Find Your Car

Thursday, September 29, 2011

1948 Hudson

The 1948 Hudson Commodore 6 Four-Door Sedan sold for $3,025 and the Commodore 8 had a list price of $3,240. Prices for Canadians were f.o.b. Tilbury, Ontario.

            Few automobiles have ever generated the excitement that Hudson did with its sensational Step Down models. When introduced in the fall of 1947, they were absolutely radical in comparison to last year’s offerings.

            Work had begun on these sleek beauties in 1943, in the darkest days of World War Two. Using the 1942 Buick Roadmaster as their benchmark, stylists and engineers at Hudson worked carefully to craft a car that would be guaranteed to steal the public’s hearts. The ultra-modern, ground-hugging look set Hudson apart from every other set of wheels on the road. “Here today…” advertising shrilled, is “the car you’ve been told was years away!”

            The smooth rounded body boasted melt-away fenders that were “absorbed into the body.” The side panel was “embossed with a speed line” that gave the impression of movement, even when the car was standing still. That delicious character fold also permitted two-tone paint jobs, of which five tasteful combinations were available.

 The 1948 Hudson Super 6 three-passenger Business Coupe sold for $2,865 and the five-passenger Super 6 Club Coupe listed for $3,059.

            All Hudson cars were still imported from the United States in 1948 as the assembly plant in Tilbury, Ontario had yet not returned to automobile production after World War Two ended. Canadian Top and Body, Limited—the longtime owners who provided local assembly for Hudson and other automakers—had sold out to Chatco Steel Products, Limited, and negotiations were under way for Hudson to return to assembly in Canada.

The federal government’s postwar tight money and balance of payment policies required American automakers to build or at least assemble cars in this country or face being shut out completely from the domestic and Commonwealth markets. Hudson officials would negotiate with Ottawa for another two years before the first car would roll out the doors in Tilbury on April 5,1950. 

Hudson production for 1948 began in Detroit on October 12, 1947, only 23 days after the last 1947 Hudson rolled off the lines. The short down time for the model changeover was an amazing feat considering that virtually all the machinery had to be changed, in order to manufacture the radically new cars.
Frameless construction, dubbed Monobilt by Hudson, was new for 1948. Six passengers luxuriated in a sumptuous cabin surrounded by box girder safety.

Engineers at Hudson had been experimenting with the application of aircraft manufacturing principles to automobiles since 1937. Airplanes were built with the frame and the body as a single, integrated unit. This year’s Hudson made use of those experiments in unit body construction, dubbed Monobilt by company wordsmiths.
The low-slung Step Down 1948 Hudson was 77 inches wide and a mere 60 inches in height. CBC network star Don Messer owned one and travelled across Canada many times with it, his Islanders in tow.

The result was a car only five feet in height. Salesmen delighted in showing prospective customers that the new Hudson was substantially wider than it was tall.  With the cabin positioned so low in the steel envelope, there was no need for a running board. Passengers literally stepped down into the car to sit on seats that were protected by heavy, box-steel girdered protection.

With the lowest centre of gravity on any production car, advertising boasted proudly that “Hudson’s new all-steel Monobilt body-and-frame cradles you so low, so snugly to the road, you get a feeling of serene smooth going unlike anything you’ve known before—a new world of motoring pleasure.” Low or not, Hudson still had a full eight inches of ground clearance, comparing favourably with other cars.  It was also billed as the safest car on the road and the “car of tomorrow.” Despite a long 124-inch wheelbase, the turning circle was a nimble 20-foot radius.
   Listing for $2,801 f.o.b. Tilbury, Ontario, the 1948 Hudson Super 6 Brougham weighed in at 3,635 pounds.

There were two series of Hudsons to choose from. The less expensive line was made up of a quintet of brilliant beauties. A three-passenger Coupe, a Convertible Brougham, Club Coupe, a Two-door Brougham and a four-door sedan, all carried the Super name. Advertising let everyone know that “This time it’s Hudson!”  One look at the cabin was enough to persuade many to write cheques for the lovely automobiles. Interiors were beautifully tailored in Bedford Cord upholstery and set off with a dark walnut-colour instrument panel and matching window garnish mouldings.

Hudson’s higher priced beauty was the distinguished Commodore line, consisting of a refined Four-Door Sedan, a Convertible Brougham and a 5-pasenger Club Coupe. Upholstery for Commodores was fine broadcloth, stitched over luxurious Airfoam cushions, in a choice of tan with green stripes or grey with blue stripes. Anyone ordering the open car had a further selection of three colours of leather and tops in three colours as well. Sedans were given robe rails with passenger assist handles each end.
The sleek new 1948 Hudson debuted with the ultra-modern Super-Six engine. The 262-cubic inch mill was destined to become a racing legend.

This year, in a departure from long-standing tradition, the hood was hinged from the firewall not the grille, alligator style. Under that hood was a brand new, high compression, L-head Super Six engine, rated at 121 horsepower. With a displacement of 262 cubic inches, it was the largest six-cylinder power plant in production. Not to be outdone, the optional Super Eight mill was improved too, now tweaked to 128 horsepower. This big L-head motor promised to deliver the “smooth performance that only an eight can give, with unusual economy.” Both engines sent their power to the Silent Synchromesh three-speed manual transmission.
The improved 1948 128-horsepower, L-head Hudson Super-Eight promised to deliver performance thrills.

Long distance travel was the Hudson’s forte with its effortless ride in a cabin that had as much room as Casa Loma—well, almost. “Travel wherever you wish on the North American Continent, or even to the far ends of the earth—or cruise your own neighbourhood—you’re never far from the red, blue and white sign that identifies more than 3,000 Hudson authorized dear and distributor service establishments.” Approximately 400 of those dealers could be found in the Dominion of Canada.

The classy automobile offered a number of unique features including non-rotating “trigger-operated” door handles, a safety hood lock that operated from the driver’s compartment and a hood emblem that shone in the dark.
Instrument panel of the flagship Hudson Commodore featured Teleflash lights rather than gauges as well as an illuminated ignition keyway.

The Hudson experience could be made even more pleasant with optional, dealer installed equipment that included ash trays, backup light, an automatic batter filler, a battery charger, a cigar lighter, an electric clock, an Auto Home Combination electric shaver, an emergency trouble light, exhaust deflector, a fire extinguisher, floor mats, fog lamps, front door ventilator wing shields, gasoline filter, locking gas cap—manual or automatic, a hub cap kid, a hydraulic jack, the Karvisor, the Kleenex tissue dispenser, the license plate frame, a locker box light and numerous mirrors.
The 1948 Hudson Super’s instrument panel was modestly finished in a faux walnut look.

 One could also order an oil filter and oil filter cartridge, a pocket moulding kit, a radiator grille guard, a radio, radio antenna, rear seat speaker, a rear window wiper, a rear bumper guard, seat covers in custom or deluxe matting or upgraded seat covers in rayon tackle twill, a spare tire valve extension, a spotlight, an 18”steering wheel kit (for Super models), a Thermaster 8-hour bottle, a Thermaster portable refrigerator, an automatic trunk light, an under-the-seat heater, an automatic hood light, Vacumotive Drive, the Venetian Sun Shade for the rear window, the Weather Control heater and defroster, wheel trim rings, window vent shades and an automatic windshield washer.

It would be a good year for Hudson but the competition would grow fierce in 1949 as GM, Ford, Chrysler and Nash crowded the field with their own their first post-war cars.


Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!
Copyright James C. Mays 2005 All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

1959 Plymouth

 With seating for nine passengers, 1959 Plymouth Custom Suburban four-door wagon sold for $3,775 f.o.b. Windsor and weighed in at 3,805 pounds. It was imported from the United States.
The boys at Chrysler Canada were ecstatic as the 1957 model season drew to a close. The “Forward Look” cars from Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto, Chrysler and Imperial had been a huge hit with the public. Production for the corporation hit 99,698 units, an all time high. Plymouth production alone had reached 30,085 units, accounting for nearly one out of every three cars built in the Windsor plant. Everyone, from the 12,000 factory workers to the 1,200 dealers looked forward to more of the same high-energy excitement in 1958. 

            While designers gave tasteful updates to Plymouth, the style boys at Ford and Chevrolet stole the day with very sleek looking new models, making last year's sizzling hot Plymouth look suddenly dated. The fickle public shunned the entire 1958 Plymouth lineup. With few orders coming in, the workforce was slashed to 3,000 workers.
Advertising for the 1958 Plymouth was bold if ineffective in generating sales.

Head office did not sit idly by while sales evaporated into the ozone layer. The sales organization was given a complete overhaul. Six new zone managers were put in to place and two sales managerships were selected to give better attention to the needs of dealers in Atlantic Canada and western provinces.

            If there was a silver lining to the storm cloud, marketing discovered that those who did buy a Plymouth loaded it down with an average of $431 worth of accessories. A full 65.6% of buyers bought the PowerFlite two-speed or the three-speed Push-Button TorqueFlite automatic transmission. Long touted by the RCMP, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Quebec Provincial Police as a safety feature, 40.4% of Canadians ordered the Safety-Sure Power Brakes. That figure was much higher than the 15.1% of Americans who purchased the same option. The third most popular accessory added onto Chryco cars was the Constant Control Full-Time Power Steering, purchased by 20.5%  of consumers.
   Imported from the United States, the posh 1959 Plymouth Sport Fury convertible and two-door hardtop sold for $4,103 and $3,841 respectively, f.o.b. Windsor.
             For its third year of the body cycle, designers gave Plymouth an attractive restyle for 1959. The dual headlight cowl was kissed with a coy sweetheart dip. The clean, eggcrate grille split neatly at the centre to showcase a chromium rocket emblem on a golden bed. Trim was reworked. Fins towered higher and now canted outward.  Customers could choose from 22 different models, ranging in price from $3,305 to $3,805.

            The Savoy series was the value leader. A pair of modestly appointed Club Sedans and four-door sedans was available with the 250-cubic inch, 135-horsepower six-cylinder engine as standard equipment. The low-buck entry Plymouths could be upgraded to the 313-cubic inch, 225-horsepower V-8 for an extra $140.

            More nicely trimmed was the Belevedere family. The Club Coupe and four-door sedan were joined by a two-door Sport Coupe in six-cylinder form. A six-passenger convertible coupe was offered but only with the 318-cubic inch, 230-horsepower V-8 engine. The imported ragtop listed for $3,580, f.o.b. Windsor.

 The 1959 Plymouth Fury four-door hardtop listed for $3,379 f.o.b. Windsor, Ontario and tipped the scales at 3,510 pounds. Wisdom of the day was that a car should cost under a dollar a pound for true value.
            Fury was the fastest and most fabulous of the Plymouth clan. The base mill installed under the hoods of these beauties was the 313-cubic inch, 235-horsepower V-8. The luxurious four-door sedan was built in Windsor, while the two- and four-door hardtops were imported from the States.

            In a bid to add a few sales to a faltering model year, a Sport Fury was introduced. These rakish two- and four-door hardtops came equipped with monstrous 361-cubic inch V-8s shoehorned into their engine bays. With 290 horses to command, no doubt Queen Jezebel would have chosen to race them through the streets of Jerusalem.

Plymouth offered six wagons. “First in features, first in fun,” shrilled the headline along with the not-so-modest announcement that the Plymouth wagon was the “biggest and brawniest in its field.”  It certainly had plenty of payload area; interiors boasted more than 100 cubic feet of usable space. Locating the spare tire behind the rear fender and making it accessible from the outside of the car was the secret behind that cavernous cargo area.
Plymouth’s 1959 instrument panel boasted a Control Centre, the latest advance in Push-Button Driving.

The crème-de-la-crème in Plymouth’s wagon train was the four-door Custom Suburban; the sole model to seat nine-passengers. Its $3,775 price tag made it the third priciest Plymouth on the dealer’s lot. With the Fury 318-cubic inch V-8 mill as standard equipment, it was advertised as perfect for the car pool or the swimming pool and promised luxurious comfort for all who jumped in. The imported wagon boasted an electrically operated tailgate window as standard equipment.

A single Custom Suburban was next. Seating six, this domestically built four-door wagon moved courtesy of the 225-horsepower 318-cubic inch V-8 engine as standard equipment. Before add-ons, its list price was $3,692.

Last but by no means least, the most economical Plymouths were the two-door and four-door  Suburbans, delivering beauty on a budget. The two-door model featured one-third/two-third seat splits to facilitate ease of entry and exit for passengers in the rear.  It sold for $3,127 when equipped with the six-cylinder mill and $3,268 with the 313 V-8 stuffed under the hood. The base Suburbans were attractive workhorses and marketing made sure that they was seen by the do-it-yourself” crowd. Advertising depicted the rugged vehicle at work on a construction site.

            All the beauty and hype in the world didn’t help Plymouth in 1959. Head office watched with dismay as sales sank, again. With model year production of only 19,134 units and calendar year sales of 15,760 units, Plymouth slid from seventh to ninth place in the domestic market.

Plymouths were popular 'working girls' often used as taxi cabs and police cars.

The real problem was that consumers were no longer impressed with scads of V-8 power, bigger fins and more chrome. They had no need for longer, wider, lower heavier vehicles. What they shopped for were small, economical cars that cost little to buy, little to maintain. Basic transportation delivered them from Point A to Point B with a minimum of fuss was what Canadians wanted.

That was the reason why Vauxhall and Volkswagen surpassed Plymouth in sales. Chrysler officials could read too, and had hedged its corporate bets by purchasing 25 percent of Simca. The captive import from France sold 4,051 units in its first year on the Canadian market.

 Simca, imported from Paris, was the littlest Chrysler Canada offering in 1959.  The four-door,  five-passenger Deluxe sedan listed for $1,845 f.o.b. at the Montreal port of entry.

The 118,513 imports purchased by consumers in 1959 amounted to 23.8 percent of the entire new car market. That figure was more than double Chrysler Canada’s entire output for the year. Plymouth might be down but it was far from out. It would return to fight another day.
1959 Plymouth was billed as the 'Star of the Forward Look.'

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!
Copyright James C. Mays 2005 All rights reserved.

Monday, September 26, 2011

1973 Ford Torino

The 1973 Ford Gran Torino Brougham was perfectly capable of hauling a good-sized trailer from St. John's to Victoria and lots of places in between. The four-door sedan carried a sticker price of $3,768 when fitted with the V-8 engine.
Torino was Ford’s intermediate offering in 1973. Since the average consumer was focused on smaller than full-size rides, Ford bragged that its Torino was the “mid-size that’s big on comfort, confidence and quiet.” Oakville’s 114-inch wheelbased intermediate (118 inches for four-door models) had been completely redesigned in 1972, so for the 1973 selling season there were refinements in the four series. The front grille was opened up substantially and—in anticipation of new safety regulations from the Ministry of Transport—a much larger and now impact-absorbing front bumper was fitted to the body.

 Carrying its own distinctive fastback roofline, the 1973 Ford Gran Torino SportsRoof boasted a list price of $3,776.

Except for the Sportroof model, all Torinos were powered by Ford’s 250-cubic inch six-cylinder engine, married to a three-speed manual transmission. The sassy Sportroof was a faster Ford, tearing up the asphalt courtesy of the 302-cubic inch V-8 mill, though it was still mated to a three-on-the-tree manual transmission.

If one wanted to get “there” in a hurry, extra-cost engine choices included the 351 two- or four-barrel V-8s, the 400-cubic inch two-barrel eight banger. In a category all by itself stood was the mighty 429 cubic-inch, two-barrel V-8.

The base Torino came as a no-frills two-door hardtop, a four-door pillared sedan and a wagon. “Where value speaks louder than words,” was the hue and cry wordsmiths chose to show off the stripper. While the car was as basic as tap water and the flooring of rubber, the interiors were finished in easy-care vinyl in Beige, Black, Medium Green and Medium Blue.
 The 1973 Ford Torino Squire carried faux woodgrain trim and listed for $4,197.
 The Gran Torino wagon was a bargain at $3,722 f.o.b. Oakville.

The Gran Torino featured the same three models found in the base series but added a dressy Squire station wagon to the model mix. The mid-priced, mid-sized Ford was “leading a quiet revolution.” Much was made of the quietness and of the extra “heft” in the car itself. “On the road, comfort is king with deep cushions and plenty of head, leg and shoulder room. Room enough, in fact, for six adults to sit comfortably.”

Gran Torino interiors could be had in luxurious pleated cloth and leather or a Sport Cloth in Ginger or Black. The Pleated Vinyl Seat trim was only available on the Squire wagon which was also blessed with the 302 V-8 as standard equipment.

The Gran Torino Broughams came as a posh pair—a hardtop and a four-door pillared sedan. These sirens of the highway promised that “splendour was the inside story” and whispered of “luxury and quality you might expect to find in high-price fine cars.” 

Interiors in the Broughams were finished in nylon cloth fabrics with “leather-like vinyl” seat trim and door panels. Colour choices were Tobacco, Beige, medium Blue, medium Green and Black. The Flight Bench seat boasted a fold-down front centre armrest.
Instrument panel of the 1973 Ford Gran Torino is seen here with the optional three-spoke Rim-Blow steering wheel.

The Brougham’s instrument panel carried “woodtone inserts” to highlight the instrument cluster, the glove box panel and the deluxe two-spoke steering wheel.

The Gran Torino Sport hit the asphalt as a two-door hardtop and a two-door Sportroof model. “Call it responsive, call it rakish, call it fun!” advertising bubbled unashamedly. These two came with the 302-V8 as standard equipment stuffed under the hood and a host of other unique niceties including a special ornament for the grille, F-70x14 raised white letter Wide Oval tires, special accents, wheel lip mouldings, dual racing mirrors and trim rings.

 Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Interiors for the Gran Torino Sport were thickly padded and pleated. The vinyl seats, with their low-profile head restraints, were designed to be supple and sporty. Colour choices were Black, Beige, Medium Blue and Ginger.

Diamond Lustre colours for the exterior were available in Black, Bright Red, Red Metallic, Fuchsia, Light Blue, Medium Blue Metallic, Bright Blue Metallic, Silver Blue Metallic, Bright Green Gold Metallic, Bright Lime, Medium Aqua, Medium Green Metallic, Dark Green Metallic, Light Green, Medium Ivy Bronze Metallic, Pewter Metallic, Ginger Metallic, Ginger Bronze Metallic, Tan, Medium Chestnut Metallic, Light Goldenrod, Yellow, Medium Bright Yellow, Bright Yellow Gold Metallic, Medium Gold Metallic and two—not one—shades of White. Metallic paints cost extra and there were optional Tutone paint jobs available for the Gran Torino Sport.

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

The list of optional equipment was as long as the Trans-Canada Highway. Goodies included trailer towing packages, a three-spoke Rim-Blow steering wheel, SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic Transmission, AM/FM stereo radio, SelectAire Conditioner and electric clock. There was an Appearance Protection group that included door edge guards; rubber floor mats and an anti-theft spare tire lock, electric power door locks, and colour-keyed dual racing mirrors. 

New for 1973 was a selection of steel-belted radial ply tires. One could order the electric rear window defroster, bodyside mouldings—to protect against dents and dings, power front disc brakes, numerous wheel covers or chrome wheels, a deluxe bumper group, six-way power seats, rear seat speakers, a tachometer, engine gauges, power steering, power tailgate window, a rear-facing third seat for wagons, interval wipers, power side windows, high back bucket seats with centre console, a leather wrapped steering wheel, vinyl roof tops, four-speed manual transmission with a Hurst Shifter, heavy duty battery, competition suspension and a Traction-Lok Differential.

Ford-Meteor dealers sold 30,804 new Torinos in calendar 1973. That made Oakville’s mid-sized car the sixth best selling nameplate in Canada, positioned neatly between Plymouth Valiant in the Number Five spot and Dodge Dart in seventh place.

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Copyright James C. Mays 2007 All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

1937 Chevrolet

The sassy 1937 Chevrolet Cabriolet weighed in at 1265 kilos (2,790 pounds) and rode on a 2 844-millimetre (112-and-one-quarter-inch) chassis.
The Great Depression had taken a horrific toll on Canada for eight long years. Its effects had devastated the national economy and drove millions of Canadians to their knees. Just when the worst appeared to be over, farmers on the Prairies suffered through another crippling drought in 1937. Unable to find work of any kind, nearly a million workers were still on the dole. 

Ontario was plagued with labour strikes including workers at GM Canada in Oshawa, who walked off the job on April 8. Premier Hepburn threatened to bring in the Royal Canadian Army to quash the strikers' action.  The employees returned to work twenty days later when the company finally recognized the United Auto Workers’ right to bargain on the employees’ behalf. The dispute was settled but the stock market crashed again, bringing new misery. 


Used cars went begging. Want ads in the Hamilton Spectator showed Coronation Motor Sales Limited had a 1932 Plymouth Sedan on the lot for $365 and made a point of including the fact that all its salesmen were courteous and Canadian. MacLaren Motor Sales, Limited—the Chev-Olds dealer--at 70 John Street North in Hamilton, offered a dark green 1934 Ford Special De Luxe coupe with radio and heater for only $175 and was prepared to finance the purchase. That radio was particularly practical since the CBC was gearing up to expand its broadcast from six to sixteen hours a day.
The Sport Coupe featured a rear quarter panel window for “unusually full vision” and “increased visibility and better appearance.”

Even a second-hand automobile was just a pipe dream for many in 1937. Thousands of folks would eke another year or two out of their old jalopies with what repairs they could afford. Merrick Tire, located at 123 King Street in Hamilton, guaranteed its reconditioned tires with prices starting as low as $1.50 each. Hamilton Welding, at 100 Mary Street, straightened axles, frames and wheels to stop road shimmy. Jack Piries at 19 Market Street relined brakes and rebuilt clutches at reasonable prices. A paint job from the Ottawa Paint Shop in Hamilton started at $12.

For the few who could afford a new 1937 automobile, the low-priced leaders--Chevrolet, Ford and Plymouth--were going to get the lion’s share of the new car trade. All three dealer bodies had been hit hard by the economic downturn and all were keen to put new taillights out the door.
1932 Chevrolet Sport Roadster
Chevrolet had hit rock bottom in 1932 when only 10,832 cars were produced. Only in 1916—the first year for the marque to be built in Canada—was production lower.  Production inched upward painfully each subsequent year of the Depression. A total of 13,134  units was built in 1933 and 24,103 bowties rolled out of the Oshawa plant’s doors in 1934. The picture grew brighter in 1935 as 33,721 Standard Six and Master Six units were produced. In 1936, the numbers moved up ever so slightly to 38,473 units.
The 1937 Chevrolet two-door Master Coach weighed in at 1267 kilos (2,795 pounds).

            Chevrolet salesmen had a few rabbits to pull out of the proverbial hat for customers when they came to dealerships see the new 1937 models. They were, after all, the company’s 25th anniversary offerings. Billed as “the Parade of Progress,” the latest bowties from Oshawa featured safety plate glass windows and all-steel bodies by Fisher. Advertising drew attention to the fact that bodies were had been made lower, longer and roomier. Each one was constructed with a new six-girder frame, “built like a bridge span.”  Chevs were dubbed as “all silent and all-steel.” The pleasant, Diamond Crown styling was the handy work of designer Jules Agramonte who had been the inspiration behind the beautiful 1934 LaSalle.

Engineers tweaked Chevrolet’s Stove Bolt Six engine. Made of lightweight cast iron with a domed head and slipper skirt, the electroplated overhead valve plant now generated a whopping 85 horsepower. Advertising made much of the car’s economy, bragging that many owners reported more than 9.4 litres per 100 kilometres (25 miles to the Imperial gallon).

No-Draft Ventilation was a feature unique to GM cars throughout the 1930s. The small windows were invaluable in keeping cabin air fresh.

All Chevs boasted the Fisher “draft-free ventilation system” which consisted of vent windows for and aft to “let air sweep freely through the car, or control a gentle circulation that exhausts stale air and tobacco smoke—and prevents windshield fogging.” Independent front suspension, treating passengers to “Knee-action gliding ride,” had been around on the higher priced Chevs since the 1934 model year. Advertising bragged that more than 2,000,000 users had proved it was the world’s safest, smoothest ride. This was the second year for hydraulic brakes to be fitted to all four wheels. 

While the Master DeLuxe got all the trimmings, lesser-priced Masters made do with older technology and fewer goodies. They carried the tried-and-true I-beam, straight axle setup instead of the fancy Knee-Action Ride. Not as well dressed, Masters wore less trim, got no rubber pads on the pedals, no ash tray and were blessed with only one taillight, one wiper and a single arm rest. Masters did without bumper guards and no “overheat” indicator on the instrument panel. The entry level, two-passenger Business Coupe listed for $745 at J. B. Ross Limited in Hamilton, Ontario. Of course, taxes, license and freight were all extra.

Seven different models were offered in all, ranging from the Business Coupe to Sedans, Coaches, Town Sedans, Sport Coupes, Sport Sedans and a very racy Cabriolet. Surprisingly, the ragtop was offered in the lower-priced Master series. While all Chevrolets in the US were offered only on the 2 844-millimetre (112 and-one-quarter-inch) wheelbase, at least one Canadian source indicates that the Master Deluxe series sold throughout the Dominion was built on a much longer 3225-millimetre (127-inch) chassis.  Perhaps a passionate reader can set the record straight.

At the end of the year, Chevrolet had racked up production of 44,203 units. Most of the cars were sold in Canada. Ford produced 73,716 passenger cars, though 40,043 were exported throughout the British Empire.

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Copyright James C. Mays 2003
 All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

1975 Saab 99

 The 1975 Saab 99 EMS, for the Canadian market, came equipped with a tachometer, Pirelli 175/70 HR-15 CN 36 steel-belted radial tires and cast aluminum alloy wheels. 

In the beginning there was Scania. The Swedish company was founded in 1914 to build aircraft. It collapsed with the founder’s untimely death in 1919. Svenska Aero AB followed in 1921, heavily funded by Germany’s Heinkel. When that company ran into trouble during the Dirty Thirties, the aviation leader was important enough that the Swedish government rescued it and turned the faltering aircraft manufacturer into a Crown Corporation.

In 1937, the corporate name became SAAB, an acronym for Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget. The company built numerous warplanes from 1939 to 1945 but as the world conflict neared an end it became clear there would be little need for such a huge workforce. If the workers were terminated, the entire Swedish economy would be thrown into a long-term, even permanent tailspin. It was decided to diversify the market and strengthen the domestic economy by building automobiles.

 Saab prototype.
The first automobile prototype featured a hand-built body. In the aftermath of war-ravaged Europe (despite the fact that Sweden had been neutral), parts were scarce. The drivetrain, engine and other parts were sourced from scrap yards. 

Because the car was designed by aircraft engineers, the Saab took on a very aerodynamic shape. It was completed in the summer of 1946. The public got a glimpse of the blue-black vehicle on June 10. A second prototype appeared in May 1947. Workers began turning out cars in June but sourcing material was difficult and production was sporadic.  

Mass automobile production at the Trollhatten factory began in earnest in 1950. All 1,248 Saabs built that year were green in colour. The sturdy little car was a hit and the 10,000th Saab rolled out the factory doors on March 6, 1954.
1950 Saab.

Saab began exporting its products early. Denmark was the first market conquered' that country took half of the company’s 1951 output. In 1957 an American sales subsidiary was opened and eager owners in that country began a Saab buying spree, snapping up two out of three Saabs produced for the world market.
1968 Saab 99.

A third generation of Saab was introduced on November 22, 1967. Model 99 was radically different from its predecessors. This new Saab was 20 cm (8”) wider than before. The wider stance allowed a change from the old 3-cylinder, 2-cycle motor,  replaced with a peppy 1.7-litre 4-cylinder, 4-cycle transversely mounted mill. The new 99 was fitted with disc brakes all around. 

Automatic transmission was made available in 1970 which no doubt helped to boost sales. The 500,000th Saab was assembled in February of that year.

Surprisingly, there was no concerted effort to market Saab in Canada. Swedish competitor Volvo was sold here as early as 1960 as were numerous other European vehicles such as West Germany’s DKW, the Czechoslovak Skoda and the Italian Fiat.  Hard on their heels came the Japanese, fielding Datsun and Toyota.

 Canadians liked small cars and bought them in large numbers.  Volvo, Isuzu, Toyota, Renault and Peugeot all found it worthwhile to open assembly plants in Canada. Still, Saab shied away from testing our waters.

The 1974 Saab family.

Finally the Swedish automaker took the plunge into Canadian waters in 1974. Under the rules of the Federal Investment Review Agency, a foreign company wishing to do business in Canada had to have a wholly-owned Canadian distributor. To meet the FIRA requirement, Scancar Limited was organized. Initial plans called for dealers to be planted from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. The Toronto-based company began to stock the first dealerships with cars and parts.
The 1974 Saab Sonett was a two-seat sports car.

Advertising claimed that despite the big demand for Saab in Europe and the US, it had held back from servicing the Canadian market until they could guarantee a steady supply of vehicles and give them the proper service and support required.

Dubbed the WagonBack, Saab’s clever GL hatchback offered more than 15 cubic metres (53 cubic feet) of space to hold just about anything.

Now that Saab was here, it was here in full force. “From Sweden the perfect car for Canada.” It claimed that it was superior to other vehicles because of its front engine, front-wheel drive. “No ordinary car can carve through bends, or bull its way through snow, or grip on ice like the Saab. It’s a revelation!”

Saab promised to be powerful, maneuverable, spacious and safe for Canadians. “The Saab 99 also goes in the snow and lasts in the salt as if it were built for weather like ours. Which it was: it’s Swedish.”

Advertising pointed out the features that Canadian motorists might appreciate: precise rack-and-pinion steering, the electrically heated driver’s seat, a complete roll cage with high torsional rigidity, the front and rear deformation (crumple) zones, the nylon velour upholstery that was cool in summer and warm in winter covering seats that were designed in conjunction with medical experts. Heat levels in the rear of the cabin were controlled by the rear seat passengers. Finally rustproofing was mentioned, a feature that made a Saab “unusually resistant to the ravages of snow and salt.”
 The 1975 Saab GL 99 four-door Sedan weighed in at 1149.8 kilos (2,535 pounds).

Not only was the car introduced, so was the parent company. In carefully crafted advertising, Canadians learned that Saab was much more than automobiles that Saab-Scania built supersonic jet aircraft, missiles, space equipment off- and on-highway trucks, buses, industrial and marine engines, X-ray equipment, precision tools, computer and data systems.

Four GL models were sold that first year: the  2-door Sedan, the GL 4-door Sedan, the clever hatchback GL WagonBack Sedan and the sporty EMS.

They all boasted the 2-litre, fuel-injected, overhead-cam engine. Automatic transmission and power steering were made available as an option package.

Saab did well in its first year and would return for many more.

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!
Copyright James C. Mays 2005 All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

1942 Nash

 The 1942 Nash Ambassador 600 Four-door Trunk Sedan tipped the scales at 2,655 pounds. At $1,460 f.o.b Windsor, Ontario, it was the most expensive model in the 600 series.
Having been at war since 1939, Canada entered into its fourth year of the global conflict as the 1942 automobiles were unveiled to the public in the fall of 1941. For the most part, this year’s crop of automobiles were little changed from 1941.

Rationing of automobiles had begun on February 13, 1941 when the Minister of War appointed a Federal Motor Vehicle Controller. He promptly seized all new cars and placed them into a nationwide reserve pool. New automobiles were available only to those who could not do without. These prospective purchasers had to meet “essentiality” criteria laid down by the Motor Vehicle Controller’s office. Individuals filled out enough paper work to deplete a small forest in an effort to prove that if they did not receive a new car the war effort on the home front would be jeopardized.

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Manufacturers were already limited to 50 percent of their 1941 production for the 1942 model year and those figures were slashed by Parliament yet again in March 1942. Severe restrictions were also placed on companies that did not manufacture domestically. Among the latter group was Nash.

1908 Rambler.

Nash was the inheritor of the sacred Rambler and Jeffery mantle. The pioneer Kenosha, Wisconsin manufacturer had a long-standing relationship with Toronto-based CCM, makers of the luxurious Russell marque. Rambler, and later Jeffery, had been imported and sold by Russell dealers.
1917 Jeffrey. 

Nash Motors incorporated in 1916, and the new owner quickly phased out the Jeffrey to launch his own line of automobiles.  Nash then set up its own sales and service network across the Dominion. Plans were afoot to take advantage of Empire Content laws by assembling Nash cars here. A deal was in the works in 1932 to lease space in the sprawling 512,000-square foot factory complex in Leaside (Toronto), Ontario. The 8.6-acre campus was already home to Frontenac Motors, Limited whose workers also assembled Durants and Reo Flying Clouds. Despite the fact that immanent assembly was announced, Nash production never got off the ground.

1935 Nash Ambassador Eight Victoria.

Advertising from 1935 lists Nash Motors of Canada, Limited as being headquartered in Windsor, Ontario. While there was no automobile assembly in Motor City, sales and service for all nine provinces was administered from there. In the very depths of grinding depression, Nash dealers delivered 326 sleek, streamlined chrome and steal beauties that year.

Nash appealed primarily to professionals who wanted an automobile that would set them apart from the McLaughlin-Buick and Chrysler crowd. Sales figures rose sharply for Nash in 1936, reaching 526 units sold. There were smiles all around when a whopping 1,484 new cars were delivered in 1937. Things got even better in 1938 as 3,645 Nash automobiles were purchased. That figure was off ever so slightly in 1939 as 3,400 cars were delivered and off again in 1940 as 3,381 Nash cars were imported. Only 835 Nash cars had been sold throughout the country during the 1941 calendar year.

The Automotive Building at the CNE.

The traditional national unveiling of the latest crop of automobiles took place in October 1941, in the Automotive Building on the fairgrounds of the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) in Toronto. In order for the annual event to take place, the Royal Canadian Army moved most of the soldiers billeted there for basic training from the 192-acre site. Nash Motors of Canada, Limited fielded no less than fifteen automobiles in three different series with line folders (sales brochures) printed in black and white. This year’s Nash selling themes were “Million Dollar Beauties” and more patriotic, “The Car of the Hour.”

The 1942 Nash Ambassador Six Coupe Brougham sold for $1,838 and the Eight carried a list price of $2,042. Few were sold, Ottawa began rationing cars in February 1941.
Advertising said, “It is a twenty-five year old tradition in the automobile industry that Nash cars have enduring quality and require little upkeep expense. This year, when your automobile dollar means more to you than ever before, it will pay you to change to a car of proven record in low operating costs. That car is Nash.”

The price leader for Nash was the Ambassador 600 series. “If you’re looking for a big car with maximum economy and the most desirable new features ever offered in the lowest price range field, then the car you want is the Nash 600. No other car can give you so much value for so little money.”
Boasting a concealed trunk, the 1942 Nash Ambassador 600 Four-door Slipstream Sedan listed for $1,391 f.o.b. Windsor, Ontario.

 Introduced as a 1941 model, this revolutionary automobile was the first to incorporate aircraft construction principles into mass manufacture of automobiles by use of Unit-Body or frameless design. The body and frame were made up of a single internal bridge-truss construction unit, welded into a “rigid and twistproof, shakeproof unit.”

 Shown with optional two-tone paint, the 1942 Nash Ambassador Six Four-door Slipstream Sedan was priced at $1,863. The Eight listed for $2,093.

The small Nash took its name from the 600 miles it could squeeze out of a single tank full of gasoline. A three-passenger Business Coupe was the least expensive Nash, with a list price of $1,280. A Four-door Trunk Sedan, a Four-door Sedan, a Two-door Sedan and a Brougham were also offered, all on a 112-inch wheelbase.

Powering the Nash Ambassador 600 was a thrifty little L-head six-cylinder engine with built-in manifolds cast into the block. The 172.6-cubic inch mill generated a respectable 75 horsepower, enough to zip the light car down the pike.

 Weighing at 2,540 pounds, the 1942 Nash Ambassador 600 Coupe offered room for three passengers and 27.5 cubic foot of luggage.

Next limb up on the maple tree was the Nash Ambassador Six. “If you want to enjoy the very finest performance that any car can offer yet keep within the medium low-price field then the car you want is the Nash Ambassador Valve in Head Six. There is no other car like it at the price.

The Nash Ambassador Six Coupe cost $1,706 and weighed 3,200 pounds.
The Eight weighed in at 3,350 pounds.

The Ambassador Six rode on a much longer 121-inch wheelbase. There were five offerings in this series, as well. A Business Coupe, a Two-door Brougham, Four-door Trunk Sedan, a Deluxe Four-door Slipstream Sedan and a Special Two-door Sedan.

The engine was the 234-cubic inch seven-main bearing six-cylinder, of valve-in-head design. It generated 105 horsepower. The all-silent Synchro-Mesh manual transmission was standard equipment, overdrive was an extra-cost option.

 Stylists won an award for the beautiful 1942 Nash instrument panel.
It is shown here with the optional push-button radio.

The quintet of Ambassador Eight models shared the same body styles as the Six but differed in terms of additional cylinders under the hood. Naturally, higher quality was seen throughout, including Boucle upholstery, assist cords and a robe rail, ashtrays fore and aft and “dozens of fine car appointments.” Advertising said, If it’s plus power you’re looking for, the extra smooth performance of an Eight, the supreme command of the road, then the car for you is a luxurious Nash Ambassador Valve-in-Head Eight. Here is a car that can match against many automobiles costing hundreds of dollars more.

The nine-main bearing, 260-cubic inch, valve-in-head, eight-cylinder engine developed 115 horsepower. The same all-silent Synchro-Mesh manual transmission offered in the six was standard equipment for the eight, overdrive was an extra-cost option.

 With chair-high cushioned seats measuring almost five foot wide, the 1942 Nash was as comfortable as your favourite chair at home.
 “Sea Leg” coil springs all around gave a soft, restful ride.

Other options included the Airliner reclining seats that dropped flat to make a bed, turning one’s car into a sleep-anywhere Nash Hilton. The Weather-Eye heater was the finest in the industry. One could order a pushbutton radio, too.

“Whichever one of Nash’s new ‘Million Dollar’ beauties you choose, you can be sure it’s built to give you years of service over and above the life of the average car,” was advertising’s last word. Only a handful of Nash cars were sold that year. In fact, only 17,286 automobiles were reported as being sold during calendar 1942, almost all of them under the watchful eye of the Federal Motor Vehicle Controller.

Copyright to James C. Mays 2005
All Rights Reserved

 Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!