Treasures from the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection: 1924 Delaunay-Belleville Portfolio

Cover of the 1924 Delaunay-Belleville portfolio in the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection

Cover of the 1924 Delaunay-Belleville portfolio in the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection

In his autobiography “A Collector’s Life (an autobiography),” Z. Taylor Vinson listed and described a handful of items that he referred to as his “Treasures.” The Treasures are individual collection items that Mr. Vinson, for various reasons, was particularly proud of owning. This week, I decided to highlight one of the more unusual items from Vinson’s list of treasures: a 1924 Delaunay-Belleville portfolio.

Delaunay-Belleville was a renowned French manufacturer of prestige luxury cars during the first half of the twentieth century. Based in St. Denis, France and originally a manufacturer of locomotive and marine boilers, the firm started building luxury cars in 1904, which were outwardly distinguishable by their round grilles and hoods. By 1914, Delaunay-Belleville cars were considered to be among the most prestigious in the world and were owned by a number of luminaries, including Czar Nicholas II and the Kings of Greece and Spain. During the 1920s, Dellaunay-Bellevelle started to fall out of favor with its wealthy clientele. In response to its decline in the marketplace, the company sought to renew interest in its line of luxury cars through some creative advertising.

The 1924 Delaunay-Belleville portfolio is a trade catalog for the firm’s 1924 model range. According to the portfolio, 3 Delaunay-Belleville chassis were available that model year: the low-end 12 CV, the mid-range 14/16 CV, and the high-end 25/30 CV. The smaller 12 CV was powered by an incline-4 engine. The larger 14/16 CV and 25/25 were powered by inline-6 power plants. All three models were fitted with custom coachwork tailored to the customer’s specifications. Like other prestige luxury cars of the day, the interiors of all three models were sumptuously appointed.

Plate featuring fanciful Illustrations by French illustrator Georges Lepape.  According to Z. Taylor Vinson, a Delaunay-Belleville car with a plaid paintjob was actually built!

Plate featuring fanciful Illustrations by French illustrator Georges Lepape. According to Z. Taylor Vinson, a Delaunay-Belleville car with a plaid paintjob was actually built!

Although the portfolio does contain the vital statistics of the 1924 Delaunay-Belleville model range, it is its artwork that makes it a fascinating of automobile advertising. The portfolio was printed by Draeger, a famed Paris, France-based printing house, which was noted for printing visually striking advertising materials. It contains five plates of artwork by five celebrated illustrators of the 1920s: Georges Lepape, Eduardo Garcia Benito, René Lelong, Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann, and Charles Martin. The illustrations are drawn in Art Deco and Bauhaus style.

All five of the plates found in the portfolio are of Delaunay-Belleville cars. But the cars depicted in the plates are best described as “fanciful.” According to Mr. Vinson:

1924 Delaunay-Belleville: This catalogue-portfolio may be viewed as a post-war manifestation of the manufacturer’s desire to charm and amuse the reader. Certainly there has never been an item that so completely distorted the nature of what it was purporting to be to advertise, the cars impossibly elongated. The portfolio plates are by fashion artists of the day such as Lepape (whose names adorn the embossed card covers of this Draeger production), and show the cars in fanciful plaids and other impossible color treatments. The plaid car was actually produced.

Plate featuring fanciful illustrations by French illustrator Charles Martin.

Plate featuring fanciful illustrations by French illustrator Charles Martin.

Although Delaunay-Belleville succeeded in producing one of the more memorable luxury car trade catalogs of the 1920s, its use of striking visuals was not enough to ensure its survival. Due to a combination of factors that included a failure to keep up with automotive technology, competition, and the onset of the Great Depression, Delaunay-Belleville continued to struggle in the marketplace. After a slow decline that lasted many years, Delaunay-Belleville built its last car in 1950. Surviving examples of Delaunay-Belleville cars are rare collector items today.

Sources

Description Des Chassis Delaunay-Belleville 1924: Delaunay-Belleville: Trade Catalogs: Various Models, Z. Taylor Vinson Collection, Hagley Museum and Library.

Georgano, G.N., ed., The New Encyclopedia of Motorcars from 1885 to the Present, New York: E.P. Dutton, 1982, p. 190.

Georgano, Nick, ed., The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile Volume 1: A-L; Norwich, England: The Stationery Office, 2000, p. 320.

Solley, Thomas T., Prestige, Status, and Works of Art, Selling the Luxury Car 1888-1942, Boston, MA: Racemaker Press, 2008, p. 143-145, 150, 161.

Vinson, Z. Taylor, A Collector’s Life (an auto-biography), Z. Taylor Vinson Collection, Hagley Museum and Library

2013 Hagley Car Show

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS Convertible

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS Convertible

On Sunday, September 15th, I had the privilege of attending the eighteenth annual Hagley Car Show. Held on a gorgeous September day, this year’s show was a great success, attracting a large crowd and a field of over 500 cars. This year’s theme focused on American high-performance cars, which have long captured the imagination of motoring public both in the United States and throughout the world. The year’s theme of proved to be very popular, and a large contingent of these unforgettable cars showed up for this year’s show.

A pair of 1957 Chevrolet Corvettes

A pair of 1957 Chevrolet Corvettes

An excellent cross-section of the various types of American high-performance cars appeared at Hagley on Sunday. Classic American muscle cars of the 1960s and 1970s, including examples of the Chevrolet Chevelle, Ford Fairlane, and Plymouth Roadrunner, were out in force. Not to be outdone, American pony cars, including the Ford Mustang, Pontiac Trans Am, and AMC Javelin, also made their appearance in noticeable numbers. Some beautiful examples of American two-seater sports cars, including the Chevrolet Corvette and Shelby Cobra, were also in attendance. A few early examples of factory-built high-performance cars such as the Hudson Hornet and a grab bag of custom hot rods turned up as well.

In addition to providing automobile enthusiasts with an opportunity to show off their vehicles, the Hagley Car Show presented us with an opportunity to display items from the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection. The Vinson Collection table was set up in front of the library building and exhibited several trade catalogs for a number of American high-performance cars, including a few which were present at the show. We also displayed trade catalogs for other types of vehicles that are found in the Vinson Collection. Most fun of all, we exhibited some photo reproductions of unidentified cars and asked show attendees to help us positively identify them.

1964 Ford Falcon Sprint

1964 Ford Falcon Sprint

Over the course of the day, a number of show attendees stopped by the Vinson table to learn more about the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection. Those who did showed great interest in the collection and were delighted to have the opportunity to look at the various trade catalogs we had on display. Some took particular delight in seeing trade catalogs for cars they had actually owned and/or appeared at this year’s show. We had a great time talking with these automobile enthusiasts and hearing them fondly reminisce about cars they used to own. Attendees at this year’s show were also helpful in identifying the images of unidentified cars.

If you are interested in learning more about the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection, we strongly encourage you to regularly check back with this blog to see some of the unique and rare items in this collection and to learn about the latest project developments. If you were unable to attend the show but would like to view individual items from the collection, we encourage you to visit the Z. Taylor Vinson Digital Library Preview in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Kenton Jaehnig is the Project Archivist for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.

AMC Javelin – A Classic Pony Car

Between the mid-1960s and early-1970s, compact “pony cars” such as the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Plymouth Barracuda were an immensely popular segment of the American automotive market. Aimed at younger drivers and typically cobbled together from readily available components, they offered style, sporty performance and a long list of options at an affordable price. In 1965, as part of an effort to give itself a sportier image and attract younger customers, American Motors Corporation started work on its own entry in the pony car class. The end result went on to become an American classic: the 1968-1974 AMC Javelin.

Photograph of 1968 AMC Javelin

Photograph of 1968 AMC Javelin

Designed by a team led by Richard A. Teague and initially available at a surprisingly low sticker price range of $2400-$2600, the Javelin had much in common with other American pony cars of the day. Like its competitors, it was a compact by American standards, riding on a 109-inch base. Also in common with its competitors, the Javelin made extensive use of off-the-shelf components. The car was built on the chassis of the Rambler American, which at the time was American Motors’ economy model. When first introduced, customers were offered a choice of three already existing American Motors engines: a 232 cubic-inch inline-6, a 290 cubic-inch V-8, or a 343 cubic-inch V-8. Just a like its contemporaries, the customers could also choose from an extensive list of options, which included an automatic transmission, air conditioning, and a GO-Pack Performance Package (which consisted of the 343 V-8 engine, a beefed-up suspension system, dual exhaust, and power brakes).

What really set the Javelin apart from its pony car contemporaries was its sleek and distinctive body shell. Like its competitors, the body featured a long hood and short deck. But instead of being given angular lines like those found on the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Plymouth Barracuda, the Javelin was given a smoother and rounder look, which was accomplished by giving it flowing body panels and semi-fastback roof. American Motors further enhanced the car’s sporty look by giving it a blacked-out grille and form fitting bumpers. The Javelin’s interior was decidedly sporty as well, featuring bucket seats and a recessed instrument panel.

Trade catalog of 1972 AMC Javelin AMX.

Trade catalog of 1972 AMC Javelin AMX.

A late comer to the pony car field, the AMC Javelin made its public debut in August 1967. Sleek looking and a sporty performer, it was very well received by the American motoring enthusiasts and sold well in its first year, with over 50,000 rolling off the assembly line. AMC continuously updated the Javelin over the course of its production life. Mechanical upgrades included larger and more powerful engines and improved suspension systems. Changes to the body shell included a redesigned grille, sculpted front fenders, and a rear spoiler. The Javelin’s sporty image was further enhanced by its success on the racetrack, with factory supported teams twice winning the Sport Car Club of America’s Trans Am Series Manufacturers Championship (1971 and 1972).

Although the Javelin was popular in its time, like other pony cars of its era, its heyday was short lived. A combination of factors, including declining sales, tightening federal safety and emissions regulations, and the 1973 Energy Crisis, prompted AMC to pull the plug on the Javelin after the 1974 model year. Around 235,000 AMC Javelins were built. Surviving examples are prized collector’s items today.

Sources

Allpar.com http://www.allpar.com/amc

American Motors – 1971 Javelin: American Motors: Specification Models: Gremlin, Hornet, and Javelin, 1970-1974, Z. Taylor Vinson Collection, Hagley Museum and Library.

“American Motors Javelin SST: A Bright, New All-American Image Buster,” Car Life, December 1967; American Motors: Specification Models: Gremlin, Hornet, and Javelin, 1970-1974, Z. Taylor Vinson Collection, Hagley Museum and Library.

Georgano, Nick, ed., The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile; Volume 1: A-L; Norwich, England: The Stationery Office, 2000, p. 52.

HowStuffWorks.com – 1968-1969 AMC Javelin 

HowStuffWorks.com – 1968-1974 AMC Javelin

Kowalke, Ron, ed., 4th Edition, Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975, Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications, 1997, p. 26-27, p. 31-48.

Photograph of 1968 AMC Javelin 

Trade catalog image of 1972 AMC Javelin AMX 

Kenton Jaehnig is the Project Archivist for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.

The 1938-1939 Rolls Royce Wraith

Cars have always been a fixture within pop culture, present in stories told in books and movies, and sometimes even in song. From Herbie the Love Bug to the Dodge Challenger in 1971’s Vanishing Point, cars have always been a source of fascination in fiction, and are often as much the heroes of the stories as the people driving them. The other side is the use of cars as villains, such as with Stephen King’s Christine, a book in which a 1958 Plymouth Fury is possessed by a vengeful spirit and commits a variety of murders before being destroyed.

A recent novel, NOS4A2, by Joe Hill, happens to focus on the 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith as its villain, the weapon of a man named Charlie Manx who uses it to drive children into a world that literally exists in his mind, which he calls “Christmasland.” Once the children are driven there, they cannot escape. NOS4A2, the title and the license plate on the Wraith, is a play on “nosferatu,” a word associated with vampires due to F.W. Murnau’s famous 1922 film, Nosferatu.

Photograph of the 1939 Rolls Royce Wraith

Photograph of the 1939 Rolls Royce Wraith

Although Charlie Manx is the main antagonist, the Wraith has a will of its own, shutting its doors or driving itself, or trapping victims in a “pocket universe” in the backseat. The Wraith also drains the life from those within, transferring the energy to Charlie Manx and allowing him to heal or to remain young forever. It is up to a troubled biker named Victoria McQueen to stop Manx (with her restored Triumph motorcycle, no less), whom she simply calls “The Wraith.” The image of the Wraith slicing up a drive through the fog, its narrow headlights like two eyes, becomes a frankly terrifying image by the end of the novel.

The Rolls Royce Wraith itself was a very rare pre-war model, produced over only 2 years, 1938-1939, before production ceased due to World War II. In all, there were only 491 Wraiths ever made. It was meant to be an updated 25/30, and had the same engine, a 4257 cc Straight 6, but with larger valves and new crankshaft. The chassis was now welded rather than riveted, and was designed along the Phantom III lines, but on a smaller scale. The wheelbase was 136.0 inches, extended 4 inches from the 25/30, and the car was heavier. It was not much faster than the 25/30, maxing out at about 80 mph.

Photograph of a Rolls Royce Silver Wraith

Photograph of a Rolls Royce Silver Wraith

After the war, production on the Wraith never restarted, and instead Rolls Royce began building the new Silver Wraith, which was similar to the pre-war Wraith in that it shared the cylinder block and gearbox, as well as a similar chassis. However, the head was changed to an inlet-over-exhaust model, and over time a variety of other changes were made. The production of Silver Wraiths would continue until 1959.

The Z. Taylor Vinson Transportation Collection contains a variety of photographs of both the 1938-1939 Wraith as well as the post-war Silver Wraith models. While processing the collection, I was thrilled to come across images of the very car that had been so recently haunting me as I read NOS4A2, and to be able to see the car as it was first presented to the world, especially considering the rarity of the 1938-1939 model.

Strangely enough, Rolls Royce announced in January of this year a new Wraith, which of course looks nothing like the 1938-1939 model, but was declared by Rolls Royce to be “the most potent and technologically advanced Rolls-Royce in history.” Some of the promotional footage is eerily similar to the imagery in NOS4A2, the lights slicing through the fog once again, perhaps hunting another victim in a new form.

Sources

Georgano, Nick, ed., The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile; Volume 2: M-Z; Norwich, England: The Stationery Office, 2000, p. 1356-1361.

How Stuff Works-1938-1939 Rolls Royce Wraith

Rolls Royce

Sedgwick, M. and Gilles, M., A-Z Cars of the 1930s; Bideford, Devon: Bay View Books, 1989, p. 169.

Annalise Berdini is a Z. Taylor Vinson Collection summer intern in the Imprints Department at Hagley Museum and Library.

The 1957-1958 “Packardbakers” – The Last Packards

During the 1950s, Packard Motor Car Company, once a renowned American manufacturer of luxury cars, found it difficult to compete against the Big Three (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) in the American automobile market. Deciding that it could not survive as an independent, Packard looked for a merger partner and found one in Studebaker Corporation, a struggling American manufacturer of low and medium priced cars. In 1954, the two companies merged to form Studebaker-Packard Corporation, whose headquarters were based in South Bend, Indiana. But instead of getting better, Packard’s fortunes continued to get worse. By 1956, Packard’s sales had dropped to point where it was forced to cease the design and production of its own cars.

Postcard of 1957 Packard Clipper 4-Door Sedan

Postcard of 1957 Packard Clipper 4-Door Sedan

For the 1957 and 1958 model years, Studebaker-Packard made a last-ditch effort to keep the Packard nameplate alive. It sought to do this by marketing rebadged Studebakers under the Packard nameplate. The end result of this endeavor was unsuccessful and was considered by some purists to be the ignominious end of the once prestigious Packard nameplate: the 1957 and 1958 “Packardbakers.”

For the 1957 model year, the Packard line consisted of only one model, the Packard Clipper. The Clipper was based on the Studebaker President, a large car that occupied the high end of the Studebaker model lineup. It was built on the President’s chassis and fitted with the President’s body shell. Outwardly, the Clipper was distinguishable from its Studebaker counterpart by body modifications, which included finned rear fenders and distinctive chrome trim. The car was also given a more luxurious interior that featured what Studebaker-Packard called the “Packard Look.” To give the Clipper horsepower considered appropriate for a Packard, it was fitted with an engine not offered on the President: Studebaker’s 289 cubic-inch supercharged V-8. Featuring a McCulloch supercharger, this engine was good for a then-impressive 275 horsepower, which endowed the Clipper with excellent performance for a large car of its time.

Trade catalog image of the 1958 Packard Series 58L 2-Door Hardtop

Trade catalog image of the 1958 Packard Series 58L 2-Door Hardtop

In the 1958 model year, Packard dropped the Clipper designation, but expanded its line to two models: the Packard Series 58L (simply referred to as the “Packard”) and the Packard Hawk. The Series 58L was based on the Studebaker President. The Hawk was based on the Studebaker Golden Hawk, which is considered to be an early example of an American muscle car. Efforts were made to cosmetically differentiate the Series 58L and Hawk from their Studebaker siblings. Both cars were given body modifications, this time in the form of odd-looking fiberglass bolt-on noses and distinctive chrome trim. The interiors of both cars were given a “Packard Look.” But underneath their skin, both 1958 models used the same engines as their Studebaker counterparts. The Series 58L was fitted with the Studebaker President’s normally aspirated 289 cubic-inch V-8. The Hawk was given the Studebaker Golden Hawk’s supercharged 289 cubic-inch V-8 engine, which gave it muscle car-like performance.

Trade catalog image of the 1958 Packard Hawk

Trade catalog image of the 1958 Packard Hawk

When the 1957 and 1958 “Packardbakers” were introduced to the motoring public, they received a chilly reception and few people bought them. One reason for this was Studebaker-Packard’s failure to sufficiently differentiate the Packards from the Studebakers. In addition to that, many Packard purists resented their favorite make’s association with Studebaker (although some conceded that the cars were of very good quality) and refused to view the rebadged cars as “real Packards.” Perhaps most damaging of all, customers hesitated to buy cars from a make they feared would soon disappear. Faced with these realities, Studebaker-Packard ceased production of the Packard line. The last Packard automobile rolled off the assembly line on July 13, 1958.

Only 4,809 1957 “Packardbakers” and 2,622 1958 “Packardbakers” were built. Surviving examples are rare collector items today.

Sources

Georgano, Nick, ed. The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile; Volume 2: M-Z; Norwich, England: The Stationery Office, 2000, p. 1175-1176.

How Stuff Works – How Packard Cars Work – The Packardbaker and the End of Packard http://auto.howstuffworks.com/packard-cars9.htm

Kowalke, Ron, ed., 4th Edition, Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975, Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications, 1997, p. 623-624, 638-639.

Packard Club

Photograph of a trade catalog image of the 1958 Packard Series 58L 2-Door Hardtop 

Photograph of a trade catalog image of the 1958 Packard Hawk

Postcard of 1957 Packard Clipper 4-Door Sedan 

Studebaker – Packard (1958): Packard: Trade Catalogs: Various Models: Packard Range, 1941-1958, Z. Taylor Vinson Collection, Hagley Museum and Library.

Hollywood Cars – Steve Bolander’s 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala in American Graffiti

Trade catalog for the 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala.

Over the holiday season, I had the pleasure of watching the classic movie American Graffiti, a coming-of-age comedy released by Universal Pictures in 1973. Directed by George Lucas and featuring a cast of then up-and-coming actors including Ron Howard (as Steve Bolander), Richard Dreyfus, Paul Le Mat, and Harrison Ford, the film offered a nostalgic look at California’s youth car culture during the early 1960s. Set in Modesto, California in the summer of 1962, the film’s multiple plot lines follow the activities of a group of teenagers over the course of an evening. Shot mainly in Petaluma, California and produced on a small budget, American Graffitiwas a hit with critics and movie-going audiences alike, garnering rave reviews and winning a Golden Globe Award.

While watching American Graffiti, I could not help but notice the number of interesting vintage cars that appeared in the film. It also occurred to me that 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the film’s release. With those facts in mind, I decided to write this week’s blog on one of the cars that appeared in the film. I settled upon the car that arguably had the most prominent role in the film: Steve Bolander’s 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala.

First introduced in October 1957, the 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala was a full-sized car that occupied the upper end of the Chevrolet’s newly redesigned Bel Air series. Selling in the $2500-$2900 range, it was marketed as a sporty upmarket car that was available at an affordable price. At the time of its introduction, it was notably longer, lower, and wider than previous Chevrolet models. The Bel Air Impala was quite large, measuring 209.1 inches long and riding on a 117.5 inch wheelbase. It could be ordered with one of a number of engine options, including a 235.5 cubic inch inline-six and several 283 and 348 cubic inch V-8’s. The car was available in only two body styles: a two-door Hardtop Sport Coupe and a Hardtop Sport Convertible. Body styling cues included dual headlights, triple taillights, and sculpted rear fenders. The Bel Air Impala proved to be popular with the American motoring public and it helped Chevrolet regain the title of number one producer in the American market during a recession year.

Trade catalog image of a 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala Hardtop Sport Coupe. Note the triple taillights.

The 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala that appeared in American Graffiti was a customized two-door Hardtop Sport Coupe model. This car appeared frequently throughout the movie and figured prominently in some of the movie’s more memorable scenes (which included cruising around Modesto, being stolen, then subsequently recovered). At the time of filming, it was powered by a 348 cubic inch Chevrolet Tri-Power V-8, which was mated to a three-speed manual transmission. The car was originally painted blue, but had been repainted white by the time it appeared in the film. It was equipped with a number of non-stock items, most notably taillights from a 1959 Cadillac and a customized interior that featured tuck and roll upholstery.

Happily, the 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala used in American Graffiti is still in existence today and preserved by a private owner. Photographs of this car can be viewed at the following websites: Petaluma, California’s Salute to American Graffiti (http://americangraffiti.net/) and Unofficial American Graffiti(http://unofficialamericangriffiti.weebly.com).

Sources

ImpalaForums.com

IMDb (Internet Movie Database)

Kowalke, Ron, ed., 4th Edition, Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975, Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications, 1997, p. 168-170.

Petaluma, California’s Salute to American Graffiti

Unofficial American Graffiti

 

Kenton Jaehnig is the Project Archivist for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.

Saab 93 – Santa Claus’ Car of Choice

Santa Claus driving a Saab 93B

Once again, the Christmas Day will soon be upon us. Every year, automakers launch holiday advertising campaigns in hopes of encouraging people to buy their products. A favorite advertising tactic used by automakers during Christmastime is to send out Christmas cards advertising their latest models to the motoring public. During the late 1950s, the Swedish automaker Saab Automobile AB came up with a fun idea for its Christmas cards. Saab apparently asked the following question: what kind of car would Santa Claus drive? If one were to take Saab’s word for it, Santa would be the proud owner of a Saab 93.

The Saab 93 was a small economy sedan. Manufactured between 1955 and 1960, the 93 was specifically designed for operation in difficult driving conditions one encounters in Sweden. Sweden is noted for its harsh winters, which tend to be long, cold, and snowy. At the time of the 93’s production, much of the country’s highway network consisted of rough gravel roads. In order to create a car that could effectively cope with such extraordinary conditions, Saab adopted a number of unorthodox design ideas when it developed the 93. The end result was a unique car that was well-suited for the driving conditions of its home country.

Santa Claus and his elves loading a Saab 93F

In terms of overall design, the Saab 93 was very unusual for its time. It was a small car for its day, measuring a mere 158 inches long, 58 inches high, and 62 inches wide. Yet it had a surprisingly roomy interior, which could seat 4-5 people and featured seats that could be folded into a double-bed. The 93 was powered by a decidedly unconventional power plant, a 748 cc 3-cylinder 2-stroke engine. The car was equipped with front-wheel drive and rode on four-wheel independent suspension (using coil springs in both the front and the rear). The whole package was clothed with a round and bulbous body designed by Swedish industrial designer Sixten Sason. The body featured very rigid unitary construction and was highly aerodynamic for its day, achieving a drag coefficient of 0.32.

Although strange in appearance and concept, the Saab 93 was well-suited for operation in harsh northern climes. The 93 was very solidly constructed and could take a lot of abuse. The car’s front- wheel drive system gave it excellent traction in ice and snow. Its four-wheel independent suspension blessed it with excellent road-holding abilities and allowed for a safe and surprisingly comfortable ride over rough roads. Over the course of its production life, the 93 earned a reputation for reliability and durability. Its reputation was further enhanced by its success in motorsports, winning a number of international rallies.

In an effort to advertise the car’s reputation for reliability and durability, Saab presented the 93 as Santa Claus’ car of choice in its advertising Christmas cards during the late 1950s. Although done in a light-hearted vein, there is arguably more kernel of plausibility to it. If one were to follow Saab’s logic, because jolly old St. Nick lives at the North Pole, an isolated region noted for extreme cold, heavy snow, and a lack of good roads, it seems only reasonable to believe that he would want a car that is reliable, durable, and designed for operation in harsh northern climes. If so, Saab certainly had a good case portraying Santa Claus as the proud owner of a 93.

To all readers of the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection, the staff of the Hagley Museum and Library wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We will be back in 2013 more fascinating items to share with you.

Sources

Covello, Mike, Standard Catalog of Imported Cars, 1946-2002; Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications, 2002, p. 708-709.

Saab from Sweden: Saab: Trade Catalogs: Specific Model: 93, Z. Taylor Vinson Collection, Hagley Museum and Library.

Saab History 1947-2011 http://saabhistory.com/

“Santa loading his SAAB,”: Saab: General Publications: Promotional Items: Calendar and Christmas Cards, Z. Taylor Vinson Collection, Hagley Museum and Library, 1958, n.d.

Untitled, Christmas Card of Santa Claus in a Saab 93B: Saab: General Publications: Promotional Items: Calendar and Christmas Cards, Z. Taylor Vinson Collection, Hagley Museum and Library, 1958, n.d.

Kenton Jaehnig is the Project Archivist for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.

Non-Automotive Materials in the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection: Trains Series

1946 Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad passenger train timetable

When I started working on the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection in July, I was surprised and delighted to learn Mr. Vinson was not only an automobile enthusiast, he was also very interested in railroads. In addition to that, he was also a frequent and avid traveler and he took a number of train trips in the United States and overseas. While pursuing his interests in railroads and travel, he accumulated a fascinating collection of railroad memorabilia. In recognition of Mr. Vinson’s interest in this mode of transportation, I decided to focus on the portion of the collection containing materials he collected that pertain to railroads: the Trains series.

The Trains series is one of the smallest portions of the collection, containing only 3.5 boxes of materials. But as is the case with the other non-automotive series, the depth and significance of its contents more than make up for its small size. The materials found in the Trains series date from 1865 to 2008, but a large majority of them where published in twentieth century. The series’ contents focus mainly on railroad companies. A number of railroads in the United States and Europe are represented in this series, including present-day companies such as Amtrak and Deutesche Bahn, and defunct companies such as the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad and the New York Central Railroad. There are also a small handful of items concerning railroads in Canada, Africa, and Asia.

1938 passenger information brochure for the New York Central Railroad’s 20th Century Limited

In addition to items pertaining to railroad companies, the Trains series also contains a small amount of materials regarding manufacturers of railroad equipment. A handful of American and European rail equipment manufacturers are represented in this series, including present-day firms such Siemens AG and defunct firms such as Pullman Company. The types of equipment manufactured by these firms include locomotives, railroad passenger cars, locomotive motors, and urban mass transit equipment.

Catalog for Pullman Company’s exhibit at the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair

The contents of the Trains series consists mainly of materials published by the railroad companies and equipment manufacturers represented in this series. Many of the publications, including, but not limited to, timetables, fleet catalogs, and passenger information brochures are striking similar to those found in the Airline Company Series ( see Non-Automotive Materials the in Z. Taylor Vinson Collection: Airline Companies Series). Other items, including, but not limited to, trade catalogs, annual reports, and company magazines, more closely resemble materials found in the Automobile Makes series. Also found in the Trains series are a handful of magazine and newspaper advertisements through which the railroad companies and equipment manufacturers publicized themselves and their services. The series also contains a few items published by neither the railroad companies nor the equipment manufacturers, including, but not limited to, newspaper articles and magazine articles.

Although the Trains series is a very small, it does not lack for fascinating items. One such item is a 1946 passenger train timetable for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. Another item of interest is a 1938 passenger information brochure for the New York Central Railroad’s famous 20th Century Limited. Also of interest is a catalog for Pullman Company’s exhibit at the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair, where the firm showed its latest railroad passenger cars.

Sources

Chesapeake and Ohio Lines, Route of The George Washington, The Sportsman, The F.F.V., June 9, 1946, Timetables, Trains: Chesapeake & Ohio: Timetables, 1933-1968

Pullman, Trains: Oversized: Pullman, 1929-1935, n.d.

The New 20th Century Limited, New York Central System, The Water Level Route….You Can Sleep, Trains: Oversized: New York Central, n.d.

Kenton Jaehnig is the Project Archivist for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.

Information Day – Saturday, October 13

Trade catalog for the 1948 Nash model lineup, Z. Taylor Vinson Collection

For more than a year, we have been using this blog to highlight individual items in the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection and to report on the progress of our work on this unique and significant historical resource. Although this blog is an excellent publication relations tool, we felt that there was something lacking. Even though the Vinson Collection will not be open for researchers until 2014, we know that many of you are eager to see the collection in person. We also thought that many of you would be interested in seeing how we go about processing the collection for research use by the general public.

Trade catalog for the 1951 Volkswagen model lineup, Z. Taylor Vinson Collection

With such considerations in mind, we have decided to give the public a sneak peak at the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection! As part of our celebration of American Archives Month, we cordially invite you to visit Hagley Library for Information Day, which will be held on Saturday, October 13th, from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Attendance at this event is included with admission. Visitors will be given a sneak peak at some of the treasures from the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection, including items concerning automobiles and other forms of transportation, including railroads, airplanes, and ships. Visitors will also be treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the work involved in making this historical resource available to the general public.

Menu from the British mail steamer RMS Scythia, Z. Taylor Vinson Collection

By all means stop by Hagley Library to help us celebrate American Archives Month and learn more about the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection! We will look forward to seeing you on Saturday, October 13!

For further information, visit the Hagley Museum and Library’s website at www.hagley.org/events.html.

Sources
Trade catalog for the 1948 Nash model lineup, Z. Taylor Vinson Collection

Trade catalog for the 1951 Volkswagen model lineup, Z. Taylor Vinson Collection

Menu from the British mail steamer RMS Scythia, Z. Taylor Vinson Collection

The items above can be viewed in their entirety in the Vinson Digital Archive.

Kenton Jaehnig is the Project Archivist for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.

Greetings to the Vinson Community!

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Kenton Jaehnig and I am the new Project Archivist/Cataloger for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library. I assumed my duties on July 6th from Emily Cottle, whom as you may already know, left us to become the University Archivist/Special Collections Librarian at Delaware State University. I feel much honored to have been chosen to continue the processing and cataloging of the Vinson Collection. I am truly excited to be granted the opportunity to work with this very significant collection of transportation materials.

A little bit about my background. I received my B.A. in history from the University of Pittsburgh and earned my M.A. in history from Wright State University, with a concentration in archives and historical administration. Professionally, I have over twelve years of archives processing experience and have processed a number of large twentieth-century archives collections over the course of my career. I arrived at Hagley Museum and Library in March 2011. Before coming to Hagley, I held processing archivist positions at the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, the University of Wyoming, and the University of Virginia. At Hagley, prior to accepting the Vinson position, I served as the William Pahlmann Project Archivist.

In addition to my archives background, I have a longstanding personal and scholarly interest in automobiles. As with Vinson, my fascination with automobiles dates back to childhood. In recent years, I have developed a scholarly interest in imported cars that started arriving on American shores in the years following World War II. I am the author of a scholarly article on this subject entitled “History of Foreign Cars in Wyoming: 1946 to 1963,” which was published in the Spring 2006 issue of Annals of Wyoming.

We will continue to use the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection blog to highlight unique items, discuss our methodology, and to keep everyone informed of the progress of the project. We will also continue to update this blog on a weekly basis with features submitted by myself, interns, and volunteers. So stayed tuned for the latest developments on the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection project!

Alas, it is now time for me to get back to work on this ever-fascinating collection. Before I do, I would like to thank Emily Cottle for all of her hard work on Z. Taylor Vinson Collection project and to wish her the best of luck at Delaware State University. Emily’s contributions are, and will continue to be vital to the success of this project. For my part, I will strive to complete the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection project in accordance with the high standards established by Emily. I am also looking forward to hearing your responses to the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection blog.

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