The Year the American Auto Industry First Hit One Million in Inventory

The American auto industry hit the million mark in inventory for the first time in 1960. This story about the new record appeared in March of that year:

Although this article tries to paint a rosy picture, the country was on the precipice of a recession caused in part by industrial overexpansion to meet post-war demand. Another reason for the high inventories in the auto industry was the record output of compact cars which were surging in popularity. During the first week of March, it was reported that the six compact cars accounted for 25.1 percent of the total output for the week. In addition to the AMC Rambler and the Studebaker Lark, the Big Three were offering the Ford Falcon, the Mercury Comet, the Plymouth Valiant, and the Chevrolet Corvair. Chevrolet was outpacing everyone in terms of both production and sales.

Automobile inventories have been in the news regularly for the past few years, due mainly to the lack thereof. It was downright spooky to drive by the empty dealership lots, barren wastelands caused, at least in part, by production cuts during the pandemic and global microchip shortages. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis recently published this visual depiction of the fluctuation in domestic auto inventories since 1994.

Domestic Auto Inventories (AUINSA) | FRED | St. Louis Fed ( U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Domestic Auto Inventories [AUINSA], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;, June 17, 2024.

As you can see from the chart, inventories have started to rebound from the depths plummeted to in February of 2022. Even so, those unpleasant sky-high prices do not appear to be coming down anytime soon.

For comparison purposes, you could buy a new Chevy Biscayne in 1960 for around $2,300. For a couple hundred dollars more, you could get yourself a new Bel Air two-door hardtop Sport Coupe.

That is roughly equivalent in purchasing power to $26,000 today. There are still some new car options under $30,000 in 2024, but none will give you the same thrill you would get from cruising around in that ’60 Sport Coupe. Let’s hope improving production numbers and rising inventories translate into lower prices and better access for today’s buyers, but even if inventories return to that million mark, buyers will never again have access to the fine and diverse automobiles available the first time it happened:

A Seldom-Seen Buick Light

Do you recognize this interesting and hard-to-find light we picked up the other day?

It is a reverse light for some 1958 Buick models, and it would have been found in the back bumper, directly under the tail light, as seen here on a Roadmaster 75:

Photo credit: Greg Gjerdingen from Willmar, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

My Dad always referred to 1958 Oldsmobiles as “Christmas trees” due to all of the chrome ornamentation, but the Buicks of the same year are similarly bedecked. Just check out this beautiful chromed-up Buick station wagon:

Photo credit: CZmarlin — Christopher Ziemnowicz — photo credit is required if this image is used anywhere other than Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The ’58 Buicks had dual headlights and an incredibly unique grille:

Photo credit: Lars-Göran Lindgren Sweden, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It was described as consisting of chrome squares, like jewels, set in four rows that extended all the way across the front to the outer extremities of the car, accentuating the lowness and breadth. Each chrome square was composed of four triangular surfaces designed to reflect maximum light. I have heard it called a “drawer pull” grille, but I see what Buick was going for; it does remind me of a diamond tennis bracelet.

Believe it or not, the Roadmaster wasn’t even the Buick with the most sparkle that year; that honor went to the extra-long and luxurious Limited which was adorned with 15 vertical louvers on each rear fender. The Limited was nearly 19 feet long and weighed around 4700 pounds.

All ’58 models, the Roadmaster and Limited (as well as the Century, Special, and Super) were powered by a 364ci V-8. All series except the Special had a Quadrajet carburetor. Powertrain options included the Flight Pitch Dynaflow, standard on both the Roadmaster 75 and the Limited. Marketing focused on flight (it was the rocket age after all) and used phrases like, “It looks and feels like flight on wheels,” and, “The air born B-58 Buick.”

If it seems like something is missing, despite all of the dazzling chrome trim, your mind may be registering the lack of ventiports. That feature, practically synonymous with the Buick, was absent in 1958 and 1959. Ventiports reappeared in 1960, this time with the Electra being the top-of-the-line model and sporting four on each side.

This 1960 Electra was graced with four ventiports to distinguish it from other models.

Fallout’s Kaiser Darrin

We finally got around to watching Fallout and enjoyed it much more than I thought we would. Having just finished watching the Justified series for about the seventh time, it is nice to have another opportunity to watch Walton Goggins finesse the fine art of scene stealing. The show has a unique, vintage aesthetic, and it was a wonderful surprise to see Goggin’s character “Cooper Howard” tooling around in a Kaiser Darrin during the flashback sequences. We published this post about the Darrin many years ago, but here it is again for those who missed it the first time:

This unusual front end belongs to a rare automobile, a 1954 Kaiser Darrin:

1954 Kaiser Darrin (Classic Car Collection, Kearney, Nebraska)

The brochure for this unique machine boasts that it was designed by “Darrin of Paris,” also known as Howard “Dutch” Darrin.  Darrin was an interesting character who flew combat missions over France as a member of the U.S. Air Service during World War I.  He designed luxury automobiles for movie stars like Clark Gable and Errol Flynn, and his gravestone in Santa Monica simply reads “AUTOMOTIVE ARCHITECT.”  A thoroughly interesting 3-part article about his life was written by Richard Langworth and can be read here.  Although Darrin had some successes designing automobiles, the Kaiser Darrin wasn’t one of them and only 435 were produced.

The Darrin was a product of the struggling Kaiser Motors Corporation, and it just beat the Corvette to be the first car with a fiberglass body.  It also featured sliding doors that retracted into the front fenders when opened as seen in this picture from the sales brochure:

The grille has been said to look like pursed lips, but I think it looks more like Tweety Bird.  Think about it.

Design preferences aside, the Darrin was not cheap.  It was priced at $3,668 (compared to $2,774 for a Corvette) and, although it cost more, its 90-hp engine was completely out-classed by the Vette’s 150 horses.

Another problem may have been the sales pitch for the Darrin.  This is an excerpt from an article dated February 13, 1954, that featured an interview with a model, Pat Matteson, who had been hired to demonstrate the Darrin at the International Sports Show in New York City:

Cars with plastic bodies are still a mystery to most motorists.  They want to know if the plastic will dent if people lean on it, whether snow will melt the plastic, whether hot water will make a hole in it, or whether insects will become permanently embedded in it.

“No. . .No. . .No. . .No,” says Pat.  “But a motorist can repair a fender dent in the same way he’d patch a tire.  And he can fix it so it doesn’t show.

“If a lady wants to change the color of the plastic body to match her hat, gloves or a new dress, she can do so by spraying on a new paint with a vacuum cleaner.  But it would take her three hours.”

Ammo Delivery with Nobby Tread Tires

If you are traveling by automobile this summer, you have likely given some thought to the condition of your tires. It is an important safety consideration no matter what terrain you are traversing, but imagine your level of concern if you were hurtling through Mexico over treacherous roads to deliver ammunition to the Mexican Rebel Army. According to 1914 newspapers, that was the exact situation for those pictured below.

I wish the picture was clearer. I tried to enhance it using AI, but that only provided marginal improvement.

Unfortunately, the caption that goes along with the photo does not even indicate what type of car it is, or who was doing the supplying, but it does extol the virtues of using “Nobby Tread” tires under such arduous circumstances.  The caption also explains that the car made three round trips between Brownsville, Texas, and Victoria, Mexico, to deliver the ammo amid the revolution, a bloody struggle to end a dictatorship and establish a constitutional republic led by familiar names like Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata. The roads were hazardous, and capture would have meant certain death, so reliable tires were more than mere luxury.

Nobby Tread tires were a product of the United States Tire Company which was owned by United States Rubber. This advertisement gives a closer look at the tire:

Notice this advertisement refers to the Nobby as “one of the five.” This is a reference to the one plain tread and four anti-skid tires being produced by the company at that time.

This advertisement avers that drivers will experience 90% fewer punctures with the Nobby than with other tires.

Who knows if that was a true statement, but if you were speeding over questionable roads through a war-torn country to deliver bullets to one side, and under a hot Mexican sun, no less, the Nobby Tread was likely the smart tire choice.

This photo, also taken in 1914, features a new Cadillac ambulance outfitted with Nobby Tread tires in the city of San Francisco.

A Rare Brand of Go

On more than one occasion I have had people express disbelief that we are able to find vintage car parts at antique stores (for reasonable prices)! Although respect for car parts seems to be trending up among purveyors of fine antiques, many dealers just have no interest in the subject. Kind of like how I feel when I see salt and pepper shakers or those glass “hen on nest” dishes. I once found a 1940s Lincoln Zephyr V12 horn ring, with the horn button intact, for twelve bucks at an antique store. That was a great find, and so is the Oldsmobile Skyrocket air cleaner lid I found last week:

This item is easy to date because the Skyrocket name was only used for a few years; Oldsmobile introduced it in 1961 and it was used through 1963. The Skyrocket engine was a 394ci, 4-barrel, high-compression engine. The 10-to-1 compression ratio delivered 325 horsepower in 1961. That compression ratio was upped to 10.25-to-1 in 1962 and turned out 330hp. Happily, this one has most of the decal intact.

Here it is pictured in the 1962 brochure.

The Skyrocket was an option for the Dynamic 88 and standard on the Ninety-Eight and Super 88. This ad features a 1961 Ninety-Eight “with Skyrocket performance.”

This 1962 ad features a Super 88 Holiday Coupe with “a rare brand of GO!”

A Ninety-Eight headlines this ad from 1963 and touts the horsepower which, by the way, was needed for such a heavy automobile. According to the brochure, the shipping weight for the Ninety-Eight was a considerable 4,241 pounds.

The 394 was still used in ’64, but the Skyrocket name was not. The Skyrocket certainly went out in style, however, with the tail lights on the ’63 Ninety-Eight being among the most unique and beautiful:

Photo credit: Nadablue, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday Morning Flea Market Haul

Flea market season is gearing up in the Midwest (in between tornadoes), and I, for one, could not be happier. We hit the road over the weekend and found some interesting pieces. Do you recognize anything?

The radio face in the middle of the pile is for a ’56 Ford, and next to that is a ’69-’73 Firebird parking light bezel, and then a Plymouth radio delete. Just above those is a great GM B-31 backup light, and a truck mirror with just the right amount of wear. We found a number of vintage license plate frames including a couple from a dealership in Pomona, which is a long way from Nebraska.

The Chevrolet speaker grille on the lower left is from a ’39 radio, and it has amazing patina.

This is how it appeared in the 1939 accessories booklet:

1939 Chevrolet

The item on the far left is a light from a ’57 Chrysler.

It is an interior map and indicator light found just above the gauges. In this photo you can see it through the top half of the steering wheel:

Photo credit: Greg Gjerdingen from Willmar, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The top piece is a dash panel with a clock, and it goes with those amazing vents to the far right in the first photo.

They are original to some ’63 Pontiac models, like this Grand Prix that is for sale on eBay right now:

Finally, the small book is a license plate directory for Dawson County, Nebraska, published in 1960 by the local VFW Post. On the last page there is a list of the plates issued to ham radio operators that year.

That made we wonder how long it has been a practice to issue plates personalized with the call signs of amateur ham radio operators, and looking for the answer led me to this comprehensive discussion by Mike Ludkiewicz that states they were first issued in Michigan in 1939. These were not official ham plates, but personalized plates limited to a maximum of three letters and three numbers. Apparently, they were discontinued the following year due to administrative problems, and the first “true” ham plates were then issued in 1950 in Florida. This drawing appeared in an issue of the Miami News that same year.

In recognition of the valuable service provided by amateur radio operators during emergencies, the personalized plates were eventually offered in every state in the union.

Finally, look at these amazing vintage photos I found online that depict a 1963 Plymouth Valiant equipped with a ham radio. The car was owned by Harry Garland of Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan, and the photographs were taken there in 1963.

Photo credit: GarlandFamily, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Photo credit: GarlandFamily, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

An Armored Cadillac and an Army of Fords

In the years leading up to World War I, the United States had no large standing army and no processes in place for the building and support of such a force. For this reason, steps were taken to train civilians to be able to defend the country. One idea promoted by General Leonard Wood involved the use of military training camps for civilians, and you can read more about that here: The Plattsburg Movement and its Legacy

One of these camps was located on the shores of Lake Champlain, and, in 1915, a writer for the New York Tribune named Hank Caldwell traveled there to watch a motor train consisting of 15 vehicles pull into the camp. The motor train did not have an official title, but the officers involved, including organizer Captain Raynal C. Bolling, dubbed it the “First Motor Machine Gun Company.” The caravan consisted of trucks, ambulances, and transportation cars furnished by companies like International, Mack, and Autocar. Buick and Simplex contributed wagons with mounted machine guns, but the undisputed star of the caravan was an armored Cadillac that had recently crossed the country on a tour with cadets of the Northwestern Military Academy under the command of Colonel R. P. Davidson:

This eight-cylinder Cadillac had steel armor, a Colt machine gun, and ports for rifle fire. Gas mileage was 10 miles to the gallon, and it was said to be painted battleship gray with delicate black striping.

Credit: August 1915 issue of American Motorist

General Leonard Wood was interviewed by Caldwell during this visit and made some interesting comments about his desire for American automobile owners to organize, under the direction of the army, in defense of the nation: “As a trained body, our hundreds of thousands of motorists, with their cars, would be one of the powerful arms of our army.”

Wood noted, “The national rivalry of our motor manufacturers has brought about a great variety of cars of all sizes and descriptions,” and therefore the first step would be to form motor corps consisting of only one make of automobile to enable the interchange of parts and tires. When enough owners driving a given make of car was found, the next step would be to assemble them in a camp setting where they could be given military training.

Wood also thought that each owner should bring some friends along:

“It is possible that an owner could be induced to muster enough recruits to fully man his machine. If so, he would come into the training camp with his car and four, five, or six men, according to the capacity of his machine, and. . .in this way we should obtain enough men with every two or three hundred cars to form a regiment. To this regiment we could assign trucks, ambulances, armored cars, machines guns, and special motor vehicles. . .”

1913 Ford Model T at the Republic County Historical Society & Museum at Belleville, Kansas.

So, the United States government was contemplating outfitting the cars of citizens with machines guns; file that one under, “How times have changed.” The participants attending this 1915 camp were enthusiastic about the idea. Caldwell reported this about a Mr. Derby from North Carolina who had driven his Ford to the camp:

“Mr. Derby said that he is convinced the light car is the practical thing for army use and that upon his return to North Carolina. . .he will organize a company of 100 Ford cars, and it is his intention to mount them with machine guns and drive from North Carolina to the encampment next year. He thinks this idea should be taken up by Ford owners in all parts of the country, and next year he says we should have 700,000 Fords ready for use against the invader.”

1913 Ford Model T at the Republic County Historical Society & Museum at Belleville, Kansas.

These days, Mr. Derby, I would recommend using the Ford F-150.

The Tragic Story of J. W. Leavitt

I normally choose to write about more upbeat stories, but meaning can be found in the tragic ones as well. This story started with the discovery of a humorous photo in an early 1900s newspaper. That photo led to the tale of a man who attained great success in the growing automobile industry before culminating in a disastrous end in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash. If you prefer happy endings, you will want to stop reading now.

This is the photo that appeared in the San Francisco Examiner:

The man pictured is putting up signs outside of Cloverdale, California, in a bid to warn tourists about the presence of a motor cop who will ticket speeders. The year is 1914, and the accompanying story told of how John W. Leavitt was ticketed and asked the justice of the peace to let him take the deputy for a ride in his car to prove that he had not exceeded the 30-mph speed limit while traveling a 38-mile route in 19 minutes. An unconventional approach to be sure, but the justice of the peace agreed, the deputy was convinced, and the case was dismissed. As it turns out, Leavitt was also an important figure of the west coast automobile scene for decades.

Before entering the automobile industry, Leavitt and a partner had started a bicycle business in 1894 in California under the name Leavitt & Bill, and it became the largest bicycle business west of Chicago. Prior to that, Leavitt had also been a champion bicycle racer. Seeing the potential of the automobile industry, he dissolved the bicycle partnership in 1906 and organized J. W. Leavitt & Co. for the distribution of motor cars. His protege at the bicycle company was a young man named Albert D. Plughoff who had begun working for Leavitt at 15 years of age. Described as Leavitt’s right-hand man, Plughoff transitioned to the new firm as VP and general manager.

The company served as distributor for several different makes including Reo and Stoddard-Dayton and then, in 1910, became distributor for Willys-Overland.

J. W. Leavitt & Co. flourished with the growing automobile industry. In 1916, the Los Angeles Times described the company as the largest single distributor of motor cars in the world. It seems that distinction would have belonged to someone selling Fords, but that is what was reported, and it was also said that the company was selling one-tenth of all cars produced by Willys-Overland. In 1917, J. W. Leavitt & Co. was appointed distributor for an expanded area to include the San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego territories. The article in the Oakland Enquirer described Leavitt as, “this country’s greatest automobile merchandizing wizard.”

The company was featured in an effusive Motor West magazine article written by an “eastern engineer” that found in Leavitt’s service department “conditions so extraordinary that I feel the whole world should be in possession of the details.” The writer added that the service department had the details worked out to perfection, and the following photos and procedures were documented in the write-up.

J. W. Leavitt & Co. rode the wave of expansion in the Roaring Twenties and, in 1928, announced it was taking over all of the Willys-Overland’s California factory branch properties, equipment, personnel, and stocks of motor cars as well as agreeing to market $15,000,000 worth of Willys-Knight and Whippet cars annually. In one of the newspaper articles announcing this development, Leavitt was credited with “originating vehicle sales on the installment plan. He inaugurated and developed the lease contract as it is used in automobile sales today.”

The above photo of a smiling Leavitt and Plughoff appeared in 1928. On the surface, everything seemed to be going well for Leavitt & Co., and they continued advertising right up through July of 1930:

However, the stock market had crashed the previous October, and automobile sales had been poor in recent months. Like so many other companies, J. W. Leavitt & Co. was facing financial difficulties and mounting debts. The doors of the firm were shut in the last weeks of July. Employees later said that Leavitt was upset at the prospect of being forced into bankruptcy after being an important figure along “automobile row” for more than a quarter of a century. He feared some creditor would become impatient and force the company into the hands of a receiver. According to his attorney, he also dreaded the necessity of looking for a job at 62 years of age.

Leavitt was also unhappy with Plughoff, his long-time friend, business partner, and right-hand man. Plughoff was leaving. He had accepted a position with an automobile firm back east that would pay $75,000 per year. Again, according to Leavitt’s attorney, all of these developments had left Leavitt feeling as if “the last prop, both of business and friendship, had been pulled out from under him.” Sometime during the first week of August, Leavitt borrowed a gun from one of his adult daughters, claiming he wanted it for squirrel hunting.

On the morning of August 11, Leavitt and Plughoff conferred alone in Leavitt’s office while, in an office across town, creditors were meeting to discuss the fate of the company. Employees heard a sound like a car backfiring. Leavitt then calmly left, commenting only, “Quiet morning,” to employees on his way out of the building. An employee entered the office and found Plughoff lying in a pool of blood. He had been shot in the head, and death had been instantaneous. Leavitt left a note at the scene that read, “Sorry to do this. This will provide for his family.” The note was an apparent reference to life insurance proceeds, and the family it referred to was a wife, now widow, named Myrtle.

Leavitt drove home where he sat and talked quietly with his wife for several minutes without referencing what he had just done. He then went into a bedroom, removed his shirt, and killed himself with the same weapon used to kill Plughoff. Reporters, already alerted to Plughoff’s death, were on the phone with Leavitt’s wife at the time. She was in the middle of saying Leavitt was too busy to come to the phone when reporters heard a shot and Mrs. Leavitt’s scream before the line was disconnected. Leavitt left a widow and six children.

While reports of suicides immediately following the stock market crash of 1929 were exaggerated, suicide rates did increase during the Great Depression. Recent studies have also shown that suicide rates increase during economic downturns, especially for men. Ironically, J. W. Leavitt and Co.’s difficulties appeared to have been more of a cash flow problem as the company had substantial assets. After liquidation of the assets, all obligations were met with $200,000 – $300,000 left over. To put that in perspective, $250,000 in 1930 is roughly equal to $4.5 million in today’s dollars. The attorney for one of Leavitt’s largest creditors stated, in the wake of the murder/suicide, that if Leavitt had only waited a couple of more hours, his fears of being forced into bankruptcy would have been averted. We would all do well to remember that the situation is often not as dire as it seems, and a day, or even a few hours, can drastically change your perspective.


Advertisement. Willys Knight. The San Francisco Examiner, 18 Jul 1915, p. 33.

“Autoist Free After Proving Legal Speed.” The San Francisco Examiner, 19 Jul 1914, p. 32.

Big Deal in Autos Is Made Public.” The San Francisco Call, 11 Sept 1910, p. 47.

“Control State Distributions.” The San Bernadino County Sun, 22 Jan 1928, p. 26.

“History of Leavitt Firm.” The Los Angeles Times, 30 Apr 1916, p. VI-6.

“J. W. Leavitt & Co. Shows Line of Willys-Overland Cars and Knight Trucks.” The Oakland Post Enquirer, 28 Jan 1928, p. 21.

“J. W. Leavitt Estate Will Total $200,000.” Santa Cruz News, 13 Aug 1930, p. 10.

“J. W. Leavitt Kills Partner, Ends Own Life.” The Fresno Morning Republican, 12 Aug 1930, p. 1.

“J. W. Leavitt Kills Partner, Suicides.” Contra Costa Daily Gazette, 11 Aug 1930, p. 1.

“Leavitt Kills Partner and Commits Suicide.” The Los Angeles Times, 12 Aug 1930, p. 2.

“New Representative for Willys-Knight in Oakland.” The Oakland Post Enquirer, 11 Feb 1928, p. 24.

“Rites Planned for Leavitt, Victim.” The Oakland Post Enquirer, 12 Aug 1930, p. 3.

“San Francisco Auto Dealer Kills Manager, Then Self.” Modesto News Herald, 11 Aug 1930, p. 1.

“S. F. Auto Row Figure Kills Friend, Self.” The Press Democrat [Santa Rosa], 12 Aug 1930, p. 1.

“The Sales Department Sells the Car, but the Service Department Must Keep It Sold.” (1928, July). Motor West, 54-56.

“Who’s Who on Gasoline Row.” The Bulletin: San Francisco, 19 Mar 1910, p. 18.

More On Those 1930s Tail Lights

We recently picked up a number of hard-to-find tail lights from the 1930s, including the ’36 Dodge light mentioned in the last post. This beautiful light and license plate bracket is another example:

This 1937 Buick light has Art Deco-flair that repeats the look and lines of the grille:

Buick, like most makes of that year, had a license plate light and bracket that mounted on the center of the trunk of at least some of the models.

1937 Buick Sedan with center tail light. Photo credit: Jeremy from Sydney, Australia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Car companies spotlighted this new arrangement as a selling point with an emphasis on symmetry, beauty, and safety.

My light/bracket combo was likely on a coupe originally, as the rear of the ’37 Buick coupe sloped steeply and prohibited the mounting of the light and bracket there.

I also found the tail light/bracket combo on something called a “Sloper” made for the Australian market. It was made by General Motors-Holden, an Australian subsidiary of GM, that manufactured and sold automobiles under its own marque.

1937 Buick Sloper. Photo credit: sv1ambo, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

GM-Holden called the body style an “All-Enclosed Coupe,” and the back seat folded down for additional luggage space. For 1937, the Sloper was also part of the line-up for GM-Holden’s Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Chevrolet.

1937 Chevrolet Sloper. Photo credit: sv1ambo, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After reviewing conversations and comments on the internet, it is apparent that many folks prefer the looks of the Holden version with its fastback styling and forward sloping B pillars, but I think the American-made coupe is tough to beat. Either way, this gorgeous light is the perfect finishing touch:

Hard-To-Find Tail Light From the 1930s

We recently bought a carload of items from an old dealership, and there were a number of hard-to-find lights in our haul, all dating to the 1930s. This one may show its age with rust, wear, and missing lenses, but it is still a beauty.

The torpedo-shaped housing is larger than you might think and measures eight inches in length. It is marked “DULITE,” and the license plate bracket is marked both “DULITE” and “RILITE.” The part number on the mount is 655863. Notice that the configuration is not what you would expect with the mount on the side of the light housing.

This is what it looks like mounted on the car:

This light is original to a 1936 Dodge, and the beautiful blue Dodge pictured here is one that I photographed on the courthouse square at Minden, Nebraska, a few years ago.

Dodge had already developed a reputation for dependability and ruggedness by this point, so for 1936 the company placed an emphasis on beauty and economy. Powered by a 217.8ci inline 6 L-head with 87-hp @ 3600rpm, this Dodge was able to achieve 18-24 mpg. This is a fun little ad about the gas saving features.

As seen in my last post, car companies during this time period were linking their automobiles to fashion in order to attract female buyers. Below is a newspaper advertisement and a page from the Dodge brochure which touts what “noted fashionistas” are saying about the ’36 Dodge:

It is a truly stunning automobile with so many great details like the convex grille, artillery wheels, airplane-like speedo, and, of course, those amazing tail lights.

Photo credit: David Berry from Rohnert Park CA, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons