Safety Doesn’t Sell!

Henry Kaiser got into the car business 5 years earlier in 1946. Every year a struggle for profitability. 1952 was no different. The marketing angle this year would be “World’s safest front seat” with Seven-Point Protection.
1/ Narrower A pillars to eliminate blind spots.
2/ One piece push out front windshield.
3/ Padded dash.
4/ Right hand emergency brake.
5/ Recessed instruments.
6/ Extra leg room…and
7/ “Safety-Posture front seat braces and cradles your weight low…where it’s safer.”
Seat Belts? No, you would want to be thrown away from the collision so you would survive. (and air bags would only slow down your exit back then)
Mr. Kaiser thought he was building a safer car. He is the same H.J Kaiser who could build a Liberty ship in 4 days however some would break in half due to cold water. Maybe Liberty ships needed push out front windows too.

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Custom Car Builders Predict the Future.

hrfuture6hrfuture5hrfuture3hrfuture2hrfuture1hrfutureVintage 1962.
All six are legendary.
Joe Wilhelm, Bill Cushenbery, Alexander Bros., Darryl Starbird, Gene Winfield and George Barris.
If your are into car craft these are six the builders you should know.
If you get a life do-over get one of these customizors to build a car for you. I bet $5,000 will go a long way. Today $150,000.00

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Introducing Edsel for 1959.

59edsel-759edsel-159edsel-10After a disastrous launch in 1958, (the fact is, it wasn’t that bad of a launch, second only new car line to DeSoto in 1929) Ford reduced the line up by two dropping the Citation and Pacer models. However 1,200 new dealerships were created in a very competitive declining market. Not the same market when conceived in 1955. All around poor planing and marketing with a car that that failed to capture the car buyer imagination. It wasn’t a bad car, it was the wrong car at the wrong time.
The car’s poor mechanical reputation was because of the confusion on the assembly line. It didn’t have a dedicated factory.
The legacy? It soiled the great name of Henry’s only son. Edsel is now a corporate synonym for failure.
My opinion is if the dealer had managed to hold on for another year thing would be completely different. The 1960 models looked great and the Edsel Comet was ready in 1961. That car alone would have saved and expanded the dealerships. However, to car buyers it was too much of a gamble and only 2,800 were built. 116,000 total over the three year run. Ford’s loss, $350 million, in today’s dollars $2.8 billion.
Innovations that Edsel brought to the market place would last well in to the 80’s.

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Featuring The Studebaker Hawks for 1958

studshbrostudghbfstudshbro2studghbrThe Golden Hawk for 1958.
Total production 878. Price $3282 
The top Hawks are instantly recognizable due to no B pillar. They all came with McCulloch superchargers boosting the output of the 289 c.i. V8 to 275 H.P. A “rocket” in 58. It was road tested against the Chrysler 300 B, Ford Thunderbird and Chevrolet Corvette and blew them all away in the day, 

The Silver Hawk.Total Production 7294 Price $2219 (6) $2352 (8)
This was the second year of the Silver Hawk. It replaced the pillared Flight Hawk and Power Hawk and would replace the Golden Hawk in 1959, becoming the only “Hawk”. The 3 engine options offered were the straight 6 (185 c.i. 101hp) and 2 versions of a 289 V8. The top version with a 4bbl carb. putting out a respectable 225hp. 
The Hawk was replaced in 1962 by the stunning Gran Turismo Hawk. 

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Fw: Billy Durant’s buddy Norm de Vaux gets involved.


Norman was part-owner and general manager of the Oakland factory in which Billy Durant was making his Chevrolets in 1920. Norm took the factory over in 1931 to make his de Vaux-Hall . The company lasted a little over a year before filing for bankruptcy. Norm was a respected car promoter, so he wasn’t out of work for long. He became the Willys, California distributor, and they went into receivership a year later.

He was again looking for a project, and it didn’t take long to find one. He bought the body dies and stamped inventory for the 810/812 Cord for $45,000.00 with the dream of building another de Vaux. He had a meeting with Joe Graham in hopes of a partnership deal. He got turned down. Hupmobile was up next, and they liked it so much that they made him General Manager. Hupmobile made 35 rear wheel drive prototypes after John Tjaarda was hired to design the changes (he was paid $50 for his design) to the now-called Hupmobile Junior. It made its debut at the Detroit Auto show and got 6,000 orders (sounds familiar… it’s not known whether they were customers who missed out on the Cord.)
Both Hupmobile and Graham were financially weak, with Graham the stronger. With no money left, Hupmobile Juniors’ production stopped at 35.

Now Graham’s 1938 sales are under 5,000, only a third of the 1937 production, and Graham is desperate. The “Shark Nose Sedan”, his latest award-winning futuristic design, is not being accepted by car buyers. The factory has time to build cars for Hupmobile for pennies over cost, as long as Graham can produce their own cars from the same dies.
Hupmobile takes delivery of 350 Graham-built Juniors, now called Skylarks, and closes their doors to selling cars.

Hupmobile gone. It’s 1940.

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Did someone mention Cord?

Arguably, the finest cars made in the first half of the 20th century came out of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg plant in Auburn, Indiana under the ownership of Errett Lobban Cord. He also owned Lycoming Engines. The project started in 1931 as the baby Duesenberg, then got off track. Financing was made available, and the baby Deusie was back on track by 1935. However, Mr. Cord wanted a special car to carry his name – the baby Deusie – and he had a man on staff who could design it. This man was styling genius Gordon Beuhrig.One problem was that for a successful launch, he would have to have it ready in 4 months for the New York show – 100 examples ready for admission. The deadline was met, but not all in completed form. It was received as the most beautiful car of the show, and 6,000 orders poured in. They were only able to make 3,000 of them before the Auburn Automobile Company filed for bankruptcy on December 11, 1937. The assets went to auction. Pity – you could have bought one for $2,100!Franklin stopped production in 1934, and Stutz in 1935.


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Let’s try something new!

If Stutz, Franklin and Duesenberg can do it, then why don’t we? Supercharge the Graham. Graham’s supercharger was conceived by Assistant Chief Engineer F.F. Kishline, who just happened to be a close friend of Fred Schwitzer of Schwitzer-Cummins.

Between them, they created a more reliable, lower- speed blower that gave the Graham a 40% horse power boost, allowing excellent mid-range acceleration, smoother engine operation and fuel economy. It also helped sales increase to 16,000 and then 19,000 in 1936 (of which one third were supercharged), but that was not enough to make Graham profitable.

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How deep are the Graham brother’s pockets?

The brothers are doing everything right – their engineering is sound, and they are respected businessmen. They come to work every day knowing that they are losing money, and go home every day with hope. But the pressure is too much for Ray. The engineer brother, once in charge of producing 330,000 (ranked third in 1926, behind Ford and GM) Dodge Bros. cars, finds the 95% reduction too stressful, has a breakdown and takes his own life in August, 1932.

If it wasn’t for the glass company shares, the losses would have been more than they could manage. Libbey-Owen merged with the Edward Ford Plate Glass Co. in 1930, and they become the largest glass company and the first company to manufacture safety glass for automobiles. They are also the suppliers of the glass for the Empire State Building, built in 1930/31.

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It’s all down hill


It’s all downhill for the Graham brothers. 1930 saw sales drop by 50%. 1931 went down by another 30%. Bad economic times, they were aware – therefore lower pricing, the latest technology, and better promotions. The Graham cars looked just as good as the leaders, and performed even better in all the road tests. Answer to the problem? “Let’s design a new car.”

Bring in Amos Northrup and Ray Dietrich of the car body designers and builders, the Murray Corporation. They V-ed the grill and sloped it back, concealed the rad cap, skirted the fenders, painted the headlight shells and added balloon tires.

Graham’s Chief Engineer created a new “banjo” frame that enabled a 2 1/2 height drop, an industry first that created the most famous (and most copied) Graham, the Blue Streak. This car was the industry leader. Results? A 30% drop in sales. By 1933, sales had dropped to 11,000. (In 1926,  Dodge Bros. sales had been 330,000 units.) Profit? $67,000. It will take a world war for profitability to return.



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Graham, the early years


Paige-Detroit, a new, modern and well-equipped factory, provided the Graham brothers with a great canvas to paint their picture of the American automotive landscape. Harry Jewett, along with founding partner Fred Paige, had created Paige-Detroit in 1909 and built the company sales up to 40,000 units per year. Then came 1926, and a drop in sales and profits followed.

Harry believed that the automobile business was not for him anymore and found Graham’s offer his way out, creating the Graham-Paige Motors Corp. The G-P 1928 line was fresh, innovative and an instant success. It set a sales record for a new make, doubling Paige’s best year. 1929 sales forecast looked good, and by October they surpassed 1928’s sales. The Graham Bros. had the Midas touch.



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