Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Car Dealers in High Gear

In Frank McClure's office, protected in a velvet-lined box, is Arizona auto license number 178. It was issued in 1914, the year that Monte Mansfield opened his Ford dealership in Tucson. McClure worked for Mansfield from 1954 to 1958, the year Mansfield sold his Ford dealership to Holmes Tuttle. When Monte Mansfield died, his widow gave the license to McClure, who is now the president at Holmes Tuttle Ford. It is in gestures such as this, as well as through memory and remembrance, that the history of the dealerships in Tucson is told.

While the idea of going to the dealer to buy a new car makes sense to us, things weren't always done that way. The first cars were sold factory-direct, and the first independent car dealers got their start by buying cars from the factory and then reselling them alongside reliable products, like bicycles and horses. The first dealerships were even referred to as stables, until Percy Owen opened a site to display automobiles in New York City in 1899 and called it a showroom.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Auto History - Engine

At a time when vehicles had not yet agreed on a common form, the Apperson six-passenger touring car showed incredible vision. Built by the Apperson Brothers Automobile Company, its four-cylinder inline engine produced an astounding 40 hp. It used an advanced jump-spark ignition synchronized by a commutator supplying four coils. Its combination water tank and radiator was a forerunner of today's design, with an upper and lower tank, connected by finned copper tubes. A belt-driven fan pulled air across the fins, and a gear driven water pump circulated coolant. The car also had a friction clutch and sliding-gear transmission that provided four forward speeds plus reverse. It used two independent braking systems, one acting on the gear case, and the other on brakes of a rear drum design. Perhaps the car's most memorable feature was its rear-passenger parlor seating with walk-in rear entry door.

The answer to solid rubber tires and cart springs? Perhaps. A manufacturing nightmare? Probably. As you can see, each spring attached to its own upper perch, which joins at a hinge to the previous unit. Also note the work that went into the lower spring perch.