Known for creating innovative cars, the Cord automobile company could be returning in 2017 with a limited production run. This return to the market is due to the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015.
The Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act, which was pursued by SEMA for several years prior to its passage, met with mixed feelings from the hot rod world. Many feared that it would diminish the value of original versions of collector cars.
Despite any previous concerns, the act has allowed defunct auto manufacturers like Cord to re-emerge on the scene without devaluing the original vehicles. If anything, the act has helped stabilize the value of the first run vehicles while allowing others to purchase and enjoy the extremely rare car of their dreams.
Automobile manufacturing has many barriers to entry for new manufacturers. Part of the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act helps eliminate many of these barriers like the expense of crash testing that big manufacturers are required to perform for modern cars. While it does exempt them from crash standards, it does require these small volume manufacturers to use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) compliant engine, which will most likely be a GM engine.
Cord automobiles were manufactured from 1929 to 1932 and again in 1936 and 1937 by the Auburn Automobile Company. Their streamlined designs and innovative engineering brought elements like front-wheel drive and hidden headlights to the marketplace. Electromechanical shifting, marketed as “servo” shifting, was another milestone innovation from the brand.
Reliability problems helped cause the demise of the automaker in 1937. An attempt to bring the car maker back in the early 1940s failed for several reasons, but primarily was doomed by a lack of resources to manufacture automobiles due to the war effort.
Under the provisions of the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act, companies are allowed to sell up to 325 reproductions per year, of a model that is at least 25 years old, and must include a full powertrain.
Texas entrepreneur Craig Corbell bought the rights to the Cord name and trademarks in 2014 with the purpose of relaunching the brand. While there is nothing firm, Corbell has made a statement of his intent. “Until now it was cost prohibitive to manufacture these cars profitably, but now that expensive high speed crash testing, for example, is no longer required to manufacture low runs of replicas, this makes tremendous sense,” he said in a press release.
We can’t wait to see which version of the Cord that Corbell and company are going to release. One thing will be certain: If you are going to want one of these masterpieces, start saving your pennies now. They may not cost as much as the original copies but they won’t be cheap.
Article courtesy of Rod Authority, written by Bobby Kimbrough.
Of course every car designer longs to tackle something like the Corvette: a prestige car, sleek and speedy and exciting, destined for the covers of all the enthusiast magazines. Only a handful actually get to deliver renderings of the famed Chevrolet sports car, however, and that handful – and their visions – will become the focus of an upcoming art exhibit in Detroit.
The single-model art show, curated by one of the two art collectors behind the in-the-works American Dreaming documentary, will include more than 100 original drawings and models of every generation of the Corvette up to the current model, some rather close to the final production versions, some closer to the flights of fancy that the automakers’ advance studios would turn out.
Next month’s showing is a sort of sequel to the exhibit that Greg Salustro and Robert Edwards curated earlier this year at the Scarab Club in Detroit, an exhibit intended to elevate the heretofore lightly heralded works of automotive studio artists from mere commercial renderings to fine art. “We’re doing this to recognize a huge part of American culture and car culture that has largely been overlooked,” said Edwards, who has taken on curation duties for the Corvette exhibit. “My big hope and dream is that this concept work will be recognized as fine art worthy of inclusion in art museums.”
Edwards said the idea for the exhibit came from John Peters, a member of the Scarab Club’s board and a Corvette enthusiast. Edwards then tapped the network of retired auto designers he’s met through the documentary, along with GM’s and The Henry Ford’s archives, to gather as many Corvette renderings as he could find.
“The Corvette exhibit is definitely different from any of our previous exhibits because it is a special model and the Corvette seems to really personify a certain aspect of the America dream,” Edwards said. “Corvettes have always been beautiful objects, and that’s an interesting aspect to explore in this exhibit.”
The exhibit includes work from Robert Cumberford, Larry Shinoda, Bill Porter, Wayne Cady, Mary Ellen Dohrs, Roger Hughet, Randy Wittine, Peter Brock, Allen Young, George Camp, and C. Hatfield Bills. Edwards also managed to track down a rare sketch done by Harley Earl himself – though a design genius, Earl almost never drew out his ideas in later years – of some headlamp arrangements for the Corvette.
In addition to the works done by GM employees, the exhibit will feature a few select pieces of advertising artwork, as well as future Corvette renderings by the League of Retired Automotive Designers and by student artists at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit and Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan.
Edwards said he’s hoping to recruit some of the Corvette designers still living in the Detroit area to participate in some gallery talks and other events during the exhibition.
The American Dreaming, Corvette: 7 Generations and Beyond exhibit will take place January 4 to February 4 at the Scarab Club. For more information, visit ScarabClub.org.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Daniel Strohl.
We recently added a nice set of Wheel Vintiques smoothies to our project truck, and were stuck with the dilemma of trying to decide whether to leave the wheels bare or put baby moons on the wheel’s center. There are so many different choices in wheel covers, that our mind instantly wanted to know what was common in the past. From there it was a short leap to the history of hubcaps.
We reached out to our old friend, Mike Collins, founder and owner of www.hubcapmike.com. He is one of the most successful retailers of wheel covers in the world. Hubcap Mikes has been in the hubcap and wheel cover business for more than 20 years. Mike opened the doors for business in the city of Orange, California, in 1992, and has over 40,000 hubcaps. He designs and manufactures custom hubcaps, specializing in wheel covers for custom and vintage cars.
Since we’ve mentioned both hubcaps and wheel covers, we wanted to know if these terms were interchangeable, or represented two different things. Why did manufacturers even start using hubcaps and wheel covers? Do they serve a purpose, or wre they just made just to fly off cars in a chase scenes during reruns of the old weekly police dramas? We’ve got the answers to those and much more of the interesting history of hubcaps below.
How and why did hubcaps come into existence? Did the Detroit automaker Gods come down from the mountian one day uttering “Let there be hubcaps,” or is there a simpler and more functional explanation? According to Hubcap Mike, “Originally, there was a functional necessity for the cap,” he said. “At first, autos were made with wooden spokes like a buggy or wagon wheel. The wooden spokes connected the outer steel rim to the center hub, which contained the wheel bearing. The wheel bearing was packed with grease,” Mike continued. “Something was needed to cover the center hub which could keep the dust out, and the grease in.”
It was clear that a cap was needed to cover the hub and protect the wheel bearing. This cap could have easily been called a dust cover but the original caps were small and purpose-built. Hubcap was an obvious choice in nomenclature.
As luck would have it, wooden spoke wheels did not last long in the automotive world. They would come from the factory heavily varnished, many times with decorative pinstriping. Unfortunately, they would quickly age and crack when exposed to the elements. “You could always hear, even from a great distance, a car with aging wooden spoke wheels,” said Mike. “The creaking sounds as they drove down the road were a dead give away.”
Hubcap Mike explained that steel wire-spoke tires came on the scene in the late 1920s and early 1930s, replacing the wooden spoke wheels. These new wheels also needed center caps over the hub, “Which still left the steel, welded-wire spokes exposed,” Mike added.
In the 1930s, when the country’s economy was at a peak, function gave way to style and decoration. Hubcaps became larger and were made of either brass or stainless steel, and featured the auto manufacturer’s name. These were utilized as a decorative design feature, but still covered only the wheels hub. The wire spoke wheels presented a problem, as they were hard to keep clean and made an annoying wind noise as the cars would go down the street.
What Does A Hubcap Do?
Hubcaps serve a number of different purposes on cars, some aesthetic, while others are functional.
The functional purpose, and reason for the invention, is to protect the wheel hub. Environmental exposure to heat, salt, dirt, and moisture can cause wear and corrosion that will act on lug nuts or bearings. Installing a wheel cover or hubcap will help minimize those hazards.
A humble, pressed-steel wheel can be pretty homely. Usually painted flat black or silver from the manufacturer, these wheels can be visually enhanced with an attractive set of hubcaps.
Hubcaps are less expensive than buying a new wheel. Cars that are driven in the harsh winter environments and deal with salty road grime, may benefit from an easily replaced wheel cover or hubcap rather than buying a new wheel to replaced a tarnished, old, weather-beaten one.
The Introduction Of Wheel CoversIn 1934, Cadillac fitted its new model with a stainless steel disc, which was held in place by the screw-on center hubcap that fit over the top of the disc. The disc actually covered most of the wheel, completely covering the wire spokes. This new styling feature gave the wheel a luxurious, streamlined appearance.
Following Cadillac’s lead, Cord and Hudson also began to use wheel covers on their new models. Cord’s wheel covers were plain chrome with a smooth top and holes on the side. Hudson took advantage of the flat cover by imprinting the words Hudson, Hudson Eight, or Terraplane on their wheel covers.
The term wheel cover was used in advertising and merchandising in 1938, when Cadillac began using pressed steel wheels that are similar to the wheels used today. The manufacturer covered the wheels with full-sized hubcaps they called wheel covers.
“Despite being the latest and greatest thing out of Detroit, the term hubcap has never yielded its top position as the most commonly used term for that thing-a-ma-jig that covers up the wheel of a car,” Mike stated. This may be true, but we think there might be some bias against wheel covers when you go by the name “hubcap Mike.” The important part of this story is that Cadillac made the full-sized wheel cover a symbol of luxury and class. Other, more economical car brands came with simple and inexpensive hubcaps that were referred to as “dog dish” caps because of their size and shape.
Hot Rodders & Hubcaps
It wasn’t long after the ‘big war” when hot rodders began to seek out the old Cadillac wheel covers for their 1930 through 1950’s custom rods. Hubcap Mike explained, “Probably the most classic Cadillac hubcap was the heavy, brilliantly-chromed 1950 wheel cover, nicknamed the Sombrero because its profile resembled a sombrero hat,” said Mike. “Cadillac owners soon began to realize that their hubcaps were very much in demand. They would usually figure this out when they would go to get in their car and happen to notice that they no longer had any hubcaps.”
The Moon hubcap, which became popular in the fifties, is often considered a racing hubcap. “Interestingly enough, the first spun aluminum Moon wheel cover was not invented in the fifties,” Mike pointed out. “Bob Rufi, the fastest man alive in 1940, used spun aluminum hubcaps from, of all things, a WWI Jenny war plane to help streamline his 140 mph record breaking speed machine at the Bonneville Salt Flats.”
Hot rodding and drag racing walked hand-in-hand during this time, with the early drag racers souping up their cars on the weekends to drive to the drags. As the racing got faster and more competitive, safety issues became a concern. “Hubcaps had a nasty habit of flying off and giving unprepared spectators a new “part” in their hair,” said Mike laughingly. “New rules were instated that required racers to remove their hubcaps before racing. This was for safety reasons and also for proper inspection of the wheels.”
Because of the new rules, racers began leaving their hubcaps off, and driving to and from the drags. They even started driving around town like that. In short order, seeing a car with no hubcaps came to mean it was a drag racer. “Drag racers began painting their wheels and decorating them with chrome lug nuts and chrome dust covers,” Mike added. “Some believe this led to chrome wheels, followed by the mag and aluminum wheels which became very popular in the sixties.”
The 1970s And Plastic
Manufacturer’s began using ABS plastic hubcaps on their new models in the 1970s. The finish of the hubcaps made them look like chrome or brushed aluminum, but they were less expensive to produce. By the 1980s, ABS plastic had virtually replaced all steel hubcaps on cars coming out of Detroit.
“Although plastic might sound cheap or flimsy, the fact is, ABS plastic is rugged, durable, and most importantly, it is light,” explained Mike. “The lighter the hubcap, the less likelihood that it will fly off.”
Mike clued us in on the best lesson in hubcaps: “Being sturdy, rugged and light alone is not enough. The wheel cover needs to have a good solid retention system,” he said. “The best is an all steel 360 degree retention ring that can really grip the steel wheel and help the hubcap stay on.”
Hubcups are part of what makes our hobby great, and a great-looking wheel with the right hubcap can make or break a project build. There is little chance that car enthusiast or hot rodders will ever end the running love affair with these great functional devices. For more information on hubcaps or help in finding the right hubcap, visit Hubcap Mike online at www.hubcapmike.com.
Article courtesy of Street muscle Magazine, written by Bobby Kimbrough.
In the days before trucks were set up like big luxury sedans, the El Camino was a practical alternative for buyers wanting some light-truck capabilities with car-like road manners and amenities.
Ford, not Chevy, deserves credit for the El Camino’s design, as well as its Spanish-inspired name. For 1957, Dearborn realized that it could sell a few more station wagons by removing two-thirds of the car’s roof and marketing the new machine as an open hauler. The early Ford Ranchero was successful, and became even more so when it was shifted downstream to the penny-pinching Falcon platform in 1960.
Chevrolet’s El Camino sold well in its first year, 1959, but its numbers flagged against the smaller Falcon. The El Camino and its stablemate, the sedan delivery, were both phased out in 1960—it’s unclear whether this was due to disappointing demand or as part of some larger plan. The model resumed production in 1964 on the mid-size Chevelle/Malibu A-body chassis, where it would remain until 1987.
The 1968-1972 El Camino shared its chassis and some of its sheetmetal with the A-body Chevelle station wagon. The cargo box was built to be functional, with double-wall construction on the side panels and a ribbed steel floor. The tailgate, too, was strong and functional—ribbed and double-walled, with a center release for one-handed opening. Like many small trucks, the El Camino’s bed couldn’t easily accommodate a 4-foot by 8-foot sheet of plywood, as there were only 44 inches between its rear fender wells. At its widest points, the bed measured 59 inches and was just over six-feet long—dropping the gate yielded an additional 22.5 inches of length.
For 1969, the El Camino was one-year into the A body’s significant redesign and it received the styling updates that Chevrolet made to the Chevelle line.
Sheetmetal and minor trim differences aside, Chevelles and El Caminos rode on identical all-welded perimeter steel frames, but the convertibles and the El Camino had boxed frame members for added rigidity. Coil springs were standard fare, front and rear, on Chevelles, but the El Camino’s rear suspension received a boost from factory-installed air shocks. When inflated, these shocks raised the El Camino’s payload capacity by 500 pounds.
The fun began when buyers checked off the Z25 SS 396 package, unleashing the El Camino’s inner muscle car. In ’69 the $370.15 package included, as its base powertrain, a 325-hp Turbo Jet 396 with a floor-shifted three-speed manual transmission. Also included were front disc brakes, dual exhaust, a blacked out grille with an SS 396 badge in place of the bowtie logo, special SS hood, special exterior badging and wheel opening moldings, stiffer suspension and 14×7 sport wheels shod with G70-14 red stripe tires. For an additional $123.75 buyers could move up to the L34 350-hp 396; for $258.25 the L78 375-hp 396 or for $661.75 the L89 375-hp 396 with aluminum cylinder heads. Turbo-Hydramatic was also available with any of the 396s as were wide-ratio and close-ratio four-speed gearboxes.
Inside, El Caminos could be ordered with Strato-Bucket seats and a center console, but bench seats were common. The instruments were shared with Chevelles and SS 396 name plates were included on the dash and door panels. There was also an SS emblem affixed to center of the steering wheel.
The stunning Monaco Orange El Camino featured here is the product of an extensive restoration which was detailed in the September 2010 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Mike McNessor.