When the conversation turns to limousines used to ferry movie stars, dignitaries and royalty, the usual marques come to the forefront, such as Rolls Royce, Bentley, Cadillac and Mercedes. The discussion usually gets around to, and focuses on, the Lincoln limousines used during the Kennedy administration in the early 1960s.
Hess & Eisenhardt began supplying the United States with limousines in 1942 with The Phoenix, an H-Series seven-passenger Lincoln Continental limousine. It was originally supplied to U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt and later was utilized by president Harry S. Truman.
While there were other Lincolns used for presidential transport, in earlier and later administrations, none equal the timeless design of the 1961 Continental. Clean, with sharp-edged styling, the 1961 Lincoln was one of the few automobiles ever awarded a medal for excellence by the Industrial Design Institute.
President John F. Kennedy had a real soft spot for these design-setting Lincolns, especially the convertibles, and the White House garage was known to house several Lincoln limousines as well as a pair of convertibles for impromptu and possibly clandestine outings.
While the Hess & Eisenhardt prepared Lincoln SS-100X was the car most used, and unfortunately bears the infamy of being the vehicle in which Kennedy was riding in when assassinated in Dallas, Texas on Nov. 22, 1963, there were other noted Lincoln limousines used during his administration.
The 1962 Lincoln Continental 297X was Jacqueline Kennedy's personal transport. Called the "bubble- top" it featured a full Plexiglass rear roof section. The clear top afforded the first lady and …
General Motors, Chevrolet Division introduced the El Camino in late 1958 as a new 1959 model. Positioned as a sales competitor against the Ford Ranchero that came to market in 1957, the all-new El Camino offered the same versatility of a car-like ride, styling and the ability to do some light hauling when the occasion arose. In Spanish El Camino means, 'the path'; it was Chevrolet's first coupe pickup since 1941 and a replacement for the super-styled 1955-1957 Cameo half-ton pickup truck. Advertised as, "More than a car... More than a truck," the El Camino had a six-foot box and a respectable load capacity of 1,150-pounds. Based on the Biscayne station wagon, the El Camino could be ordered in everything from 'Plain Jane' to full Bel Air trim levels. The 1960 model would continue more or less the same, but Chevrolet stumbled for four years until the El Camino would resurface again.
Introduced in 1964 as a mid-size model between the Impala and the Chevy II, the new Chevrolet Chevelle was to become the new platform for the El Camino. Restyled in 1966, the Chevelle line grew in both overall size and added new big-block engine options, making it even more attractive from a performance standpoint. For 1968 the Chevelle got a total restyle with a new wedge-shaped body, upgraded chassis and components.
This is where the El Camino really began to shine. It held its own as everything from a commercial light-duty pickup, to a boulevard cruiser able to take on …
Despite only minor trim restyling changes between the car's introduction in 1964 and through 1966, the Mustang continued to sell like proverbial hotcakes. Ford's one and only entry into the pony-car market proved a winner, and the car was so well received, they didn't dare change it, at least from an appearance standpoint.
Available as a convertible, hardtop or fastback model, they fit just about everyone's fancy and became most people's dream car. Any changes that did occur were upgrades to suspension, brakes and optional equipment that largely went unnoticed by most buyers. Based on the compact Ford Falcon platform, the Mustang was growing up and steadily earning a reputation as a performance car. When equipped with the right brakes, suspension and powertrain, the lightweight Mustang could be a real mover.
Today, the early Mustangs are still plentiful, in restored or original condition, and when paired with modern technology they can be built into everything from a street cruiser to a serious track car.
For Larry Tanchuk of Winnipeg, he purchased his 1966 Mustang coupe as a candidate for a father-son project in 1999. The 289-cubic-inch V-8, automatic-equipped car was originally sold in Saskatchewan and had received a previous restoration sometime in the 1980s. After driving the car basically as is for a year, Tanchuk decided it was time to get down to business and started dismantling the car for a full restoration.
With the car in pieces, it was time to get into removing any rusted panels from the body. As usual, …
Stepping back in time to 1969, the muscle-car era was at the height of its popularity.
The choices available from all of the Big Three manufacturers included everything from compact to intermediate and even full-size models, so buyers could opt for whatever turned their crank.
At Chrysler, the popularity of the Plymouth Road Runner in 1968 was an over-the-top success story. Based on the mid-size Satellite, it sold several thousand more units than expected.
Over in the Dodge camp, the Coronet lineup was based on the same B-body platform, and in an effort to attract buyers, the Super Bee model was born. The problem for Dodge was the Super Bee had to compete with the posher Coronet R/T and the other stand-alone B-body offering, the unique and already popular Dodge Charger. What resulted was Super Bee sales were significantly lower than the Road Runner. Today, lower sales figures simply mean a rarer model car when it comes to collectibility, and the Super Bee certainly fits the bill.
For Pat Fletcher of Winnipeg, performance is spelled M-O-P-A-R. Right from the 1960s, Fletcher has been a Chrysler enthusiast and has built and owned some of the most coveted muscle-car models ever produced. Just over two years ago, Fletcher had acquired an original rust-free '69 Super Bee from its initial owner in California.
"I had plans to turn it into a real killer car," says Fletcher. Unfortunately, a few weeks later Fletcher would fall victim to a debilitating stroke that left him in a wheelchair with a …
When looking for classic, antique and collectible vehicles, people often overlook the special-interest category. Unique in its own right, special-interest vehicles fall into a desirable category for two reasons: they are easily identifiable, or they represent a special time in history. Movie cars, especially, have always held a bit of both. The green Mustang from the movie Bullitt or the "stripped tomato" Torino from the Starsky & Hutch television drama are a couple that come to mind.
Looking at the new millennium, the 2001 debut of The Fast and the Furious brought a whole new dimension to how we viewed car movies. While the movie borrows its title from a 1955 movie starring John Ireland and Dorothy Malone, the new F&F brought computer generated graphics and a slick modern take on the street-racing scene in Southern California.
Filmed mostly in the areas of Long Beach Terminal Island, Prairie Avenue, the Los Angeles produce district, Hemet, and at Northern Air Force Base in San Bernardino, actors Vin Diesel and Paul Walker starred in the action adventure film depicting a gritty look at rival Los Angeles teams who use street racing as a means of establishing status.
Admittedly, it wasn't every car guy's cup of tea, but it did have enough nuts and bolts realism to hold their attention. The thought of making modifications to produce power in smaller packages was always a winning formula with the hot rod set, and through the movie, the cars took on a personality of their own.
The 1996 Acura …
Our real-time restoration of a 1961 Ford Starliner has come a long way since I hauled it home from Claresholm, Alta., in 2003.
Nearing the end of a frame-off, rotisserie-body restoration by the autobody students at Kildonan East Collegiate, it's been a shop training aid many of the students have had a hand in.
Last week at Kildonan East, the senior class and instructors said goodbye to Project Starliner. From the start in 2005, everyone knew this was going to be a long and slow process. We hoped the car would offer an opportunity for the students to be involved in a full restoration and allow them to take part in some real panel fabrication usually only seen in professional restoration shops.
Then there was the commitment from the instructors, Paul Asselstine, John Kelly and Dan Labossiere. The autobody repair and refinishing program at Kildonan East covers the metal repair and painting procedures on automotive vehicles. Students are afforded the opportunity to develop skills that will enhance their ability to make autobody repairs to vehicles and to seek employment in autobody, welding related fields, estimating, parts management and the automotive industry as a whole. Over the years, the car has seen dozens of metal panels welded in and probably as many removed and redone until it was felt the car was where it should be with contour and fit.
While this was happening, in the power mechanics shop recently retired instructor Murray Malcolmson led the students through the installation of all-new front suspension …
When the 1928 Model A Ford arrived at dealerships in North America, it replaced the Model T that had owned the road the previous two decades.
Solid engineering, updated styling and a palatable price helped Ford sell 208,562 units in its first year of production. On the surface it didn't look like anything monumental, but as history bears, it was the new foundation the Ford Motor Company would be built upon.
When it came to trucks back then, they were generally the heavy-duty workhorses of the day and not easily suited to light-duty hauling.
At the Ford Motor Company, the solution was to simply use a short two-door car body with a small box in back to make a light-duty pickup truck.
Small, versatile and as easy to drive as any car, the Model A pickup was a popular model. Built initially as an open car, the closed-cab version wouldn't be available until later in 1928, so the early AR models have some additional value because of some unique features, such as a left-hand parking brake.
Today, there's many restored examples of the early Model A Ford. But most are sought after as the basis for building a hot rod, with the roadster at the top of the list.
For Ted Klatt of Winnipeg, his 1928 Model A Ford roadster pickup was found in 1975 around Killarney, Man. After cutting down several trees growing through the frame rails, Klatt was able to drag it out of the bush and have a good look at it. …
She's real fine my 409, my 4...0...9.
The line comes from the Beach Boys song 409, released in '62 and letting everyone know about Chevy's newest high-performance powerplant.
Introduced in October 1957 as a 348-cubic-inch engine intended for Chevy trucks, it had the low-end torque needed for pulling heavy loads. But by the late '50s General Motors realized the additional cubic inches and torque from the 348 was also needed to pull the weight of the ever-growing full-size Chevrolet.
The 348 responded well to increases in compression and carburetion to the point that it kept Chevrolet competitive in the market. But in late 1961 an increase in bore and stroke to yield 409 cubic inches really got the ball rolling. Again, increases in compression and a move to dual four-barrel carburetors yielded 425 horsepower at 6,000 r.p.m., making the Chevy a viable street machine and successful weekend racer.
By 1964 there was a new player in town called the mid-sized LeMans GTO, which had less weight and almost as much performance potential. The full-sized cars were losing some of their performance image. But, hook a full-size Impala Super Sport up with the 425 horsepower 409 V8 and fading quietly into the woodwork wasn't an option.
There were 8,684 Chevrolets built in 1964 with the 409 V8, so finding one today can be a bit of a challenge. But since less than 10 per cent of them found their way into the Impala Super Sport convertible, finding a needle in a haystack starts to look like …
There are many things that can change over 20 years, but for the Fabulous 50's Ford Club of Manitoba, keeping things the same has proven to be a winning formula.
With the club now celebrating two decades of existence, it's about to throw another party as they host their 20th annual Flashback Weekend Show.
The club kicks it off this evening with the Sock Hop Dance at Transcona Country Club. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the event features legendary local band Free Ride and 1950s and '60s music all night long from DJ Rockin' Ernie. Members of Patricia's Dance Studio and Shirley's Dance Studio will also be on hand to help you find those dance steps you may have forgotten and teach you a few new ones.
A silent auction loaded with prizes will take place throughout the evening, with proceeds in support of the Children's Rehabilitation Foundation, helping them in their work supporting children with special needs. Tickets are available from club members, and can be obtained by calling 204-453-FORD.
The club will shift gears Saturday as it hosts a cruise for all antique, classic and special-interest vehicles. Departing at 2 p.m. from Canad Inns Garden City, the cars will cruise north on Main Street and then along River Road before stopping at the Half Moon Drive In in Lockport, where prizes, games, burgers, hot dogs and fries will be on the menu.
The biggest event of the weekend takes place Sunday, as the club present's the Flashback Weekend car show. Manitoba's largest …
Along with vehicles, collecting is also about 'automobilia'. Things such as advertising, sales brochures, service station memorabilia and other items that made the automotive explosion of the 20th century viable, are also quite desirable among serious collectors.
Gas station signs, oil cans and gas pumps top the list when it comes to those everyday items that were often forgotten or taken for granted in the day. Today those items enjoy the limelight in collections that recognize there was much more to it than the car itself keeping the family on the road.
The Manitoba Street Rod Association was formed in Winnipeg in July 1972. Four decades later the club has grown to be one of the largest clubs in the area, with a solid trail of credits for hosting major local shows as well as regional and national rod runs. Another side of the club is its steadfast support for the community and finding ways to raise money for worthy organizations. As a fundraising tool for this year, the club went looking for what many consider the holy grail of a collection -- the gas pump.
Gasoline pumps have been around since the late 1800s in several forms and configurations. From the tall, glass models of the 1920s and '30s that draw the most attention, because of their sheer size, to the almost art deco look of the electric pumps from the postwar era, all are favourable additions to the garage display or man-cave.
Club member Don Blowatt graciously donated a gas …