Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The refurbification of the O'Keefe and Merritt stove is going well except that the temperature just hit 97 and the stove is too hot to touch.

The Mister Jalopy 1964 Chevelle Wagon

A 283, headers, dual exhaust, a four barrel, a cam and a Powerglide means that our 1964 Chevelle Wagon sounds much faster than it is.

Clearly, Mister Jalopy can no longer blame weight as an issue as we see Bob Willis lifting the front tires off the ground in his 1965 Chevelle wagon. Note that this photo is taken at the Pomona dragstrip, which still hosts the Winternationals, though attendance has increased about 100,000.

World's Fastest 344 MPH Lakester For Sale

For $100,000, you can own the World's Fastest Gasoline powered vehicle. It comes with a very long trailer and a truck to pull it. They are accepting offers.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Jasper Wiglesworth Automotive Collection Auction in Shawnee, Kansas

The Stephenson Rocket set the first world speed record in 1829 at 35 mph. This 1927 replica was commissioned by Henry Ford and was unfortunately a victim of museum zeal by way of a cutting torch. To show the certainly impressive and fascinating engineering, this rocket was sliced open to show the working components. Perhaps an illustrated poster next to the rocket replica would have satisfied curiousity and allow this mean machine to race another day.

Looking at this antique it is difficult to remember that at one time this was the absolute limit of engineering and manufacturing technology. The wood was probably still green and the paint was wet when the driver climbed on top of this machine with the terrifying boiler at maximum pressure and straining against the rivets. 35 miles per hour would have seemed like defying all rules of nature.

Jasper Wiglesworth had a very broad interest - from the very earliest, valuable, important automobiles to the obscure, underpowered eccentrics available for less than a fancy television. This DKW (now, Audi) though not fast enough to get out of the way of its own smoke is certainly handsome in the two tone.

The story of this Mercer Raceabout reads like a novel. Mister Jalopy's Hoopty Rides could link nearly every car at the Wiglesworth auction, but so little would be added. There are many wonderful cars that appear very original, sometimes not running, often dusty but of such high integrity. Even autos like the lowly, engine-less export Cadilliac are fascinatingly researched and described - certainly more than the Butterfield commission would support.

Pouring on the coal pretty hard

Prior to World War II, Muroc was the dry lake bed of the early hot rodders. After the war, the action moved to El Mirage but in 1996 the racers returned to Muroc for the first time since it was shut down for the war.

According Leslie Long in the 1999 Muroc IV Southern California Timing Association Program (found in the trash), Zeppo Marx and Phil Berg (agent for Clark Gable) have a dinner party argument over who's car is faster. They place a $10,000 bet that Zeppo's Mercedes (perhaps a 1931 supercharged SSK, if you are to believe scant German internet references) is faster than Phil's Duesenberg.

Gilmore backs the race, AAA establishes a track and rules, Mercedes sends a driver for Zeppo's car and Phil engages Eddie Miller at the Indianapolis Speedway's suggestion.

The story becomes a little murky at this point. Eddie Miller tunes up and strips down a 12 cylinder Auburn and tests both the Auburn and Gary Cooper's heavier Duesenberg at Muroc. Now, the original bet was 'my car faster than your car' and there is no mention of Phil's original Duesenberg so it seems Zeppo would be off the hook for the $10,000.

On race day, the Berg's, the Marx brothers, Carol Lombard, Al Jolsen, Mae West, Clark Gable, etc. took four buses to the 6:30 AM race. Now, Muroc is better than 100 miles from LA and I can't imagine a busload of Mae West's and Clark Gable's on a bus at that hour. We are trying to contact Leslie Long to get more details.

The Mercedes was faster as it crossed the line after the pace lap, but the Duesenberg caught the Mercedes at about the halfway point. According to Eddie Miller, '... at about the 3 mile point I pulled along side him, looked down on his little car and could hear the blower engaged so I just drifted out a bit and eased off to stay abreast. I wanted to make a nice close finish to the first lap so I began pouring on the coal pretty hard but didn't quite make it; I was about a car length behind him when he passed the pole the first time. But about 1/2 mile after that I just walked on past him. He wasn't running so well. I was doing 108-109 holding about 1 mph in reserve in case he should get that thing working again. As I came by the pole where the people were waving and cheering I looked back but could not see any sign of the competition. I backed off a bit, completed the final lap and took another just in case."

Eddie went on to set a 500-mile record of 113.57 mph without a stop and kept going until a punctured tire stopped him in the 610th mile.

The photo above is clearly not from Muroc, but is a racing Mercedes SSK. Note the drilled frame for weight reduction, but still full fendered and headlighted.

Huge demand for Bosch Website! Click here.

Available for no dollars and no cents at the Bosch site, there are some extremely cool desktop images and sparkplug screensavers for the ridiculously auto-minded.

June Carter Cash's 1987 Rolls Royce Silver Spur

The nearest Rolls Royce dealer to 700 Johnny Cash Parkway seems to be in Atlanta, Georgia at 262 miles. Who was qualified to maintain this car in Hendersonville, TN?

June bought this Rolls in 1989 with 11,694 miles. Over the next 15 years, she added a paltry 15,000 miles on 'short trips around town.' Along with everything from Johnny Cash frequent flyer membership cards to Nudie suits, this car will be auctioned at Sotheby's. If you buy this car, please take me for a ride.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

To add to the considerable drama of the transformation of this car from junk heap to a true Mister Jalopy Hoopty Ride, we are keeping a complete accounting of expenditures, minus the worthless labor.

Since last update:

- Cleaned for about 16 hours, still a great deal of cleaning to do
- Checked compression - 150, 160, 160, 170
- Started on two cylinders! Sounded so good without any exhaust, decided to get the other two cylinders working
- Started on four cylinders!
- Brake fluid added, which immediately run out the bottom of reservoir
- Made some real fancy floor mats from toolbox liner material purchased from a garage sale (Note: Items from garage are not included in expenditures!)
- Considered naming car, Culpepper, short for Colonel Culpepper but rejected the idea for a number of reasons including it is sickeningly cute and we don't name cars
- Car was set to a staggering 16 degrees advance, we retarded it a but

- All insulation in place. There are probably worse jobs than installing the insulation, but how much worse? Its even worse than cleaning out the old insulation. Maybe.
- Everything cleaned, even the nuts and bolts
- Top, doors, sides, gas lines, back panel, oven light and wiring installed
- Needed parts: a better left side panel would be nice, an oven light switch, one steel door hinge, one chrome vent grate, a spring for the shelf, the spring steel insert that goes in the shelf slider knob and spring steel washers for behind the knobs.
- Looking for O'Keefe and Merritt parts

Today's work day music was provided by the Seeburg DS-160. It has a few eccentricities, like the needle seems to loosen itself from the cartridge resulting in fantastically disturbing bass distortion. Otherwise, it's a very fine machine. It is available for purchase for about $700, ten percent of the proceeds directly benefit the Chinatown Incubator. Comes with $70 worth of manuals and videos that pinpointed the 'scan and never select' problem and I had it working in no time.

The part cleaning assembly line - dirty parts in the rag, clean parts transfered to the newspaper. See that big pile of rust at about 10 o'clock? See the air filter cover at 2 o'clock? Unfortunately, 10 o'clock came from 2 o'clock and as you can see, there is still more rust at 2 o'clock.

My jar of fiber washers. There are fiber washers under the O'Keefe and Merritt oven door handles to keep from chipping the porcelain. Naturally, every fiber washer can not be saved and luckily I have this jar of washers. I buy lots of hardware at garage sales but only if it is sorted in labeled jars. You might think this is limiting, but plenty of hardware is still purchased. The longer you garage sale, the more gating factors need to be implemented. The Telefunken was the last remaining horizontal surface.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

The newest automobile in the Hoopty Rides collection is the 1961 Mercedes 190b.

From the owner's manual,

"...your 190 will never let you down, and you will find it a practical touring car equally suitable for town, country and long-distance driving."

The manual continues,

"Type 190 combines the advantages of the large and heavy touring cars as far as the suspension and the passenger and luggage compartments are concerned with the driving performance of a sports car, the safety of a heavy car and economical operation of a medium class car."

It is a wonder that the rare 'chicken coop top' was not mentioned in that paragraph long sentence. As you can see, the chicken coop top combines the advantages of the large and heavy touring cars as far as providing some vague idea of a roof is concerned with the windswept driving experience of a sports car, the ease of poultry ingress/egress of a heavy car and the economical lack of maintence of a medium class car with the roof cut off.

For years, Mister Jalopy has been rescuing rugs from garage sales and curbside for inclusion in the Chinatown Incubator Museum. Early on we learned an inspection by two good dogs was invaluable in determining a course of action. The little dog is seen examining the merits of the chicken coop, atrium-style, open motoring, aviary roof.

Knowing how long it took to accumulate this much dust, it is difficult to disturb it.

Despite the years and years of dust, it is easy to see why this car was purchased. The design is delightfully crisp, minimal and elegant.

Why have the exhaust under the car when it is so accessible in the backseat?

A lovely view from inside of the chicken coop roof. Easy to see it's sunny appeal.

Besides automobiles, Mister Jalopy also deals in old O'Keefe and Merritt gas stoves. This beautiful example is being stripped to it's most basic components. If this stove were to be refurbished and sold, and if the lovely mint green stove behind it was completed and in place, there would be a possibility of moving the chicken coop roof Mercedes into the garage. This lovely stove will be available for purchase in about 10 days.

A not uncommonly saturated piece of formally white fiberglass insulation.

These were found inside the stove. Not in a user area, but inside the stove vents that get up to 400f.

It is imperative to strip and clean, if you want a safe, sanitary and inoffensive stove. It took two people, two days to get to this point. Two people and two days of working with lye and leaving a grease spot in the driveway that needed to be pressurewashed. Perhaps you purchased a refurbished stove but the insulation was not replaced. I am not going to say you have a bad stove, because I don't trash other peoples rides. You may have a disgustingly dirty stove, but not a bad stove.

Having arrived 15 minutes earlier, this photo was taken to accurately document a starting point. So elegant.

Luckily, for the 1954 Chevy and myself, Ron is passionate, dedicated, new owner and truly appreciates this wonderful bit of American history. Over the course of hours, we drove the car, fixed the car, considered the car, paid for the car, transferred paperwork and carefully inspected Terry's hot rod flathead pick-up truck. The corrosion was discussed -respectfully - and the dogs were not offended.

As I was driving to Ron's house, I realized this would be the last time I would be driving the 1954 Chevrolet. With the faint smell of burning clutch, I was overcome with sadness and thought, one day, I will have a desert lot, a cabin in outer Lancaster, a forgotten gas station in the San Fernando Valley, a creaky corrugated warehouse in Bakersfield or a bombed out ranch house in Trona, and will never sell a car again.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Fifty years ago, a school bus driver in Wyoming bought this car and it was the last he ever needed. He rebuilt the engine once, paid scant attention to corrosion and left it original to the core. He passed away and I bought it from the estate about 7 years ago when I was drunk and randomly poking around ebay while at work. It has been great and I wish I could keep it another 50 years myself, but I want other jalopies and I just bought a wonderfully dilapidated 1961 Mercedes 190b. It is also a terrifically original, wildly rough automobile and I only have so much room. The view over the big front fenders is the same as it was 50 years ago, minus the graceful cracks in the windshield. Only $2250.

A great running car. Brakes are super. Trans shifts great. Should get a new clutch. Car comes with a new battery (the old battery worked for me most of the time, but I have built an uncanny sense of exactly how to start it; three failed attempts and it is not going to turn over a fourth, so it will come with a brand new, extremely fine battery.) The paint is thin and the rust is everywhere. It is extraordinary looking in the way a giant boulder is magnificent, or perhaps, a charging buffalo. There are colors on this car that exist only in nature. Indescribable deep rich hues that are impossible to categorize but are immediately familiar. A very nice, tattered, very beat up, wonderfully patina'd car of great integrity for $2250.

Handsome from the front and gracious from the rear. Sure it has all the little problems like giant rust holes and cracked tail light lenses, but my goodness that is a good looking car.

Magnificent from every angle, a champion runner, a great stopper, a little slippy clutcher (you might want to re-do the clutch, it is slippy on big hills. I drove it through Griffith Park the other day, up and, gratefully, down, but it should be done pretty soon.) The longer you are interested in cars, the more you appreciate the integrity. Or maybe just I do. An awful lot of integrity for $2250.

The Pep Boys litter bag is not included in the very reasonable asking price of $2250.

The Monroe Scent air freshener is included at no additional charge. Same $2250.

A tremendous view of the headliner. The headliner is nineteen layers of dust and rust. It is intact and has a patina unlike that generally found in automobiles. It is the Cloisters and Fight Club. I had bought a replacement light bezel - chrome and shiny- but threw it away. It looked ridiculous. You can buy nearly everything for these cars but I like it as is. And a mere $2250. An awful lot of steel. An excellent per pound price.

To increase automotive safety, I installed seat belts and Jesus tapestry reupholstery. The seats are top quality vinyl with extremely desirable Jesus tapestries. The tapestries are not a matched set, but they go together very nicely. I have a great deal of reverence for this automobile, for Johnny Cash, for the settling of the West, for the big giant huge grandeur of Rocky Mountains, for the buffalo, for the railroads, for exploration and the Grapes of Wrath. I bought this car in Wyoming and drove it to Los Angeles. I was so grateful for the trip and for the arrival, so relieved it was over and so disappointed to hit the Pacific Ocean with nowhere else to go, that I felt, these seat covers, this overarching presence in the front seat was the perfect answer to the trip taken. I have tried to explain this when asked in parking lots. It is a feeling that you get when driving in hailstorms in Yellowstone and under a layer of dust in Zion, it does not translate to Von's parking lot. When they ask, just say, 'Yes, I love Jesus.'

A beautiful front end of chrome and a giant rust hole. All the usual places and a few unusual. A good policy for living. And only $2250.

A peek under the mostly original rubber floor mats revels the sort of Wyoming ingenuity that held this car together for the last 50 years. A nice piece of galvanized steel covers all sorts of holes that I can only imagine. Astute viewers will note the metal cap over the windlace in the door jam. Very deluxe. Only $2250.

An extremely original engine compartment. I have the oil bath style air cleaner, though run this tiny Pep Boys air cleaner as a general rule - to be more tidy. If you bathed in oil, you would be dirty too. The windshield wipers are powered by the vacuum of the engine, the charging is via generator and the battery is 6 volt. Everything works as intended. The previous owner extolled the rebuilt engine and I do not believe he was lying. The compression is high and it runs like a champ. Surprisingly spritely for a 235 6 cylinder. Never overheats and I drove it over the Rockies three times.

Two tone beautiful steel dash with mostly working components. The brodie knob is included as is the non-functioning gas gauge. Fill up often, gives ample opportunity to discuss the automobile and the grandeur of the west.

I believe in full disclosure. Full disclosure and no liability. Please, do not come and look at this amazing automobile and point out all the rust. I know. I assure you, I know the rust very very well. You will just make us (me, the car and the dogs) feel bad. It is $2250 for this automobile - I know what it would be worth without the rust.

The corrosive abilities of salt mixed with water is astonishing. There is rust on top of rust. The rust is in all the usual places and a few unusual places. But, look at those new tires.

This 1954 Chevrolet was a Business Coupe. It was the cheapest Chevrolet available in 1954 and wildly practical. The backseat was for sample cases, bibles, encyclopedias, traveling medicine show, tent revivalists, tin siding, carpet baggers and Fuller brushes. There never was a backseat, per se. I recovered the tattered plywood with cracked ice dinette set style vinyl as it is sanitary and attractive.

A delightful collection of hot rodding 'water slide' decals add to the racey nature of this fine automobile. A steal at $2250.

The corrosion is epic.

An extraordinarily good looking automobile with the lumpy definition that comes only from running into old growth trees and buffalo. Bodywork is a breeze when this is the starting point, a claw hammer will get you back on the road.