Start Your Engines: Famous Firsts in the History of NASCAR

Start Your Engines: Famous Firsts in the History of NASCAR by Jay W. Pennell
Published 2015 by Sports Publications
198pp., hardcover

ISBN: 978-1-61321-828-0

Purchased used from private seller.

Despite a recent decline in popularity, NASCAR remains a big draw for sports fans and is a staple of weekend TV programming. Though the actual cars on the track haven’t been closely related to their showroom brethren for decades, NASCAR still represents a significant marketing vehicle for the manufacturers involved and many fans maintain brand loyalties connected to their racing favourites.

My interest in racing has waxed and waned over the years – this year I’ve watched maybe half a NASCAR race on television, while in other years I would wake at all hours to catch whatever F1 Grand Prix was happening, even participated in NASCAR pools. I find as I read more about cars, I cannot deny the role various types of automobile racing plays in development. As such, I find I want to read more about the various racing series. I found Start Your Engines: Famous Firsts in the History of NASCAR on a local buy and sell site, so I scooped it up.

Now, this is most definitely a book about NASCAR, and pretty specifically about the history of the organization, tracks, people and milestones. There’s very little actual reference to the cars, other ‘Richard Petty’s Pontiac’ or ‘the Chevy of Dale Earnhardt’. That said, I was very interested in the many ‘firsts’ found inside… the first meeting that resulted in NASCAR’s creation, the story of the first super speedway, the first racer to win 5 consecutive championships, the first women and the first black racers. Some of these, I was somewhat acquainted with, but many other stories were new to me.

Author Jay Pennell presents these firsts chapter by chapter, starting with the meeting Bill France Sr. called to consolidate stock car racing, creating NASCAR and the Strictly Stock class in 1949. Though the chapters do follow the real chronology, each ‘first’ is written so as not to depend on previous chapters. Some information is repeated in multiple chapters, but frankly I found I liked that one could pick up this book and just read a story they chose without having to scan back for clarification.

Longtime fans of stock car racing will recognize a number of the names and stories… how Bill Elliott came to be called ‘Million Dollar Bill’; Cale Yarborough fighting the Allison brothers; the first Hall of Fame induction class, including Junior Johnson, Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty. It was also interesting to read how Brian France devised the idea for the Chase for the Cup, and how that has evolved over the years.

Aside from the book itself, I found myself interested in Jay Pennell’s story. In the foreword, Jeff Gluck refers to Pennell as ‘the first citizen journalist’ to make a name in NASCAR media. Pennell grew up a fan of the racing series. It was his passion for NASCAR that led him to start writing about it, though he was not studying journalism or working for any specific outlet. Over time, he began creating content for a number of online outlets. At the time this book was published, Pennell was working as a digital content programmer for FOXSports. His LinkedIn profile now says he’s a brand manager with NASCAR. To me, Pennell’s dedication to chasing the career he wanted, and achieving it, is an impressive one.

Start Your Engines: Famous Firsts in the History of NASCAR is a pretty quick and easy read. In relation to other books over reviewed here, it’s much like Wide Open: Days and Nights on the NASCAR Tour, not only for the obvious, but because there isn’t much specifically about cars. I include it in this blog because of the connections to cars, car collecting, driving, and some of the personalities who are so intertwined with automobiles. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in NASCAR history or wishing to learn more about racing.

Pros: a quick read; stories are well-told, without being too long; spans the first 65 years of NASCAR
Cons: really, none, considering the scope of the book is to cover ‘firsts in NASCAR’; just 15 black-and-white photos
Where to find it: Amazon, new and used bookstores

You might also enjoy…
Wide Open: Days and Nights on the NASCAR Tour
Grand Prix Cars 1945-65
Ferrari all the Cars. New enlarged edition

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British Auto Legends: Classics of Style and Design

British Auto Legends: Classics of Style and Design by Michel Zumbrunn and Richard Heseltine
Published 2014 (hardcover edition) by Merrell
288pp., hardcover

ISBN: 978-1-8589-4599-6

Purchased new online

I enjoy reading about cars. But I make no secret that I really enjoy good automotive photography. I mean, I want to see the machines in all their glory. British Auto Legends: Classics of Style and Design is an impressive book filled with gorgeous photography of some of the most beautiful and renowned automobiles ever made.

The fact that Michel Zumbrunn is credited first gives the clue that automotive photography is the focus here. And the images are spectacular. Each car is shot against a dark background, no distractions. Features of between 2 and 8 pages show off the cars, from full exterior shots to engine and detail shots. Of course, each photo subject appears to be an impeccable example, appearing as though it sits new on the showroom floor, well-polished, in many cases jewel-like.

Richard Heseltine provides the text, including the 26 page introduction. That may seem like a lot of space, but Heseltine does a wonderful job with an overview of the British automotive history. I was familiar with some of the negatives of the industry in the UK, especially the woes of BMC/British-Leyland. However, I wasn’t aware that at one time, Britain was the world’s leading vehicle exporter (taking advantage of its Commonwealth reach). This intro provides a basic foundation to understand the environment that produced the legendary cars that follow on these pages.

Heseltine adds a one page description to each feature detailing the car, with further captions on the smaller photos. The text explains the car’s significance, which can run the gamut from sales success to design importance to racing glory. Some of these were cars you’d see every day on the streets, ‘everyman’ transportation. Others are well-known as desirable collectibles, often quickly mentioned when discussing ‘British classics’. And still others are special, purpose-built machines that gained fame on the race track or as ‘supercars’.

So, the cars. The first feature is only the 1907 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. Autocar magazine proclaimed it “best car in the world”, establishing Rolls-Royce as probably the world’s most prestigious automaker. The second feature is the Austin 7, England’s answer to Ford’s Model T and a significant influence in the histories of both BMW and Nissan. There’s the Golden Arrow and the Napier-Railton, racers that had significant achievements for English motor racing. And there are icons… the Mini, E-Type, DB4GT, XK120, R-Type Continental, TC Midget, Esprit and DB7. Thee are truly classics of style and design, among the best and most recognizable British cars.

The book wraps with some brief biographies of significant people in British automotive history, a short glossary of automotive terms, and a good list of auto museums. I always appreciate these little appendices to books. Yes, we have the internet and can search things easily ourselves. But, I think it’s a great touch when an author can guide us with some of their ‘inside knowledge’.

I realize there are always compromises to be made when creating a book. There’s always more that might have been included but for considerations of keeping a book to a reasonable length. This leads me to a comment and a criticism. Now certainly some cars, even very well-known models, are not found here. That’s simply comment, because in fairness, an argument can be made as to the ‘legend’ status of such cars. I am somewhat familiar with 2 absent models, the Triumph TR3 and the MGB, both staples at any British car show. However, neither appears in this book – instead the TR3’s successor TR4 and the MGB’s predecessor MGA do show up. This is not an anthology, and frankly I’d think this situation could even spark some lively debate among enthusiasts on which car is preferred.

My criticism though is that in the case of some cars that are included, they seem given short shrift. A single feature photo and a smaller detail shot of cars such as the Gilbern Invader or even Jaguar XK8 doesn’t seem adequate when compared to the exposure other cars are given. That’s disappointing considering some cars are really quite rare and a book such as this might be one of the very few ways to see such cars. But again, concessions must be made.

I normally don’t address a book’s price, but in this case it’s something to note. At a cover price of $54.95CDN ($49.95US/£29.95UK), this is a great bargain to pick up. The photography is fantastic. The writing is well done. And the subject matter is simply fascinating overall. Similar books I’ve seen price up to double this book. I think this is a must-have, one that an enthusiast will enjoy over and over.

Pros: fantastic photography, some rare models featured
Cons: some models might not be as well covered as they could have been
Where to find it: online and retail bookstores

You might also enjoy…
Jaguar: A Pictorial History
Motoring: The Golden Years: A Pictorial Anthology
Roadsters and Runabouts: Collecting and Restoring Antique Classic and Special Interest Sports Cars

Pontiac Trans Am: 50 Years

Pontiac Trans Am: 50 Years by Tom Glatch
Published 2018 by Motorbooks Publishing
176 pp., hardcover

ISBN: 978-0-7603-5766-8

Purchased new from an online retailer.

Pontiac Trans Ams have been on my mind for the last while. A car guy friend who has a 1969 Grand Prix has been shopping for a 1974-75 Trans Am, something his dad once owned. We send each other ads we see on various car marketplaces, and shoot the shit about the ad, the car, etc.

Growing up in the 70s and 80s, the Trans Am was really the hot ticket, hotter than even the Corvette. Sure, the ‘Vette still had its mystique. But Pontiac’s ultimate Firebird had flash and still had a lot of muscle under the hood. In fact, in the mid to late 70s, when the Z/28 had been mothballed, Ford was flogging the Mustang II, and Chrysler had essentially abandoned muscle cars, Pontiac still offered the Trans Am with either a 400 or 455 Pontiac engine (though some cars had the Olds 403), capable of performing something like a 1960s musclecar. And it helped that the TA found itself featured in some popular movies being driven by some of the coolest stars.

Tom Glatch’s Pontiac Trans Am: 50 Years reviews the story of one of the most popular cars of the musclecar/ponycar era. For those who may not know, this book came out in 2018, which makes it 50 years since the debut of the Trans Am option in 1969. The official Trans Am was actually available for only 35 years, ending in 2002 when GM ceased production of Firebird (and for a time, Camaro).

As I read Pontiac Trans Am, I decided my best comparisons might be that it’s less Corvette 60th Anniversary and more Legendary Corvettes: ‘Vettes Made Famous on Track and Screen. That is to say that while there is technical information about Trans Ams, how they were developed and constructed, and a number of passages about Pontiac and GM, it seems much more of this book is dedicated to the marketing of the T/A. And a great deal of that marketing, especially in the 1970 and early 1980s, revolves around movie and television placements.

I guess I’d say the real ‘car stuff’ deals with the development of the original Firebird, the idea to license the name ‘Trans Am’ from SCCA, and the story of the stillborn 303ci engine for actual Trans Am racing. There’s some great information about the development of the 2nd generation Firebird, the structure of how cars were designed in the Bill Mitchell years at GM, the story of the ‘Flaming Bird’ decals and designs, and how the Special Edition, Gold Edition and 10th Anniversary cars came about. Also highlighted are the creation of the 301ci thin-wall engine to improve economy, the development of the 3rd and 4th generation cars, as well as other special cars such as the GTA, Turbo TA and Firehawk. So, there is quite a bit of techy type info.

That said, there’s a lot of reference to the marketing. There’s Natalie Carroll, The Firebird Girl, a former assembly line worker chosen to appear in promo material. There are synopses of movies Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, McQ and The Hunter, all of which saw Clint Eastwood, John Wayne and Steve McQueen (respectively) driving Trans Ams. And there are many pages devoted to the 3 best-known roles: The Rockford Files, Knight Rider, and the Smokey and The Bandit movie franchise which vaulted the black-and-gold Trans Am to the height of cool in the late 1970s.

How popular is the Pontiac Trans Am, 20 years after GM built its last T/A? A 1977 Special Edition black-and-gold T/A, used from promotional events surrounding Smokey and the Bandit, with just 14 miles on the odometer, sold by Mecum for $440,000US. Granted, that’s an extremely low-mile car with special provenance. But a recent search on Hemmings.com yielded 125 results: of those, 30 original Trans Ams (and 1 2011 Camaro converted to a Trans Am look) had asking prices of more than $50,000US, and another 20 were listed as ‘Inquire’ or were scheduled for auction. That’s a fairly strong market.

As for this book, I enjoyed it for the most part. The photography is great, many really stunning examples of T/A are featured. I also enjoyed some of the movie and tv-related images. I think I would have liked more pages directly related to the cars and engines, even if that meant the book had 40 or 50 pages added. At this length, I felt a little like the pop culture stuff took too much ink. Still, a handsome addition to my collection.

Pros: great photos; some good ‘insider’ info around GM and an iconic car
Cons: a little too many movie/pop culture references
Where to find it: online and traditional bookstores

You may also enjoy…
Pontiac: The Performance Years
1979 Pontiac Trans Am
The Illustrated Directory of Muscle Cars

Ferrari all the Cars. New enlarged edition

Ferrari all the Cars. New enlarged edition by Leonardo Acerbi
Published 2019, Giorgio Nada Editore
512pp., hardcover

ISBN: 978-88-7911-733-3

Purchased new from a chain book retailer.

When I reviewed Great Marques: Ferrari, I said I have always had a preference for Ferrari. It may be due to a combination of my Italian heritage, Ferrari’s F1 success in the mid 1970s, and the pop-culture exposure the marque had over some of the other exotics. That’s not to say I didn’t care for other cars – I did. There just seemed to be something about Ferrari that, for me, elevated it above others.

As I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, I was most exposed to certain Ferraris: the 308GTB/GTS, the 365GTB Daytona, even the Dino 308GT4. But it was the Testarossa and ultimately the 288 GTO, both debuting in 1984, that really sealed my admiration for the marque. Of course, as time passed I came to learn of many other cars bearing the prancing horse badge, but as I’ve written in this blog, I really had not put much effort into learning about vehicles from outside North America. Until now.

Leonardo Acerbi’s Ferrari all the Cars. New enlarged edition is an interesting volume. Physically, it’s a small book, about 6.25”x8.25”, yet its over 500 pages and hardcover binding makes it a heavy book at almost 2.5 pounds. So, it’s small yet certainly not a pocket book.

I enjoyed the layout though it was a little peculiar. The introduction and foreword are short at a page each, and then it’s right into ‘CATALOGUE 1940-2019’. Beginning with the 1940 Auto Avio Costruzioni 815, the first car Enzo Ferrari built after leaving Alfa Romeo, and culminating with the SF90 car that competed in the 2019 F1 season, a 2-page spread shows each car in Ferrari’s history. This includes not only the GT road-going cars, but the F1, CAN-AM and World Championship race cars as well as a number of prototypes. Each article contains an illustration by Giorgio Alisi displaying the car in profile, text describing the car or the circumstances of its existence, a photo of an example of the car, and a chart filled with technical information.

The peculiar thing to me was that the small photo and chart are displayed on the left of the spread, while the title, illustration and main text are on the right. It seemed the reverse of a proper format. But I must admit that there were numerous instances where I found even the text a little awkward. I decided I’d chalk it up to Italian-to-English translation, though I don’t really know for fact. And there were a number of typos throughout, which long-time followers will know is a pet peeve of mine.

Acerbi writes with admiration for these cars, perhaps a little over the top. The author is effusive in his praise, especially when describing the exterior designs. It is not unwarranted. Of course, most of Ferrari’s GTs were designed by Pininfarina, and frankly they are gorgeous cars. There’s a lot of positives written about the engineering also, again much of it warranted. I wouldn’t say the writing is overly technical. Frankly there isn’t really the space to get so detailed. But Acerbi does a good job explaining the progressive development of Ferraris V12s and V8s especially.

That said, the author does not hide the failings of many of the F1 car designs. Ferrari suffered long droughts between Constructor’s and Driver’s Championships, and for most racecar profiles, Acerbi accounts for the results – good and bad – the cars were able to achieve. It should be noted that these profiles tend to include an amount of information about the Scuderia and the drivers. This is to be expected, as the cars, team and drivers are quite intertwined. It would be incomplete to talk about the cars without some focus on Lauda, Schumacher, and others. To that end, I note the end of the book includes a ‘Roll of Honor’, a listing of wins by Ferrari F1 and World Championship drivers, including the car they piloted.

I found Ferrari all the Cars to be a very good book all in all. I became acquainted with so many cars I had barely even known of. Certainly, I’d have enjoyed more photos and illustrations. For some models, the description of the car forced me to the internet to find views of the front, back and interior. But, what was great was that it was very easy to see the progression in the cars Ferrari produced, how the shapes flow from one model to the next, how each year’s F1 car built on the previous.

This is a great basis to build one’s knowledge on the cars of Ferrari. It strikes a good balance between styling and mechanicals, and shows an integration between the road and race cars. and I think it’s a stylish book, attractively (if somewhat unusually) laid out.

Pros: all the Ferrari cars to 2019 profiled; good technical data; great illustrations
Cons: not enough images; writing style might not appeal to everyone
Where to find it: online and retail bookstores

You might also enjoy…
Grand Prix Cars 1945-65
Great Marques: Ferrari
Motoring: The Golden Years: A Pictorial Anthology

Another Update

Evidently I am having trouble getting back into regular posting on this blog.

As I’ve mentioned, there are a few things changing in my day-to-day. The big one of course is a new job. After 22 years of mostly graphic design desk jobs (including the last 3 freelancing from home), I have started as an assembly line worker building motor vehicles. And I have to say, it’s kicking my ass. It’s fast-paced, and there’s a lot of info to take in and retain. Furthermore, my start time has been irregular – 6:30am start time one week, the next was 4:30pm. It’s much more physical than I’ve been used to since I left factory work in 2000, and my body is adjusting.

Why such a career shift? Well, truth be told, the graphics work I get simply isn’t enough. I do have some steady clients, but unfortunately they just don’t have enough work to sustain me. Of course, I have prospected new clients. It can difficult sometimes to get even those who express significant interest to commit. And sales has never been a strong suit of mine. That said, I still do have client work to do in addition to my new ‘regular job’.

So, I have not done a great deal of reading for this blog. I remain somewhat stalled on the Mustang technical reference book. I did start reading a recent acquisition on Ferrari, though that will take some time to chew through at close to 500 pages.

I have managed to run 2 car shows, one of which I’ve posted photos of already. We also brought out a few cars to Lakeshore Village Grilled Cheese Challenge street festival, which was a very nice time. I did not personally take any photos but I am to receive some from one of oour friends who did. Just a caution, many of the cars are repeat attendees from Montreal Deli. I do hope to make it out to many more car events this summer, so hopefully I will have many photos to post.

And of course, I hope to be adjusted to things in the near future, and I’ll be able to still carve out some time to sit, read and review books about cars.

Wheels Unlimited/Montreal Deli Car Show May 28, 2022

Sometimes, you just have to post something, so I thought I would post some of the quick cellpics I took during the Wheels Unlimited classic car show at Montreal Deli in Mississauga Ontario. I run Wheels Unlimited with my cousin Rob, and we run some fairly informal, fairly small shows around Mississauga and Etobicoke (just on the west side of Toronto).

Montreal Deli has sponsored us and hosted 2 car shows a year for about a dozen years. We really appreciate their hospitality and support. That’s why we schedule things so that Montreal Deli has our season opener and season closer shows. Though we are usually limited to about 30 cars, the cruisers are always happy to attend and the restaurant patrons love seeing the old cars in the parking lot. We also want to thank our new sponsor Musclecars & Classics for their support.

Now, without further ado…

One of our regular cruisers always bring out this honest 1963 Chev pickup
I enjoy these GM squarebody pickups (note this Chevy is wearing GMC dog dish hubcaps
Looking spry for 107 is this 1915 Ford Model T
Former committee member’s 1959 Thunderbird – 30 year old paint job still looks like a million bucks
My cousin’s 1969 Cutlass S
Shelby Mustang convertible
My 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix
A new attendee brought his MG TC in a rarely seen paint colour
Mid 1970s Corvettes are still a hit at car shows
Early 1990s Cadillac Eldorado
1956 Oldsmobile in period correct colours
A committee member passed a couple years ago – his wife still brings out this uniquely coloured Mustang
Bright orange and a crate motor make this one loud 70 Chevelle
A favourite, this Korean War era Ford Jeep is a regular attendee at our shows
56 Thunderbird
68 Mustang
Summer fun in a Bug convertible
This Cuda sports a seriously modified crate motor
Don’t see many mid-1960s full-size Dodges looking this good
1963 Pontiac Parisienne – Canadian-built on the non-wide-track Chevy platform
Home-built go kart featuring lawn-mower motivation
Nice looking 1963 Chevy Impala
Late 2nd generation Z28
and a slightly older late 2nd generation Z28
1967 Ford Galaxie 500 hardtop
Well-presented late 1980s/early 1990s Cadillac Fleetwood
Local cruiser’s 7th-generation Thunderbird
Eleanor tribute Mustang

Thanks to all the cruisers who came out, and apologies to the 2-3 cars who came in that I did not have a chance to snap photos of.

Short update

I am not happy I have been so long in between posts, and frankly I have not kept up on my reading either. It’s just been a hectic few weeks.

Frankly, it hasn’t been all ‘busyness’, there’s been some mental downtime also. In short…

… my girlfriend (well, partner), contracted Covid for a second time, so of course caring for her and taking care of home took precedence
… I was unlucky enough to contract Covid myself after avoiding it all this time
… my getting sick pushed back the start of a new job by a month (start will occur 2 weeks from now)
… the time we have felt well enough has been spent outdoors tending to the lawn, garden, pool etc.
… a freak storm in our area knocked down trees and power… that weekend we had my sister here as she was without power and had an online cooking class to teach, so we moved everything here so she could refrigerate the food, charge he phone and tablet etc. Turned out power was restored so she was able to move it all back to her place…
… on the other hand, a neighbour’s tree ended up through our fence and into our pool, was a couple days before we had someone in to remove it
… a few days spent on work for a new client, getting into the groove of what they require
… finally, yesterday was a full day of driving… 75kms to deliver a print job to a client, 36kms to my folks’ place to retrieve my Grand Prix (leaving my daily driver and having my Dad follow in his car), 80kms home, and obviously 160kms round trip tp bring Pops home and retrieve my daily driver.

All of that with the regular stuff, work etc mixed in. So, my hope is that things will calm down and I’ll get back into regular schedule again. And I’ll find the quiet mindset to be able to sit and read again. When I do, I will be posting again.

Thanks!

A Break of Sorts

I enjoy writing about books about cars. And I enjoy sharing photography of cars. I hope those of your following enjoy my posts.

You may have noticed I missed my now customary Monday morning post last week, and this one is later in the day than normal. It wasn’t planned this way. It just sort of happened. But I wanted to post something of an explanation, and not leave it hanging open. A number of things, none truly all that major, have conspired to pull me from the blog.

For one, I am a freelance graphic designer. It was tough through the pandemic to keep work coming in, and unfortunately one of my main clients has recently reduced the amount of work I get. Luckily, pandemic restrictions have eased, and that means there’s more opportunity to get new business. But to get that new business, one must devote significant time to making contacts and cultivating opportunities. That has affected my schedule. I’ll also reveal that I have been offered a work opportunity with a company in the auto sector. It’s not a sexy job, but it is a job, and will start in the next few weeks.

Some may recall that I also am involved organizing and running a couple of classic car shows. Again, as restrictions have eased, it looks very promising that we will in fact have a car show season this year. We have sponsors who assist us with these shows, and unfortunately the past couple years have affected some sponsors to the point they either no longer exist or are unable to support us at this time. So, I’ve also been devoting time trying to make new connections on that front.

We all have time sucks, and we find ways to deal with them. One thing with this blog is that I feel the responsible thing to do is to actually read the books I am reviewing. However the book I am currently reading is The Official Ford Mustang 5.0 Technical Reference & Performance Handbook 1979 through 1993, and it’s a bit of a bear to get through. Despite the fact I have read it years ago, and am familiar with its contents, it remains a technically dense, 460+ page volume. I started it probably a month ago, but have needed to take a break from it. I have been catching up on the Hemmings Classic Car issues I had piled up instead.

But here’s another thing… I have 13 other books on my shelf I could read. I’ve said a number of times, my collection contains a lot of what I like. As such, I have to admit that of those 13 books on the shelf, 4 are from the Crestline Series, a series from which I have already reviewed 3 books. Two more are from ‘The Complete Book of…’ series, which again I have reviewed 2 similar books. Another is the second volume of The Old Car Nut Book, and another is a history of Cadillac very much in the vein of The Buick: A Complete History. That’s 8 of the 13. I will eventually read and review these books. But frankly, I don’t want to bore you readers with books so similar to what has already been posted. Similarly, it’s a few years since I added much that’s very new to my stash of photos, and not having car shows for 2 years hasn’t helped. That has affected my available stock to post on the photography side.

Now, all is certainly not lost. I recently celebrated a birthday, and some gift cards and the rewards program at my favourite book retailer has resulted in the acquisition of 3 new books – one on Formula 1, one on Ferrari, and one on British cars. I have touched on these subjects before but I endeavoured to find books very different from what I had already reviewed. I will still try to make time to post ‘something’ as often as I can. I do intend to plow through the Mustang book, and frankly have half a review written already. I may also pick through my photo stores and see if I can’t come up with a couple I’ve forgotten I took.

I hope you’ll stick with me, and remember to look for my posts when they do pop up.

Thanks everyone!

Mark

Mercury M47

In my review of Fifty Years of Lincoln Mercury, I noted that author George Dammann included the Mercury trucks. These were rebadged and retrimmed Ford trucks which were generally marketed in Canada through Lincoln-Mercury dealers. To reiterate, Canada was sparsely populated, and there could be great distances between towns with new car dealerships. Further, where one town had a Ford dealer, the next may have a Lincoln-Mercury dealer. I suppose at the time, Ford dealers would not have appreciated Ford-branded trucks being sold through L-M outlets, but with a Mercury-badged line, there wasn’t much that could be done about it.

For the most part, the Ford and Mercury offerings were identical save for some badging and grillwork. Where Ford sold the F-series truck, Mercury naturally used an M-prefix. The M47 name designates a Mercury truck with a 4,700 pound GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating). The 1948-1950 design of Ford and Mercury trucks differs little from year to year, and I was unable to ascertain exactly what year this model is from.

Mercury trucks are not all that common. Ford dealers still outnumbered L-M dealers, especially in larger centers, and in the middle-20th century, trucks were more often found in rural areas. Today their rarity is increased by the fact that trucks were used for work – heavy work – and when they were used up, they were likely to be scrapped or left to rot in a field.

This particular Merc was shot at a familiar source for my photos, the 2015 Tottenham (Ontario) Classic Car Show. It’s been mildly hot-rodded (seen in the 3/4 shot) with a flat-black paint and some aftermarket wheels. As I often do, I focused in on the hood ornamentation. Obviously, the badge says ‘MERCURY’ and the hood features a logo of the ‘Messenger of the Gods’ which was familiar on many Mercury vehicles. One thing I wanted to bring out was that the ornamentation is kinda beat up. The chrome finish is quite pitted, the grille bars are dented. Frankly, the MERCURY badge looks like it may have been hand-painted, something a farmer may have done as a quick restoration of his aging workhorse.

The pictures were taken with my usual rig: Nikon D3200, Nikkor 18-55 lens at ƒ/5.6, 1/125 second and ISO 320. There was minor editing done in Photoshop to enhance the textures, dents and pitting. The original shot and 3/4 shot (for context) are below.

You might also enjoy…
Fifty Years of Lincoln Mercury
The Complete Book of Classic Ford F-Series Pickups: Every Model from 1948-1976

Challengers

In 1970, Chrysler moved Plymouth’s Barracuda to a new E-body platform, and created the Dodge Challenger as it’s closely related stablemate. The E-body used the mid-sized B-body cowl as a starting point, which allowed Chrysler to create a smaller overall package but maintain space to install any size engine, including the fearsome 440 and 426 Hemi.

As with most cars of the early 1970s, many trim levels were available, but the top performance trim for Dodge cars was the R/T. This added a variety of performance parts and styling touches. The one we focus on here is the dual-scoop, black-out hood.

Our first image is the hood of a 1971 Challenger R/T with a 440 engine. Dodge designers created a bold image with a wide stripe that narrows as it passes the twin intake nostril scoops, but stays wide enough to accept the large R/T knockout and contain the DODGE script. There is no mistaking what you’re looking at, and this would have been easily recognizable in the rear-view as the Challenger rolled up looking for a street race. This ’71 is covered in one of Chrysler’s ‘High Impact’ colors, FJ6 Green Go (known as Sassy Grass when used on Plymouths).

The next image is a 1972 Challenger R/T 340 painted FF7 Dark Green. The stripe treatment on the hood remains the same, as does the twin-scoop design. The difference is the engine callout badge on the side of the scoop – in this case reading ‘340 FOUR BARREL’. Other options could include ‘340 SIX PACK’ (for a 3x2bbl carbed car), ‘383 FOUR BARREL’, ‘440 MAGNUM’, ‘440 SIX PACK’ or ‘426 HEMI’. Despite having a smaller displacement, the 340 was an admirable performer, making up the deficit by virtue of its lighter weight.

I shot both these cars at the Tottenham (Ontario) Classic Car show in 2015 using my Nikon D3200 with my 18-55, f/3.5-5.3 lens. The hood of the 1971 car was set at ƒ/7.1, 1/200 sec, ISO 100. The hood of the 1972 car was shot at ƒ/5.3, 1/80 sec, ISO 400. Of course it’s easy to see the 1971 was out in the bright sunlight, while the 1972 was in a area shaded by trees. I used Topaz Adjust to process both images, adding grain for texture to one, while adjusting the colours to create a ‘golden hour’ effect on the other. Below are the original unprocessed shots as well as 2 shots for context.

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