Today’s Rare Ride hails from a time when American cars were glamorous — and often painted pink and bright green. It was a time when Brougham meant real luxury, and not just a vinyl roof accompanied by the faint glow of an opera lamp. Even with a tame white and brown color scheme, today’s convertible is big and bold, with the added panache of a prior celebrity owner.
Presenting the Hudson Commodore Brougham, from 1950.
Just two days after Cadillac announced opening up what they hope will be an au courant coffee shop on the ground floor of its trendy lower Manhattan digs, Fiat Chrysler announced it will reopen the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, on the grounds of Chrysler’s campus in slightly less trendy Auburn Hills, on June 4th.
The museum, which first opened in 1999 when Daimler owned Chrysler, has displays that cover the history of the current Chrysler brands along with the company’s former nameplates, starting with a 1902 Rambler from the Jeffrey company (the progenitor to Nash) and American Motors.
It’s easy to think that certified pre-owned, CPO, programs that sell used cars that meet manufacturers’ standards for quality, are a fairly modern development in the car biz, but car companies have been helping their dealers sell ‘approved’ used cars for generations. Chevrolet had its “OK” used car program. Ironically, that branding apparently had its origins in the marketing of 1918 era American Motors (unrelated to the company of the same name formed by the merger of Hudson and Nash), which Louis Chevrolet helped found after he parted ways with Billy Durant and the Chevrolet company. Louis Chevrolet would hand sign the dashboard of each American Six with the rhyming “O.K. Chevrolet”.
What it used to look like. Gallery of 2011 Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum photos here.
This past weekend, the big annual Orphan Car Show in Ypsilanti was augmented by the grand opening of the National Hudson Motor Car Museum, also in Ypsilanti. While I’m usually excited about the opening of new car museums, though the region is gaining what appears to be a fine, professionally run museum, the development means that you can no longer see a unique display of automotive history.
General Motors was the largest supplier of war materiel to the American armed forces. Ford famously built B-24 Liberators that rolled off the Willow Run assembly line at a rate of one per hour. Chrysler alone built as many tanks as all the German tank manufacturers combined. With those high profile contributions to the war effort made by the big three automakers, it’s easy to forget that the independent automakers (and automotive suppliers as well) also switched over completely to military production.
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