No. 153: Pump Like An Egyptian

Pause for a moment, fellow traveler, to give a hat-tip to Ctesibius. Or should that be a nemes* tip? Ctesibius was an inventor in Egypt during the second century BCE. (That was the Ptolemaic Dynasty, of course.) He’s credited with creating the first force pump, a machine to move water. Without Ctesibius, our nation’s fireContinue reading “No. 153: Pump Like An Egyptian”

No. 152: Oozin’ and Cruisin’ in My 88

Perhaps you can hear the song through the dusty old windows: “You women have heard of jalopies/You heard the noise they make/Let me introduce you to my Rocket ’88… Oldsmobile introduced the Rocket 88 in 1949. It fit neatly between two brands already on the roadways, the Olds 78 and 98. The Rocket also introducedContinue reading “No. 152: Oozin’ and Cruisin’ in My 88”

No. 147: Hauler Of All

Someone got it this far. Then, nature did what it always does: Its green tendrils reached out. With leaf and limb, it drew the machine close. Peeking from all this foliage is a first-edition Dodge D100 pickup. The D100 marked a styling departure from the mid-‘50s Job Rated machines – wider, not as tall, aContinue reading “No. 147: Hauler Of All”

No. 145: Dodge Goes to War

It’s well known that America was hardly ready for a global conflict when one crash-landed on its lap on Dec. 7, 1941. Our nation had to gear up, and fast, for a war that would spread across oceans and continents. That included building trucks. Dodge responded with the WC, a series of half- and three-quarter-tonContinue reading “No. 145: Dodge Goes to War”

No. 144: The Loadmaster

It was running when I parked it, No. 144: The Loadmaster. This old hoss carried melons from the farms of south Georgia to the freight yards of Atlanta. It trundled bundles of bright leaf to warehouses in Greenville and Rocky Mount. It carried pumpkins from central Michigan to trucking terminals in Kalamazoo. It took hardhattedContinue reading “No. 144: The Loadmaster”

No. 143: A Fleeting Moment Before the War

The Chevrolet Fleetline bowed in 1941 … just in time for Chevy executives to shelve the automaker’s family-car-for-all and turn their attention to making tanks. Plans for a roomy, inline-6-powered car with three speeds on the column languished until the end of World War II. By 1947, Chevrolet was going full-tilt making an array ofContinue reading “No. 143: A Fleeting Moment Before the War”

No. 142: Hey, Opel, What’s That?

The little car bowed in American in 1958. It was a boxy thing, underpowered and underwhelming, a reminder that most European cars could not compete on our superhighways. In time, we came to know the line for three distinct models: the Kadett, the Manta and the GT – the third a dead ringer for aContinue reading “No. 142: Hey, Opel, What’s That?”

No. 141: Not Seeing the USA

Chevrolet turned its back on the tri-fives of the mid-‘50s and concentrated on a new machine – the Impala, a car as massive as its namesake was sleek. After one year, Chevy changed the design and produced a longer, lower car. Its trademark feature: twin rear fins that arched like angry eyebrows. The model hadContinue reading “No. 141: Not Seeing the USA”

No. 140: No Love for This Bug

It was called the “people’s car,” or volkswagen. Its origins date to the late 1930s, when a restive Germany and its fanatical leader dreamed of world conquest. In the early and mid-1940s, the rear-engine vehicle was part of that global war effort. In the late 1940s, the people’s car renewed life as civilian transportation. ByContinue reading “No. 140: No Love for This Bug”