1956 Corvette

My Dad has a shirt that says, “I may be old, but at least I got to drive all the cool cars,” and, boy, did he ever.  Not only did he drive them, he owned many of the very coolest cars.  One of his favorites was this 1956 Corvette.

He bought this ’56 Vette in 1958, while he was still in high school.  And no, he wasn’t some spoiled rich kid.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  My Dad was what was known as a “South Sider”.  The kids on the South Side had it a little tougher, so they had to be a little tougher.  My Dad was only able to afford this dream car in 1958 because he had been working as many as 60 hours a week since he was 15 years old at Charlie’s Mobil, a car lot and service station located right on the Lincoln Highway in Kearney, Nebraska.  Working at a car lot meant this Vette was just the latest in a long line of incredible horsepower he had already owned, cars like a 1936 Ford Tudor hot rod, a 1947 Merc, lowered and painted Bahama Blue, a 1949 Oldsmobile fastback and a 1933 Ford with suicide doors, 16 coats of black lacquer and a Cadillac engine, just to name a few.

This beautiful little Vette was painted white with red sides and a red interior.  It came with both tops, the hardtop and the fabric one, and a Wonderbar radio. The transmission was the optional Powerglide automatic transmission. Under the hood was a 265-cubic inch, 225-hp “Turbo-Fire” V8 with duel 4-barrel carbs and factory high power exhaust headers:

Keep in mind that all that power was really just a safety feature (at least according to the sales brochure):

I am not sure how much “safety” was being practiced the day Dad raced his Vette against a new 1958 Pontiac down the Lincoln Highway at 138 mph.  The Vette did come out the winner that day, albeit with a partially melted bumper from the heat of the exhaust. 

Dad worked for Charlie until he was 19 and wouldn’t trade those days for anything, especially because he was working when he met his future wife.  They have been married since 1961, and this is a picture of them taken around that time:

Two things stand out about this picture. First, my Dad is about 40 pounds lighter than usual because he had been dieting at Fort Leonard Wood boot camp, and second, he must have really loved her to let her sit on that 1957 Olds.

World War II M2 Halftrack

Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles in Lexington, Ne
Photo credit: Delaney Tracy
Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles in Lexington, NE
Photo credit: Delaney Tracy

This M2 half-track is on display at the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles in Lexington, Nebraska. The half-track was produced by American truck manufacturers White, Diamond T and Autocar. It had an endless belt track instead of rear wheels, and power from the 147-hp gas engine was delivered to both the track and the front wheels. The crew was protected by armor plate and a steel visor could be dropped over the windshield to protect the driver. It was designed to carry three machine guns that were mounted on a swivel for firing in every direction. In a June 30, 1943, story, the half-tracks were credited with contributing to the Allied victory in North Africa by Brig. General Joseph E. Harriman. Harriman reported that, “Half-tracks attached to the Second Corps downed 78 German planes for sure – possibly more than 100 – in Tunisia in a three month period. “

In gratitude to all who have served.


Photo credit: Delaney Tracy

I absolutely love this unrestored 1934 Terraplane.

Photo credit: Delaney Tracy

Photo credit: Delaney Tracy

Photo credit: Delaney Tracy

The Terraplane was first introduced by Hudson in 1932 as an Essex model.

According to ads, it was named “Terraplane” because it heralded something new and thrilling in highway travel, “skimming, dashing, mile-eating, safely close-to-the-road swift, smooth motion such as has not been enjoyed before except in planing on the water and air.

That first year, the Terraplane was powered by a 193-cubic inch 70-hp engine (the next year an 8-cylinder 243-cubic inch with 94-hp became an option). To drive home the idea of how driving this car was like “aeroplaning”, the company engaged Amelia Earhart to launch the new auto. Here is Earhart christening the Terraplane with a bottle of aviation gasoline instead of champagne:

After a record-making coast-to-coast flight, Hudson officials met Earhart at Newark Airport to present her with a new convertible coupe:

Earhart was not given the car she had christened, because that car was presented to one of the Wright Brothers, Orville Wright. How cool is that?

Hudson didn’t just have genius marketing moves like these, it also had an outstanding product. The Terraplane promptly began breaking stock-car records for both acceleration and hill-climbing (including a new record for an annual race up Pikes Peak).

Despite all of this success, Hudson decided to drop the Terraplane from its lineup for 1939. What a loss.

1935 Terraplane
Photo credit: Delaney Tracy


“Champion Flyer Gets New Essex.”  Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 4 September 1932, p.70.

Kimes, Beverly Rae and Henry Austin Clark, Jr. Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1842. Kraus Publications, 1985.

“Miss Earhart Christens Car with Gasoline.” Democrat Chronicle, 25 July 1932, p. 12.

“New Car Awaited Amelia at End of Nonstop Flight.”  Somerset Daily Herald, 2 September 1932, p. 2.

Terraplane. Advertisement. Clarion Ledger, 23 March 1935, p.7.

Terraplane. Advertisement. The Dothan Eagle, 23 July 1932, p. 3.

Terraplane. Advertisement. The San Francisco Examiner, 23 July 1932, p. 4.

“Terraplane Gift Delights Wright.”  Detroit Free Press, 9 October 1932, p. 10.

“The Eyes Have It.” Kentucky Advocate, 26 September 1932, p 10.

1930 Hudson

I recently picked up this striking instrument cluster:

It was originally in a 1930 Hudson:

The bold geometric shapes epitomize art deco style and represent the time period beautifully. I found a 1930 newspaper article that described the California debut of the ’30 Hudson that took place at the Walter M. Murphy building at the corner of Flower and Eleventh Streets in L.A.:

The Hudson’s premiere was apparently one auspicious occasion. It was a radio-broadcasted and star-studded event that included an orchestra, famous actors performing song-and-dance numbers and a fashion show featuring 26 beautiful models wearing everything from negligees to evening gowns.

Notice the odometer reads 90413:

That seems like a high number for the timer period, but not for this particular automobile. The Hudson was known for its reliability and won many endurance contests such as those listed in this advertisement:

The Hudson 213.8-cubic inch straight-eight was known as the “Great Eight” and was the best-selling 8-cylinder of 1930. It was offered in ten models on two chassis (119 and 126-wheel base) and prices started at $1050. Honestly, I would have bought it just for the dash.


Film Stars Will Twinkle at Brilliant Opening of Walter M. Murphy Building Tonight.” Los Angeles Times, 15 January 1930, p. 11.

“Great Eight Novel Type in Hudsons.”  Los Angeles Times, 15 January 1930, p. 11.

Hudson. Advertisement. The Santa Maria Daily Times, 11 January 1930, p. 8.

Hudson. Advertisement. Los Angeles Times, 7 August 1930, p. 7.

“U.S. Made Car Dominates in Stamina Test.”  Oakland Tribune, 10 August 1930, p. 3.