ANOTHER MIXED BAG

Okay, we are on to plan “C”. The long anticipated restoration of a vintage Packard sales and service sign that was to mark the first step in the resurrection of the Old Trails Garage is on hold – again.
This time its a serious health issue with the owner. From that perspective the sign and the garage is secondary and we pray for speedy recovery.
Meanwhile we, the Route 66 Association of Kingman, have initiated a joint project with the local tourism office. For this endeavor the goal is refurbishment of the historic City Cafe sign and placement above the information kiosk in front of the Power House Visitor Center and Route 66 Museum.
As I envision it the sign would be mounted in a manner similar to that of the Motel Downtowner in Flagstaff. Perhaps the tower would not be that high but we do want it up enough to provide illumination for the parking lot and to be noticed from a distance.
For the trivia buffs the City Cafe, as well as a circa 1939 Texaco, and the Imperial Motel, was demolished this past year and a Walgreen’s now sits on that hill. The cafe was a Kingman landmark that served travelers and locals alike for more than sixty years before closing its doors in 2008.
The sign was added in about 1960. Stay tuned for details about the progress of restoration.
Now, for an explanation on the car photos with todays blog. The first is a one of a kind factory prototype housed at the Gilmore Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, near Kalamazoo.
This vehicle is an American Bantam built Jeep prototype modified by Checker into a four wheel drive, four wheel steering configuration. There are indications that these two very small companies had hoped that by combining resources they would receive the military contract for their construction.
The second photo is of a very rare limited production four wheel drive Hamlin Holmin. This photo is dated 1921.
The last photo is a revolutionary front wheel drive race car designed by Walter Christie, a pioneer in the develop of front wheel drive.
These vehicles all share a common denominator. Besides being highly unorthodox they all feature a variation of front wheel drive.
Several years ago I wrote a feature on the evolution of front wheel drive for Hemmings Classic Car. More recently, I penned a brief profile of J. Walter Christie for The Independent Thinker, a monthly column that is published by Cars & Parts magazine.
I learned long ago that when it comes to history, especially automotive history, never procalim to be an expert as lurking in the shadows is something to prove you wrong. Well, it would seem that all of my research and writing on the topic of front wheel drive was little more than skimming the surface.
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=widgetsamazon-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=078643967X&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrScattered throughout the pages of American Cars, Trucks, and Motorcycles of World War I: Illustrated History, are a number of companies that toyed with various configurations of front wheel drive as well as four wheel drive. This was but one of the surprises found in this wonderful book.
I was steeled for the worst as the first page was turned. The cover had given the impression I was about to delve into a fascinating subject rendered as dry as a three day insurance seminar.
Vintage advertisements coupled with concise, informative, and well written text make this an excellent addition to an automotive research library as well as a fascinating read.
Hats off to Albert Mroz for a job well done. The research alone that this book represents gives clear indication it was more than a mere writing assignment, it was a passionate labor of love.
A more detailed review will appear in a forthcoming issue of Cars & Parts magazine. I will keep you posted in regards to the scheduled date of publication.

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