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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Illustrated Directory of Muscle Cars (no writer credit) Published 2013 by Chartwell Books Inc. 432 pp., hardcover.
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.
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
Amazon has a decent little racket going on. I don’t begrudge their marketing, I mean they’re in business to sell and frankly I’m free to ignore the siren call of “spend a little more to get free shipping”. Sometimes I figure I may as well spend and get a couple items rather than spend it anyway as ‘dead money’ for shipping.
I am not a mechanic or real hot rodder. Yes, I’ve done some mechanical work on my vehicles, even to the point of cutting a hole in the perfectly good headliner of my Dodge Dakota to install an optional overhead console, or pulling the engine and transmission from a car I wanted to restore. I’m not an engine builder or anything like that.
I have mentioned my Pontiac Grand Prix, which I plan to upgrade. The thing I’ve come to know about Pontiac V8s is that, with some nuances, Pontiac V8s are basically the same across displacements. This means my mid-1970s Pontiac 350 2 barrel engine could potentially accept a 4 barrel set up or better heads from a much more potent Pontiac engine. Now, these parts don’t have plain-language ID – it’s not like it’s stamped “free-flow heads, 1968 GTO”. Or, is it? If you know about casting numbers, you can hunt down what you want, as these numbers tell you a lot about what parts where used where and for what. A book filled with casting numbers would be pretty handy I thought.
Well, what a disappointment this book was. I mean, it’s got a neat retro look and feel. It purports to cover the big-name American and Japanese makes. There’s room to make notes. It seems fairly organized in layout. Each manufacturer has engines sectioned by Passenger car 4 cylinder, 6 cylinder, V6, V8, and then Truck engines listed similarly. Lists are arranged in ascending order from smallest displacement and earliest year.
However, none of that makes up for the sheer amount of information that appears to be missing or incorrect. And I mean, glaring stuff. A summary of what I found, focused mostly on V8s (which I know the most about), but by no means exhaustive…
The Chrysler truck 3.9L V6 is listed as 238 cubic inches. Having owned one, I know that all sales and service literature refers to this as a 239 cubic inch engine. A minor detail, but truthfully, a single cubic inch can be a major difference when talking about engines.
The Chrysler Passenger car V8 section is missing any references to the FirePower/FireDome/RedRam and Polyspheric engines of the 1950s, as well as missing significant later engines including the 273, 413 and 426 Wedge and 426 Hemi (413s and a 426 are listed under the Truck section, however Wedge and Hemi engines appeared in numerous passenger cars). These were not ‘one-off’ or specialty engines. Chrysler sold thousands of these.
An 8.0L Chrysler V10 is listed under the Truck section. However the Dodge Viper also used this engine, but with significant differences. The truck’s iron-block V10 wouldn’t likely share casting numbers with the Viper’s aluminum block, and the engines differed in other respects also. There should be a separate listing for the Viper V10.
Many Ford Motor Company engines missing, including the extremely well-known Ford flathead (found in pretty much every Ford from 1939 to 1954), the MEL family, the 221 and 260 members of the Windsor family, and the 406 and 410 variants of the FE family. Additionally, there are discrepancies with other engines, such as the 352 and 390 FE engines, whose years of manufacture are grossly misstated here.
Missing from the Buick section are many notable engines such as the 340 and 430, and there appear to be no Nailhead engines.
Pontiac section is missing any references to the 326, 421 or 428 engines.
No references at all to any of the straight-8 engines from Chrysler, Buick, Pontiac etc., nor any listings for the Lincoln V12, or the Cadillac V12 and V16. These engines were all significant and produced after 1930.
Then there are the blank spaces in the listings. As an example, the listings for the 1989-92 and 1993-95 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 5.7L engines show only a single casting number – a block number for the early engine. This may be correct, as perhaps the early block is the only cast part, while the rest may be forged parts (which then wouldn’t technically have a casting number). However, some other engines note forged crankshafts and still have casting numbers listed. Bottom line, it’s very difficult to trust the information in this book.
Undoubtedly, some, perhaps even much of the information here is correct. The 1987-93 5.0L V8 lists the head casting as “E7TE”. Having had a 1988 Mustang, I know the E7TE are known as pretty decent stock heads. But the reference is lacking information. Ford’s parts numbering system is fairly easy to follow, and E7TE breaks down to E for decade (1980s), 7 for the year (1987), T for car line (truck), and E for department (engine). E7TE is used commonly among people who know late-model Ford pushrod engines, but it is not the complete casting number. In fact, ‘E7TE’ will apply to many parts that were cast in 1987 for any Ford truck engine, be they inline or V design, or any number of cylinders. Without the rest of the number, you won’t know what you’re getting.
While I’m tearing this book apart, I will also note there is no copyright page included. This is the page in most books where the publishing information is found. It’s only because ‘thedirtygringo.com’ is found on the back cover, and Amazon lists the author as Dirty Gringo Journals that we know that’s who produced this book.
I have to give this little book a failing grade. There’s just far too many issues. As stated, I am not an expert, but I am enough of an enthusiast to catch the above listed errors. And frankly, this book is only going to appeal to people who have at least as much knowledge as I do. The concept is great – a book that would serve as a reference for numbers geeks, hot rodders, even the backyard mechanic who wants to do some custom work on his cruiser. But with so much information missing or incorrect, there just isn’t any way this book is useful to anyone.
I might have been better off just paying for shipping.
Pros: a good concept, a fairly organized idea for presentation Cons: simply too much missing and incorrect information to be trusted Where to find it: Amazon
The Complete Book of Classic Dodge and Plymouth Muscle: Every Model from 1960 to 1974 by Mike Mueller published 2009, 2013 by MBI Publishing 288 pages, Flexibound
purchased new from bookstore
When I was a kid, my cousin Rob had a 1972 Dodge Charger Rallye with a 340, red with black stripes. In fact it looked very much like the car in this picture (borrowed from volocars.com):
For a kid who was into cars, it was pretty awesome getting to ride in such a cool-looking car, one of the last with a quick mill as the musclecar era died down. By the time I got my first car, Chrysler had long moved to front driving, 4-cylinder cars based on the K-car, and I got my V8 RWD fix with a Fox-body Mustang. But I always has a deep appreciation for the old Mopar muscle.
So when I saw Mike Mueller’s The Complete Book of Classic Dodge and Plymouth Muscle: Every Model from 1960 to 1974 I knew I had to pick it up. Truth is by the time I got this book, I already owned and read books by Mr. Mueller, in fact others in ‘The Complete Book of…’ series, and I’ve found each to be enjoyable to read and a valuable resource. There’s really a lot to like about this series and this Dodge and Plymouth edition is no exception.
For starters, it’s well organized – each model is contained in its chapter, and sectioned by model year. The introduction gives a preamble – the origins of the Hemi engine in the early 1950s (then known as Firepower) and the development of the famous Chrysler 300, starting with the C300 in 1955. From there, chapter 1 gives a somewhat quick overview of 1960-67, featuring the Chrysler 300F, Plymouth Sonoramic, Dodge D-500, the Max Wedge cars and then the Street Hemi Satellite cars. It’s something of a strange chapter, as save the Satellite, these cars are really full-sized and not the traditionally definitive mid-sized “muscle car”. That said, these are critical vehicles in understanding later Mopar muscle.
Each chapter begins with an overview of the model. If we take the Barracuda chapter as an example, much of the 3 pages to start that chapter discusses how the Barracuda was developed as a fastback Valiant that beat the Mustang to market but was fully eclipsed by Ford’s pony. Also found here is quotes from Car Life‘s review of the car…
The simple addition of a sweeping, fastback roofline… seems to transform the mundane Valiant into a thing of purpose and poise.
… followed by further explanation…
... that 14.4-square-foot expanse of curved backlight… needed special reinforcement to retain torsional rigidity and securely mount that heavy piece of safety glass.
The next page features the 1964, starting with an information box giving specs such as dimensions, base price, and standard equipment in terms of wheels, tires, suspension and brakes, and engine specs. As the intro pages covered much of the development, there’s a short narrative about the ’64 as well as large photos of a couple cars. Logically, 1965 follows with the newly-introduced Formula S model, with the same format, but with much more narrative prose which covers new options and model changes, including descriptions of the Performance Group and Sports Group options, as well as upgrades to the 273 cubic inch V8. Other models getting features are the 1966 through 1969 Formula S (each featured individually), 1969 440 Cuda, 1970 Hemi Cuda, 1970 AAR Cuda, and 1971-1974 Cuda (again each individually, although only getting about 1 page each).
The remaining chapters flow logically as the musclecars came to be – 1966-71 Charger, 1967-71 GTX and so on culminating with the 1970-74 Challenger. The pages are filled with great stories touching on styling, engineering, performance and marketing. Mueller has been writing about cars from this era for decades, and has access to Chrysler Historical, collectors, restorers and magazine editors who can provide loads of iside information that provide the context were developed in. The image on the pages are really great, mostly full-colour shots of restored or preserved specimens, though some era-correct promotional, marketing and racing pictures appear.
As I said, I think this is a great book. Criticisms are few. The captions on the pictures are somewhat hard to read. The font is small, light and printed in a percentage less than 100% black. And maybe I’d have hoped for more C-body cars. While not technically musclecars, I admit I really like the 300s and big-block Monacos and Furies. But that’s just a wish for more content.
Mike Mueller’s The Complete Book of Dodge and Plymouth Muscle delivers the goods and is a book I enjoy having in my collection. Highly recommended.
Pros: loaded with info, covers all the important models, great photography Cons: photo captions can be difficult to read Where to get it: new and used bookstores, Amazon
American Cars of the 1960s by The Auto Editors at Consumer Guide published 2010 by Publications International Limited 320 pages, hardcover
ISBN-10: 1-4508-0641-1 ISBN-13: 978-1-4508-0641-1
Purchased new (2013) at Chapters in store.
Remember when Mad Men debuted, and people got all caught up in the early 1960s again? The look, that slick Kennedy-era/Madison Avenue polish. While the television show was more about the characters than the industry they work in, there are glimpses of how the ad game worked then, and the automobile figured quite prominently in the series.
American Cars of the 1960s is a book is filled with the colour and energy of 1960s automobile advertising imagery at its best. It is comprised of images taken directly from the manufacturers’ brochures and magazine advertising. Each marque is grouped alphabetically, and then follows a year-after-year format, which is great for seeing how American automotive styling progressed through the 60s. It also shows how advertising was changing.
Brochures and ads heavy on illustrations in the early ’60s evolved into more realistic photo-based pieces…
Some very recognizable auto ad artwork make appearances. The Pontiac section contains numerous pieces of Art Fitzpatrick’s iconic ‘Wide-Track’ work. Plymouth was out to ‘win you over’. You might catch a case of Dodge Fever. And you’ll be asked “Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?”
It is important to note that this book includes images of three marques that ceased production during the decade. The last of Desoto, Edsel and Studebaker are found in these pages. Also interesting is to see how as the decade progressed, the Rambler name, once prominent in ads, is replaced by AMC.
It’s easy to see the allure of the images on these pages. Luxury cars in country club settings. Station wagons full of camping gear and picnic baskets. Personal coupes, sports cars and convertibles parked near golf courses and marinas. Images specifically created to lure you off your couch and into the showroom (hopefully a couple times in the decade) to trade your jalopy in on Detroit’s newest, shiniest, more powerful creation. Light on text and hard information, but heavy on colourful pictures, this book transports you back to when magazine ads and brochures did their best to sell you all the excitement and glamour of new cars in the 1960s.
This book is really just a lot of fun to flip through and soak up.
Pros:filled with colourful, original advertising artwork and photos Cons:little in the way of substantial information Where to find it:Amazon, ebay, retail booksellers (traditional and online)