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Carspotters’ Challenge #138: The Last Traffic Jam

“The traffic jam. Scourge of the 20th century city life. Raiser of blood pressure. Disruptor of supply chains. Stealer of bed-time stories…”

Grabs your attention, doesn’t it? It did for me, until I realized this was a tech commercial. Then my attention waned. I’m not going to dedicate this particular post to the discussion of traffic jams in general, how bad they are, how they make me feel or the technologies involved in making them go away in the future a reality. Why would I want to use a traffic jam as a Carspotters’ Challenge? Well, have a look:


As far as “traffic jams” go, this one at least has some interesting iron on display, for car-people at least. What’s also interesting is the eclectic mix: old, not-so old, North-American, European, UK, etc.

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The Cars of Templar Motors 1917-1924

The Templar Motor Car Corporation, located in Lakewood, Ohio, was one of the 57 locally owned automobile companies that operated in the greater Cleveland area between ninety and a hundred years ago.

Templar: the Superfine Small CarThough Templar went bust in 1924, its 300,000 square foot three-story factory still stands. After Templar's demise, the building was the home of Lake Erie Screw, a maker of threaded fasteners, for many years, and now serves as "Templar Industrial Park," a business incubator for smaller companies, studio space for local artists, and a banquet hall. It's also the home of the largest concentration of Templar automobiles in the civilized world.

The assembly hall display.Templar built 6,500 or so vehicles during its automotive career, of which there are 37 known survivors. Eight of these are displayed in the third-floor assembly hall of the old Templar plant--the room where they were originally bolted together--and another is displayed on the second floor where Templar's engines were once manufactured.

David Buehler and Mr. Templar's TemplarThe curator of Lakewood's Templar collection is David Buehler, a lifelong resident who has had a lifelong fascination with his hometown's only indigenous auto company. David owns the cars in the third-floor display, and has five more Templars of his own at home--and he knows where every one of the other 24 survivors are. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Templar, from company history to minute mechanical details, and a personal collection of Templar artifacts ranging from employee ID badges to blueprints to the only known example of a Templar children's pedal car. Over Thanksgiving weekend, he gave me the full guided tour of the old Templar factory.

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Car Lust Classic: President John F. Kennedy's Parade Car

This review was first posted on November 22, 2011. I tried to avoid any conspiracy theories and tried to simply describe the limousine that was used in Dallas. It will always be the center of the event, and luckily it is still here as an artifact, a silent witness, and a victim.

JFK MotorcadeIt was 48 years ago today, on November 22, 1963, that the world changed again forever. We all know the horrible details of our 35th President, John F. Kennedy's murder, so I'll refrain from them in this post. But on that day, our nation and the world immediately went into unified mourning and shock, and national television was uninterrupted for four days. Nothing of this magnitude had been repeated until September 11, 2001.

He was riding in an open-car motorcade as all Presidents had done before, and none have done since.

JFK in limo (GOOD!)The President's Parade Car, known as SS-100-X (Also X-100) by the Secret Service, began life as any other 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible. Mr. Kennedy loved these cars when they came out, so they made a very special one for him.

After factory assembly, it was shipped to Hess & Eisenhardt in Cincinnati and cut in half (It is a unibody design). The car was then elongated about 3½ feet and modified with special luxuries, plus foldable jump seats, grab handles, rear bumper footrests, special lighting, flagstaffs, and a rear seat that would rise 10 inches.

To read the original post, please click here.

Great Cars of Death: Hank Williams' 1952 Cadillac.

The names read like a litany of tragedy: Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Winehouse. . .promising musicians who drugged and/or drank themselves to the grave before they even turned 30. Open up the age bracket a bit and you'll find Hutchence, Bonham, Moon, and Scott; all cut short at or near their prime creative HJCaddy1years. And that's just a few of the more famous ones, an exhaustive list makes for rather depressing reading.

But before them all was Hiram King Williams, better known as Hank Williams. Perhaps the first country music superstar, Williams died from drug and alcohol related causes in the early hours of 1953. . .before his 30th birthday as well. And because this is Car Lust (and Halloween), I've chosen to highlight this particular celebrity's untimely demise because the unhappy event occurred in the back seat of his car, a 1952 Cadillac convertible. No haunting. No bizarre coincidences. No stories of the car being cursed and causing death and destruction long after the initial event. Just an unfortunate end to a short but spectacular career of an artist perhaps many people these days don't even know about, and if they do they may regard him as some kind of goofy hillbilly.

Such is far from the case (well, okay, there was something of the hillbilly about him), and many artists of the present and recent past were influenced by his music. . .and not all of them are or were country artists. So before you click away, sit back and have a short read about one of the most influential but underappreciated artists of the 20th century, his tragic end, and his way cool car.

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Design a 2013 Studebaker!

The Studebaker National Museum is once again holding a design competition. If you'd like to enter, submit a one- or two-page illustration of your design....

Studebaker 1
Studebaker 2

...accompanied by a 100-word writen description and an official entry form to:

Studebaker National Museum
Attn: Design Contest
201 S. Chapin St.
South Bend, IN 46601

by mail or personal delivery, or e-mail it to the Museum.  The deadline is October 27, 2013.

There are four age categories: 11 & younger, 12–16, 17–20, and 21 & older. There will be a winner announced in each category, along with several honorable mentions. I'll be judging the contest, along with Professor Paul Down from the University of Notre Dame and WSBT radio personality Jon “JT” Thompson.

--Virgil M. Exner, Jr.

September 10 Weekly Open Thread--The Vehicles of 9/11

9 11 vehicles 1Tomorrow is the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. And though there was nothing more terrible than the loss of lives that day, I ran across this image. In all, approximately 1,400 cars, trucks, fire apparatus, ambulances, and other vehicles became instant relics of pure hate; these are just some of them.

Car Lust was created to express our emotions about cars, trucks, and other vehicles. I think this picture is a very powerful statement for us to present to remember that day.

In April, 2012, I had the experience of going back to the World Trade Center after 32 years. We arrived at the Memorial at 6:30 PM; they closed at 8.

There was not enough time to even explore the plaza with the Reflecting Absence pools... when the entire site opens, I would expect half a day might not even be enough time to see the three stories of the Memorial museum.

One particular fire apparatus will forever be on display. Eleven firefighters were killed in this Ladder Company 3 truck as it was removing people from the North Tower. It will be a permanent reminder of the lost firefighters and many other people who never went home that day.

After 11 years, the scars are still with us. But the new 7 World Trade Center building is open; 4 World Trade Center has topped out; and 1 World Trade Center, formally called The Freedom Tower, is now the tallest building in New York. We are beginning to see the results of many years of careful planning and compromise.

We will never forget.

Please feel free to leave any thoughts here.

 --That Car Guy (Chuck)

Image Credit: The image is from

America's Car Museum: Car Lust Edition

Yesterday I popped in to see the newly-opened LeMay Car Museum -- technically the LeMay - America's Car Museum -- for a much-too-short hour and a half (I snuck out of a niece-in-law's high school graduation ceremony at the adjacent Tacoma Dome. . .don't tell!). I've never actually been to a car P1030262museum so it was an entirely new experience for me. The Museum just opened this month and it's really quite a wonder for these parts given that we have no domestic automotive industry to garner history from, at least directly. But we are home to Harold and Nancy LeMay who acquired a truly astounding collection of automobiles. From the above-linked web site:

Harold and Nancy LeMay amassed the largest privately owned collection of automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, other vehicles and related memorabilia in the world.

At its peak, the LeMay Collection numbered in excess of 3,000 vehicles and thousands of artifacts and was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest privately owned collection in the world; impressive if accomplished by a King, but jaw dropping, awesome when accomplished by a local businessman from Tacoma, Washington.

As with most high-end collectors, most of the cars are, well, high end collector cars: gleaming jewels of spotless chrome and deep, rich paint, shined to mirror-like perfection and lit to enhance their beauty. They're not all owned by the LeMays; there's a permanent collection and several 'galleries', if you will, of donated collections and sets of related cars on loan from individuals. Definitely worth a trip for the auto history enthusiast.

Sadly, no mint-condition Pacers I'm afraid.

Still, there were a few specimens that we've covered here and a couple that will no doubt be covered in the future. Here are a few snapshots for some of the more Lustable items.

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Living Rooms on Wheels

Do you think the Cadillac Escalade or the Lincoln Navigator are oversized? Do you think something like a 1966 Imperial is a living room on wheels? Do you think a Hummer H2 or a mid-70s Eldosaurus is a brazen example of conspicuous consumption? Well, lemme school you--compared to the cars we're going to look at today, those are mere poseurs. Wannabees. Also-rans. Pikers.

You want opulent? You want oversized? You want a real living room on wheels--with living-room furniture? The Crawford Museum's got your fun-sized brazen examples of conspicuous consumption right here, pal. Three of 'em, in fact.

It's not just priced like a house, it's the SIZE of a house.

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Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum

Alex and I visited the Crawford Museum in University Circle on Cleveland's east side (not far from the famed Cleveland Clinic) on a recent Saturday. The Museum is operated by the Western Reserve Historical Society.

An overall view of the upstairs gallery.

My primary objective was to get some shots of the Museum's two Jordans to illustrate my last post, but as you'll see there's a lot more to the collection than that.

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Studebaker National Museum

My youngest son Alex and I went on an extended father-son road trip this summer which included a stop at the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana. The Museum presents the story of Studebaker, from its origins as the country's largest manufacturer of horse-drawn vehicles, through its transition to the "horseless carriage" business, all the way to its valiant last stand as an independent carmaker in the early 1960s. The collection covers that history thoroughly, with examples of Studebaker vehicles ranging from a Conestoga wagon to an Avanti II.

I would have enjoyed the Museum greatly if it had just been Alex and I, but we were extremely fortunate to be accompanied by my fellow Car Lust contributor Virgil M. Exner, Jr.  Mr. Exner and his famous father both worked for Studebaker at various times in their careers--and if one of them didn't have a hand in designing a particular car in the collection, Mr. Exner at least knew the people who did! Needless to say, having him with us made the experience even richer.

So let's start the tour.

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Pictured above: This is a forlorn Chevy Vega photographed by reader Gary Sinar. (Share yours)

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