Forget Electric Cars

First it was tiny houses. Now it’s tiny cars. And I mean TINY.

This 1955 Eshelman may not seem like the perfect gift. Sure, it only has one cylinder and a horsepower of 3. Top speed is 25 mph. Brakes are a 2 wheel paddle. I don’t even know what that is.

But I know I don’t have to call shotgun. I don’t have to cart some scrub around because this ride only seats one. I don’t have to worry about driving too fast in the suburbs because I can’t gun it past the limit. No speeding tickets for me. And the color, why, it’s inspiring!

Poop Puts Out Fire 100 Years Ago

University of Houston

It’s 1920 in Houston, Texas. These firefighters from Station No. 7 stand in front of their sweet steam truck with the big A wheels. Mike Lathrop is to the left, in suspenders, Magerson Smith (Magerson is a cool name, no?) is in overalls to the right, and a man known only as Poop is in the middle. I’m guessing this was before hot firefighter calendars were popular.

Baby, You Can Check My Tires

Is it me, or does that look like a frosty pint of ale, instead of motor oil?


The attendants were so thoughtful, giving lollipops to youngsters! This was before kids were diabetic, when Mom wore pearls and heels to fill ‘er up.


And Dad wasn’t left in the dark. Roy could talk shop and spill the tea. He was worse than a gossiping hen.

Makes you want to travel on the wide, open road, don’t it, folks? Well, maybe in late May…

Proper Way To Pump

October 1964

Back in 1964, nobody cared what Mrs. Robert F. Young’s first name was. Ladies essentially lost both their first and last names and simply became Mrs. Spouse’s Name. That would suit me just fine, as my husband’s name is easy to say. Perhaps y’all should start calling me “Mrs. Jimmy” from now on. In any event, these were still the days when readers had loooong attention spans and were willing to spend not only an hour on a magazine article, but several minutes on an ad.

Oh, The Ennui Of Driving Through Sequoias

Images of America

Over 100 years ago, when this image was taken in California, the absence of windshields demanded that the driver (right-sided in this case) wore a duster and goggles as he wound his way through grounds without paved streets. Ladies often wore something similar to this.


That’s quite a bit of work required before jumping in and cranking the engine. This pint-sized pooch seems to think it’s worth it.

Dude, Where’s My Car?

The Republican Party by Adam Smith
The Republican Party by Adam Smith

The beach at Nantasket, Massachusetts was brimming with Ford motorcars on The 4th of July 1925. After a dip in the ocean, how would you find your way back to your car? With such lack of variety in models, how would a 50-year-old man buy a “crisis car”? Could you steal another’s spare tire and afix it to your own vehicle? When did they start marking parking spaces with white paint? Didn’t the black absorb the summer sun?

Fifteen more years would pass before the 1940 Packard offered factory-installed air-conditioning. But even by 1969, only half of all new cars had it. We never had it in our cars in the ’70s. That metal lapbelt clasp would scald the bejeesus out of my skin. Remember how it felt when the vinyl seat ripped the top layer of your thigh skin off?


P.S., where can I get a brassiere like this? This defies gravity.

Made In USA vs. Made In France

Today we study another page of our favorite condescending Parisian magazine, Réalités. Just saying it makes me feel pretentious. Réalités. Zee reality of ziss Frenchman sans shirt makes me gag.  But nice Studebaker!



I like how they advertise that the Dyna Panhard (incidentally, the name of an exotic dancer at Austin’s Yellow Rose, a strip club which serves free steak/shrimp buffet on Fridays–that’s today!) will drive 80 mph and then show an image of it in a park. Do Parisians drive cars on sidewalks promenades? I am not familiar with these customs. That’s even more arrogant than American cyclists riding 25 mph in lanes made for cars driving 65 mph.

And how would you fit six passengers in that? Is it Sunday morning coming down for Simone? Is she lost, doing the drive of shame back to her appartement? Even in a car the size of a Ford Festiva, driving off-road with children and prams nearby seems unsafe. She could go barreling out of control and hurtle toward the pond. Girl, please! Oh, look–that’s what her license plate says. 1954, please!


Vulcanizers In The Motor Age, Part II

This 1919 Motor Age magazine is chock full of great images, so make sure you checked out Part I.Motor Age1919011 Perfection Asbestos. Isn’t that redundant? Motor Age1919012But it’s not just ads; Detroit was concerned with safety. Motor Age1919003 And they had plans for the car of the future. Motor Age1919004 One article discussed autogenous welding in automotive repairs. Motor Age1919013And of course, there are the cars themselves, including this bullet-shaped Fiat.

Motor Age1919014

Thanks for spending some time in the past, in a time before all of us were born.

Vulcanizers In The Motor Age, Part I

Motor Age1919006

I spent last night, flipping through a 1919 Motor Age, browning and brittling as it nears the century mark. I wish I could post all 150 pages, as interesting as they are, but of course, you would fall asleep by page 20. As I am no Kerbey the Riveter, I know nothing about machines or cars in general, so most of these words my mouth had never spoken. Vulcanizers, carborundum valves, aloxite wheels?

Motor Age1919005

I don’t know what a “jobber” is, but the magazine is filled with the term. And who’s this Dutch girl?

Motor Age 1919Between the Velie Six and the Cleveland Six, I hadn’t heard of half the automobile manufacturers. See how many of these you recognize.

Motor Age1919002

Here’s the Cleveland Six. Ain’t she a beaut?

Motor Age1919010

Check out this handy luggage carrier. So convenient!

Motor Age1919008With “The War” having ended only the year prior, life was getting better and better.

Motor Age1919009

Stay tuned for Part II, as we discover more of the 95-yr-old Motor Age.

We’re Not Loading Up Our Woody Because Our Woody Is Ugly


The June 2013 Men’s Journal included this picture of “Enduring Icons,” cars which have basically retained their shape and/or style. That’s nice, but:

  • Are these the only three examples that exist within the expanse of hideous styleless rectangles uglifying our neighbor’s driveways and our nation’s highways as we speak?
  • The older models still look better.
  • Fix it please. I will gladly pay good money to drive a vehicle that does not look like NOW.  2013 will never go down in the annals as the heyday of automobiles.
  • P.S. this pic was stuck at the end of a Range Rover review for times when you “need to ford three feet of water while getting a massage from your 20-way power seats.”  What I wouldn’t give to just BEHOLD three feet of water in this arid desert called Texas.
  • P.P.S. The Range Rover starts at $83,500, which will buy you a HOUSE on the east side in this neck of the woods.

And speaking of woodies…

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