TIME CAPSULE FROM THE HEART OF HISTORIC ROUTE 66

TIME CAPSULE FROM THE HEART OF HISTORIC ROUTE 66

*click on photos to enlarge
This picture of the Kimo Cafe is from the mid 1940s as the house to the right was torn down after the war to make room for the Biddulph-Dunton dealership. This cafe is now Mr. D’s Route 66 Diner.

The Biddulph Dunton Dealership still stands on Route 66. Over the years it has served a variety of purposes including the Edsel dealership and a county building. Today the grandson of the founder operates an ATV and specialty car shop from this location.

This building is now a vacant lot east of the Power House visitor center on Route 66 (Andy Devine Avenue). The sign promoting motels without railroad noise is still in use.

The top photo is of the Hualapai Court on Route 66. This lot was cleared about twelve years ago. The second photo is of the Packard garage on 2nd Street. This is now an automatic transmission repair facility.

The Old Trails Grarage on Route 66 still stands though it now serves as a storage facility for the owner of the local Uhaul franchise. To the right of the photo is the now restored Hotel Brunswick, a building built of localy quarried stone. The bottom photo is a sign that greeted west bound travelers to Route 66.

Both the station and rock building still stand on Route 66. The gas station is now a detail shop and is to the east of the old Dunton dealership. The station in the second photo, also on Route 66, is gone with only the foundation remaining. The garage is now a Catholic chapel.

The top photo is a truck clearing the grade of Sitgreaves Pass on what was at the time the national Old Trails Highway. Until 1953 this section of Route 66 featured the steepest grades and sharpest curves found anywhere on the highway. The second picture is of downtown Kingman. The Hotel Beale still stands but the buildings to the right are now gone.

These photos are also of downtown Kingman on what would later become Route 66. The make and vintage of the trucks is unknown.

As a point of reference the old power house, now the Power House Vistor center on Route 66, is in the foreground. Indications on the photo are that these delivery trucks are Willys-Knight models. The second photo is at the old Central Commercial Building, now undergoing restoration. Central Commerical also had stores in Oatman and Goldroad on Route 66.

These trucks are a curiosity but the cab numbers indicate they are two different trucks. Any ideas as to make, model or vintage?

*These photos were acquired at a yard sales and swap meets. Most photos have no indication as to origin. Those that do show Gallup Studios, Mohave County Historical Association and Fritz Studio.

WEEK IN REVIEW

My dad turned eighty today. I gave him a call and we talked for but a few minutes as he had a house full of visitors.
Jon, my friend who may be one of the Chrysler Corporations leading advocates and worst customers, stopped by on trip two of his four trip move to Nebraska from southern California. This trip was to relocate his tried and true Desoto. The previous trip was for the relocation of his 1936 Chrysler. Neither car is a trailer queen and this relocation did not break that tradition.
As noted Jon is an avid Chrysler enthusiast. As to the quip he may be their worst customer consider these vehicles are his primary mode of transport and behind the wheel of the Desoto he has logged more than 200,000 miles in about a dozen or so years. So much for the argument old cars need extensive modification to be used as transportation in the modern era.
Work is, well work. Trucks come and trucks go. The way people move about often reminds me of an ant hill that has been kicked over.
After years of having the building to myself the other half is now being renovated. It looks as though Kia is coming to Kingman.
My son sold his great grandfathers 1961 Willys Jeep truck to a friend. Now if we can just figure out where the title went this battered old war horse can have a new lease on life.
A few days ago I posted a small piece on the 1934 Pontiac. I am going to try and pitch this as a series for a leading car magazine.
In the meantime I will keep cranking out the Independent Thinker column for Cars & Parts as well as their book reviews. The column submitted last week profiled David Buick, a fascinating study in the dangers of combining intelligence, lack of business acumen and a dash of ego.
I have been tinkering with digital photography but have decided the time has come to take the plunge. So, I closed my eyes and order a new Olympus. I will post the results of the investment and you can decide if was a wise one.
The ghost town project will now be moved to the center of the plate. The deadline for this is September, not as long as you may think for a project such as this.
I am not a big fan of resolutions or goals for the New Year. I am more a steady as she goes, full steam ahead sort of fellow. I temper this with the ability to accept side trips and detours as a natural part of the journey we call life.
With that said the long term goal, for when I grow up, is to make a living as a writer. Perhaps this will be the year for the overnight success that has been almost twenty years in the making. Additional “goals” for the year include moving my house from the point where it is confused for an abandoned house to a residence that gives the appearance of habitation.
Again I will try for a successful deer hunting season. I have a new Winchester to break in and Barney the wonder truck to bring home the trophy.
As to vehicles the goal of acquiring, for use as a regular driver, a Model A Ford, preferably a pick up truck, continues as it has for most of the past thirty years. As the price has dropped precipitously for these this may be the year.
Sadly the lower price also has a dark side. It means more will go under the torch further pushing the number of survivors, historical artifacts from another time, towards zero.
In regards to vehicles the quest will continue for a pick up truck that is vintage as well as frugal on fuel. To date the focus is on anything Studebaker with stock V8 and overdrive or a 1954 Dodge with 241 V8.
This will be a milestone year, one of reflection and meditation on what has been and what will be. I have resigned myself to this as this spring I will hit the big 50.
I have learned a great deal in past half century. A few of these have led to some rock solid, unshakable convictions. One is that the Lord Jesus Christ is who He says He is, not who the televangelist says he is. The second is that another fifty years like this might kill me.
GET A STRAIGHT EIGHT FOR THE MONEY

GET A STRAIGHT EIGHT FOR THE MONEY

*Click on photo to enlarge

Pontiac was riding high for 1934. A Pontiac convertible was the “Official Speedway” car at the Indianapolis 500 that year. At the Muroc Dry Lake Speed Trials, a stock Pontiac hit 93 miles per hour.
The central theme of advertisement was “Get A Straight Eight For Your Money”. Promotional material heralded, “Pontiac-the Big Car of the Low price Field.”
Numerous improvements and options ensured the buyer of a new Pontiac received real value for their hard-earned dollars. All new for 1934 were an improved intake manifold, “knee action“ front suspension, multi beam headlights, and a higher compression head.
The options list was a lengthy one that included dual side mounted spare tires, metal spare tire cover, bumper guards, Air Chief radio, heater, clock, and cigar lighter. Additionally buyers could select seat covers, spotlight, touring trunk or trunk rack, Supertone horn, Trippe lights, right hand sun visor, ash receiver set, right hand tail lamp, twin windshield wipers, and even a luggage set.
A wide array of body types was also available for 1934. The Economy Coupe, model number 34317, was the entry model with a list price of $675. Next was the Economy Sport Coupe, model number 34328, with rumble seat for $725.
The Economy Cabriolet, model number 34318, with a price of $765 was a high-end model with only the five passenger, four-door touring sedan, model number 34319, commanding a higher price, $805. In between were the standard four and two door sedans as well as a two door touring sedan.
For the collector these cars still offer excellent value for the dollar though they are relatively scarce, especially the coupes and open models. The primary obstacle in making them daily drivers is the torque tube driveline that prevents an easy resolution of the engine killing 4.55:1 rear axle ratios.
Availability of mechanical components makes it mandatory for owners to network. Trim items and accessories are quite scarce.
TECHNICAL
Engine – L-head, inline eight cylinder, cast iron block. 223.4 c.i.d., 3-3/16 x 3-1/2 bore and stroke. Compression ratio 6.2:1. Brake horsepower 84 @ 3800 RPM. Five main bearings, solid lifters, Carter 1V carburetor. Metered full pressure lubrication to all bearings.
Chassis – 3 speed synchromesh transmission with floor shift, single plate 10 inch clutch. Semi-floating rear axle. Four-wheel mechanical brakes
Economy tests results 19-24 miles per gallon.
Production – 78,859

THE QUESTION IS …

I have been following some spirited discussion on the AACA forum pertaining to restoration, street rods and when the line between the two is crossed. I must say these discussions have sparked some contemplative thought.
If a 1951 Chevy truck came with a 216.5 c.i.d. six-cylinder engine can it still be considered original if it now runs with a 1954 235 c.i.d. six cylinder engine? Would you consider it original if the original engine had been updated with insert bearings and a full pressure oil system?
What updates are acceptable before the originality is lost and if the vehicle is a regular driver what updates can be accepted to ensure the vehicle survives for another twenty, thirty, or forty years? Conversion from six to twelve volts, is this acceptable or does it depend on the extent of modification? Seat belts, turn signals, rear axle changes for highway speeds, all may be needed to make a vintage vehicle usable in modern conditions. Would this be acceptable?
Though my interest in street rods is less than zero there is a place for historic street rods or their recreation. As an example consider the faithful recreation of a 1933 Gilmore Gold Cup Racer by Don Small.
It should be noted, however, that even though most components of this car including dash, steering, light switches, etc, are restored originals he did not cut or customize a rare, original, steel bodied roadster choosing instead to go fiberglass. Perhaps he understood that original cars from the 1930s, or 1940s, 0r 1950s, or 1960s, are no longer mere used cars. They are historical artifacts.
This, as well as the increasing scarcity of original cars and the increasing availability of fiberglass bodies leads me to question the reason an individual would cut or extensively modify an original car. Mere selfishness or need for artistic expression can not explain this.
I would venture a guess that there is a societal element in this discussion. That element is a lack of respect or appreciation for history.
As the book review writer for Cars & Parts interesting books cross my desk rather often. One, however, I only found interesting in the same manner I find fascination with the technical aspects of the bombing of Dresden during World War II.
One section of the book discussed acquisition of suitable vehicles fro transformation into a street rod. It advocated deception as the owner of a 100 point restoration may not be willing to sell if they know a car is going under the torch.
I would have had trouble in the mid 1950s with seeing an original Model A cut and roded. Today, though I can appreciate the workmanship of a well built custom car or the engineering involved with transplanting modern mechanical components into a vintage chassis, it disgusts me to see an original car cut.
I understand that money is often a motivating factor in conversion as well crafted custom cars and street rods often command higher resale values than original cars. Still, there must come a point where we feel an obligation to future generations.
In recent years I have seen incredibly rare cars such as a Hupmobile Skylark turned into street rods. Painstakingly restored vehicles that are as a window into another era have been transformed into another street rod with Chevy drive train.
Somewhere in between obsession with originality and total disdain for anything original are those vehicles maintained and driven as intended. This leads us full circle to our original topic.
Where is the line crossed between originality and conversion, between customization and destruction?
In recent years there has been a trend in the old car hobby towards creating drivers rather than show cars. This is true in both camps with the rise of the rat rod and rough but dependable original vehicles as regular drivers being the result.
Blurring the lines between originality and customizing is the availability of quality fiberglass bodies, reproduction vintage speed equipment and accessorises, modern electronic components designed for older vehicles such as digital dashes and stereos designed to appear as original units. Approaching this from another angle one could ask what constitutes an original car.
If in 1958 an owner of a new Pontiac bought after market wire spoke wheels and you bought that car today with those wheels still on the car would this be considered original?
In 1937 my wife’s grandfather bought a new Ford. He drove it home and with only fifty miles on the odometer proceeded to improve on factory design by adding a hydraulic brake system, shaving the head and other slight modification. If this car survived to this date how would it be viewed?
If you were to restore a 1950 Hudson to complete originality with the exception of having added the Twin-H system how would the car be described? Can the addition of sealed beam lights to a 1934 Chrysler be seen as modification or customization?
Ultimately it comes down to the old adage beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Perhaps, however, what is needed is tempering this philosophy with a sense of repsonsibility and appreciation for increasingly rare historical artifacts with wheels.