By on June 7, 2014

Among collectors of vintage American cars it’s generally known that 1942 model year cars are particularly rare. By January of 1942, Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States was a fully fledged participant in the global military conflagration known as World War II. Just about all production of civilian cars was shelved while America’s industrial might geared up for combat. As a result of that truncated model year most car collectors know that  ’42s are indeed rare and civilian 1943 model year cars are nonexistent. What’s not as well known is that the transition of Detroit into the so-called “Arsenal of Democracy” was well underway long before the 1942 model year. That term was coined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a radio speech he delivered in December of 1940 and even by then, for example, Chrysler had already started working on what would become the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant in suburban Warren.

According to Charles Hyde’s book on independent automakers Nash, Hudson and the American Motors Corp. that was founded by their merger, by the spring of 1941, many months before the Pearl Harbor attack, executives of all three of the Big 3 automakers, GM, Ford, and Chrysler, made public announcements that their would be no new 1943 model cars. The independent automakers followed soon thereafter with similar news. The American auto industry was so busy with military contracts for the American and British governments that they simply did not have the engineering resources to develop 1943 models.

However, just because they stopped production of automobiles for civilian use doesn’t mean that the American car companies completely stopped building cars. The use of passenger automobiles by the military goes back almost a century. In 1915 a U.S. Army lieutenant named George Patton led 15 men into battle against Pancho Villa’s forces with three Dodge touring cars in America’s first motorized military expedition. In in the European war that was raging then the term “staff car”, a passenger used to convey ranking military officers, entered the lexicon. When the U.S. entered WWI, Packard made a custom Twin Six for the use of U.S. commander Gen. “Black Jack” Pershing.

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Jack Roush’s 1941 Ford U.S. Army Air Corps staff car replica. Full gallery here.

Hence in addition to the iconic Willys MB and Ford GPW jeeps, American automakers produced a decent number of 1942 model sedans to be used as staff cars. Besides making jeeps, Ford made staff cars. Jack Roush has a 1941 Ford U.S. Army Air Corps staff car replica in his collection, but with rank goes privilege and Buick, Cadillac and Packard also made staff cars. Speaking of rank, it’s interesting to note that while the staff cars are painted in drab olive green paint, they still retain all of their logos and badges. Generals and admirals need their signifiers of status too, perhaps even more so because they literally do have rank.

June 6, 1944 was the date of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Hitler’s “fortress Europe”. General Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower, later to be twice elected president of the United States, was the supreme military commander in the European theater of war for the Allies. He used a number of staff cars including a Packard and a Cadillac that’s on display at the Eisenhower Center in Abilene, Texas, Ike’s hometown.

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We TTAC writers are always on the lookout for content you’ll enjoy. Last summer, when I read about a Shelby Township, Michigan man who had gotten arrested when the propane fired “gun” on his decommissioned armored military vehicle was realistic enough to disconcert residents who called the police, it turned out that he was a member of the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy military vehicle club. Coincidentally, that weekend that they were going to be have a vehicle show in conjunction with a VFW hall that was hosting a veterans’ reunion.

General's Eisenhower (r) and Bradley talk near Eisenhower's Packard staff car

General’s Eisenhower (r) and Bradley talk near Eisenhower’s Packard staff car

Along with military jeeps of varying vintages, ambulances, Power Wagons, armored vehicles and half-tracks on display was this 1942 Cadillac staff car, documented to have been used by General Eisenhower in England before the D-Day invasion and then again in Germany closer to the end of the war. It was in service in the European theater from 1942 to 1945 and when Eisenhower wasn’t being chauffeured it was likely used by other generals.

While in the UK, Eisenhower’s British Mechanised Transport Corps driver was a young woman named Kay Summersby. It was widely rumored that the two had an affair, which Summersby’s second autobiography, ghost-written while she was dying of cancer, acknowledged, though it appears that the relationship was more romantic than sexual. Summersby was photographed with a Cadillac staff car, though it’s not clear to me if it was the identical car to this one.

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Gen. Eisenhower’s driver, Kay Summersby, poses with one of the general’s Cadillac staff cars.

Owned by a member of the DAoD, it’s a fully equipped Cadillac 1942 Series 75, built by Fleetwood. In addition to the standard factory equipment that included a flathead V8, it has blackout shields for all of the lights, a siren and flag mounts. Everything on the outside is painted olive drab, including all of the chrome trim, hub caps, badging and hood ornament. It may be painted olive drab but the Cadillac crest and name is all over the car, every logo is intact. As I said before, with rank goes privilege.

Speaking of chrome trim, about three weeks after the Pearl Harbor attack, on Jan. 1, 1942, the United States government declared certain metals like aluminum and chromium strategic commodities and reserved them exclusively for military use. That meant that automakers could no longer have the chrome plated trim on what few 1942 automobiles that they were still producing for civilian use after January 1st. Instead, they resorted to painting the trim, sort of how restomodders will have faux chrome trim painted on their cars, but in this case it was real trim, just coated with colored paint instead of chrome.

Actually some ’42s do indeed have chrome plating on their metal trim, but not to prevent reflections the enemy could see as with the Cadillac staff car. Some manufacturers still had stocks of trim that was already chromed, but the War Production Board ruled that  existing stocks of chrome plated trim would have to be painted over, so no one automaker had an advantage in the market.

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1942 “Blackout” Studebaker “Series 90″ with painted instead of chrome plated trim. Full gallery here.

This 1942 “blackout” Studebaker Series 90 Champion Club Sedan, is on display in the basement of the Studebaker National Museum along with artifacts of the company’s military history, which dates back to supplying the U.S. Army with horse drawn wagons, the Studebaker brothers’ original product. The “Series 90″ referred to 1942 being the company’s 90th anniversary. The car was assembled on Jan. 29, 1942. Studebaker would suspend civilian automobile production just two days later.

Even though they were constrained from using chrome, Studebaker stylists saw the restrictions as a styling opportunity. Instead of just painting the trim black or in the color of the body, the stylists chose other dark colors that better complimented the exterior shade. That’s how this car ended up with nice warm grey trim, though some is two-tone with white pinstriping. The Champion fender badge has also been painted, in white, and the car features a simplified hood ornament with Studebaker’s Art Deco S painted in gold.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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49 Comments on “For D-Day: Ike’s 1942 Cadillac Staff Car & Blackout Civilian Studebaker...”


  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    I sure like the style and lines of these old cars. Not aerodynamic, just beautiful.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Maybe. I guess you never actually drove one of those old crates….in original form…on skinny bias-ply tires. If you did, you’d park it after a few minutes and be happy admiring it from afar.

      • 0 avatar
        Elena

        I learned to drive with those. Would be still driving one if able to afford it. By the way, parking might be more of a challenge: try parallel parking taking the spot left by a Fiat. No AC and no power steering: by the time you’re done sweat drips from your hair. Unless you really need to park you’ll keep going.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I was just a small child when my dad owned various cars of this vintage. I loved the smell of the exhaust gas as my dad drove away to work, or after he came home at night. After WWII ended, many of these Staff Cars were painted a shiny Light Grey, and my dad bought one from the US Navy, at Long Beach, CA. He kept it for several years, then bought a used Orange and White 1952 Mercury, stick shift with Overdrive, that I learned to drive in.

        Seeing the styling lines of these old cars just evokes enthusiasm in me for cars and trucks. Like many of my age group, we grew up with cars and trucks. Cars and trucks were OUR toys.

        We didn’t have the electronics that kids these days do. Hell, my 16-yo grand daughter has an iPhone and iPad Air. Between the two there’s nothing she can’t do, look up or watch. The 8-yo twins each have the old iPad2s the grand daughters used to have and the 8-yo twins can intuitively use them better than I can.

        In today’s cookie-cutter world, the only thing that differentiates vehicles of the same class and category is….. the drive train. And CVTs don’t count for anything. If anything, CVTs are a negative.

        • 0 avatar
          Detroit-X

          HDC: What you wrote is a significant reason why kids today aren’t into cars like previous generations. Today, there are so many more entertainment and communication options. Jobs/pay are fewer, upkeep, costs, and liability are higher. Automakers just don’t seem to get that.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Detroit-X, that’s why all car makers today are making their vehicles electronic toys on wheels.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            I’d include the hugely more crowded and pathetically deteriorating roads in the causes. But I agree that mundane blobs which are very expensive to own and operate (compared to our first rides) are the primary culprits.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m not sure about upkeep and costs. If you inflation adjust your dollars, the cost of buying low-end cars is about the same as it was back then. But cars last twice as long, or longer than they did then.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            You guys who think cars are more expensive today are out of you minds. We live in a golden age of automotive goodness. The good old days are right now.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m not sure about upkeep and costs. If you inflation adjust your dollars, the cost of buying low-end cars is about the same as it was back then. But cars last twice as long, or longer than they did then.

            The jobs issue IS a big one, and the level of communication with smart phones reduces the need to go places, and the fones themselves are status symbols, which are a lot more affordable for kids and their parents.

            And I’m coming to the conclusion that most people aren’t that interested in driving, per se. I certainly was. I would have gotten my license at the first possible moment even had I lived in a city with excellent public transportation. And I still love to drive as much as I did then.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            True. But the whole concept of car ownership has changed, IMO.

            More people today are pre-disposed to buy “throw-away” cars. You use them, then you lose them.

            Those who commute to work will either buy a ‘beater’ for work, OR they will buy a brand new “El Cheapo”. And once either of those cars is used up, they don’t put any money into it, just give it away, donate it, or take it to the crusher to recycle the metal.

            When a repair job equals or exceeds the value of the car, get rid of it.

            Others, on fixed incomes for example, choose to trade every three to five years, or lease, and let the repair expenses be someone else’s headache. It works for me.

  • avatar
    Elena

    Awesome. Very interesting.

  • avatar

    Of these, in particular, I like the ’42 Studebaker. Very clean and elegant.

    The first car I drove was the ’57 chevy 210 wagon, beginning at age with steering, graduating to gear shifting at 9. The ’57 Plymouth was a pos, but it handled distinctly better than the Chevy. Both cars were terrible by today’s standards. The first car my parents owned that was a pleasure to drive was the ’65 Peugeot 404 wagon (4 on the tree), and the first American car that was a pleasure to drive was the ’70 Valiant–despite the slushbox.

    ’41s are very rare, but I have a wonderful shot of a ’41 Plymouth I took probably at Hershey, in ’96. That was a really beautiful car.

    I can’t help thinking that must be a terrible shot of Kay Summersby.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    See’s Candies had a photo in their Christmas catalog 2013 of a long line of customers at an LA store around Christmas 1941. A long line because sugar rationing was in effect and candy supplies were limited due to lack of sugar. A number of 1939 and 1940 year cars were in the photo because California was not on gasoline rationing then. Service stations were supposed to limit sales to 5 gal per customer. Two of the cars were B44 Oldsmobiles, the last before production was ended 1 Feb. 1942. Full chrome models. Few survived the years and have a rather odd look presaging the few similar made in 1946.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Highdesertcat–I enjoy looking at the old cars as well. My older brother got a black 1948 Buick Roadmaster 4 dr sedan a few years after he got married for a second car. It a a long hood because of the straight inline 8. He later on bought a 55 Buick Special 2 door hardtop which I learned to drive on along with my granddad’s 63 IH 3 on the tree. Yes the older vehicles were harder to steer at lower speeds but there was a certain charm about them. I prefer new vehicles with their safety features but that does not mean that I cannot appreciate older cars and trucks.

    Thanks for the article Ronnie, I really enjoy your articles.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Jeff S, my very first car I actually bought myself after I got my drivers license was a 49 Buick (Sedan, not Roadmaster) with a Straight 8 and Fluid Drive. I bought it from a High School Senior when I was in 10th grade (for Auto Shop).

      Lots of great memories!

      I sold it to my next brother in line, then he sold it to our next younger brother in line, and so on. Sold it for a penny, IIRC.

      That Buick labored on for many more years after I left home. Eventually, my youngest brother took it to a wrecking yard and got $25 for it because (at that time) emissions were becoming a big thing in California and that Buick was beginning to smoke pretty bad, even on SAE 40 motor oil with STP.

      I look at my collection of cars today, a 2012 Grand Cherokee, a 2008 Highlander and a 2011 Tundra, and only the Tundra evokes emotion in me, because of that magnificent 5.7-liter engine under the hood.

      But I still appreciate the styling and lines of old cars (and trucks) when they were objet’s de ‘art and the center of our lives.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I saw a fully restored ’48 Buick “Eight” Coupe (Roadmaster perhaps?) in a aircraft museum south of VA beach last month. Beautiful car.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    The Buick straight eight was a smooth engine. I believe the models were the Special and the Super , with 3 portholes and the Roadmaster with 4 portholes. The transmission was the famous Dynaflow. The accelerator pedal was pushed to the floor to engage the starter.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    A Hemi sure sounds better than the Toyota V8 and a Ram truck is least a generation ahead of the Tundra in terms of ride, transmission, interior quality, U-Connect, gas mileage and then there is that extraordinary leather package on the Longhorn.

    No credible automotive journalist picks the Tundra as better than the Ram truck. The latest refresh of the Tundra should be called the white flag edition because it gained no ground whatsoever on Detroit 3 trucks.

    And to add insult to injury, even Chrysler hating Consumer Reports picks the Ram as better than a Tundra.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      It’s all a matter of personal preference. I would rather spend more and get that magnificent all-aluminum DOHC 32-valve 5.7-liter V8, than an archaic pushrod Hemi 5.7.

      When the Tundra was introduced in 2007 it was so far ahead of all the half-ton pickup trucks on the market., that the pthers mistakenly thought they were leading the pack.

      It was nothing but catch up after 2007 for Ford, GM and RAM. Sure, they have come a long way, but Tundra gets MY money for daring to introduce that 5.7 V8, the six-peed automatic, those HUGE floating brake calipers, those heavy-duty Hino bearings and the 10.5-inch Hino Ring Gear in the differential.

      And before you jump to the wrong conclusion, my teething ring of automotive engines were the 426 Hemis my dad used in his dragster. Plus, I own a 2012 Grand Cherokee with the Pentastar V6.

      Don’t classify me as a Fiatsler hater.

      I just know what I am looking for, and I know what I want.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        4 more hwy mpg and 2 more mpg combined mpg out of the Ram Hemi vs the obsolete Tundra V8.
        http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=34115&id=34253

        iForce 5.7L V8 delivers 381 hp and 401 lb.-ft of torque vs 395-hp, 407 lb-ft 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, so the difference isn’t power, it’s the better engineered Ram drivetrain.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          It’s a matter of personal preference. The Hemi 5.7 is an uncouth pushrod tractor engine.

          The Tundra 5.7 is the Rolex watch of the truck world. I am completely sold on the 5.7 in my 2011 Tundra.

          Who cares about mpg? I certainly don’t! People that have to worry about mpgs can’t afford to buy a truck and ought not to buy a truck (regardless of brand).

          I actually use my vehicles. I know what I look for in a truck. Mpg is not a consideration.

          But if the EPA and CAFE mandates cause Toyota to drop the Tundra 5.7, my choice in 2015/2016 trucks would be an F250, preferably with the largest gas engine available.

          But I could be enticed to look at the Banks Turbo Diesel, a favorite among my Traveling Elks brethren.

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            The 2 mpg difference is clearly a trump card for a utility vehicle. That will save you the enormous sum of $60 per year.

            Point is, it’s practically the same. Just throw a fat guy in the Ram.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Or in my case, I put three full 90lb bags of cement against the tailgate to keep the back end from jumping around on the washboard gravel road leading to my house.

  • avatar
    Joss

    How about the tinsel on staff uniform was that drabbed down too?

    Nice wheels IKE. That Caddie would have shunted Churchill & Monty’s Wolseley. Well done getting on the blower to Eden on Suez. Love it.

    You’ll notice any war pics on wheels of FDR & Churchill they’re always American wheels. Wolseley too pokey.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Highdesertcat–My dad was an FBI agent during WWII and spent most of his time doing surveillance work in New York City. He said when he was on a stakeout he preferred the Fords because they had a gas heater but they were not as fast as some of the other cars. He said the Dodges were good for following someone because they were fairly quick but he said if an agent was tailing the Russians and they knew it they could not be outrun in their Cadillacs. During WW II the FBI was keeping a watch on the Soviets who were in America. My father had some good stories of his time in the FBI.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Jeff S, I bet your dad had good stories to tell of his time in the FBI. People of that era went through pretty interesting and exciting times.

      My grandfather and his son (my dad) were Portuguese fisherman during WWII and they, and other fishermen, ferried British Naval Intelligence Officers to shore from a British submarine on several occasions. My grandfather was paid very well for that service and Portuguese Customs never caught on.

      This is how my dad was able to get to England right before the end of the war, and then on to the US, right after the war. A British Naval Officer arranged to bring my dad to England aboard a British sub with him, and arranged a meeting at the American Embassy for my dad.

      Everyone of those individuals is long dead now, but without help from the Brits and American Immigration Services, I would not be here today.

      That ’52 Mercury I wrote about earlier had the Ford Flathead V8 in it. For its day, it was a real go-getter with an exhaust note all its own because of the side-valves. Not the fastest thing on the road but it was a great car to take a girl out on a date with.

      One day, when my dad drove it to work it started knocking real bad. It was something inside the engine that was knocking and he went and bought a used 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air 6-cyl with a Powerglide, that day. Now THERE was a gutless wonder! But it served him well.

      The Mercury stayed parked on the street in front of our house until one day when I came home from school, and it was gone. I asked my dad later that day what had happened to the Mercury and he said he had sold it to a Mexican guy who came to the door asking about it, for $50 in cash.

      This was in Malibu, CA where we lived at the time and lots of transients and day-laborers were about, most of them without transportation.

      As far as I know, that Mercury went South to Tijuana as that was what happened to most American cars sold to Mexicans or stolen in Southern California at that time.

      Chances are it made its reappearance in the US through San Ysidro’s border crossing with BC (Baja California) license plates on it, but I never saw it again. It was Orange in body color with a White rooftop. Never saw another one with that paint scheme either.

      I had hoped that I could take that old Mercury apart and maybe fix it in Auto Shop at Jr High. That was when my dad said he’d teach me how to rebuild his dragster engines, and my mom’s brother would teach me automotive mechanics (he had his own auto repair shop in Los Angeles.

      And the rest is history.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Ronnie, a good story.

    The car is beautiful, but I’m a little surprised at how Spartan the interior of the Caddy is.

    Eisenhower’s girlfriend is an interesting piece of tidbit.

    Romantic with no sex????? I would find that hard to believe.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Big Al–That is typical of cars of the 40′s they were more spartan. Now if you look at the Duesenbergs and Packards of the 20′s and 30′s those were some very beautiful cars inside and out. Going from a depression into a World War was a very somber time. My father told me that during the war that suit manufacturers stopped making vests with suits to conserve material. My parents told me that there were few if any consumer goods available and after the end of the war it took a while for the manufacturing to get back to producing consumer goods. They told me they got on a waiting list to buy a new car and took a Ford instead of a Chevy because it was the first car they could get and you for the most part took what they offered or waited a long time. They later sold the Ford at a profit and bought a new Chevy. People on the truck website get all uptight about square wheel wells or Government Motors, but they don’t have any idea what it is like to go without a car (or new car) for 4 or 5 years and to have gasoline and consumer staples rationed for the war effort.

    • 0 avatar
      I've got a Jaaaaag

      My father has a great story about my grandfather of the horse trading that was necessary during the later stages of the war. My grandfather was 4f and ineligible for military service, his wartime job was with Studebaker and required travel so he was eligible to buy new tires. Well he was out doing his job (my father is unsure of what exactly his job was, but his Gas rationing was class C he could fill his tank every week) and his 39 Pontiac threw a rod, there were no replacement parts available, so he traded it for a running 37 Buick Roadmaster to a guy who needed the new tires.

    • 0 avatar
      Garak

      You yanks and your gas rations. Here on the axis side, civilian and even most military cars were run with woodgas carburettors that caused carbon monoxide poisoning, there were no tires or spare parts available, and even after the war you could buy pretty much only horrid Soviet cars until 1962. The few used Volkswagens in the market cost twice as much as new ones.

      So yeah, bad times for all.

  • avatar
    ixim

    Driving that Caddy – well, you turned the key and pressed the starter button (push-button start!), and shifted the 4speed + fluid coupling HydraMatic into D. (NDLR quadrant – R would lock the car in gear when parked if you wished). So long as you were moving, the steering was easy, though slow with all those turns lock-to-lock. 0-60 was probably around >16 seconds; those drum brakes were just OK by today’s standards. Ride was soft; figure about 16 mpg max on regular. Don’t forget the oil + filter + front end greasing every couple of thousand miles plus the twice a year radiator service and plugs, points, rotor cap tuneup. 25K on a set of tires. New shocks every couple of years. Ditto the exhaust system and battery. Just 70 years ago.

  • avatar
    SLLTTAC

    Dwight David Eisenhower was born in 1890 in Denison, Texas. In 1892 his family moved to Abilene, Kansas, where he grew up.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for the clarification. That’s why I called Abilene his hometown, not his birthplace.

      • 0 avatar
        Yoss

        Hi Ronnie,
        I know it’s a few days late and all, but the Eisenhower Center is in Abilene, Kansas not Texas. I’m originally from the area and have toured it quite a few times. In fact my father-in-law used to work there and I was right around the corner from that Cadillac when I asked for his blessing to marry his daughter.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @highdesertcat–Thanks for sharing the story of your father as well. Our parents went thru some really interesting but trying times. My father would keeping his cars and other things literally till they fell apart–waste not, want not. I was number 3 son and by the time the clothes were handed down to me they were for the most part worn out. My father would keep a car on average for 10 or more years. The only thing my parents would borrow money for was for a home mortgage which they paid off early. My parents paid for college for all 4 of their children. I never borrowed money for a car until last year when my wife bought a new CRV with a 5 year 0.9% interest because I earned more money leaving my money invested than I would save by paying cash. My father passed away 4 years ago at 91.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Jeff S, sometimes pictures and/or articles like Ronnie’s about Ike’s Cadillac Staff car can whip up all sorts of memories for us. Some good. Some not so good.

      Sounds like your dad was a frugal and prudent man. With my dad being a devout Portuguese Roman Catholic and my mom a German Lutheran, whatever my dad kept or bought was driven by need because together they had 7 kids. Really! And their lust for each other lasted until they died.

      This meant, that as the oldest, I often would inherit my dad’s clothes, cars, trucks and what not, and pass it on to the next kid in line when I had outgrown the use of them. Well, for as long as the item lasted anyway.

      Things were not fancy at our house, but we were never hungry! The love that my brothers and I developed for cars and trucks was largely driven by having to tinker on them to keep them running, even when new. Like oil and filter changes, points and plugs changes, battery replacement, windshield wiper replacement, and the occasional part replacement likes water pump, fuel pump, brake shoes, shocks, lights, etc.

      Even washing the cars was often a family project, a big production, and Thursday evening was usually when they were washed, all in a row. Especially important if the boys wanted to take out a girl on Friday night, or Saturday night. Yeah, my 49 Buick was among the herd of cars being washed!

      And when my mom needed transportation of her own to get to work it only added to the fleet of cars we had parked in front of
      the house, by then in Palos Verde.

      The two girls inherited those cars when they turned 16 because they were often chic cars, like a used Mercury Comet, or a used Chevy Nova, or one in particular, a used Gremlin! Talk about oooogly! What was my dad thinking!? (He got it for next to nothing because the seller needed money).

      He even owned a Metropolitan briefly. Cute, but not functional back then. At least not for us. State Farm charged an arm and a leg for minimum insurance on it, as I recall. I don’t know what happened to it because by then I had left home for the Air Force.

      Because of my life’s experiences, and like your family, I believe in helping to pay for my kids’ and grandkids’ education. Other commenters have asked me how I can afford to do all that. And the answer is, I’m not doing it all by myself!

      Everyone in MY family pitches in. We all contribute BECAUSE of what was done for us when we were young by our parents, aunts and uncles. And besides, I’ll go broke doing for me and mine before I deny them anything!

      It’s been said, “It takes a Village!” but I believe “It takes a family” is much more appropriate when it comes to advancing the welfare of our kids and grandkids. If we don’t, who will?

      My wife’s dad, my father in law, at age 87, is a firm believer in that. Probably because he and his family lost everything in Germany due to WWII. So he lives his life accordingly, and it has rubbed off on the rest of the family as well. He distributes his wealth based on where the need is the greatest within his family of four daughters. Hence, he bought my daughter, his grand daughter, a house in West El Paso, TX. It helps that he is in the Real Estate business.

      And we’re not the only ones doing it. I could cite examples of what other people I know are doing for their kids and grandkids, but I’m not. People who do it, already know it. Others who don’t do it, or can’t afford to do it, will never know it.

      So, yeah, some people may think that my kids and grandkids are spoiled but in reality all we are doing is paving the way for them and making it a little easier for them to enter real life without the burden of debt, in essence giving them a leg up on the competition.

      Giving our kids cars or trucks furnishes them with a means of transportation.

      It must be a good idea because I read somewhere that O* and his administration are already giving the unemployable free money, free cell phones and are now considering giving them free cars so that they have transportation to get to work, if they can find and hold down a job.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The Cadillac had more than enough room for Ike and his “chauffeur”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kay_Summersby

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @highdesertcat–Thanks for sharing, it sounds like you have a great family. The older I get the more I appreciate what my parents did for me. I never had to go without a meal, clothes, or shelter. My mother’s parents were wonderful grandparents, they were always there and always supportive. I never remember seeing them ever have a fight. Good memories.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Yes, indeed!

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @Jeff S
      Yes, there was always food on the table and shelter.

      I remember as a young 10 year old I didn’t get fed one night. Funny story.

      I thought I was clever. My mother cooked on a fuel stove. My job was to ensure sufficient wood was cut everyday after school.

      Well, I though one day it was my mother burning the wood and I suggested to her that she should cut the wood since she liked burning it and this was inconvenient for me.

      She went out and cut the wood with no problems. At the dinner table that night the table was set, but without my setting.

      Well, after that she always had a huge surplus of wood.

      That’s when I started to learn about unionism and market forces ;)

  • avatar
    John Marks

    Studebaker–

    Studebaker started out as a wagon maker, and was the last of the former wagon makers to manufacture automobiles in North America (Studebaker auto production continued in Canada after it ended in the US).

    Studebaker wagons and carriages were used in the US Civil War. Indeed, Abraham Lincoln went to Ford’s theater in a Studebaker carriage, while wearing a frock coat from Brooks Brothers. US military officers can still order their uniforms from Brooks Brothers.

    ATB,

    JM

    • 0 avatar

      Lincoln’s presidential carriage is in the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend. The “blackout” ’42 is in the basement of the museum with the other military related Studebaker products like horse drawn water wagons used in WWI and the M229 Weasel tracked vehicle used in WWII.

      http://www.carsindepth.com/?p=5149
      http://www.carsindepth.com/?p=5258

    • 0 avatar
      3Deuce27

      Reg; “Studebaker started out as a wagon maker, and was the last of the former wagon makers to manufacture automobiles in North America”

      Actually, the Milburn Wagon Co., started auto production later(1914) then Studebaker. They built a very successful(considering) electric car into the early twenties when they were acquired by GM.

      Sears/Allstate might also have started auto production later then Studebaker but they subcontracted those out to Lincoln Motor Car Works.

      There is a very interesting history involving the boys from Mishawaka, Indiana. http://www.milburn.us/history.htm

      I have a late 1890′s Studebaker carriage, a phaeton or doctors buggy, and I recently acquired a Studey cutter.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    My related personal story involves a 41′ Cadillac, one that almost became staff car.

    The car was bought new by a gentleman from Browns Point, Washington, shipped to Hawaii for his other home there, and was on board a ship in Kapalama Basin when Pearl Harbor was bombed.

    The Military wanted him to give them the car. He refused, and they wouldn’t let him off-load the car, so it was shipped back to Tacoma, Washington where it spent its days in the service of the owner and family.

    My 41′was purchased by me in 66′ with just over 12,000 miles on it. I bought it from the groundskeeper/gardener for the original owner who willed it to him. I was the third owner.

    The seats still had the embossed clear and colored woven panels that were put on new and the Mohair seats were in perfect condition as was the rest of the interior. The exterior was nearly perfect, with few real issues except the tires and a dent in one of the hubcaps. The original unused spare tire was still in the trunk holding air.

    My 41′ was a ’62′ series 4-door, the 42′ shown here is a ’63′ or ’67′ series and has a longer wheelbase and the fold up and out jump seats from behind the front seat. They had the same 346″ 150-Hp flat head engine.

    In 42′ they went with the pontoon fenders on the lesser series cars (’61′-’62′ -’67′), ’72′-’75′s had the previous 41′ style fenders, with the new grille and post-war style fog lamps and parking lights shared by all models.

    While it is true that not many 42′ automobiles were built, it was still in the thousands of units for Cadillac.

    What was it like to own and drive a low mileage pre-war Cadillac. The engine was anvil, nearly indestructible, and so smooth with its massive crankshaft and flywheel. You could put a glass of water on the air cleaner and it was still, showing no vibration. I often forgot to shut mine off cuzz it was so quiet and smooth.

    The car despite its weight, accelerated smartly with 150Hp and prodigious torque production down low. Later, I added a Fenton twin deuce manifold and carbs with Fenton finned aluminum heads and a custom ground 3/4 style cam, and eventually, dual exhausts with modern GM Turbo style mufflers. Tried Glas Paks, but the loud raucous noise didn’t fit the quiet demeanor of the Caddy.

    Stock the Caddy would, after a time, hit an indicated 100mph, after the performance modifications it would easily peg the speedo(100 mph) and keep going. You had to leave plenty of room to slow or stop. As I recall, I only did a couple of these speed runs and always at night.

    As for ride and handling, it had the lever action hydraulic shocks and when those shocks were in good shape the Caddy rode well and wouldn’t understeer like an aircraft carrier.

    At the time I owned the Caddy, was also sailing my 33 ft. Six Meter racing sloop. It was remarked one day by a friend during a ride in the Caddy, after turning a corner, that the Six Meter turned faster then the Caddy. So after that someone would say… ‘lets go sail the Caddy’. I became quite adept at rebuilding those LA shocks about every two years so the Caddy would perform as well as new. New Goodyear Double Eagle tires really helped with the ride and handling. By the way, besides being a very durable tire, they were the first ‘run flat’ tires.

    As for the interior, the seats were like sitting on a very good couch. The back seat area was large enough to use TV trays when we went to a burger shack, we kept them in the huge trunk. And heat from the heater was nearly instant, even on wintry days. What a concept… heat from a heater.

    The large steering wheel and recirculating ball gearing made for little steering effort even when parking. Some may think differently about the steering effort, but my tiny 95-lb. Asian/American wife regularly drove the Caddy all over town. She had to put several pillows under her, so she could see over the wheel and to parallel park, but she never complained about the steering on the Caddy and preferred driving it over our new 66′ Olds 442 with manual steering. To reach the pedals, she had to almost lay on the wheel.

    As for reliability, I only had two problems with it in all the years and miles I owned it. The rear universal joint separated while going up a steep hill in downtown Tacoma. All of a sudden there was a loud mechanical noise and clanking, the engine revved, and I was going down hill backwards at an ever increasing pace. I got her stopped, but not before curbing the right rear tire when the drive shaft caught and skewed us to the curb. The other problem was the thermostat that controlled the shutters on the radiator, it failed and I never replaced it, I just used a Summer and Winter setting for the shutters.

    As I often said back then and now when referring to the reliability and road ability of the 41′ Caddy… ‘I would have no reservations about driving the Caddy to New York and back. And today, if that opportunity was available, I would still do it.

    That Caddy was always fun to take to the park, fine restaurants or to dress-up functions like the yacht club where with its shiny Black paint and big white walls, it usually got preferred up front parking.

    I had this car for many fun and reliable years and why it got away from me is another story we won’t get into here.

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    So my dad lived in Abilene when he was a kindergartner, probably 1963. Ike’s staff car was parked out in front of the museum then, and my dad and other kids would get out of class, go fishing off the bridge and also do things like climb on the hood of this “ugly old car”.
    In the 70′s my dad took a college buddy to see where he grew up and the guy says, “Wow, look at all the dents on Ike’s car.”, my dad says, “Yeah, I know how they got there.”

  • avatar
    bugo

    Eisenhower was a great president. The economy was booming (other than the 1958 recession) and things were mostly great. A working man was paid an honest salary and could afford a nice home and a new car every few years. I am a coin collector, and the Eisenhower dollar (1971-1978) is one of my favorites. We could use another Ike.


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