1937 Dodge

The final 1930s Dodge I was able to shoot over the years was this 1937 Dodge hot rod. It was actually shot a few yards away from the 1931 and 1934 Dodges, at the 2015 Fleetwood Country Cruize In.

Compare the 1937 ornament to the previous years. It’s easy to see how much more streamlined the ram has become. The ridges in the horns are gone, everything from the head to the forelegs through the body has been stylized. This is much more ‘ornamental’ rather than a realistic portrayal of a charging ram. Notice also how the figure seems to lean further forward – there is more movement through the body by comparison.

We can also see the refinement in the Dodge Brothers logo. The wings are now yellow to match the center crest, and the overall shape is refined slightly.

The 1930s were a time of great transition in automotive design. The ability to create more complex curves in metal allowed manufacturers to design more aerodynamic profiles. Cars were becoming less square and upright, fenders were incorporated into the car’s body as they become wider and lower. In every way, automotive design was being modernized, including mascots such as the Dodge ram.

This photo was shot with a Nikon D3200, 18-55 mm lens at 24mm, set to ƒ/6.3, 1/160 sec shutter and ISO 100. Editing was done in Photoshop and Topaz Adjust. The original image is below.

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1934 Dodge

Today I’m posting the third of the Dodge ram hood ornaments I have managed to photograph over the years. I had previously posted the 1931 Dodge and the 1936 Dodge, which are also shown here.

As you may notice, the 1934 version of the hood ornament is very similar to the 1931 version, almost identical. The updated design consists of changes from the old upright, nickel=plate radiator shell with slats to a rounded, painted sheet metal grille housing, and a fine mesh vee-shaped grille. That grille design would evolve dramatically in just 2 years to 1936’s 3-piece design with varying vertical bars.

Note also that there were subtle changes in the Dodge Brothers winged logo, as the 1934 version incorporates more yellow and a slightly refined shape (in addition to matching the contours of the grille), but not yet as ‘modern’ as the 1936 version.

The 1934 Dodge was shot at the 2015 Fleetwood Country Cruize In, using my Nikon D3200 and 18-55mm lens. The lens was at 34mm, ƒ/8.0, 1/250 second shutter and using ISO 100. The original (below) was quite subdued in terms of colour and detail, so post-processing was done predominantly in Topaz Adjust. This allowed me to show off more detail in the chromed ornament as well as exposed the dazzling flecks in the dark green paint.

You might also enjoy…
Barracuda Muscle Portfolio 1964-1974
1973 Cuda
The Complete Book of Classic Dodge and Plymouth Muscle: Every Model from 1960 to 1974

1931 Dodge

I recently posted about a hot-rodded 1936 Dodge, focused mostly on the ram hood ornament. Hood ornaments were often a large part of a manufacturer’s identity. One can think not only of the Dodge ram, but also the Mack Truck bulldog, or Jaguar’s leaping cat, or the Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy. While the mascots themselves may have remained consistent to the brand, that is not to say that at least some of these miniature sculptures went unchanged over the years. In fact, many received frequent redesigns. The Dodge ram seems to be one that was updated often.

I apologize for the fact that I didn’t post these in a proper chronologic order (poor planning on my part). It seems the ram mascot came about some time after the Dodge brothers had died, and under the ownership of Chrysler, some time in the 1920s. Our example here is the 1931 Dodge car. As you see, the ornament is mounted on what was originally a nickel-plated radiator shell, with a large base. The ram itself is fairly detailed (though badly pitted due to age). The ridges of the horns, the separation of the horns from the neck, the forelegs tucked in front, are all noticeable. There’s a sort of realism to the design, an attempt to faithfully reproduce a ram.

Compare this to the 1936 car, and it seems apparent that auto design was becoming much more aerodynamic. The radiator shell had now evolved into a 3-piece grille, integrated into a rounder design of the car overall. The ram sits on a much smaller base. The ornament itself has been smoothed a little, with deeper, but shorter and fewer horn ridges, the horns tucked closed to the neck, and the forelegs reduced in size.

The previously posted 1936 Dodge.

Note too the Dodge Brothers winged logo. Comparing the 1931 version to the 1936, we definitely see the influence of streamlining and aerodynamics at play. The wings are less feathered and more what you’d see in an air service insignia.

This is the type of thing that got me interested in cars as a kid. I used to notice the differences in design, how elements of the car’s shape and details would be refined (or wouldn’t in some cases) from year to year. It caught my interest enough to start looking for images of cars and reading about different makes and models. Of course, for many people, those minute details are too subtle to warrant more than a passing nod, but for some car people, these things can spark hours of discussion.

I found this 1931 Dodge at a show I have mentioned many times, the 2015 Fleetwood Country Cruize In. I actually found 2 other Dodges at the same show, which I will feature in upcoming posts. I shot this with the same Nikon D3200, 15-55mm lens set at 52mm, ƒ/10, 1/400 sec shutter and ISO100. As you’ll see by the original below, the shot came out quite dark, and required quite of bit of adjustment in Photoshop and Topaz Adjust to bring up the green grass reflection in the shiny radiator shell.

Mustang Classics

Mustang Classics by Randy Leffingwell, with photography by David Newhardt
Published 2014 by Crestline
384 pp., hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0-7858-3139-6

Purchased new from a retail bookstore.

I have always been a Mustang fan. Growing up, a neighbour I hardly knew had a 1972 coupe, and a 1968 coupe briefly occupied our garage while dad did some repairs for a friend. My cousin had a 1969 coupe but traded it on a new 1972 Charger when I was a toddler. Yet, somehow I became enamoured of Ford’s ponycar. Years later, Dad saw an ad from a now defunct Ford dealer, saying they had about 100 new 1988 Mustang LX notchbacks equipped with the 5.0L and 5 speed, all at the same low price. He bought one, and after a few months he told me it was killing him on gas, and I should drive the Mustang while he took back his Honda Civic. I was one very lucky teen.

Given my admiration for Mustangs it’s no surprise Randy Leffingwell’s Mustang Classics is a favourite in my library. It hits many of the sweet spots I tend to look for in books on cars. It’s well-written, and packed with great photos. And there’s a wealth of info not just about the cars, but about management decisions and product development surrounding the generations of Mustang. I’ve reviewed another of Leffingwell’s books, Legendary Corvettes, and I found it enjoyable and very informative. This is also true of Mustang Classics.

The story begins in the immediate post-WWII years. GIs returned from the service, jobs were plentiful, and families became more prosperous. As explained in Fifties Flashback: The American Car, people began driving for pleasure, taking long road trips as their vacation. Some returning soldiers had brought British and European sports cars back home, and American manufacturers took notice there was a market for cars that weren’t simply ‘transportation’.

At the same time, Henry Ford II took over at Ford Motor Company, an organization in dire straits. Hiring Ernie Breech, an experienced auto man from GM, as well as a group of former military men who came to be known as the Whiz Kids, Henry Ford II managed to transform company. Ford was now better managed and started producing better products.

Leffingwell then documents the pre-Mustang years. Included is information about the Ford Total Performance program, designed to put Ford at the forefront of auto racing worldwide. There’s coverage of the Mustang I concept, the corporate decision to create a smaller Thunderbird-like vehicle, and the company’s partnership with Carroll Shelby, both in support of the Cobra cars and his role in Ford’s GT40 program. There’s so much background on what led to the Mustang, it’s 68 pages into the book before we see the debut of the car that would set sales records beginning April 17, 1964.

The chapters break out the Mustang into groupings by years: 1964.5-1966, 1967-1968.5, 1969-70 and so on through to 2003-present (being 2005, when first published). The early years are interspersed with the Shelby cars getting their own chapters (1965-66, 1967-68, 1969-70). The mid-1980s SVO Mustang also has its own chapter. Most of the focus is, as the title suggests, on ‘classics’. The featured vehicles tend to be of the high-performance variety. There are California Specials, Mach 1s, and Boss Mustangs. There are some rarely seen models, such as the 1969 Shelby de Mexico (306 produced), the 1970 Twister Special (a regional variant, 96 made) and the Monroe Handler, a Mustang built as a promotional vehicle for Monroe shock absorbers (1 originally built, 6 others built afterwards). I appreciate the inclusion of these uncommon Mustangs, especially as they’re photographed beautifully.

Throughout this book, Leffingwell drops info of all kinds. The SVO chapter is an example. After describing how Special Vehicle Operations developed the SVO Mustang differently from the 5.0L GT to create more of a driver’s car, the author moves to how SVO’s success as a small group influenced decision-making throughout Ford at the corporate level. Similarly there’s paragraphs about Lee Iacocca‘s Fairlane Committee, the reign of Bunkie Knudsen at Ford, the re-entry to racing in the late 1970s. There’s mention of John Coletti’s Skunk Works that designed the 1994 Mustang. In fact, many people are named including designers such as Gene Bordinat, Larry Shinoda and Jack Telnack, engineers like Bob Negstad who spent over 20 years working on the Mustang. All of these speak to the culture of the company, and ties in to the Mustang’s development.

Now, as good as this book is, I still found a couple minor things to mention.

Firstly, it’s important to note that this book is a reprint from another publisher. The first edition was published around 2005, and though this edition is from 2014, it’s not been updated. That is disappointing, as the chapter ‘2003 and Beyond’ only deals with the Mustang GT design proposal. That’s the show car that hinted strongly at the retro-themed Mustang that hit the market for 2005. It’s a shame that the 2014 edition was not updated, as by 2014 the Mustang had seen a redesign in 2010, was about to debut another redesign in 2014, had reunited with Shelby to offer special models, had seen the introduction of the 5.0 Coyote engine, as well as the rebirth of the Cobra Jet drag car.

Secondly, there are minor quibbles. I have mentioned (in a previous review) the use of the term ‘big block’ referring to the FE engines. These engines are not truly big blocks but rather medium blocks, as they are lighter than Ford’s MEL and 385-series families. I suppose, as it’s cropped up again, perhaps the matter is not agreed upon by all. The other quibble is that the author referred to ‘Ford Galaxy’ more than once. As the Galaxy is a van sold by Ford internationally, there is no doubt he meant ‘Galaxie’, the correct spelling for the full-size car sold from 1959-74. And sadly there’s a few other typos here and there.

Thirdly, I found the period of 1994-2003 was somewhat abbreviated. There are few pictures or references to the 1994-98 cars which include the last of the pushrod 5.0L GTs. There’s more emphasis on the 1999-2004 cars, and while the Mach 1 appears, there’s no pictures of the Bullitt edition. The SVT Cobra does show up. Actually it’s somewhat strange that the SVT Cobras aren’t broken out to their own chapter. These cars, built from 1993 through 2004, were the ultimate Mustangs available. That they are not treated similarly to the Shelby cars seems the wrong choice.

These things aside, Mustang Classics is a great automotive coffee table book. David Newhardt’s photos are fantastic, showing off the classic Mustang lines that have captured the hearts of so many. And Randy Leffingwell has packed the pages with stories of the Mustang that will interest history buffs as well as car nuts. There isn’t a lot in the way of pedestrian Mustangs, but what is presented is quite stunning visually and really details much of the Mustang’s high performance story. This is one book Ford fans should own.

Pros: fabulous photos; great information on the cars and company; high quality book
Cons: somewhat dated, having not been updated since 2005
Where to get it: Amazon, bookstores

Please bear with me

Hello everyone. I just wanted to throw out a quick post to let you know what’s up.

I have posted less often since the start of the new year, and that may continue for another little bit, hopefully not too long into next month. I am moving residence in the next week or so, and frankly I have been packing and realizing just how much crap I’ve accumulated. It’s taking some time between packing and purging.

Now, I do have a couple of book reviews in draft, but unfortunately I have not been able to get much done in the way of photos for those posts. I hope to get at least one done in the next little bit.

Lastly, while I do hope to have myself set up quickly after the move, the feast part of the feast-or-famine nature of my freelance graphic design work seems to have hit. Naturally, I’ll have to devote a lot of time to getting that work done.

That’s all to say that I hope my less frequent posting won’t cause my followers to forget about my little blog. I hope to find a few minutes over the next couple of days to get something posted.

Thanks for your patience!

Mark

1936 Dodge

I found this hot rodded 1936 Dodge at the 2014 Syracuse Nationals. Interestingly, Dodge used the ram as a hood ornament on it’s cars for many years, although now we know Ram is used exclusively on FCA’s truck line. The ram became something of a theme for me as I encountered other vintage Dodge cars and noticed how the styling of the ornament changed year to year.

In addition to the ram, I was drawn by the monochrome paint treatment on the formerly chrome grille, as well as the old-school look pinstripe work.

Shot with the Nikon D3200 and Nikkor 18-55 lens, I used ƒ/10, 1/400 shutter and ISO 100. The original image is below.

2020 In Review

Well it seems an appropriate time to review the previous year as it relates to this little blog.

A little background first. Years ago, I came across a website that reviewed books about hockey, which at the time was a real passion of mine. It is a great site, and it got me thinking about another passion of mine, old cars. I love the old car hobby, and I really enjoy reading about old cars. Now, a lot of information is available online, but I am a little old fashioned in that I enjoy sitting with a book, turning the pages, feeling the paper in my hands. And books can be a wonderful resource to have. It struck me that people interested in old cars may also be interested in books about those cars, especially some of the older ones. After all, there are thousands of books on old cars, and new ones coming along every day, and as years go by the older books can be forgotten. In late 2014, I set about reviewing books from my personal collection. I guess I wasn’t completely ready though, as I managed just 2 posts before 2019.

As bloggers know, regular activity is the key to having a useful blog people will visit. It took me some time, but I eventually got more active in posting. I’m still not posting as regularly as maybe I should, but I have definitely seen the effect more frequent entries has had regarding the few metrics I looked at.

I have gained 14 new followers through 2020, to a total of 16. I want to thank you all for joining me and I hope you aren’t too put off by my still sometimes erratic posting schedule. I am working towards posting on regular days, and even getting ahead and scheduling posts. I will caution though that it can be difficult at times. When you’re reviewing books, it’s sometimes hard to actually get the book read quickly, and a review finished in time.

I’ve seen a huge growth in views, 680 this year compared to 65 from 2014-2019 (up 1046%). There have been 200 visitors in 2020, compared to 39 from 2014-2019 (up 513%). Of course, it helps that I added 37 new posts in 2020 compared to the 5 I had previously (up 740%). The previous best month for views had been November 2019 (12). However, 9 of of the past 12 months topped that number, and the top 3 months have been October 2020 (139), November 2020 (153), and December 2020 (204). My best day was December 15, 2020, with 21 views.

I have added posts featuring photography I have shot and processed, and they have proven quite popular. In fact, The Big Job, 1960 Cadillac Sixty Special, 1975-77 Chevrolet Corvette and 1956 Continental Mark II are the top 4 posts for views this year.

I would especially like to recognize rulesoflogic. He was my first follower, and is my top commenter. An interesting and thoughtful man, he has a great blog that I enjoy reading, and I know some of his readers have found there way to my blog. I appreciate his contributions here very much.

I want to thank everyone who has visited, liked, commented or followed this year. I do not currently get anything from blogging other than satisfaction. It means a lot when people take the time to read and interact, and if any of my photos or the books I review spark any memories for you, I’d love you to comment.

I look forward to seeing you all in this new year.

1969 Plymouth Satellite wagon

The station wagon is a rare thing nowadays. In the new car ranks, the SUV has rendered the wagon almost obsolete. But even at classic car shows, it’s not easy to find these longroofed cars that once populated driveways all over the continent.

A major reason why wagons have disappeared is that they got used up. Prior to the musclecar investment craze of the 1980s, few people thought about preserving any car, let alone something as mundane as a station wagon. The family car was meant to be used, and they were. Shopping trips, ferrying kids back and forth, the family’s cross-country drive to Walley World, most of these miles were racked up in a station wagon, with it’s ample seating and cargo space. And when the odometer had turned enough miles, it was almost a guarantee that wagon’s next stop was the scrapper.

But, once again, at a car show as large as the Fleetwood Country Cruize In, there’s always a chance you’ll find something somewhat rare. So it was in June 2016 when I found this 1969 Plymouth Satellite wagon perched above the walkway I’d stopped to rest on. It was complete, and bore the look of a survivor. If you look closely, you can see the paint has its share of chips and the ‘Satellite’ badge is missing its ‘te’. Back in the day, it was likely an average family taxi, nothing too fancy or flashy. The black steel rims with trim rings give it a little bit of a sleeper hot rod look now.

Once again shot with my Nikon D3200, 18-55 Nikon lens, at ƒ/5.6, 1/125 sec exposure and ISO 160. There is some image manipulation done in Photoshop and Topaz Adjust. The original image is below.

1960 Pontiac Star Chief

In Dragging and DRIVING, a book I reviewed about young people in the 1960s introducing them to driving and owning automobiles, it was written that the first car a young person owned was often something they could buy for a couple dollars off a used car lot. Sometimes it was the old family car passed down to them. Once in their possession, it wasn’t unusual for that old car to soon have mag wheels, a wild paint job, and whatever hot rod goodies could be installed.

While walking around the 2015 Tottenham (Ontario) Classic Car and Truck Show, I found a car that certainly looked like one of those former family cars that had been hotted-up by a new owner. This 1960 Pontiac Star Chief looked pretty sitting in the field in silver paint and sporting American Racing 5-spoke mag rims. The Star Chief had become a mid-range, 4-door only offering by 1960, slotted under the Bonneville. The name would last until 1966, when it was renamed Executive. It should be noted that the Star Chief is not common in Canada. In the 1950s and 1960s, prior to the Auto Pact, GM built many Pontiac cars in Oshawa, ON using Chevrolet chassis. Though the cars were styled similarly, the truth is American Pontiacs had Pontiac-built engines and tended to be larger cars, while the Canadian cars were Chevy-powered and on a shorter chassis. Where the model line in the US included the Catalina, Star Chief and Bonneville, the Canadian line-up were called Strato Chief, Laurentian and Parisienne.

Shot with my usual rig of a Nikon D3200, 18-55 lens, the settings were ƒ/8, 1/250 sec exposure and ISO 100. This is available as garage art by contacting shootyourcarmister@gmail.com. For comparison, the original shot is below.

You might also enjoy…
GTO: A Source Book/GTO Volume II: A Source Book
Standard Catalog of Pontiac 1926-2002
American Cars of the 1960s

The Illustrated Directory of Muscle Cars

The Illustrated Directory of Muscle Cars (no writer credit)
Published 2013 by Chartwell Books Inc.
432 pp., hardcover.

ISBN-13: 978-0-7858-3030-6

Purchased new from a retail bookstore.

File this one under ‘Disappointing’.

I had high hopes for The Illustrated Directory of Muscle Cars. I mean, 400 pages of the best American factory-built hot rods, over 120 cars profiled. That’s a book I could really get into.

I’ll admit, it is a difficult task to compile such a directory. Even just a few pages on every muscle car would fill volumes. Just defining ‘muscle car’ is not an easy task. Many would agree it’s an intermediate-size car with a powerful engine in, for the purpose of increased performance. Yet, people call the Impala SS a muscle car despite it being a full-size car. Mustangs and Camaros are too small to be intermediates, and Novas and Darts are compact cars (such as they were in the 1960s). Still they get called muscle cars. No 4-door could have been called muscle car back in the heyday, yet today, the Charger sedan is a modern muscle car.

People don’t even agree what the first muscle car was. Was it born in 1964 when Pontiac dropped a 389 engine in its Tempest Lemans coupe and named it GTO? Maybe it was Chrysler, who took their 1955 New Yorker, added some Imperial touches and placed its Firepower Hemi between the fenders to create the C300. How about the famed Rocket 88, Oldsmobile’s 1949 80-series coupe with the screaming new overhead valve V8 underhood. Or was it the first V8 Ford coupe with its flathead engine?

The Illustrated Directory of Muscle Cars does indeed include all the cars mentioned above, and many more. I can’t argue with any of the cars included in this volume. As such it gets points for going beyond the typical roster. Of course there are GTOs and Chevelles, Mustangs and Fairlanes, Challengers and Road Runners. There’s a number of full-size coupes, like the aforementioned Impala SS and the 7-Liter Ford Galaxie. But it’s nice to see cars like the Dodge Polara D500, M-code Thunderbird, Mercury Comet, and AMC’s SC/Rambler, Rebel Machine and AMX. These cars get a lot less ink than the Camaros, Firebirds and Cudas, and their inclusion does help to fill out the book.

But… the errors. So many errors. Typos. Improper formatting of tabs. Misplaced paragraph breaks. Widows and orphans. Incorrectly captioned photos. It’s a very sloppy book. When a 1969 Camaro photo shows up in the profile of the 1970 AMX, that’s an issue that’s hard to overlook.

That red Camaro shouldn’t be here.

There’s also the inconsistencies. Each car profile gets a chart, kind of an overview that mentions things like engine displacement, horsepower etc. Some of them list a dozen stats, some list 5 or 6. Some list the car’s base price, or quarter-mile performance, many don’t have the kind of information. Only 1 engine is listed per car, though some are the base V8 while others list an optional engine. If the object is to create a directory, then it shouldn’t be hard to determine criteria you intend to include and then make sure you include it for each car.

And some profiles are just confusing – such as the 1969 Cuda 383, which is titled such and features pictures of a 383 Cuda, but doesn’t really mention the 383 anywhere in the text. Instead the 273 base V8 of previous years is referenced. Actually a great number of profiles are filled with information about the manufacturer or the history of the model featured but little about the actual year and model of the feature.

Finally, there are still many omissions from this collection. The Golden Age of Muscle Cars did fade out by the mid-1970s, but there were a few highlights. There’s no mention of cars like the Monte Carlo 454, or 1973 Stage 1 Buick GS. And, the muscle car rebirth began in the mid-1980s. Yet, there are no 1980s cars found at all – no Grand Nationals, 442s, Monte Carlo SSs, or Fox-body Mustangs. Further, there are profiles on the 1994 Impala SS, 2005 Chrysler 300C and 2012 Dodge Charger SRT-8, but no mention of the early 2000s Mercury Marauder (except a sentence in a 1969 Cougar profile). And you really can’t call a directory complete when you include the Dodge Viper but cars like the SVT Cobra Mustang or ZR-1 Corvette are missing.

It’s a shame. There was real potential for a great book, a directory that would be a great introduction to the wide range of muscle car offerings. In spots, there is some good information here. And honestly, there’s a lot of good photography. The coffee-table size and quality paper have the feel of a book you want to read. There’s pieces of a great book here. It just isn’t executed well.

If you can find this book cheap, and really need to get some muscle car info on your shelf, then sure, pick it up. But if you’re looking for a serious overview of muscle cars, give this one a miss.

Pros: a good number of models profiled; some little-known cars get some ink; great pictures in a coffee-table book format.
Cons: far too many errors; some significant models and eras are lacking coverage.
Where to find it: retail bookstores, Amazon

You might also enjoy…
The Complete Book of Dodge and Plymouth Muscle: Every Model from 1960 to 1974
Ford Muscle: Street, Stock and Strip
Illustrated Camaro Buyer’s Guide