Edison Safety Lamp

I collect all sorts of things associated with American automobile history, and that includes old accessory lighting like these examples:

National Electric safety and emergency light
Williams spot light

So, when I found this light at the bottom of a box of car stuff purchased at an auction, I was seriously intrigued. It has clamps for attaching to a car battery and a bracket for hanging the light under the hood. Must be an old trouble light, right?

Wrong. Well, sort of wrong. It is marked “EDISON SAFETY LAMP MFD. BY THOMAS A. EDISON, INC., WEST ORANGE, N.J. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” and that, I discovered, means it was originally a light for a miner’s hat. The early 1900s were deadly years for miners with one disaster after another. Many of these disasters were explosions caused by the open flames used in miner’s cap lamps. To eliminate the danger of the open flame, Edison created an electric light that attached to the miner’s cap and was powered by a rechargeable battery pack that attached to the miner’s belt.

I guess some enterprising automobile owner converted this light to one that could be used under the hood. After all this time, it still shines as brightly as ever, proving yet again that they just don’t make ’em like they used to.


“Blame Lamp For Blasts.” The Orlando Morning Sentinel, 23 May 1929, p. 1.

“Edison Safety Lamp Wins.” El Paso Herald, 5 July 1929, p. 14.

“Edison’s Safety Lamp Will Save Lives.” The Ford Wayne Sentinel, 24 February 1913, p. 5.

1953 Chrysler New Yorker

This 1953 Chrysler New Yorker was on the auction block at an estate sale we stopped by the other day, and ’53 was really an interesting year for Chrysler. It was the first year the car’s electrical system went to 12-volt, and it was the first year to feature a new one-piece wrap-around curved windshield. This Chrysler also had one of the earlier hemi engines (they first appeared in 1951) with a 3 13/16″bore x 3 5/8″ stroke and a piston displacement of 331.1 with a compression ratio of 7.5 to 1. It was called the “Firepower” engine and had 180hp.

1953 was notable for Chrysler, but it was downright historic for American automobiles because it marked the first time in history that eight-cylinder engines outsold six-cylinders. Ten makes were offering V-8s: Ford, Desoto, Dodge, Chrysler, Studebaker, Lincoln, Mercury, Oldsmobile, Cadillac and Buick. Straight-eights were being offered by Packard and Pontiac (and a special line of Buicks). The biggest selling six was Chevrolet, of course. The four-cylinders that once dominated now accounted for only one percent of the market, primarily sold by Willys-Overland and Kaiser-Fraser.

Other “firsts” for this Chrysler:

Let’s hope this straight, solid beauty went to a good home!


Advertisement. Chrysler. The San Bernardino County Sun, 20 March 1953, p. 9.

“Chrysler Gains Wide Acceptance.” The San Bernardino County Sun, 20 March 1953, p. 9.

“Chryslers for 1953 Feature Beautiful Body Stylings.” Lancaster Eagle Gazette, 1 November 1952, p. B-8.

“Eight-Cylinder To Top All Models This Year.” The El Paso Times, 18 February 1953, p. 25.

“New Era Seen for Automobile Engines, With Eights Expected to Outsell Sixes.” Valley Evening Monitor (McAllen], 16 February 1953, p. 6.

1960 Chevy Station Wagon

I am just crazy about this station wagon that was part of the Rod & Custom Car Show in Stuhr Museum’s Railroad Town:

It is a 1960 Chevrolet, and one contemporary ad referred to it as “Man’s best four-wheeled friend.” I don’t know about that, but I could haul all three of my actual “man’s best friends” with room to spare. Seriously, this wagon has 10 feet of space from the back of the front seat to the tailgate, a whopping 90 square feet!

Engine choices included the 235 6-cylinder, 283 V-8 or a 348 V-8 with up to 350hp.

The ’60 wagon was available in five models, a Brookwood available in either two or four doors, a 4-door Parkwood, a 9-passenger Kingswood and a Nomad:

For 1960, Chevy abandoned the “cat’s-eye” tail light used in ’59 in favor of round ones. It looks like this wagon is sporting Caddy tail lights. Nice touch!

Christmas in July – 1958 Oldsmobile

This tinsel-covered ’58 Olds was my hands-down favorite at the local car show a few weeks ago:

Photo credit: Delaney Tracy

The Oldsmobile was completely re-styled for 1958 and sported loads of chrome. It had a recess-type grille with thin aluminum louvers and a contour bumper with parking lights at each end.

Photo credit: Delaney Tracy

Inside was a yuuuge steering wheel. An option was a “Trans-Portable” radio that could be removed from the car and used elsewhere (running on dry-cell batteries that provided 160 hours of playing time).

Photo credit: Delaney Tracy

It looks like it would be slow, doesn’t it? Not really, since it came equipped with a 371 cubic-inch Rocket engine. The entry level Dynamic 88 featured an Econ-O-Way dual carb and 265 hp, but the Super 88 and 98 came with a quadri-jet carb and 305 hp. Better yet, available as an option was the J-2 Rocket with a six-pack and 312 hp. The gas cap, which you would be accessing often, was found behind the left tail light.

Photo credit: Delaney Tracy

The Jetaway HydraMatic Drive was touted as smoother for ’58, and a true air suspension called New-Matic Ride (I love these names) was another option. It cushioned the car on four chambers of compressed air, one at each wheel. Oldsmobile’s name for this whole beautiful package was “Oldsmobility”, and it is a gorgeous remnant from the rocket age.

Photo credit: Delaney Tracy