Here's a 1903 Cadillac. Although it's 106 years old, it looks ready to go. I think the top speed was probably about 15 mph (25 kph), but in those days that was a good clip for a horseless carriage. Considering that most country roads (and a lot of city streets) were literally wagon ruts, 15 mph was probably fast enough.
A 1909 Reo, the same folks that brought you the Reo Speed Wagon light truck (as opposed to REO Speedwagon, the band). 'REO' were the initials of the company president, Ransom E. Olds. His company was later merged with several other small automakers to become General Motors, and his legacy was the Oldsmobile Division of GM, which lasted into the late 1990s.
A 1915 Ford Model T, the vehicle which made auto transport available to the masses. There were Model T cars, pickup trucks, and some were equipped with a PTO for running farm equipment. Over 15 million T's were built over 15 or so years. They were cheap, simply constructed, and robust enough to handle most roads of the time-a formula for a winning design.
A late-era Model T, I believe. Even Ford was forced to enhance the design to take advantage of the rapidly-evolving automotive technologies of the day.
A representation of a service station from the 1920-1950 era. You could find a station like this in most every town in the nation, and along most highways. One can almost see the station attendant sitting in a chair in the front of the station, drinking a bottle of soda pop and shooting the breeze with a couple of kids on their bikes or with some older guy just killing time.
Anyone remember when you could go to a gas station and the attendant would come out and pump the gas, wash the windows, check the tire pressure, and check the oil? And the station had a couple of garage bays where the mechanic would do oil changes, lubes, tire changes, and tune-ups.
No, really. Such places existed.
I think this was a late 1930s Auburn, built, strangely enough, in Auburn, Indiana. Auburn was one of the multitude of auto manufacturers that struggled through the Great Depression and were pretty much done by the end of it. What small automakers survived the Depression didn't make it through World War II, though many companies did receive military contracts to utilize their machinery and skilled workers.
The car caught my eye because I suspect that blue was a rare auto color for that era.
Fast forward to 1958, and the Ford Skyliner with retractable hardtop. Ah, the era of chrome and tailfins and 7000 lb cars! Hey, gas was 15 cents a gallon and there was plenty of it.
In the 1950s, the unveiling of the new model year autos was something of an event-just like the opening day of a major sport season. People gathered around auto dealers waiting to see what the new cars would look like. The cars may have been fuel hogs, and there were very few safety features in them, but there was a style to them we definitely don't see today.
A 1956 Cadillac 4 door. The Caddy grew some in the 50+ years since the 1903 version. The '56 model has the beginnings of tailfins, that peculiar fad of 1950s auto design which would culminate in the truly massive fins of the 1959 Cadillacs, which could have been used as auxilary fuel tanks or flotation devices or auxiliary spy equipment (smoke screen, machine guns, oil slick) pods. Cool cars!
A 1957 Ford Thunderbird, Ford's answer to the Chevrolet Corvette. Anyone who's seen the movie American Graffiti likely remembers the scenes of a young Suzanne Somers driving around Modesto, California in a white '57 T-Bird, teasing Richard Dreyfuss's character throughout the film.
I personally like this color better than that white. The 1973 Suzanne Somers would've looked OK in this, too.
Finally, a 1941 Buick Special. One can see the 'toning down' of the chrome and extras on American autos in the 1940 and 1941 model years as the country geared up for war production. The few cars produced for the 1942 model year were quite austere, with flat basic colors, wooden bumpers, and blackout lights. Only a handful of automobiles would be produced from 1942 to 1945, and most of those went to government/military use-everyone else 'made do' with what was available. Only in the 1947 and 1948 model years would Detroit come up with new designs to replace the late 1930s/early 1940s models.
There were a number of other kinda interesting cars at ACMOI, which I'll toss up on here another time. Hope you enjoyed the pics and accounts. If you didn't, well, tough.