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.
Agassiz school custodian Stephanie Eckstein went into a deep depression after her husband of 34 years died from cancer. “I didn’t think I had a reason to live apart from my two daughters,” she says candidly of her life two years ago.
She often drove by a farm where an old red car rested beside a barn. It was a sad looking car that looked abandoned. She could relate to that.
Those majestic, silver, zeppelin-shaped land yachts that are towed from campsites coast to coast, sandy beaches to the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains to forested solitude, could be called the “Monarchs of the Highway.” They are part of a great footloose adventure.
If you’re a fan of the history of the Indianapolis 500 the name Marmon may mean something, because a Marmon Wasp, driven by company engineer Ray Harroun, won the first ever 500 in 1911. And in that race Marmon introduced what was to become an automotive staple – the rearview mirror.
But for many in the old car hobby the name Marmon will be meaningless. Because chances are that outside of a major American auto museum you’ve never even seen a Marmon. They are few and far between, even in the U.S., and in Canada almost non-existent.
When General Motors decided to enter the motor home business in the early 1970s it became the only automobile manufacturer to produce a complete recreational vehicle. Many supplied running gear and chassis’ to RV builders, but GM decided to do the job entirely themselves. They would also provide unfinished units to those wishing to build them with their own customized features.
Despite decent sales in 1960, the revolutionary designed and styled Corvair was a flop compared to Ford’s more conventional Falcon that outsold it two to one at more than 435,000 units.
It was against Henry Ford II’s better judgment in 1955 that he allowed a committee of Ford executives to choose his father’s name to promote an entirely new division of Ford-built vehicles.
But the men at the Ford Motor Company were so confident that the new division would achieve all of their financial and manufacturing objectives that they deemed it the highest honour to name it after Edsel Bryant Ford.
Austin Sheerline – Bill Vance
English Austins have usually been thought of by North Americans as small, economy cars, usually with four cylinder engines. The first one to gain real popularity was the A40, a pleasant little four passenger sedan that provided adequate performance and good fuel economy.
It began arriving in quantity in 1948, and with the pent-up demand for new cars that followed the Second World War it did fairly well for a few years. It was followed by upgraded models such as the A50 and A55 and even some six cylinder models.