Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Last From Jerry Patton for a While

Here is the last post of cars from the 11th Annual Jerry Patton Car and Bike Show, at least for a while. I'll be coming back around to it after the season ends but for now enjoy some more of the cars that were being shown that day. Oh, well, the car I am posting about tomorrow was also at this show. Enjoy it, too.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Open Show

The 11th Annual Jerry Patton Car and Bike show, like those that preceded it, are truly open shows. While there might be more of one model or another at shows like this, the open show means that just about anyone can bring their car and put it on display. For those who have been looking at the pictures I've been posting this week can easily see that there was a lot of variety on the lot the day of this show.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


With all the trappings of a good car show, the 11th Annual Jerry Patton Car and Bike Show could surely be considered a success. Sponsored by the local Eagles and the Eagles Riders Car Club, the show uses the proceeds from entry as well as food and other concessions to benefit a number of charities in the Lebanon area. As I've said many times, car people tend to give back to the community and various charities. This is a perfect example of all the benefits derived from car shows.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Annual Jerry Patton Car Show

Happening the same day as the annual Lebanon Apple Festival, the 11th Annual Jerry Patton Car and Bike Show had better weather and a strong turnout than has occurred the past few years. Under mostly sunny skies over 60 enthusiasts brought out their rides to show off to an energetic crowd who came to take in both events. This week you will be able to see some of the great cars that showed up for this year's event.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Signature Disappointment

A small company in an established field really needs two things to go their way: an innovative idea and a bit of good luck and timing. The Kaiser-Frazer Corporation had one of those in the early 1950s.

The firm was created in 1947 when industrialist Henry J. Kaiser partnered with automobile executive Joseph W. Frazer to purchase the assets of Graham-Paige, a car company that stemmed from 1927 and which Frazer had been running. The ensuing Kaiser-Frazer Corporation became the only car firm formed following World War II; even if it was for a very brief time.

Being born after the war, Kaiser-Frazer were rolling out brand new designs in 1947 while the rest of Detroit was still marketing their pre-war models. This benefited the company to some degree as they appeared to be new and fresh sitting there on the show room floor. After a couple of years the Big Three started rolling out new designs of their own and the demand for Kaiser-Frazer cars began to wan.

In an effort to offset this the company planned to manufacture an inexpensive car to a hungry market. The idea was to sell a brand new car to those people who would have been in the market for a used model. But in order to do this the company had to make a deal with the devil: they got a Federal government loan that came will all sorts of restrictions.

The car was the Henry J., a model Kaiser wanted to represent the company the same way the Model T had done for Ford years before. While it was inexpensive those savings came at the cost of many things Americans didn't really think of as luxuries. For example, there was no trunk lid as people would have to fold down the rear seat to stow items there. The rear windows were fixed, there was no passenger sun visor, nor was there a glove compartment. While the price was right for many Americans they soon learned that Chevy, Ford and Chrysler were making cars that had these creature comforts for just a few dollars more.

After a year Kaiser-Frazer started offering these items as accessories which put it at or above the cost of the competitors of the Big Three. Still, the company pressed on and marketed the Henry J. as an economical alternative that got 25 miles per gallon. Of course, at the time gas was selling for 27 cents per gallon and economy wasn't a major issue for most folks.

For those reasons as well as a poor distribution arm, the Henry J. saw marked declines in its sales numbers each year it was sold. The first year it captured over one and one-third percent of the market. The following year sales dropped to about two-on hundredths of one percent. In 1953 the last of the Henry Js rolled off the line and those that were left over from that year were sold as 1954 models.The Henry J. seen here is a 1951 model.

Kaiser-Frazer bought Willys-Overland in 1953 and changed their name to Kaiser-Willys. By 1970 when American Motors bought them up they were marketing as Kaiser Jeep. By this time the company had long since stopped manufacturing cars bearing the Kaiser name. But for a short, though unsuccessful run, Kaiser put his signature on one specific model, the Henry J.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Real Maverick

The 1960s are seen as a time of great strife in the USA. Any number of social and political issues were boiling up and being played out as a semi-revolution on our televisions. Driven by a new sense of freedom and fueled by music, this turbulent decade has become a symbol of change in this country.

Not only was Detroit embroiled in violence, they were also facing a number of threats from both the east and the west. Since the end of World War II the big auto makers had been turning out large, powerful machines that ruled the roads. But suddenly smaller cars coming from Europe and Japan were beginning to show up in driveways.

Ford had been rolling out their version of a compact car for much of the decade. The Falcon had seen a steady decline in sales as competition from foreign manufacturers and even another car from Ford's own stable lured potential buyers. The Mustang not only invaded the Falcon's potential buyers but it also showed that people not only wanted a small car but they wanted one that was sporty.

So for 1970 Ford replaced the Falcon with a new hybrid style car. The Maverick was considered a subcompact but had sporty features and the ability to show a little muscle. Most of the Mavericks (and the Mercury equivalent, the Comet) were two door coupes but a four door was also available but, for most people, lacked the sporty look of the two door. Ford never really intended these cars to be long term solutions. Plans were in the works to replace them in 1975. They lived a little longer.

Initially the car had either a 170 cubic inch Thriftpower inline six engine or the 200 cubic inch version of the same power plant. By mid-year, Ford realized the need for speed as the onset of muscle cars was showing high sales. To follow this trend they introduced a 250 cubic inch inline six. But they weren't done. A year later they upped the ante on this small, light car that weighed in at around 3000 pounds by dropping in a 302 V8. Now you were talking Mustang power.

The mix of light weight and power would have normally drawn in a sizable group of potential buyers. Unfortunately for Ford, those folks who favored this marque flocked to the Mustang and the Maverick wasn't able to pull buyers form other manufacturers. The car lasted through 1977 when it was replaced by the Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr.

I actually passed my drivers test in a Ford Maverick and drove it through much of high school (when I wasn't driving a VW Beetle) and into college. Mine came with the 200 cube straight six but I managed to find a used 302 V8 that I dropped into it. Of course that engine was "doctored" with a little bit and quite a few people were surprised by how quick it was off the line. The car had decent handling, not on par with the European sports cars of the day, but it could hug some curves if you were familiar enough with it.

That Maverick took a number of trips around the country. Mostly it went south to North Carolina and Florida but it traveled west to St. Louis and I took it up into Canada and northern Pennsylvania and into New York state. It was a fun car to drive and easy to keep rolling. So when I saw one at a show recently it brought back a lot of good memories. Oh, yes, the back seat was a lot better on a date than the Beetle.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Quality vs Quantity

Not all car shows have to be huge to be good. Sometimes quality can trump quantity. That was the case with this year's Friends of East Fork State Park Car Show where fewer than 20 cars showed up due to the weather. But among those handful of cars were some very nice rides and a number of cars you don't see very often.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Weather Issues

 This has been a strange weather year for much of the country and my neck of the woods has been no different. Rain washed out many, many car shows and the threat kept lots of folks away from others. This was the case with the Friends of East Fork State Park Car Show. Not only did a cold snap move through the area but it had been raining on and off for a couple of days. Though the weather forecast was for warmer, sunny skies, not that many folks turned out for the event. Come on, how often do the weather forecasters actually get it right?