Author Archives: Ken Altes
At an earlier location of the venerable Austin Speed Shop. 50s Studebaker pickups are my favorites.
Been to the Pebble Beach concours show in California three times in my life, each a peak experience. This 1931 Duesenberg J Murphy Convertible contributed to my elation: The Model J was the fastest and most expensive American automobile on the market. The legendary race-based straight eight had double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, managing its 420 cu. in. with a 5.2:1 compression ratio into producing 265 hp at 4200rpm. With a wheelbase of 140+ inches, this car could reach 120 mph and 94 mph in second gear. The next year, the SJ supercharged model was introduced, making 320 hp, and the SSJ 400 hp.
1952 Packard 200 Deluxe Touring Sedan, powered by 288ci straight-eight paired with a two-speed automatic transmission. I photographed it at Austin’s Lonestar Round Up custom car show. I think it’s happy to see you!
455 cu. in. Olds V8 pulls this heavy FWD car. The 1960s was an innovative decade at General Motors. The Toronado in 1966, along with the Cadillac Eldorado, were the heaviest FWD production cars ever and first American FWD since the 1937 Cord, but the transaxle was so stout that it was used under GM RVs into the 1970s. GM started the decade with the independent suspension, air-cooled rear-engined Corvair, the next year the 215-cubic-inch (3.5 liter) aluminum V-8 and rear transaxle and turbocharging – the only American engine design ever to win a Formula 1 title. The super handsome 1963 Buick Riviera is a classic, originally pitched in-house as a new Cadillac model. The 1966 Pontiac Tempest had a single overhead cam (SOHC) straight six. What am I missing? The 1970s was a different story, the American car nadir (not Nader – that was the 60s) with downsizing and stifling engines.