-series, however. The first Specials rode on a 118 in (3.0 m) wheelbase, but for the next model year this was increased to 122 in (3.10 m) as all Buicks grew for that year. The engine was also new, and was now of 248 cu in (4.1 L) rather than 233 cu in (3.8 L). The Special (and all other Buicks as well) underwent a full restyling for 1939, with a more enclosed nose and a wider grille. The wheelbase was also two inches shorter. For 1940, there was the usual restyle and the wheelbase increased by an inch. This was also the only model year that a four-door convertible Special ("Sport Phaeton") was offered, although only 552 were built.
For 1941 the bodywork was again all new, with the front fenders now very closely integrated into the cars overall design. The Estate Wagon migrated from being a Super into the Special lineup. Also new was the 40-A series (the regular Special now being the 40-B), a version on a three inches shorter wheelbase which shared its body with the 1941 Chevrolet.

These two series, with a restyle reminiscent of the 1939 Y-Job, continued into the 1942 model year. By 1944 only the larger Special range remained available, still using the B-body. The '46 Special is rare, representing less than 2% of Buick's production that year. The Special continued with minor changes until the B-body was finally replaced halfway through the 1949 model year.

Buick Special 1949-1958

1950 Buick Special DeLuxe

1957 Buick Special

Halfway into the 1949 model year, the Specials received all-new bodywork. New was the 40D-series, a better equipped version called the Special DeLuxe. The engine remained the 248 cu in (4.1 L) which had been used since 1937, but for 1951 this was replaced by the larger "Fireball" straight-eight. A two-door hardtop coupe was also new for 1951. The 1954 Specials had an all-new body and chassis, much wider and lower, and were now equipped with the all-new, more powerful "Nailhead" V8 engines.

Introduced in the middle of the 1955 model year the four-door Buick Special Riviera (along with the Century Riviera, the Oldsmobile 98 Holiday, and the 88 Holiday) were the first four-door pillarless hardtops ever produced. By then, the Buick Special was one of America's best selling automotive series. For 1956 the larger 322 cu in (5.3 L) V8 engine was shared with the rest of the range, although it was replaced by the bigger, 250 hp (186 kW) 364 V8 for 1957. This year also brought all-new bodywork, as well as a four-door hardtop station wagon called the Buick Caballero. The 1957 wheelbase remained 122 inches. In the June, 1957 issue of Popular Mechanics, the Special was rated with a 0-60 mph time of 11.6 seconds, fuel economy of 17.4 mpg-US (13.5 L/100 km; 20.9 mpg-imp) at 50 mph (80 km/h), and ground clearance of 6.9 in (175 mm). 1958 brought the most chrome yet and twin headlights, as the car grew longer and wider, albeit on an unchanged chassis.

1949-1957 Buick Specials had three VentiPorts while more senior Buicks, with the exception of the Buick Super (which switched from three to four in 1955), had four. GM renamed the Buick Special the LeSabre for the 1959 model year, taking the name from the 1951 Le Sabre concept car.

Buick Super (1940-48 )

1940 Buick Super

1947 Buick Super

When introduced in 1940 the new Series 50 Super featured the cutting-edge "torpedo" C-body. The new C-body that the 1940 Buick Super shared with the Series 70 Roadmaster, the Cadillac Series 62, the Oldsmobile Series 90, and the Pontiac Torpedo featured shoulder and hip room that was over 5" wider, the elimination of running boards and exterior styling that was streamlined and 2-3" lower. When combined with a column mounted shift lever the cars offered true six passenger comfort. These changes had clearly been influenced by the Cadillac Sixty Special.

The basic formula for the 1940 to 1952 Super was established by mating the Roadmaster's longer behind the engine cowl body to the Series 40 Special's smaller straight-eight engine (and consequently shorter engine compartment). This led to an economical combination of voluminous passenger room and relatively good fuel economy. (In contrast the Series 60 Century combined the smaller Special body with the larger Roadmaster engine.)
The new Super temporarily shared its 121.0 in (3,073 mm) wheelbase dimension with the 40 Special. Initially four body styles were offered: a 2-door coupe, a 2-door convertible, a 4-door sedan and a 4-door convertible. In the middle of the model year a 4-door Estate wagon was added which was exclusive to the Super. Interiors of Bedford cloth (either tan or gray) were offered. The engine was the same 248 cu in (4.1 L) 107 hp Fireball I8 as used on the Special which was equipped with an oil filter. The Super was equipped with sealed beam headlights and with Fore-N-Aft Flash-Way directionals. 1940 was the only year the Super could be equipped with sidemounts. A total of 128,736 units were sold in its first year.

The styling changes for 1941 were modest, but the changes under the hood were major. The compression ratio was raised from 6.15:1 to 7.0:1, the "turbulator" pistons were redesigned, smaller spark plugs were substituted for the previous type and “Compound Carburetion” was introduced, as it was on all Buicks except for the Special. Compound Carburetion was the forerunner of the modern four-barrel carburetor, and consisted of twin two-barrel carburetors. One unit operated all of the time, while the other operated only under hard acceleration. The new engine delivered 125 horsepower. All cars available with a choice of axle ratios and with two-tone color combinations with 19 selections at no extra charge. A new feature was a two-way hood that could be opened from either side. The 4-door convertible and the Estate wagon were gone but a new one year only body style was a 3-passenger 2-door Business Coupe which sold 2449 units. Overall sales fell to 92,067.

The 1942 Super coupes adopted the appealing Sedanet fastback style that had been the sensation of 1941 on Century and Special. New wider and lower bodies were offered and "Airfoil" front fenders that flowed into the lines of the rear fenders were introduced on convertibles and sedanet models. The Super had new front fender trim featuring parallel chrome strips. Also featured for 1942 was a handsome new grille with a lower outline and thin vertical strips. A feature shared with other Buicks was a new interior air intake positioned near the front center grille that eliminated the old cowl-level ventilator. The number of body styles was reduced to three with the elimination of the one year only Business coupe.

In 1946 Buick once again combined the large Series 70 Roadmaster body with the economical Series 40 Special powerplant to create the Series 50 Super line. Basic styling was continued from 1942 now sedans had the front fender sweep across the doors to the rear fenders as did the Sedanet and convertible styles. A stamped grille with vertical bars dominated the frontal ensemble. Single stainless body trim lines began on the front fenders and ended at the rear edge of the standard rear wheelhouse shields. Standard equipment included an automatic choke, clock, ash receiver, turn signals and woodgrained instrument panels. Exterior series identification was found on the crossbar between the bumper guards front and rear. Cloisonne emblems carried the Super emblem. Compound Carburetion was eliminated and the compression ratio was reduced to 6.30:1. As a consequence the 1946 Super's horsepower fell from 125 to 110. Torque on the other hand was hardly affected. The number of body styles increased to four with the return of the Estate wagon after a six year absence. A total of 119,334 units were sold. The front suspension was independent with coil springs. 76.98% of Buick sales this year were Supers.

Combining big Roadmaster room with an economical Special engine continued to make the Super an American favorite in 1947. The Super was little changed from its 1946 counterpart, except for new stamped grille that had separate upper bar and new emblem. Stainless lower body moldings made a single line along the body and continued onto the standard wheelhouse shields. A white Tenite steering wheel was standard while the instruments were round and set into a two-toned dash panel. Exterior series identification was found on the crossbars between the standard bumper guards. A chrome emblem was used with the series script embossed and filled with red. Sales reached a record 159,588. The height was 64.9 inches. Brakes were 12 inch drums.

The main external change to the 1948 Super from its 1947 counterpart was the Super script on each front fender. Other series identification continued to be earned on the bumper guard crossbar. The car was a bit lower than in 1947 rolling on new 7.60 x 15 tires mounted on wheels with trim rings and small hubcaps. Super script was also found on the center crest of a new black Tenite steering wheel. New cloth interiors featured leatherette scuff pads and trim risers. The instrument panel was redone, using silver-tone instruments on a two-tone gray panel. The sedan was carpeted in the rear with a carpet insert also found in the front rubber mat. The convertible also featured cloth and leather interior trim with power top, seat and windows standard. Total sales were 108,521.

Buick Super 1949-1953

1949 Buick Super

1954 Buick Super Riveria

The Super shared a new General Motors C-body with the Roadmaster but on a shorter wheelbase. It featured three chrome VentiPorts on each front fender to denote its smaller straight-eight engine and shorter engine compartment when compared with the Roadmaster. The sales brochure noted that VentiPorts helped ventilate the engine compartment, and possibly that was true in early 1949, but sometime during the model year they became plugged. The idea for VentiPorts grew out of a modification Buick styling chief Ned Nickles had added to his own 1948 Roadmaster. He had installed four amber lights on each side of his car’s hood wired to the distributor so as to flash on and off as each piston fired simulating the flames from the exhaust stack of a fighter airplane. Combined with the bombsight mascot, VentiPorts put the driver at the controls of an imaginary fighter airplane. Upon seeing this, Buick chief Harlow Curtice was so delighted that he ordered that (non-lighting) VentiPorts be installed on all 1949 Buicks.

Super script was found just above the full length body fender molding on the front fenders. New fender edge taillamps were featured while rear fender skins remained a Buick standard. New fender top parking lamps, harkening back to 1941 styling appeared. Full wheel trim discs were standard along with such features as a cigar lighter, ashtray, and automatic choke. Cloth interiors were standard, except on the convertible which was trimmed in leather and leatherette and had a power top, seat and windows as standard equipment.

Dynaflow automatic transmission was now optional equipment on Supers in 1949. Cars so equipped had 6.9:1 compression ratio and 120 horsepower. Total sales set a record at 190,514 for the first time since the Super's introductory year. The instrument panel was new.

The 1950 Supers shared with all the other series totally new all bumper guard grille and more rounded styling. Super script appeared on front fenders just above the full length lower bodyside moldings. A new body style was a 2-door Riviera hardtop. Another new bodystyle was a long wheelbase sedan which was stretched an extra four inches (102 mm) and featured plusher interior than most Supers, which normally had cloth interiors of finer material than the Special. Supers had three VentiPorts on each hoodside. The convertible had leather power seats plus power windows and top.

The 1950 Super came with a single two-barrel carburetor on a new higher displacement 263 cu in (4.3 L) Fireball I8 which produced 112 hp (84 kW). It was able to achieve speeds over 90 miles per hour (140 km/h) with an optional Dynaflow automatic transmission which, rather than changing through gears, used the torque converter to couple the motor to a single gear ratio. The car had 2 splits in the back glass although the windshield was now curved one-piece glass. Models also could be equipped with an AM radio and an antenna that could be adjusted via a knob in the front center above the windshield. In the June 1953 Popular Mechanics, acceleration was rated at 0-60 mph in 14.5 seconds. The Super set an all time record of 251,883 sold.

In 1951 Supers had larger bodies than Specials but looked similar with three rounded VentiPorts per fender, broad bright fender shields and a full length "Sweepspear" chrome body side molding. This chrome-plated strip started above the front wheel, after which it gently curved down nearly to the rocker panel just before the rear wheel, and then curved around the rear wheel in a quarter of a circle to go straight back to the taillight. Series script was found on the deck lid and within the steering wheel center. The long wheelbase sedan was named the Riviera sedan although it was not a hardtop. Supers were trimmed with materials similar to Special Deluxes except for in the plush Super Riviera sedan. Front turn signals were within the bumper guard "bombs," while rear signals shared the stop lamps' housing on the rear fender edges. The convertibles and Estate wagon were trimmed in leather. 169,226 Supers were sold.

In 1952 Buick's mid-priced line resembled the Series 40 with three VentiPorts per fender and Sweepspear rocker panel trim. Super script appeared on the rear fenders aided identification. The Super was built with the larger C-body, however. The full flowing fenderline dipped deeper on this body and rear fenders had a rear crest line absent on the B-body Specials. A new deck lid gave a more squared off appearance. Like other Buick series it was a near copy year for 1952. Chromed rear fender fins gave distinction to 1952 Supers. Interiors were cloth except on convertibles and Estate wagons which were trimmed with leather. The Super used a different instrument panel than the Special. It was distinguished by a large center speedometer housing flanked by smaller gauge housings. Series identification was found within the steering wheel center. The Sedanet and the regular wheelbase sedan were cancelled. Sales fell to 135,332.

In 1953 Buick's middle priced line shared the Roadmaster's new V8 and, for this year the Roadmaster shared the Super and Special's 121.5 in (3,086 mm) wheelbase. The Super earned a horizontal trim bar on its rear fenders which distinguished it from the Series 70 Roadmasters. Otherwise its side trim bar on its rear fenders was identical although the Super was had only three VentiPorts on each front fender. Series identification was found on the deck emblem. Full wheelcovers were now standard. The vee in the bombsight ornament signified the V8 power under the hood. Interiors in most models were nylon and silky broadcloth. The convertible had power windows, seat and top as standard equipment. Dynaflow was now standard equipment. Air conditioning was a new option. A total of 190,514 Supers were sold.

1936 Buick Roadmaster

1936-37 Buick Roadmaster

The origins of the Roadmaster name date to 1936 when Buick added names to its entire model lineup to celebrate the engineering improvements and design advancements over their 1935 models. Buick's Series 40 was named the Special, the Series 60 was named the Century and the Series 90 — Buick's largest and most luxurious vehicle — was named the Limited. The Series 50 was retired, but new for the model year was the Series 80 Roadmaster. The implications of the name were clear, for as the 1936 Buick sales catalogue said, "It literally named itself the first time a test model leveled out on the open highway."

The Roadmaster was introduced in a year when Buick's valve-in-head straight-eight engines were heavily revised. Buick reduced the number of engines from four sizes to two: a 233-cubic-inch, 93-horsepower job for the Special, and a big, 320.2-cubic inch, 120-horsepower engine for the other series. (To put the size and power of Buick’s larger straight-eight engine in context, compare it to the new 322-cubic-inch mono-block 120 horsepower V-8 that Cadillac introduced that year.) In addition to this major engineering change 1936 was also the year Buick adopted an all steel turret top and hydraulic brakes. Coil springs were in the front.

The Roadmaster was a big car, in sedan form tipping the scales at 4,098 pounds, some 88 pounds heavier than Cadillac's new Series 60. But pricewise, the Roadmaster was a tremendous bargain. The sedan sold for $1,255, $440 less than the least expensive Cadillac. The only other body style available was a four-door convertible phaeton, priced at $1,565 (of which only 1064 were produced), at a time when a Cadillac in the same body style sold at prices ranging from $2,745 to $7,850. Buick’s new engineering and styling was a big hit, with model year sales more than tripling from just over 48,000 to nearly 158,000, and with the all new Series 80 Roadmaster contributing a total of 16,049 units to that number.

With Roadmaster being a completely new model, and with Buick having totally restyled its entire line the previous year, one might have expected only modest changes for 1937. But that was not the case. The Roadmaster gained a divided grille with horizontal bars. The center section of the grille was painted to match the body of the car. Fenders became squared off and the headlight shells were gracefully streamlined. Overall height fell by 1.5 inches (38 mm) without sacrificing interior room. A new carburetor and revised camshaft raised engine horsepower to 130. The engine also received a new intake manifold, oil pump, cooling system and a quieter overhead valve mechanism. A formal sedan, featuring a roll-down glass partition between the front and rear compartments, was added to the Roadmaster line for $1,641, of which 452 were sold. The price of the sedan was raised to $1,518, and that of the phaeton to $1,856, or by 21 percent and 19 percent respectively. Nevertheless, overall Roadmaster sales increased to 16,129.

1938 Buick Roadmaster

1938-39 Buick Roadmaster

Styling changes for 1938 were modest, with a longer hood extending to a now nearly vertical grill, taller bumper guards and redesigned hubcaps, but the effect was striking. Important changes were made to both engine and chassis. The ride was improved by replacing the rear leaf springs with coil springs, supported by double-acting shock absorbers that were some four times the size of any others on the market. The frame X-member was changed from I-beam to channel construction and all wood structural elements were replaced with steel. The engine combustion chambers were redesigned and new "turbulator" pistons raised the compression ratio from 5.9 to 6.5:1, resulting in an increase in horsepower to 141.

The 4-door convertible phaeton traded its built-in trunk look for a fastback appearance, and a new fastback sedan was added to the line with 466 being sold. The Roadmaster's price was increased, but not as swiftly as the previous year, going to $1,645 for the sedan. Although Buick’s overall market share increased in an off year, Roadmaster sales plummeted to 5568, falling from 7.3 percent to 3.3 percent of Buick's total output.

Styling for 1939 featured a new two-piece “waterfall” grille with thin vertical bars. The hood was narrower, front door pillars were narrower and hubcaps were larger. Window area increased substantially with the rear window changing to a one-piece design. On the interior all major gauges were moved to in front of the driver and the gear shift was moved to a column mount. The 4-door phaeton could now be ordered with the built-in trunk appearance or as a fastback, but only three of the later were actually sold. Although prices were reduced (the price of the sedan fell to $1545) sales only rose to 6097, with Roadmaster’s share of Buick’s total sales falling to 2.9 percent.

1941 Buick Roadmaster

1940-1941 Buick Roadmaster

In 1940 the Series 80 was renamed Limited. The Roadmaster name was transferred to the new Series 70, which was introduced at the same time as a brand new Series 50 Super. The Roadmaster featured a cutting-edge "torpedo" C-body. The new C-body that the 1940 Buick Roadmaster shared with the Super, the Cadillac Series 62, the Oldsmobile Series 90, and the Pontiac Torpedo featured shoulder and hip room that was over 5" wider, the elimination of running boards and exterior styling that was streamlined and 2-3" lower. When combined with a column mounted shift lever the cars offered true six passenger comfort. These changes had clearly been influenced by the Cadillac Sixty Special.
The 1940 Roadmaster had a shorter wheelbase, was lighter, and was less expensive than the previous year’s model. The formal and fastback sedans were gone, but for the first time a 2-door coupe was available, which sold a respectable 3,991 units. Also new for this year, the coach-building firm of Brunn was asked to design several custom-bodied Buicks for the Series 70, 80 and 90. Only one Roadmaster example is known to have actually been produced in 1940, an open-front town car not surprisingly called the Townmaster. Overall sales more than tripled to 18,345.

The styling changes for 1941 were modest, but the changes under the hood were major. The compression ratio was raised from 6.6:1 to 7.0:1, the "turbulator" pistons were redesigned, smaller spark plugs were substituted for the previous type and “Compound Carburetion” was introduced. Compound Carburetion was the forerunner of the modern four-barrel carburetor, and consisted of twin two-barrel carburetors. One unit operated all of the time, while the other operated only under hard acceleration. The new engine delivered 165 horsepower. With five more horsepower than a senior Packard, 15 more than any Cadillac, and 25 more than the largest Chryslers, it was the most powerful engine available that year on an American car.

A new bodystyle for this year was a 2-door convertible, which sold 1,845 units. There was also one Brunn designed convertible produced, but priced at $3,500 actual orders for the vehicle failed to appear. Overall sales remained respectable at 15,372.

1947 Buick Roadmaster

1942-48 Buick Roadmaster

The 1942 Roadmaster was longer, lower, wider, and roomier than before (a Harley Earl trademark), thanks in part to a longer wheelbase. There was also a new vertical-bar grille and "Airfoil" fenders that swept back all the way to the rear fenders. Both features would become a Buick icon and would be exhibited in one way or another for years to come. The 4-door phaeton was dropped and would never return. Coupes adopted the appealing Sedanet fastback style that had been the sensation of 1941 on the Century and Special.

In the 1946 model year, chrome was more sparingly applied, swept-back fenders were fitted to sedans as well as coupes, and a air-forc-inspired "bombsight" hood ornament was adopted. The instrument panel was two-toned with woodgrains except on convertibles which used body colored panels. Series identification was found on cloisonne emblems centered in the bumper guard front and rear. Compound Carburetion was eliminated and the compression ratio was reduced to 6.60:1. As a consequence the 1946 Roadmaster's horsepower fell from 165 to 144. Torque on the other hand was hardly affected. Nevertheless, Roadmaster’s I-8 still produced more horsepower than a top of the line Chrysler's. But the biggest change was in sales proportions. Roadmaster increased its share of Buick sales from four percent in 1941 to 20 percent in 1946, with a total of about 31,400 sold.

In 1947 a new stamped grille with a separate upper bar was used. The Roadmaster name appeared in red-filled script on chrome button within the bumper guard crossbars, front and rear. All new was an Estate wagon body style. It sold 300 units and instantly became the top of the line in the station wagon market.

In 1948 a series script appeared on the front fenders and the white Tenelite steering wheel that had been used previously was traded in for a black one, in order match the change from a two-tone woodgrain instrument panel to a two-tone gray instrument panel, with silver tone instruments. A new optional Custom Trim option was offered, consisting of cloth upholstery with leather bolsters with the robe cord cover and lower door panels done in leatherette. Convertibles acquired power windows, seat and top as standard equipment. But the biggest advancement was the introduction of Dynaflow, the first passenger car torque converter transmission. Optional on Roadmaster in its first year, it was so popular that by the following it was standard equipment. Overall sales were just under 80,000 in both 1947 and 1948.

This post has been edited 4 times, last edit by "TheCanadian" (Feb 6th 2013, 6:44am)


Wednesday, February 6th 2013, 6:45am

1949 Buick Roadmaster

1949-53 Buick Roadmaster

The Roadmaster received its first major restyling in 1949, primarily due to increased competition from AMC owned Studebaker. Its wheelbase and overall length were reduced but its weight was actually marginally increased. The biggest change was a much larger two-piece, curved glass windshield that the sales brochure described as like an “observation car.”

It was also in 1949 that Buick introduced "VentiPorts." Four were displayed on each of the Roadmaster's and Century's front fenders, with three on the fenders of all other Buicks. The sales brochure noted that VentiPorts helped ventilate the engine compartment, and possibly that was true in early 1949, but sometime during the model year they became plugged. The idea for VentiPorts grew out of a modification Buick styling chief Ned Nickles had added to his own 1948 Roadmaster. He had installed four amber lights on each side of his car’s hood wired to the distributor so as to flash on and off as each piston fired simulating the flames from the exhaust stack of a fighter airplane. Combined with the bombsight mascot, VentiPorts put the driver at the controls of an imaginary fighter airplane. Upon seeing this, Buick chief Harlow Curtice was so delighted that he ordered that (non-lighting) VentiPorts be installed on all 1949 Buicks, with the number of VentiPorts (three or four) corresponding to the relative displacement of the straight-eight engine installed.

Dynaflow was now standard equipment, and engine horsepower was increased to 150 through a slight increase in the compression ratio. In the middle of the year the Riviera, joined the body style lineup selling 4,314 units. Featuring power windows as standard equipment, the 2-door Buick Roadmaster Riviera, along with the Cadillac Series 62 Coupe de Ville and the Oldsmobile 98 Holiday, was among the first hardtop coupes ever produced. The Riviera was also notable for its popular optional "Sweepspear" chrome body side molding, which would soon become a Buick trademark. This chrome-plated strip started above the front wheel, after which it gently curved down nearly to the rocker panel just before the rear wheel, and then curved around the rear wheel in a quarter of a circle to go straight back to the tail-light. The "Riviera trim", as it was initially called, was also made available on the Roadmaster convertible very late in the model year. With a total of 88,130 sold, the all-time annual record for Roadmaster, the model accounted for 27 percent of all Buick sales, a remarkably high proportion in light of its price, which was only slightly less than a Cadillac Series 61.

The 1950 restyling featured a grille so toothy that Consumer Reports commented that "a toothbrush for the dentures comes extra." The Sweepspear had proved so popular in its first year that it was made standard on most body styles at the beginning of the 1950 model year, and on the station wagon and the new long wheelbase sedan mid-year. The long wheelbase sedan was stretched an extra four inches (102 mm). Like the convertibles, the Riviera and the extra plush long wheelbase sedan came with both power windows and power seats as standard equipment. The only change under the hood was that hydraulic valve lifters were fitted to the engine. Overall Roadmaster sales fell to 75,034, with Roadmaster’s share of total Buick output plummeting to 12 percent, thanks mainly to the surging popularity of the Special.

In 1951 the long wheelbase sedan was also called a Riviera although it was not a hardtop. The Sedanet and regular wheelbase sedan were cancelled.
Styling changes were minimal in 1951 and 1952. Power steering was added as an option in 1952 and horsepower climbed to 170 thanks primarily to a new four-barrel carburetor. Sales continued to slide falling to about 66,000 in 1951 and to 51,000 in 1952.
By 1953 the Roadmaster straight-eight was 16 years old and had become seriously dated. All of Roadmaster’s major competitors had shifted to short-stroke V-8 engines, and if Buick wanted to continue to be the paragon of longer, lower and wider, it needed one of its own. The new engine was ready in time for 1953, Buick’s Golden Anniversary year. Although the Nailhead (as it was popularly called) was nearly identical in displacement to the straight eight Fireball (322 versus 320 cubic inches), it was 13.5 inches (340 mm) shorter, four inches (102 mm) lower, and 180 pounds lighter, but with 188 horsepower, it was 11 percent more powerful. The compression ratio increased from 7.50:1 to 8.50:1 and torque increased from 280 to 300 pound-feet (410 N•m). With its new engine the 1953 Roadmaster proved to be the first Buick with a top speed of over 100 mph (160 km/h) since the early 1940's.

The compact dimensions of the V-8 engine enabled Buick to reduce Roadmaster’s wheelbase by 4.75 inches (121 mm) across the line, although styling differences behind the engine cowl, apart from new V-8 emblem hubcaps, were largely nonexistent. Buick also introduced a new "Twin-Turbine" Dynaflow as a companion for the V-8 engine. Estimated to increase torque at the wheels by 10 percent, the new transmission provided faster and quieter acceleration at reduced engine speeds. Both power steering and power brakes were made standard. Air conditioning was a new option and, years before many other makes, a 12-volt electrical system was adopted.

A new body style for 1953 was the Skylark convertible. The Buick Roadmaster Skylark was one of three specialty convertibles produced in 1953 by General Motors, the other two being the Oldsmobile 98 Fiesta and the Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado. The Skylark featured open wheel wells, a drastically lowered belt line, a four-inch-chop from the standard Roadmaster's windshield, the absence of VentiPorts and a new Sweepspear that anticipated Buick’s 1954 styling. Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels and a solid boot cover were standard. At $5,000 only 1,690 units were produced. The following year, and for one year only, it would become its own series built on a Century body. This was the last year for the Roadmaster Estate, and it was the last wood-bodied station wagon mass-produced in the United States. Its body was a product of Ionia Manufacturing which built all Buick station wagon bodies between 1946 and 1964. Priced at $4,031, the Estate was second in price only to the Skylark, with 670 being sold. Overall Roadmaster sales bounced back up to 79,137

1936-41 Buick Limited

The origins of the Limited name date to 1936 when Buick added names to its entire model lineup to celebrate the engineering improvements and design advancements over their 1935 models. Buick had released a new line of cars that were technically superior to their predecessors by offering such features as all-steel passenger compartment tops (GM's Turret Top design), improved front suspension, improved hydraulic safety-breaking system, alloy engine pistons and an improved engine cooling system. Buick's Series 40 was named the Special, the Series 60 was named the Century, the Series 80 was named the Roadmaster, and the Series 90 — Buick's largest and most luxurious vehicle — was named the Limited. The engine was a 320CID 120 hp (89 kW) I-8

Limiteds were the most expensive Buicks in production, riding on the company's longest wheelbase of 138 in (3,505 mm), and the best appointed cars that Buick built. The name Limited was truly appropriate to the cars themselves which were limited to touring sedans and limousines; its sales too were the smallest of Buick's entire model range:

1936, 4,086
1937, 3,697
1938, 1,491
1939, 1,451
1940, 1,739
1941, 3,006
1942, 636 (abbreviated model year September 1941 to January 1942)

In 1938, the wheelbase was stretched to 140 inches (3,556 mm), and the Limited, along with Roadmaster, lost its wooden structural members for steel, making them the last Buick passenger cars to rely upon a wood components.

In 1939 Buick products underwent a substantial redesign; however, the Limited's "limited" production merited it to continue using its 1938 body.

Behind the scenes, Cadillac executives lobbied to get the Limited out of production because it infringed on their market. While it was priced in the lower end of its Fleetwood series price point, the Limited almost equaled Cadillac's factory built Imperial Sedan (Limousine), which cost almost four times as much as the Buick, in its appointments. Buick executives fired back that Limited production averaged only 1,561 vehicles per year for model years 1938 through 1940, a drop in the bucket compared to Cadillac's production of its senior cars. Finally in 1941 Cadillac executives got their wish and the Limited would be dropped for 1942.

1936-1949 Buick Century

Buick renamed its entire model lineup for the 1936 model year to celebrate the engineering improvements and design advancements over their 1935 models. Buick's Series 40 model range became the Special, the Series 80 became the Roadmaster and the Series 90—Buick's largest and most luxurious vehicles, became the Limited. The Century took the place of the Series 60.

The basic formula for the 1936 to 1949 Century was established by mating the shorter behind the engine cowl Special bodies to the Roadmaster's larger straight-eight engine (and consequently longer engine compartment). (In contrast the 1940 Series 50 Super would combine the larger Roadmaster body with the smaller Special engine.) While the Special was powered by Buick's 233 cu in inline-8 was rated 93 hp (69 kW) at 3200 rpm, Centuries produced between 1936 to 1942 were powered by the 320 in³ producing 165 hp, making them the fastest Buicks of the era and capable of sustained speeds of 95 mph plus, earning the Century the nickname "the banker's hot rod."

Alone of the Buicks in the mid to late 1940's, the Buick Century retained "Compound Carburetion" which meant that horsepower remained at 165 and increased in 1946 to 185. This raised the top speed to 95 mph. Aside from this, the Buick Century only received minor changes until a major restyle in the 1949 model year.

1949-1953 Buick Century

The 1949 Buick Century continued the basic formula of the earlier version of the Century which meant it received the new bodywork of the 1949 Special, and mated it to the Roadmaster's Straight Eight. Along with the Roadmaster it also received four VentriPorts, whereas lesser Buicks had to make do with three. The "Fireball" Straight Eight remained at 185 hp throughout. The introduction of the larger engine to the Special series in 1951 made the Century more or less redundant until it was redesigned in the 1954 model year.

This post has been edited 2 times, last edit by "TheCanadian" (Mar 3rd 2013, 1:24am)


Sunday, November 24th 2013, 7:26am

Cadillac Automobile Company

Cadillac was formed from the remnants of the Henry Ford Company when Henry Ford departed along with several of his key partners and the company was dissolved. With the intent of liquidating the firm's assets, Ford's financial backers William Murphyand Lemuel Bowen called in engineer Henry M. Lelandof Leland & Faulconer Manufacturing Company to appraise the plant and equipment before selling them.Instead, Leland persuaded them to continue the automobile business using Leland's proven single-cylinder engine. The company needed a new name after Henry Ford left. On 22 August 1902 the company reformed as the Cadillac Automobile Company. Leland & Faulconer Manufacturing and the Cadillac Automobile Company merged in 1905. The Cadillac automobile was named after the 17th-century French explorer Antoine Laumet de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac, who founded Detroit in 1701. Cadillac's first automobiles, the Runabout and Tonneau, were completed in October 1902. They were two-seater horseless carriages powered by a 10 hp (7 kW) single-cylinder engine. They were practically identical to the 1903 Ford Model A. Many sources say the first car rolled out of the factory on 17 October; in the book Henry Leland – Master of Precision, the date is 20 October; another reliable source shows car number 3 to have been built on 16 October. In any case, the new Cadillac was shown at the New York Auto Showthe following January, where it impressed the crowds enough to gather over 2,000 firm orders. The Cadillac's biggest selling point was precision manufacturing, and therefore, reliability; it was simply a better-made vehicle than its competitors. Cadillac participated in an interchangeability test in the United Kingdom 1908, when it was awarded the Dewar Trophyfor the most important advancement of the year in the automobile industry.

From its earliest years Cadillac aimed for precision engineering and stylish luxury finish, causing its cars to be ranked amongst the finest in the US. Utilization of interchangeable partswas an important innovation in 1908. Cadillac was the first volume manufacturer of a fully enclosed car in 1906, and in 1912 was first to incorporate an electrical system enabling starting, ignition, and lighting. Cadillac was purchased by the General Motors(GM) conglomerate in 1909. Cadillac became General Motors' prestige division, devoted to the production of large luxury vehicles. The Cadillac line was also GM's default marque for "commercial chassis" institutional vehicles, such as limousines, ambulances, hearses and funeral homeflower cars, the last three of which were custom-built by aftermarket manufacturers. Cadillac does not produce any such vehicles in their factory. In the 1930s, Cadillac added cars with V12 and V16engines to their range, many of which were fitted with custom coach-built bodies. In 1915 it introduced a 90-degree flathead V8 engine with 70 horsepower (52 kW) at 2400 rpm and 180 pound-feet (240 N·m) of torque, allowing its cars to attain 65 miles per hour. This was faster than most roads could accommodate at this time. Cadillac pioneered the dual-plane V8 crankshaft in 1918. In 1928 Cadillac introduced the first clashless Synchro-Meshmanual transmission, utilizing constant mesh gears. In 1930 Cadillac implemented the first V-16 engine, with a 45-degree overhead valve, 452 cubic inches, and 165 horsepower (123 kW), one of the most powerful and quietest engines in the United States. The development and introduction of the V8, V16 andV-12 helped to make Cadillac the "Standard of the World." A later model of the V-16 engine, known as the overhead valve, set the standard for the entire American automotive industry in 1945. In 1926, Cadillac recruited automobile stylist Harley Earl in a one-time consulting capacity, but his employment lasted considerably longer: by 1928, Earl was the head of the new Art and Color division and he would ultimately work for GM until he retired, over 30 years later. The first car he designed was theLaSalle, a new, smaller "companion marque" car, named after another French explorer, René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. Cadillac introduced designer-styled bodywork (as opposed to auto-engineered) in 1927. It installed shatter-resistantglass in 1926. Cadillac also introduced the 'turret top,' the first all-steel roof on a passenger car. Previously, car roofs were constructed of fabric-covered wood.