Studebaker Vacation Check Book

Studebaker Vacation Check Book.

As the summer season approaches, we can start to think about all the vacations and summer road trips that we have ahead of us. Nowadays when we set out on a vacation, the preparation involves stopping the mail (if that) and then flipping off the lights as we head out the door. In 1938, there were many more steps involved. These are highlighted in a publication from Studebaker called Vacation Check Book.

The first pages are dedicated to how to prepare your Studebaker for the journey, which is certainly much more extensive than what we would think to do to our modern day cars. If our gas tank is full and our oil isn’t due to be changed, we’re ready to go! We don’t usually stop to check if our crankcase is full or whether or not the proper grade of summer lubricant is being used. Once you complete the checklist and head out on the roads, a list of parts depots around the country is provided to assist a traveling Studebaker owner with any issues that may arise.

The next section provides a detailed list to complete before you leave home, such as cancelling one’s engagements, turning off the refrigerator and its pilot light, stopping the milk, arranging for mail to be forwarded to wherever you are traveling, and much more.

Introduction to First Aid section.

It goes on to detail what should be packed for the journey and even a provides a review of first aid procedures. The booklet is available in its entirety in the Hagley Digital Archives.

We wish everyone safe and happy travels this summer as they set out on those summer road trips!

Emily Cottle is the Project Archivist/Cataloger for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.

Willys-Overland: A Company History

Click to view the entire catalog in the Hagley Digital Archives.

The Willys-Overland Company was founded by John North Willys in 1909. A salesman at heart, Willys fell into automobile manufacturing when the Overland Automotive Company, a firm to which Willys had advanced $10,000 for 500 cars he had planned to sell wholesale, failed to deliver the promised cars. To protect his investment, Willys purchase the floundering Overland Company in 1908 and rechristened it Willys-Overland the next year.

Based in Toledo, Ohio, the Willys-Overland Company produced dozens of models, some for only a single year. These models fall into several lines including Overland, Willys-Knight, and Willys. In 1920, Willys-Overland struggled with financial difficulties, and creditor Chase National Bank brought in Walter P. Chrysler to save the company. The reorganized Willys-Overland rose in value, only to be decimated by the 1929 stock-market crash. In 1933 Willys-Overland went into receivership until 1935. Founder John North Willys passed away that same year.

During World War II, a surviving, if not thriving, Willys-Overland, undertook the production of jeep vehicles for military use, as did Ford. After the war ended, Willys-Overland continued to produce Jeeps for civilian buyers alongside other Willys-Overland models. In 1953, Willys-Overland was purchased by Kaiser Manufacturing and renamed the Willys Motor Company. Jeep production increasingly became the company’s focus, as was reflected by the name change of the entire group, including Willys, to Kaiser-Jeep Corporation in 1963.

Click to view the entire catalog in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Jeeps were so popular that production was established overseas for international markets. In 1954 Willys-Overland do Brasil, a concern of Kaiser Manufacturing in São Paulo, began assembling Jeeps using components from the United States. A similar company, Willys Motors, was established in Brisbane, Australia in 1958. In the next decade, both companies grew to be increasingly independent, eventually fully manufacturing vehicles in-country.

The success of the Jeep came to overshadow Willys, and the name soon was phased out. In 1965, Kaiser-Jeep discontinued the use of the Willys name, and the company was purchased five years later by the American Motors Corporation. In 1967, Willys-Overland do Brasil was purchased by Ford do Brasil, and the Willys Motors Australia ended its operations in 1972.

Click to view the entire item in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Below is a brief chronology:

  • 1908: John North Willys acquires the Overland Automotive Company
  • 1909: John North Willys renames the company the Willys-Overland Company
  • 1940: Willys-Overland begins production of Jeeps for the United States military
  • 1953: Kaiser Manufacturing purchases Willys-Overland and renames it Willys Motor Company
  • 1954: Willys-Overland do Brasil begins production of Willys-Overland vehicles
  • 1958: Assembly of Jeeps begins at Willys Motors Australia
  • 1963: The Willys Motor is absorbed into Kaiser-Jeep Corporation
  • 1965: The Willys name is retired by Kaiser-Jeep
  • 1967: Ford do Brasil purchases Willys-Overland do Brasil
  • 1970: American Motors Corporation purchases Kaiser-Jeep
  • 1972: Willys operations end at Willys Motors Australia

Sources:
Georgano, Nick, ed. The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile (2 Volume Set) Volume 1: A-L; Volume 2: M-Z. Norwich, England: The Stationery Office, 2000.
“Willys-Overland History.” Willys-Overland Motors. http://www.willysoverland.com/index.php/WO/history/ (accessed May 17, 2012).

Laura Muskavitch is a Graduate Assistant for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.

Can You Afford to Walk? – Trojan Pleasure Car

Trojan Ltd. and its cars began as the product of Leslie Hayward Hounsfield. His main concern in the design of his new vehicles was the simplicity of both driving and maintenance. Company advertising focused heavily on its simplicity. Early advertising bragged that the engines only had seven moving parts – four pistons, two v-shaped con rods, and a crankshaft.

Click to view

The brochure shown here advertises the Trojan Pleasure Car. The text of this catalog expounds the various low-maintenance and automatic features that made this car such a pleasure to own and drive. In addition to being low-maintenance, another crucial aspect of the car’s pleasure was the physical comfort the interiors provided. The brochure shown here highlights this through the following: “The new season’s models are better fitted than ever to uphold the Trojan traditions, and maintain the unsurpassed comfort.”

In addition to their focus on the enjoyable aspects of having such a low-maintenance, simple to drive, and comfortable vehicle, they began an ad campaign, “Can you afford to walk?” In it, they proved that driving 200 miles in a Trojan cost less than one would spend on shoe leather and socks.

This history and marketing strategies of Trojan are well documented in Can You Afford to Walk? The History of the Hounsfield Trojan Motor Car by Eric Rance and Don Williams (TL215 .H68 R3 1999). This work is complete with photographs and a detailed account of the history of the Trojan.

In addition to historical information about Trojan cars, which ceased production in the 1960s, the book contains information on owners’ clubs still active today and the appendices even document all the Trojans known to still exist as of the book’s printing in 1999.

For more information, view the entire brochure for the Trojan Pleasure Car in the Hagley Digital Archives or come to the Library and check out Can You Afford to Walk? The History of the Hounsfield Trojan Motor Car for yourself.

Sources:
Georgano, Nick, ed. The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile (2 Volume Set) Volume 1: A-L; Volume 2: M-Z. Norwich, England: The Stationery Office, 2000.
Eric, Rance, and Don Williams. Can You Afford to Walk?: The History of the Hounsfield Trojan Motor Car. Limited Casebound Edition. Oxfordshire: Bookmarque, 1999. (TL215 .H68 R3 1999)

Emily Cottle is the Project Archivist/Cataloger for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.

Hollywood Cars: Steve Urkel drove a BMW?!

Click to view the entire catalog in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Yes, that’s right, Steve Urkel, the iconic nerdy character from the 1990s family sitcom, Family Matters, drove a BMW. Many who watched the show may remember Urkel’s car: a tiny, round-shaped, white car that opened from the front. That car was a BMW Isetta, a popular bubblecar in Europe and Canada.

Bubblecars were usually small, economical cars that were round-ish in shape and manufactured mostly in the 1950s and 1960s. The Isetta or ‘Little Iso’ was an Italian bubblecar born in 1953. According to author Andrea Sparrow, the round shape of the Isetta was the inspiration for the shape of future bubblecars. In 1955, its inventor Rennzo Rivolta, sold the rights to manufacture the Isetta to BMW. BMW then introduced the Isetta as the affordable car in its range. Sold throughout continental Europe, the Isetta was eventually exported to the United Kingdom and Canada.

The Isetta had one door that opened from the front and that was attached to the steering wheel. By pushing on the steering wheel, it acted as a joint which opened the door outward allowing passengers to easily get in and out. It had one bench seat which could fit two adults and small engine behind the bench seat. Traditionally manufactured with four wheels, once it was exported to the United Kingdom, British manufacturers changed the set-up to three wheels (see the Reliant Robin post for why three-wheelers were popular in the UK).

Click to view the entire catalog in the Hagley Digital Archives.

From the look of Urkel’s Isetta, it seems to be an Isetta 300. According to the On Screen Cars Blog, the Isetta was featured several times throughout the run of Family Matters. The car’s quirky character and odd shape didn’t fit the standardized look of American cars. However, it did complement Urkel’s oddball demeanor and dress. Though both the car and Urkel didn’t fit the prescribed idea of ‘cool,’ they were both likeable to the Winslow family and to the audience because of their unique qualities.

Sources:
Sparrow, Andrea. The Colour Bubblecars & Microcars Family Album. Dorchester, Dorset, England : Veloce Publishing Plc., 1996: 29-46.

“Steve Urkel’s BMW Isetta.” On Screen Cars. Entry posted January 27, 2010. http://onscreencars.com/tv/family-matters/steve-urkels-bmw-isetta/ (accessed May 24, 2012).

Robin Valencia is the graduate assistant for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.