ZURICH, ON – When an individual’s dream is to build and restore an antique vehicle, they are, in fact, bringing back a part of history. This story is narrated in two chapters. The first is the legacy of a woman, whose name is Alive Thiel. The second is Bev and Hub Thiel’s two year project to build a 1930 Chev truck. This is in honour of Hub Thiel’s Aunt Alive (also his godmother) and a business formerly known as Thiel Transport in Zurich, Ontario.
Chevrolet sales broke the one-million mark for the first time during the 1941 model year, on the strength of beautiful looking automobiles, that were packing some of the latest technology, although still equipped with a six-cylinder engine.
I worked for a used car lot in St. Catharines during the summers of 1977 and 1978, and drove a lot of different vehicles, all of them in various states of disrepair and past glory.
The Stutz Bearcat name had an aura of magic, conjuring up as it did images of raccoon coats, brisk fall afternoons and handsome young blades whisking their beautiful dates to the football game. In a later era one could imagine another car bearing an animal name, the Jaguar XK120, filling the same role.
Woodies came from the beginning of the auto era when train station depot hacks were used to cart luggage around from the station to people’s hotels. Later on the hack was enlarged and made into a useful carrier for commerce. Groceries, farms, produce vendors used them to carry their wares. At one point, the hack became fully enclosed and a proper station wagon complete with windows, doors, glass. At that point, the station wagon went from basic transporter to a status symbol.
When Henry Ford died in April 1947, his industrial empire was in a precarious position. Any muscle the Ford Motor Company has previously flexed had sagged and grown sallow after years of stubborn complacency from its founder.
Turning 40 is a major milestone, one that your author celebrated a couple of weeks ago. It seems like only yesterday that I turned 30, and my twentieth birthday doesn’t even seem like it was that long ago, but my tenth birthday feels like a distant memory at this point. Yes, it’s only a number, and I personally can’t see why there is such a big fuss about it.
“When you have a dream, don’t let it slip away from you. Just go and chase your dream and make it become reality.”
Jeremy Cassidy May 2, 2018. Part of a school project.
When Jeremy was about 12 he found his dream vehicle. He would see it every time he had a trip for treatments. Jeremy shared his dream with his Dad, Tim, who made many attempts to contact the owner and endeavour to buy it. Finally they connected. Tim explained the situation to Roger the owner and made a deal. Jeremy fronted the cash and he was the proud owner of a very tired 1954 Chev stepside, 5 window pickup.
This year marks a milestone in Canadian automotive history. A century ago, Sam McLaughlin, who’d founded his car company by building his version of a Buick in Ontario, was nearing the end of his contract with that brand. The American automaker already owned half of his firm, and with no sons to carry it on, McLaughlin sold the remainder. In 1918, the McLaughlin Motor Company became General Motors of Canada.
The Playboy Motor Car Company of Buffalo, N.Y. should have been a success. It wasn’t, but not for lack of effort on behalf of company founder Lou Horwitz and his partners, engineer Charlie Thomas and car builder Norm Richardson. Horwitz, a Packard dealer, saw the need for cheaper transportation after World War II and pegged the Playboy’s price at $985.