Model T

Full-Throttle Thursday

1967 Ford Mustang.jpg

The Ford Motor Company has been around for a very long time. 115 years as of June 16th, to be exact. The vision of a forty year-old tinkerer named Henry, the Ford Company has come a long way since they introduced their first Model A in 1903.  A bare-boned vehicle, the Model A could not have anticipated the future. Five years and numerous model changes later, the Model T was the big one - it made car ownership affordable, and allowed even the common person to see themselves on the road. Since this is just a blog and not an epic, we now jump ahead sixty-two years. The Ford Company of 1965 may not have been the power house it was in the early days - in 1918, one of every two cars on the road was a Ford! - but they still drew attention when they made a good car that people wanted. That would have been the first year given to the Mustang (it was really a '64, but, well, never mind).

The Ford Mustang was an instant winner, and the most successful Ford since the Model A. In fact, it continues to be in production to this day, with overhauls happening pretty regularly since its original introduction. There are a few Mustangs available to admire here at the American Treasure Tour. One, not easily visible but definitely on display in our Toy Box, is a Third Generation Mustang from 1987.  Available in coupe, hatchback, and convertible styles, ours is a soft-top convertible looking snazzy but still kinda practical. Next time you take our tram ride, make a point to notice it, parked among the other cars. Another winner in the Toy Box.

Full-Throttle Thursday

1922 Steamer.jpg

Question:  What type of car was considered one of the most reliable on the road, one of the most powerful, and one of the most exclusive right around 1908?
Answer:  The Stanley Steamer.  1908 was the year Henry Ford introduced his Model T, which would become hugely popular in just a few years' time. But it would never be regarded as especially easy to drive, nor would it be well regarded for its ability to climb hills. Steamers at that time were also difficult to drive, but they were superior at hill climbing. They worked off of water pressure, not torque. Jump ahead about fifteen years and the Model T dominated the roads, and steam-powered vehicles had fallen below the curve. Gas-powered vehicle technology advanced leaps and bounds by 1922, but steam was fundamentally the same. They got outpaced and would end soon as an affective competition against gas power.

The 1922 Steamer we have on display in our Toy Box is one of the last of a dying breed of water-powered cars, and it's a beauty, too.  We invite you to take a close look at it and, if you're curious as to how to get one of these babies running, check out the video segment from Jay Leno's Garage: 

Full-Throttle Thursday

The car we celebrate in today's blog is one of the true classics:  an open-air 1924 Sedan by Cadillac. This luxury vehicle cost somewhere around $4,000 brand new - which may not sound like a lot of money today, but over ninety years ago that was a small fortune. But, like cars today, the more you spent, the more you got.  And Cadillac was the ... um ... Cadillac of automobiles back then as it remains today. The innovations introduced to the car industry by the Cadillac company are many and significant.  This car is a manifestation of most of them.

1924 Cadillac.jpg

The first thing someone who understands cars of the 1920's would surely notice is that there is no crank in the front. The hand crank was the original way drivers started their engines. The Model T had it, up to the vehicles retirement from production a full three years after this beauty hit the roads, and yet this car starts with the simple turn of a key in the electric ignition. That's because Cadillac actually developed the key start.  They introduced it way back in 1912, and the competition still hadn't embraced it. They also introduced the first mass-produced V-8 engine. 1924 was the first year for a new interpretation of the V-8 that would prove so effective that they never really improved on it again. Modern eight-cylinder engines look quite similar to this one, just now concealed behind digital technology. The car comfortably fit seven, but we're confident more people could squeeze in there if you really wanted to fit them. Until then, happy travels!

Full Throttle Thursday

It's time again for the American Treasure Tour blog to delve into our automobile collection. Last week, we went modern (relatively speaking) with our 1956 Ford Fairlane.  THIS week, we're heading to the United States prior to World War II and the engineering improvements that occurred during the 1940's.


One company that few remember today that had a significant impact on the car industry was Willys.  The car we honor today is their 1927 Whippet - considered a compact vehicle at the time (hard to imagine), some automotive historians consider this the car that compelled Henry Ford to retire production of his Model T. The popularity of the Whippet was such that Ford's need to upgrade his car technology led to the introduction of the Model A that year. That's pretty significant.  Now, jump ahead fourteen years, and Willys contracted with the U.S. government to produce an all-purpose all-terrain vehicle for the military.  General Dwight D. Eisenhower described that car, the Jeep, as one of the most important vehicles in the Allied victory!


QUESTION:  Which of the following was never the name of a motor oil brand sold in the United States by a major producer?  
A)  Pennzoil
B)  Lubri-smooth
C)  Valvoline
D)  Royal Purple

The American Treasure Tour has all sorts of amazing items on display - we won't go through the list today, we promise. But every now and again we like to point out some of the pieces that don't get their proper due. Today, we honor the can of Veedol Motor Oil displayed on a shelf near our dual Wurlitzer 165's.  Good old Veedol.  Veedol was the creation of the Tidewater Petroleum Company, established in 1887, with refineries located in the industrialized northern New Jersey town of Bayonne.  Tidewater Petroleum also operated numerous gas stations, as well as other Flying-A branded products for many years. The largest stockholder in Tidewater (Tide Water until the 1930's) was a small company named Standard Oil, today's ExxonMobil. They sold out to John Paul Getty, who expanded the influence of the company before BP (British Petroleum) bought him out.  When the Phillips Company took over Tidewater in 1966, they converted the Flying-A gas stations into Phillips 66 in the west.  In the east, Getty held on until a 1984 sellout to Texaco.

Meanwhile, Veedol motor oil did very well.  Henry Ford advocated it for use in his incomprehensibly successful Model T cars. Richard Byrd used it during his expedition to the South Pole in 1928, and it was the chosen lubricant for the first around-the-world flight, made by the German Graf Zeppelin airship (a.k.a. blimp) in 1929.  The first trans-Pacific flight occurred two years later in a plane called the Miss Veedol - we won't tell you which lubricant they used - and in 1979, Veedol synthetic fuels were used on the Space Shuttle Columbia  during its testing phases. So, if you need a lubricant or a motor oil, Veedol is out there!  We do recommend you not try to use the can we have on display at the tour, though. That would be neither wise, nor nice.

ANSWER:  B)  Lubri-smooth.  We have not copyrighted the name if you want to use it. Just give us a call out, okay?

Paul Newman - May 27, 2014

No doubt you read the header to today's blog and got excited at the thought that maybe Paul Newman recorded an album that is on display in the Music Room here at the American Treasure Tour.  Sorry to say, that's not the case.  If he ever sang into a microphone, we are none the wiser. Instead, we are here to talk about his contribution to film.  We suspect it will come as no surprise to you that he is a favorite among the crew here at the ATT and for good reason.  He was not only an amazing actor but, according to the women who work at the Tour, he is apparently dreamy, too....

Paul Newman made his fame in film, notably with his Academy Award for Best Actor in the 1986 Martin Scorcese film The Color of Money, but he has done much more with his celebrity than many others.  Aside from a passion for auto racing, Newman also co-founded Newman's Own, a food company from which all profits go to helping the disadvantaged.  He also founded the SeriousFun Children's Network, which provides camps and support for children with serious illnesses.  So.  Not only is Newman talented and dreamy, he also did many great things to help people, that continue on since his passing away in 2008 at the age of 83.

QUESTION:  What was the last fictional film in which Paul Newman performed prior to his death?

a)  Cool Hand Luke

b)  Road To Perdition

c)  Cars

d)  The Meerkats

Answer Below


Eighteen years of production stopped on this day in 1927 at the Ford Automotive plant.  The Model T, one of the most popular cars ever produced in the world, was retired the day after the fifteen millionth T rolled off the assembly line.  Although the Model T is generally regarded as the car that anyone in America could afford, it was long outdated by 1927.  The other major car manufacturers had outpaced Ford in technology and appeal to the public, so Ford was ready to start over again.  In December, production would begin on a new, improved Model A car.

By 1937, the American addiction to travel was in full swing, and nothing could stop us from getting from Point A to Point C - even if Point B between them was the San Francisco Bay!  On this day, the Golden Gate Bridge opened its pedestrian walkway.  It was a major step on the way to opening the famous landmark for automotive traffic, and the opening of traffic between the city of San Francisco and Marin County, California.


The descendant of Dutch indentured servants, Cornelius Vanderbilt became one of the richest men ever to live in the United States.  He was born today in 1794, a Staten Island boy who provided ferry service to Manhattan from an early age.  That began his ascent.  He then bought steamboats, then exploited the ambitions of miners looking for gold in California, and then railroads.  Despite having thirteen children, with ten surviving him, Vanderbilt willed 95% of his ample fortune to his eldest son, William, and his four sons.

42 years Vanderbilt's junior and considered his greatest enemy, Jay Gould shared his birthday. Gould was an extremely ambitious entrepreneur prepared to do what it took to make his fortune.  He was extremely powerful in railroads - and a competitor to Vanderbilt - but he also nurtured dubious relations with the corrupt and controversial Tammany Hall political party in New York City.  In 1869, he strove to corner the national market in gold, and contributed to a panic that led to an economic depression.  

QUOTE:  If you don't have enemies, you don't have character. - Paul Newman

Answer:  c)  Cars.  He did the voice for Doc Hudson.  The Meerkats was the last film in which he was involved; however, that was a documentary.  As was Dale, which also came out after Cars.

The Wurlitzer Family, Part 1 - February 17, 2014

We here at the American Treasure Tour blog are confident, as we enter the post-Valentine's Day blues, that you need a little pick-me-up.  Something different from the celebrities and record albums we have been talking about.  As you know, the Tour contains one of the world's largest collections of nickelodeons and band organs  We did extensive* polling and have decided to spend some time discussing one of the most prominent families behind the manufacture of mechanical music in the United States.  

(*No actual polls were conducted, we just wanted to make it sound good.)

Franz Rudolph Wurlitzer was born in Schoneck, Saxony, Germany on January 30th, 1831.  His family had been manufacturing quality instruments for centuries by the time of his birth - starting with his lute-making ancestor Heinrich Wurlitzer (1595 to 1656).  Franz Rudolph took a big step when, at age twenty-two, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio without his family's blessing.  He set up shop there and imported Wurlitzer-produced instruments, mostly violins, and was treated like any other client of the business.  He began raising his own family, including three sons.  By 1865, his business was so successful that he built his own factory in Cincinnati to produce instruments, primarily for military bands.  Four years later, he opened a branch in Chicago and in 1890 it incorporated as the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company.  

For more on the Wurlitzer family, join us tomorrow for our next exciting installment....


Schoneck, the town in Saxony, Germany where Franz Rudolph Wurlitzer was born, is a short 2-1/2 drive (respecting the speed limit, of course) of what city, made famous for being the setting of post-World War II trials?

a)  Berlin

b)  Dresden

c)  Munich

d)  Nuremberg

e)  Frankfurt

Answer Below


The law dictates that presidential elections occur on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November  (this means no federal election will ever happen on November 1st, for some reason).  The presidential election of 1800 determined that John Adams, the incumbent, would not serve a second term, since he placed third in the election.  There was a problem, though.  In the early republic, the person with the most votes became president, and the person with the second-highest would become vice president.  The system was improved after the debacle of 1800, when Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied for first (although Burr was "supposed to" be the vice presidential candidate).  The vote went to the House of Representatives for resolution.  It was on this day in 1801 when Alexander Hamilton's behind-the-scenes negotiations compelled Jefferson into the presidency.  Hamilton believed Burr was the worse man for the job and convinced people to change their votes in favor of Jefferson.  Within three years, Hamilton's anti-Burr campaigns would compel the two men into a disastrous duel.  Soon after that, Jefferson accused Burr of treason against the United States, a crime punishable by death....

For decades, the Ford Model-T had the record for being the best-selling car in the United States. On this date in 1972, that changed, when numbers for the Volkswagen Beetle surpassed those of the car that put Americans behind the wheel.  The VW was affordable and practical, much like the Model-T had been in the nineteen-teens.  A poll in 1999 designated the Beetle one of the four most important cars of the 20th century, alongside the Model-T, the Mini, and the Citroen DS.


On this day in 1843, Aaron Montgomery Ward was born in Chatham, New Jersey to a large lower-middle class family. They moved to Michigan when he was nine.  Hugely ambitious, the young man did any kind of work he could find until he struck upon the notion of creating a mail order company to cut out the middle man and bring products directly from the manufacturer, through his catalog, to his customers.  It worked, and by 1880 his catalog company was in business.  (Sears' famous catalog would come around sixteen years after Ward started his.)  The catalog is considered by some to be one of the most-influential books ever printed in the United States, although the last department store chain it inspired closed its doors in 2001.


The rule of my life is to make business a pleasure, and pleasure my business. - Aaron Burr

Answer - d)  Nuremberg - The Nuremberg Trials placed suspected Nazi war criminals on trial to account for crimes executed during World War II.