Essex Super-Six Advertising

I spent entirely too much money on this old piece of canvas, but I just couldn’t resist this scrap of automotive history:

So when was this antique advertising piece in use?  The Hudson Super-Six was introduced in 1916, but the Essex Super-Six did not make its appearance until 1927.  The Essex name was gone by 1933, so that leaves a pretty small window for this vintage piece.  I was also able to track down this 1928 newspaper advertisement for the original owner, the Freeman L. Larson Hudson-Essex dealership:

Note that the salesman would bring the car right to your door for a test drive.

Hudson used its tried and true marketing technique of setting speed and endurance records to sell the Essex.  In March of 1927, it was reported that an Essex had set a new record for the third time in a matter of a few weeks.  Timed by Western Union and observed by San Antonio newspapermen, the Essex ran for 24 consecutive hours at the local speedway, traveling 1218 miles and averaging 50.75 miles per hour.  Thus the Essex was christened the car that would run “50 miles an hour all day long”.

The Essex was reasonably priced and outsold all other sixes in 1927.

The Terraplane was introduced as an Essex model in 1932 and was so popular, the Essex name was dropped the following year.




1950s Pandemic . . . Hubcap Theft

Having not lived through the 1950s myself, a decade that my Dad assures me was the greatest time to be alive, ever, in the history of the world, I did not realize what an enormous issue hubcap theft was during that period of time.   Losses, in terms of dollars, were staggering.   In just Los Angeles, motorists were victimized to the tune of $250,000 a year, and, across the U.S., insurance companies were out an incredible $17 million dollars for the year 1955 alone.    That is approximately $165 million in 2021 dollars!  Hubcaps were stolen for personal use, for resale and sometimes just for kicks by the juvenile delinquents your parents warned you about.  The papers were filled with photos of detectives surrounded by piles of recovered hubcaps:

As seen in most of these photos, it comes as no surprise that Cadillac caps were frequently targeted by thieves.  The wire-spoke versions were especially sought after by those with sticky fingers.

The spinner caps pictured in the foreground above (so named because they look like fishing spinners when turning) were also highly prized by thieves and cost around $17.10 apiece in 1957.  Some newspapers reported that teenagers were creating custom caps by combining the centers of Oldsmobile spinner caps with Buick caps.

The above 1956 photo was taken in Lubbock, Texas.  A crackdown on the theft of car parts  resulted in thieves discarding the stolen goods all over town and made the police station look like an “automobile accessories firm”.

Louisville detective with a pile of recovered caps.
Pomona, California detectives surveying recovered loot.

After recovering the stolen hubcaps, police had the unenviable task of trying to find the rightful owners.  This proved to be almost impossible as the caps had no identifying markings.

Fed-up members of the public began looking for theft-prevention ideas.  Some were innocuous, like the removal of hubcaps between the hours of sunset and sunrise.  In Illinois, that was the policy of at least one parking lot facility in order to protect the hubcaps on the cars parked there overnight.  Unfortunately, a woman called police to report stolen hubcaps even though the “thief” had left the following note on her car:  “Sorry.  Bosses orders to take off all hubcaps.  Open at 9 AM tomorrow. (Signed) Morris.”   Other solutions were much more dangerous, even potentially deadly.  Some owners strategically installed razor blades as an unwelcome surprise for pilferers.  In Louisville, an even more dangerous situation was created when owners began standing guard over their automobiles with shotguns at night.  One man who had been a frequent victim of theft lied in wait with his shotgun and when a car stopped and the occupants approached his car, he fired into the side of their car in order to “mark it for identification”.  To be fair, I would be hard-pressed to think of a more effective theft deterrent than the business end of a shotgun.

With razor blades and shotgun shells taking the situation from bad to worse, authorities began looking for a better solution and hit upon engraving.   Engraving hubcaps with identifying marks provided a way to prove ownership which made caps easier to reunite with owners and also made them less desirable to steal in the first place.  Los Angeles was reportedly able to decrease hubcap theft by 40% in the first year after instituting an engraving program.  The identifying marks used varied from city to city.  Ft. Lauderdale used a number devised by the police department that consisted of the year of the make of the car, the first letter in the name of the car and the last three digits of the serial number.  Other jurisdictions, like Louisville, engraved license numbers and then provided stickers to place in the window as an additional deterrent.  Engraving was performed either near the valve stem opening or along the outer lip and it reportedly only took a couple of minutes to engrave all four caps.

Nashville Police Chief watches his hubcaps get engraved as part of “Operation Hubcap”.
Ft. Lauderdale patrolman supervises the engraving process.

Engraving was usually offered as a free service and was often a joint effort between insurers, law enforcement, service stations and local clubs.  In Shreveport, the mayor declared “Automobile Accessories Theft Prevention Week” after someone lifted hizzoner’s caps while he was watching a football game.  In that city, the license number of the car was engraved by a local safety club called The Regents.

In Tampa, service stations regularly engraved hubcaps while the car was up on the grease rack.  In Alliance, Nebraska, stamping was used in place of engraving, and Stickney’s would perform the service for free along with a tire safety inspection:

It is funny, though, I have personally handled approximately a gazillion hubcaps from that era, and I have never noticed engraved markings on any of them (if you have one, send me a photo)!  Hubcaps aren’t as popular as they were back in the fifties, but I wonder how many juveniles today would even know how to remove one.  After all, they do say the most effective anti-theft device today is a standard transmission.




Berg, Don. “Police Round Up $700 Worth of Hubcaps Stolen By Boys.” Ft. Lauderdale News, 9 April 1957, p. 3.

“Drive Launched To Halt Thievery of Hubcaps.” The Shreveport Journal, 11 Oct. 1957, p. 8-B.

“Fancy Automobile Hubcaps Are Strong Lures For Local Thieves.” Longview Daily News, 25 Mar. 1954, p. 3.

“Hubcap Engraving System Starts Today.” Ft. Lauderdale News, 10 Feb. 1957, p. 1-B.

“Hubcap Roundup.” The Pomona Progress-Bulletin, 8 Feb. 1954, p. 12.

““Hubcap Thieves Facing Risk of Shotgun Blast.” The Courier-Journal [Louisville], 3 Mar. 1957, p. 1.

“Loot Being Abandoned.” Lubbock Evening Journal, 5 March 1956, p. 1.

Miller, James. “Your Car Can Be Stolen.” The Miami Herald, 14 Feb. 1954, p. 5-F.

“Police Recover 48 Hubcaps; 3 Youths Held.” The Courier-Journal [Louisville], 2 Sept. 1954, p. 2-1.

“Police Push Hubcap Branding.” The Minneapolis Star, 1 Nov. 1957, p. 15A.

“Rounding Up Teenage Gang In Auto Accessory Thefts.” The Herald-Press [St. Joseph], 21 Aug. 1957, p. 1.

“Service Stations Start Engraving Hubcaps To Thwart Thieves.” Nashville Banner, 1 Oct. 1957, p. 10.

Stickney’s Inc. Alliance Daily Times Herald, 4 Apr. 1957, p. 4.

“‘Stole’ Hubcaps for Safekeeping.” Des Moines Tribune, 23 Aug. 1955, p. 1.

Vallery, Val E. “Police Start Marking System To Curb Car Accessory Thefts.”  Plainfield Courier News, 16 July 1958, p. 21.

Live Auction Action . . . Finally

Speaking of auctions, we are SO TIRED of online auctions and cheerfully headed off to a live auction in Belleville, Kansas, the other day.  We picked up a lot of good stuff including this  vintage GM accessory:

It is a tissue box, made by Auto-Serv in the 1940s.

It was sold as an official GM accessory, and this is how it appeared in the 1948 Chevrolet accessories brochure:

Tissue dispensers were mounted under those gorgeous chrome-covered dashes:

Photo credit: Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Although tissue dispensers can still be purchased today, as with most everything, they can’t compete with the early versions in terms of quality and style.  Some other examples from GM:


1952 Chevrolet accessories brochure


1955 Chevrolet accessories brochure
1956 Chevy accessories brochure

You could also purchase aftermarket versions as trumpeted in this 1947 advertisement:

Finally, I have to include this photo.  Another bidder rolled up to the auction in this awesome 1939 Chevy truck:

While it had loads of patina, there was no tissue dispenser!

Chevyland USA Auction

In case you haven’t heard, BigIron Auctions has been chosen to liquidate the inventory of  Chevyland USA via online auction April 15-May 6, 2021.  Chevyland USA was a museum located one mile east of the I-80 exit at Elm Creek, Nebraska, just down the road from me.  It was opened in the 1970s by LaMonte Hollertz, a local farmer and car collector, and BigIron has posted a sneak peak on YouTube.  They will also be hosting an open house on the premises April 29-May 6 –  see you there!

Link for auction:  Classic Car Auction