Ed Garten Wins Photo Puzzler -- It is a 1946 Packard!!

John, I believe the mystery car to be a 1946 Packard. Look at the attached photo of a 46 Packard rear end.

1. Packard used a diagonal script on the left hand side of the rear deck that said "Packard" -- this photo and your photo indicate the diagonal script.
2. The rear window shape is the same in both photos and the curvature of the trunk lid appear to be the same.
3. The bumper appears to be the same in both photos.
4. While a number of makes and models used rectangular taillights on the lower edges, both of these photos indicate similar shaped tail lights.
5. The trunk handle on the 46 Package hung straight down and was a very heavy fixture like on the mystery car.

But I could be wrong. My first guess was a Hudson, Nash, or Olds but checking photos on Google lead me eventually to the Packard.


1948 Mystery Car!! Can you Identify This???

Help me here! Mike Kenny sent me this asking for make model and year -- maybe a 1948. Can someone step to the plate and provide fill in the right information? I will send the winner a mystery Porsche part as a momento of your service.

Cars I Love 1: Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster

Hi folks -- last night at a party someone asked me what would be the one car I would have above any other?" The expectation was that I would reply with something like "Duesenberg." But the German in me came through, or perhaps the influence of my cousin Freddy, who when I was quite young and he was much older -- 17 years older to be precise -- stated the M-B 300 SL. I am pretty sure that Freddy was thinking of the Gullwing model, but since i ma a top-down kind of guy, I have always preferred the roadster. So if my wife Kaye ever dies, it is sell the house, liquidate some assets, and buy one of these come hell or high water!

New York Mercedes distributor Max Hoffman, Daimler-Benz's official importer in the USA, suggested to DBAG management in Stuttgart that a street version of the 300SL would be a commercial success, especially in America.

The racing W194 300SL was built around a tubular chassis to offset its relatively underpowered carbureted engine. Designed by DBAG's chief developing engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut the metal skeleton saved weight while still providing a high level of strength. Its unique architecture gave birth to the model's distinctive gull wing doors, as part of the chassis passed through what would be the lower half of a standard door. Even with the upward opening doors, the 300SL had an unusually high sill, making entry and exit from the car's cockpit problematic. A steering wheel with a tilt-away column was added to improve driver access.

The 300SL's body was mainly steel, except for the aluminum hood, doors and trunk lid. It could also be ordered with an all-aluminium outer skin at tremendous added cost, saving 80 kg (176 lb).

More than 80% of the vehicle's total production of approximately 1400 units were sold in the US, making the Gull wing the first Mercedes-Benz which sold in bulk outside its home market and confirming the validity of Hoffman's suggestion. The 300SL is credited for changing the company's image in America from a manufacturer of solid, but staid, automobiles to that of a producer of sporty cars.

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupé from the Ralph Lauren collection
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster
1956 300 SL
1956 "Gull wing" open

The 300SL's engine, canted at a fifty-degree angle to the left to allow for a lower hoodline, was the same 3.0 liter straight 6 as the regular four-door 300. Fitted with a Bosch mechanical Gasoline direct injection system it had almost double the power of the original 86 kW (115 hp) carbureted version.

While not the first fuel-injected car - Mercedes engineers who had developed the principle for the DB 601 fighter aircraft engine had used fuel injection in the tiny 2-stroke Gutbrod they had designed after the War - it was the first to inject fuel directly into the cylinders. This innovation allowed a top speed of up to 260 km/h (161 mph) depending on gear ratio and drag, making the 300SL the fastest production car of its time.

The engine's maintenance requirements were high. Unlike the current electrically powered fuel injection systems, the mechanical fuel pump would continue to inject gasoline into the engine during the interval between shutting off the ignition and the engine's coming to a stop; this gasoline was of course not burned, and washed the oil from the cylinder walls and ended up diluting the engine's lubricating oil, particularly if the engine was not driven hard enough nor long enough to reach a temperature high enough to evaporate it out of the oil.

Exacerbating the problem were the large oil cooler as well as the large volume of oil (10 liters), both oriented more to racing than to street driving, which virtually guaranteed that the oil would not reach a high enough temperature. In practice, many street drivers would block off airflow through the oil cooler, and the recommended oil change interval was 1,000 miles (1,600 km). Operation of the clutch was initially very heavy, later roadsters having an improved clutch arm helper spring which reduced the pedal force. From March 1963 to the end of production, a light alloy crankcase was used on a total of 209 vehicles.[2]

Aerodynamics played an important role in the car's speed, Mercedes-Benz engineers even placing horizontal "eyebrows" over the wheel openings to reduce drag. Unlike many cars of the 1950s, the steering was relatively precise and the four-wheel independent suspension allowed for a reasonably comfortable ride and markedly better overall handling. However, the rear swing axle, jointed only at the differential, not at the wheels themselves, could be treacherous at high speeds or on imperfect roads due to extreme changes in camber. The enormous fuel tank capacity caused a considerable difference in handling depending on the quantity of fuel on board.

New Super Tires Available - 2112R

Super Tires is proud to announce a new Super Tires for our C.B. Design 15x11mm wheels. The new Super Tire, model 2112R, is produced from a completely new mold which features a rounded outer sidewall and will be available in two (2) compounds - silicone (part # 2112R-C which is currently available) and urethane ("Yellow Dog" part # 2112R-Y which will be available in the near future). The 2112R is actually a lower profile version of the existing 1007/08/09 Super Tires which were originally designed for FLY Classic wheels. Dimensions for the 2112R are as follows - .430" wide (10.92mm - excluding rounded sidewall) and .780" (19.81mm) o.d.. To order, please visit the Slot Car Corner or Slot Car Corner Canada website (or contact your favorite Super Tires dealer).

Note: The Super Tires 2112R mounted on a C.B. Design 15x11mm wheel will be especially appealing to builders/racers looking to replace a 15x8mm wheel/tire with a wider alternative. The picture above is a good example - it features aSlot.it Porsche 956C shown with Super Tires 2112R-C mounted on C.B. Design 15x11mm Insert Wheels with the stock Slot.it wheel insert.

Look for more Super Tires announcements soon!

Last Open Road proxy race starting soon!

The Last Open Road Proxy (TLOR) is a 1/32 proxy race series based on the sports car racing novels by Burt Levy. You are invited to enter! Cars will be built to rules governing motor choice, tire size, track width, etc, which are intended to ensure a historically plausible field of Sports and GT cars c.1952-55, as were raced in the USA.

TLOR successfully concluded its first season, replicating the informal atmosphere of sports car racing as it existed during the early, amateur years. The second season will be starting soon, and new entrants are encouraged. Cars are to be submitted by April 15th, 2012 (or maybe later). If 1950's SCCA racing appeals to you, and you enjoy building slot cars with narrow tires and medium to low power motors, this race series is for you. Cars based on Ninco Classics are welcome, as are completely scratch built masterpieces. This is a proxy race where cars are mailed in to the start point, then will be shipped around the USA and possibly Canada, to a variety of home/club road tracks. Two classes are run, one with 14k motors, and the other with 18k-20k motors. Racing has been extremely close, with a friendly atmosphere. You are invited!

Burt Levy's Last Open Road books are described here:

TLOR rules, discussion, and registration is described here:

Spooky Art Car Scares Customers at Raven's Grin Inn - Jim Warfield

Spooky Art Car Scares Customers at Raven's Grin Inn - Jim Warfield
Spooky Art Car Scares Customers at Raven's Grin Inn - Jim Warfield
There aren't many Haunted Inns that come complete with spooky art cars parked in the front but owner and resident Jim Warfield has done his best to give his clients the complete package.

In thetown of Mount Carroll, Ill is where you will find Raven's Grin Inn, a 19th-century mansion that's been turned into awacky house of horrors by Jim Warfield which just happens to be located a block away from a cemetery.

Warfield rescued the house from being demolished about 20 years ago and then went on to fill it
with all kinds of freaky art projects  like the "the last Elvis impersonator" that sits decayingin a wheelchair and of course plenty of creaky, spookyand secret passages. If you are feeling up to it you can get a group of 10 and go on a tour for $10 per person perhour but you must call in advance for reservations.

What got Jim a post here on art car central was one three spooky cars, a  87 Olds station Art Car wagon, "Custom cruiser" with arms that go up and down via a 79 T-Bird Vacuum /headlight door lifter device and a reptile hood with doll trapped in its bloody teeth. I think traveling cross country in one of these with the whole family is scary enough even without the skulls, but that's just me.

It took Jim about 5 years to rebuild his spooky art car to the point were felt comfortable taking it down to the local drag strip that allows anyone to race any car for $10. If speed doesn't kill then definitely a spooky induced heart attack would be enough to beat the competition. Go get em Jim:)

Spooky Art Car Scares Customers at Raven's Grin Inn - Jim Warfield
Spooky Art Car Scares Customers at Raven's Grin Inn - Jim Warfield
Spooky Art Car Scares Customers at Raven's Grin Inn - Jim Warfield
Spooky Art Car Scares Customers at Raven's Grin Inn - Jim Warfield

Spooky Art Car Scares Customers at Raven's Grin Inn - Jim Warfield
Spooky Art Car Scares Customers at Raven's Grin Inn - Jim Warfield

At the Drive-In: An Incredible Story Reflecting Rural Americana during the 1950s and 1960s

The following in bold is taken from chapter 8 of my book The Automobile and American Life and provides a context for a far more focused story that follows.

A Night at the Drive-In
For every film classic like “Rebel Without a Cause,” there were ten shot on low budget, largely now forgotten by all except film buffs and those who watch Turner Classic Movies while killing time at the nursing home. Yet, a number of these films have become cult favorites and several, like Thunder Road, or The Blob, starring an up-and-coming Steve McQueen, gained new significance in more recent times. Many of these marginal films became the staple for the drive-in of the 1950s and 1960s, a time when youths were anxious to remove themselves from parental control and search for self-identity. Drive-ins have become an endangered institution, the consequence of changing mores, suburbanization, and a migration to the exurbs. In 1958, there were more than 4,000 drive-ins in America, but by the early 1990s, the number had fallen to about 870. They were a place to meet friends, find entertainment, passion, if one was lucky, and cheap, but often bad food. But on a hot summer’s night, what better a place to spend some time and money. And what if it rained?
The longest running drive-in can be found in Orefield, Pennsylvania, north of Allentown. Shankweiler’s Drive-In was the second drive-in established in America.
[1] It opened during the summer of 1933, after its founder stopped at Richard M. Hollingshead’s theater in Camden, New Jersey on his way back from the Jersey Shore. Hollingshead had opened his operation on June 6, 1933 to 600 people who paid 25 cents per person to see the film Wife Beware. Back in Orefield, Shankweiler hung up a giant sheet between two poles, set up a giant speaker, and was in business.
Soon others would follow, but Hollingshead, who had patented his drive-in idea, would be mired in court for years over infringement suits. Technical innovations, including RCA speakers that would be hung on car windows and in-car heaters for use during the winter months, were incorporated after World War II. American life was never the same with the viewing of such films as The Hideous Sun Demon, I Married a Monster from Outer Space, Cat Women on the Moon, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
[1] Stephen Bayley, Sex, Drink and Fast Cars (New York: Pantheon, 1986): 52-7.

The following is a Contribution from Ed Garten -- Thank you, Ed!

John, might be blog material if you add some cultural insight to it, but I think you've seen this photo of my Grandfather Garten's drive-in theatre -- the only drive-in in the country and for miles around. Carlos built the theatre around 1952 and it operated until around 1964 when it started to sort of go downhill and when the "beach party" B movies were shown as well as some of the "slasher-type" horror flicks. This photo appears to be circa 1954 given the cars and trucks pictured.

A important element of this theatre, located in a rural area of Summers County, West Virginia, was the way in which it served as a social gathering spot. In this photo note that there is a country-western band playing on top of the concession stand. Typically on an early summer evening, grandfather would invite in local or regional bands who would play until dusk and just before the movies started to play. Note that the cars in front of the band are turned facing the band and not turned toward the screen -- they were listening to the music and then, later, would turn their cars around to watch the movies. Note also the young girls dressed in typically 50s dresses likely congregating to catch up on local high school gossip. Also note that there are several old pick-up trucks with young guys standing in the beds -- often times a local farmer would come to the movies with his family and then also bring a few local farm boys with him.

Below, my cousin, R. D. Williams and grandfather Garten's other grandson, provides some memories of the drive-in. As I recall, although still a child, folks would often mill around prior to darkness and the beginning of the movies and talk "cars" -- comparing their cars with others' cars. Car talk, girl talk, local gossip -- the stuff that made a small Appalachian community what it was. We sometimes forget how the "drive-in theatre" was such a bonding experience for those who lived and grew up in remote and often provincial environments.

Here's cousin R. D.'s memories of the Garten Drive-in Theatre:

Your dad, Johnny ran the original concession stand behind the big screen out front before the concession stand was built. He would take home the left over popcorn each night to feed to the hogs. He made the best hamburgers ( I always had them with just mustard and onions), and mom ran the ticket booth. We always had to check the trunks of cars and watch for "sneak ins" ( walk ins from the road). I went around from car to car selling popcorn and other stuff. Your Uncle Maghee's house was close enough that he actually had a speaker run to his living room with a big picture window in the front, so you could watch the movies from his house. There were swings and see saws in front of the screen for the kids, and every fourth of July they would have a belly bucking contest and a greasy pole to climb with a $20 bill attached to the top, along with sack races and other games. They also had a lot of short shorts along with cartoons and previews before the movie, including negro spirituals, with black angels singing and walking on clouds. On warm summer nights, people would actually lay on the hood of their car and lean against the windshield to watch the movie. I saw the African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn 11 times. Sergant York with Gary Cooper and Audie Murphy 8 times. It was a magical place and a special time....The only Drive -in ever in the county. C.B. Garten was a true entrepreneur ahead of his time. Looks like this was circa 1954 or 53. I remember watching some movies from horseback since the barn and camp were adjacent to the drive-in. Ah, those halcion days!!

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