The Pittsburgh Six

I could not resist buying this old light awhile back.  It is a fine example from the early years of the automobile industry and has a great industrial look:


What really caught my eye was this light’s markings:

It says “Pittsburgh Six”.  I knew that there was an automobile by that name, so I started researching and found that it was first manufactured by Fort Pitt Motor Manufacturing Company in Pennsylvania in 1908.  It was a powerful car for its time, equipped with a 72-hp engine with six separate cylinder blocks. The total piston displacement was huge as cylinders had a 4 3/4-inch bore and 5 1/4-inch stroke.  Unfortunately, my light is electric and the Pittsburgh Six automobile had gas headlights and sidelights that burned kerosene, so my light does not appear to be connected with the automobile of the same name which was only manufactured until 1911.

I kept looking and found this advertisement from 1917, so it looks like my “new” light was an aftermarket accessory dating to around that time when it could have been purchased for $3.45:

I am not finished with the Pittsburgh Six automobile, however, as that car also had a connection to German spies during the first world war.  Stay tuned!



Desoto in ’41 and ’42

I was super excited to find this in a box of emblems we purchased at auction the other day:

It is a hood emblem that would have originally been found on the great-looking front end of a 1941 Desoto.


In 1941, Desoto described the newly restyled body as being longer, lower and wider, low hung with “rocket styling.”  The company touted the “alligator type hood,” which just means that it hinged in the back with its release in the driving compartment like cars of today, but that long hood does truly resemble an alligator’s snout.

Fender tops were flattened for ’41 and were one-piece with the hood sides, and the vertical pattern grille was heavy die-cast chrome.

The ’41 was truly beautiful, but then look what Desoto did for the following year:

The wide waterfall grille cascaded down from the hood line, and the bumper was wider and heavier as well.  The overall effect was aggressive and impressive.  Incredible concealed headlamps came standard in ’42.  Desoto called them “airfoil” headlights, and they were recessed into the fenders and closed behind sliding steel panels which blended smoothly into the contours of the fender. The panels were controlled by small levers just below the instrument panel inside the car.

These were incredible years for the often underappreciated Desoto!

Doctors’ Cars

If you were playing a word association game and someone said the phrase “doctor’s car,” what would be your response?  BMW? Range Rover?  In the early twentieth century, that term had a completely different connotation.

In the 1800s, doctors made house calls and needed a fast, safe and reliable  method of travel and so “doctor’s buggies” that met those requirements were common.  At the turn of the century, doctors were still making house calls and Maxwell continued the tradition by offering a “doctor’s car” option.  I wondered how many other companies offered a version designed for docs, and the answer is, “Just about everyone!”  Here are just a few:

This 1907 advertisement offered the “Dr. Mitchell” for $1000.
In 1906, Compound claimed to have the best doctor’s runabout on the market.
According to this 1905 advertisement, Oldsmobile’s doctor’s runabouts were “going like hot cakes”.
In 1906, $650 could get you Wayne’s doctor’s runabout with a 2-cylinder 14-hp engine.

1934 Packard

This stunning 1934 Packard was a luxury car born into the Great Depression.  When it was unveiled in the fall of 1933, Packard’s VP of distribution was quoted as saying, “No depression has lasted permanently. . . each year for three years, therefore, we have been ready with new cars for any break that might occur in the business slump.” Unfortunately, that break was still a ways off and the intervening years succeeded in killing many car companies.  Packard weathered the thirties better then other luxury car brands, not just surviving but outselling all of the other luxury carmakers combined. It is easy to see why with those beautiful, distinctive Packard lines.  In 1934, engine choices included two inline eights and a twelve-cylinder for the top-of-the-line Packard Twelve.  The Twelve had a wheelbase of 134-7/8”, weighed over 5,000 pounds and went zero to 60 in 20.4 seconds.

In addition to Packard’s standard tag line, “Ask the man who owns one,” Packard also used the term “Yardstick” Packards in advertisements, meaning that Packard was the yardstick with which to measure all fine car values.