I could use some help with this one . . .

I don’t know exactly what I have here, but I do recognize awesome when I see it:

This incredible brass gas pump handle has a number of markings that provide some information. It is a Buckeye, manufactured by McGraw-Pennell, and it has a 1926 patent date. What is up with that woven, flexible nozzle, though?

I have not been able to find any information on that flexible nozzle, or even another one that looks like it. If you can point me in the right direction, I would appreciate a message sent to americancarhistorian@gmail.com.

When Fall Meant Something Other Than Pumpkin Spice

Many an old-timer will reminisce about the glorious autumns in years past when the nation waited with bated breath for the unveiling of the new car models. Excitement built as people anticipated what Detroit would be offering in the way of powerful engines and dramatic lines. It was a celebratory time, often complete with donuts, live music and beauty queens.

Some of the beauty queens displaying 1952 models in Chicago.

Long before the 1950s, however, there was a time when the interest surrounding a new car design reached something of a fever pitch. The year was 1927, and Ford had just announced it would no longer be building the Model T.

1926 Model T

By 1927, 15,000,000 Model Ts had been produced with two-thirds of those tin lizzies still on the road. Edsel had finally succeeded in convincing Henry that it was time for a change, so in May of that year Ford Motor Company made the official announcement that it would begin production of an entirely new Ford car. Details were withheld with the company promising more information in the coming weeks, and that was when the wild speculation began.

Newspapers reported that a person could get a bet, an argument or a fight on virtually any street corner just by starting a discussion of the forthcoming model. Some people were sure it would be a two-cylinder car involving “some entirely new principle,” while others speculated it would be a baby Lincoln that would sell for $1000 and be named after Edsel or Edison.

With the rumor mill in overdrive, Edsel Ford was forced to issue a statement in July denying rumors purporting to give details about the new Ford. He explained that specifications were not even complete, and it would therefore be impossible for anyone in the Ford organization to discuss them with any accuracy or authority. In the meantime, the whole industry was in limbo. Automobile dealers complained that the public was not buying while they waited to see what Ford was going to do, and manufacturers also waited, alert to meet the new competition but with nothing but the wildest rumors on which to base their plans.

There were approximately 10,000 Ford dealers in the United States and, in August, some of those dealers began dropping tantalizing hints about their trips to the Ford plant in Michigan to test drive the new model. They reported that the new car would be a handsome one, available in a variety of colors, as well as fast, smooth and rugged. It could travel 65 mph and would be heavier and sturdier than the Model T. It was leaked that it would be known as the Model A, and that it would have a radiator shell that was highly nickeled. At the end of August, there were rumors that the new Ford would make an appearance at a dealership in Decatur, and hundreds of people showed up hoping to see it. The rumors were false, and they left disappointed.

By mid-September, orders for the new Fords were being placed all over the country even though the car had not been released. Dealers were put in the unenviable position of having nothing to exhibit at the fall auto shows.

By mid-October, it was estimated that more than 100,000 people, nearly one for every thousand in US population, had placed orders for the new Ford, sight unseen. Ford reported that another quarter of a million had placed orders without making a cash down payment. And the question on everyone’s lips was still, “When will the new Ford come out?’

Time drug on. Finally, on Wednesday, November 30, it was announced that the new Ford would be unveiled the following Friday, December 2, 1927. Some details were also released:

That same day, the new Model A was also demonstrated to journalists. The newspapermen were surprised that it was much simpler to operate, but the surprise was nothing compared to the thrill of the ride. The driver hurtled 70 mph down a dirt road made treacherous by slushy snow and made the car careen by jerking the wheel from side to side.  One terrified correspondent covered his eyes.  The Ford stayed upright, and Edsel explained after that the occupants had been perfectly safe as the car was very difficult to overturn with a low center of gravity and also featured shatterproof glass.

When the big day arrived, the public clamored to see the successor to the Model T. Lines stretched for blocks as thousands waited for the chance to see the new Ford. Streets around dealerships were jammed. In New York, people were searching out the showrooms as early as three o’clock in the morning. Mounted police had to be called in for crowd control in Cleveland, while in Detroit it was more of a party with two bands playing live music. In Kansas City, the new Fords were on display in Convention Hall, and 3,000 people crowded into the hall to view them during the first 30 minutes.

It is hard to imagine this type of excitement being generated by anything created by the predictable and homogeneous automobile industry of today. Cars are aerodynamic (but certainly not dynamic), artless creations that lack distinction and are offered in the same bland colors. Now it seems that fall is all about football and pumpkin spice, but it used to herald the arrival of exciting and individualistic new car models.


Advertisement. Ford. Antlers American, 4 August 1927, p. 4.

Advertisement. Ford. Daily Deadwood Pioneer Times, 1 December 1927, p. 3.

Advertisement. Ford. Des Moines Register, 2 December 1927, p. 5.

Advertisement. Ford. Lincoln Star, 5 December 1927, p. 2.

Advertisement. Ford. Winona Republican Herald, 23 August 1927, p. 6.

“Detroit’s Real Interest.” Daily Argus Leader [Sioux Falls], 28 March 1927, p. 6.

Elliot, Harry. “Companies May Reveal New Auto Models Soon.” Bakersfield Californian, 8 August 1953, p. 7.

“Ford Announces Company Will Build New Car.” Minneapolis Daily Star, 26 May 1927, p. 1.

“Ford Makes Statement Regarding the New Ford.” Colfax County Press and Clarkson Herald Consolidated, 28 July 1927, p. 3.

“Ford To Produce Entirely New Car.” The Progressive Age [Scottsboro], 26 May 1927, p. 1.

“Glamor Enhances Car’s Beauty in Big Show’s Revue.” Chicago Tribune, 17 February 1952, p. 18, part 6.

“Huffman Waits for New Ford.” Ventura County Star, 14 September 1927, p. 4, sec. 2.

“Hundreds Visit Starr’s Hoping to See New Ford.” Decatur Herald, 28 August 1927, p. 11.

“New Ford Car Demonstrated Before Press.” St. Joseph Herald-Press, 30 November 1927, p. 1.

“Over One Hundred Thousand Have Ordered New Ford Car.” Tennessean Sun, 16 October 1927, p. 1.

“Ryan Delighted with New Ford He Has Driven.” Miami Daily News, 17 August 1927, p. 14.

“Simplicity Is Keynote of Model A Ford.” Cincinnati Post, 1 December 1927, p. 13.

“The Public Is Eagerly Waiting for the New Ford Car.” Tuskegee News, 29 September 1927, p. 1.

“World Beats Path to Ford.” Monrovia Daily News, 2 December 1927, p. 1.

Old Viking Workhorse

It is getting unusual to see old workhorses still in service, even in my part of the world, but I recently spotted this big truck in an Orscheln’s parking lot and promptly fell in love with its vintage good looks. This turquoise classic is a 1961 Chevy C-60 Viking and would have been powered, originally, by either a 261 I6 or 283 V8. Kudos to Wildwood Mill for keeping it on the road!

1946 Mercury Fixer Upper

There aren’t many differences between the Mercury cars of 1946, 1947 and 1948. This coupe looks like a ’46 based on the grille surround, which is the same color as the body and has chrome embellishments, as well as the chrome strip and lack of a Mercury emblem on the side of the hood. It sits just north of the highway at McCoun Truck Parts in Wood River, Nebraska, and I sure hope someone takes an interest in this old survivor and gets it back on the road.