Another Mystery Car Part (Hint: It Is Not Made by Mercedes)

Do you recognize this emblem?

This three-point star measures three and one-half inches in width and, although it bears a strong resemblance, it is not a Mercedes emblem. A helpful seller recently listed this full set of six, complete with original packaging and part number, on eBay.

These stars were an accessory “star ornamentation” sold by Ford in the 1950s. The back side of the packaging contains the following installation instructions:

Studebaker made a similar tri-star emblem in 1953, although the Studebaker version is considerably larger at around 9″ in width.

I don’t how many Ford owners would be comfortable drilling a total of twelve holes in the fenders of their car just to add these stars, but that may be why I have never seen any actually mounted on an automobile. If you have one, send me a photo at

Nebraska State Patrol’s 1950 Ford

The Other Highlander and David A. Wallace

We picked up this seldom-seen Highlander emblem the other day, and despite the name, it has nothing to do with Toyota. The lower part of the emblem reads “New Yorker, ” and that gives away its origins as a Chrysler product. Introduced in 1940, Chrysler also referred to the Highlander as the “Scottie,” and described it as “another notable contribution to advanced, original and swanky automobile styling.”

The Highlander featured Scotch tartan plaid upholstery on the pleated seat cushions and seat backs and matching moleskin leather on door panels, armrests and other trim. This 1940 advertisement gives you an idea what that combination looks like:

The Highlander was the creation of Chrysler president David A. Wallace who, like Walter P. Chrysler himself, was born in rural Kansas. While Chrysler hailed from Ellis, Wallace was born in Castleton in 1887. A 1940 story about Wallace in the Detroit Free Press included an interview with Wallace’s first employer, the owner of the hardware store in Castleton. Wallace worked seven hours a day at the store and also lived with the owner’s family. The owner remembered Wallace as a hard worker who pitched in to help with all the farm chores without being asked.

The similarities with Walter P. Chrysler continued as Wallace’s next step was going to work for the railroad. After that, he gathered more experience in automobile manufacturing and mining before manufacturing tractors for Hart-Parr. When the war started, Wallace served in the motor transport service of the Army where he was ultimately promoted to captain. As a matter of fact, Wallace was promoted everywhere he went, a testament to his skills and work ethic. After the war he went to work for John Deere where he started as a mechanic and was promoted to superintendent. This is when he came to the attention of the Chrysler Corporation. Wallace went to work for Chrysler in 1929 as a staff master mechanic and was quickly promoted to vice-president of Chrysler’s manufacturing division. He was made president of that division in 1937 and held that position until his retirement in 1953.

Wallace’s extensive experience in manufacturing served him well, and he developed a method of superfinishing bearing surfaces so that defects were no more than two-millionth of an inch. The talented Mr. Wallace held around 70 patents in all. He must have also harbored an affection for his Scottish ancestry, and so it only seems right to end this post with a quote from another Wallace, specifically Malcolm Wallace from the movie Braveheart.

“I know you can fight. But it’s our wits that make us men.”

David Wallace clearly had plenty of those.

The Highlander was brought back post-war; this picture is taken from the 1953 Chrysler brochure.

More about Walter P. Chrysler: Revisiting Walter P. Chrysler’s Boyhood in Ellis, Kansas

Veterans Day 2023 – Remembering Eddie Rickenbacker

This captioned photo of ace pilot Eddie Rickenbacker appeared in the November 16, 1918, issue of the Honolulu Star Bulletin. Note that the caption describes him as, “First automobile racer to enlist.” Captain Rickenbacker was one of the best-known racers in America when he joined the army a month after the United States entered World War I in April of 1917. He became an aircraft fighter ace and, by the end of the war, had shot down 26 enemy planes. That record made him the number one American ace of the war, but just one of the many “car guys” that made immeasurable contributions to the war effort.

“Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, American Ace, in aeroplane. France. Spad XIII.” 1918. III-SC-50127. National Archives Identifier: 86706270.

Thank you to all who serve.

If you are interested in reading more:

Rickenbacker Radiator Badge

Rickenbacker Sales Brochure

The Regal “Plugger”

The Regal Motor Car Company built automobiles from 1907 to 1918, and the Regal is probably best known for its record setting trip from New York to San Francisco in 1909. The trip was made by the first 1910 Regal “30” built, and this dependable mid-sized automobile was christened the “Plugger.” The Plugger left New York City at noon on July 5, 1909, and rolled into San Francisco exactly 30 days and 4031.8 miles later.

Once that run was finished, the Plugger racked up tens of thousands of miles more touring the country. These road trips are fairly well documented, but I did find one terrifying incident that occurred along the trip that isn’t much talked about. In June of 1910, the Plugger reached Missouri just as the area was experiencing torrential rains and flooding. Swollen streams had wreaked havoc on already questionable bridges, carrying some away and leaving others in a shaky condition. As the Plugger, piloted by R. W. Dean and Lee Cuson, approached the bridge at St. Charles, they discovered it to be in a dilapidated state. Some horse-drawn carriages had just made it across safely, however, so the men decided to attempt the crossing. This proved to be a terrible mistake as the planking gave way and the Plugger and its occupants were plunged into the Missouri River.

The car was completely submerged, but Cuson and Dean managed to swim to shore. A derrick was working on a nearby bridge, and the manager was convinced to bring his operation to where the Plugger went down. After two hours, the Plugger was finally resurrected from its watery grave, and the boys were able to dry it out and continue on.

When it rolled into the 1911 St. Louis auto show, it had been on the road continuously since first leaving the factory. Among the 150 or so shiny and show-ready automobiles, the Plugger pulled into its berth at the show covered in dried mud, road dust and stickers from “every crossroad and hamlet” it had visited, and it was the car that the crowds flocked around.

Motorists and onlookers posing with 1910 Regal “Plugger” automobile, 1909 New York to San Francisco tour | DPL DAMS (

The 1909 trip was quite a feat considering the lack of easily navigable roads. Years later, in 1929, Cuson visited Nebraska and reminisced about the 1909 trip and the state of the roads at that time:

“If there was a square inch of paving in the whole west in those days, we failed to find it. Iowa was a sea of mud . . . Soon after that the route across Nebraska became a winding cow trail and the Regal plunged along like a prairie schooner.”

1907 Regal at Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska