1955-56 Dodge

The cars of the 1950s were long, wide, covered in chrome and topped off with an exotic hood ornament. It was the golden era of colossal hood ornaments, but the largest of the large has to be those found on the 1955-56 Dodges. The one pictured above is off a ’56, and here it is sitting in front of an average Border Collie for a size comparison:

The doggie model is my lovely Lily (and her size is the ONLY thing about her that is average). The hood ornament measures an exceptional 36 inches in width, big even by the standards of the Fifties. Here is a ’55 Dodge with a slightly different but equally imposing front end:

The hood ornament wasn’t the only impressive aspect of these Dodges; they were also powered by hemi engines. The hemi had debuted a few years earlier with the 1951 Chrysler Firepower engine, and for both the ’55 and ’56 Dodge, the Super Powered Super Red Ram V8 engine was available as optional equipment on all V8 models. It was a 315ci engine (3.63 bore and 3.80 stroke) and the “special power equipment” included single or dual 4-barrel carbs and dual exhaust. I think the hood ornament resembles a hammerhead shark, and that is probably no coincidence because that hemi would eat your lunch.

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1956 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer
1956 Dodge Royal

Farm Fresh Chevy Trucks

FINALLY, the auctions are starting back up and we went to a great one last weekend. On the auction block was a veritable history of Chevrolet trucks:


The bidding was robust since it was a large crowd of people that have apparently been suffering from the twin maladies of cabin fever and pockets that money is burning a hole through. We did come away with some good stuff, however, including a couple of truck radios. This one is Model 986067, correct for a 1947-1950 Chevy Truck:

It was an amazing find, complete with tags and knobs and all the stuff that is usually missing. Don’t ask though, this one is already spoken for. We also bought this Model 986443 which would have been original to a 1951-1953 truck. It is also very complete:

I think my favorite purchase of the day was this great dash-mounted fan. It is a Wizard with a Rex motor. Best of all, we bench-tested it and it still works. It has loads of patina and I love its vintage look!

Motorola Car Radio

Long before Motorola was known for cell phones, it was manufacturing car radios. I am hanging on to this one as a shelf-sitter because it has such a great vintage look about it:

Motorola began in Illinois as Galvin Manufacturing Corp. in the 1920s. The name “Motorola” was developed for its car radios by combining “motor” with “Victrola” to imply sound in motion. The first radio they installed in an automobile was manufactured in the spring of 1930. At that time they were handmade and only five per day were produced. By the second year of production they were able to make 25 per day. In a 1939 newspaper article, Victor A. Irvine of Galvin Manufacturing said that those first Motorola radios took as long to install as they did to produce as the process was virtually an engineering job:

“The entire top of a car had to be ripped out. The chicken-wire netting which supported the car roof had to be cut out and completely insulated so as to provide an aerial. The leads were hand shielded down to the set and all parts of the car had to be bonded and grounded. Motor noise was a terrific thing and could not be entirely eliminated even with the use of spark plug suppressors.”

According to this ad, the process had improved by 1932:

My Motorola Model 505 dates to the 1940s. It had 6 tubes, a manual control and a separate speaker. A variety of different control heads were made to fit the instrument panel of most cars, and, in fact, another 1939 story stated that Motorola had 300 different control heads available to fit any make. In addition to my 505, there was a cheaper 405 and more expensive models 605 and 705. The 705 featured push buttons, eight tubes and was poetically named the “Golden Voice”.

1941 Dodge Tow Truck

We spotted this old beauty while driving through a small town the other day:

In 1941, Dodge was already using the iconic “job-rated” term to promote its trucks, explaining that the phrase meant “a truck that fits your job”. The company advertised a complete line of trucks (1 1/2 ton to 3 ton) that were powered and sized to meet “97% of all hauling needs”.

That was probably true as the ’41 Dodge trucks were available in 112 standard chassis and body models on 18 wheelbases and with six different engines, both gas and diesel. Dodge also offered 23 different frames, 17 different rear axle gear ratios, six brake combinations, 10 basic spring combinations and eight rear axles. With all those options, Dodge almost certainly had a truck to fit the job!