Fire consumes Commonwealth Coach & Trolley Museum in Roanoke, Virginia

Fire consumes Commonwealth Coach & Trolley Museum in Roanoke, Virginia

Commonwealth Coach & Trolley Museum

Photo by Amy Friedenberger, The Roanoke Times.

Since opening to the public in 2000, the Commonwealth Coach & Trolley Museum in Roanoke, Virginia, has educated visitors about the history, use and efficiency of public transit, while also providing transportation services for area non-profits and public events. As The Roanoke Times reports, a two-alarm fire that began in the early morning hours of November 1 has destroyed the museum’s home on 18th Street S.W., and with it, nearly half its collection of coaches.

Founded in 1999, when the Virginia Museum of Transportation deaccessioned its fleet of transit coaches, the museum gained 501(c)(3) status the following year. Since then, the facility that describes itself as “The official transit museum of the Commonwealth of Virginia” has acquired a number of historic vehicles, including a 1917 Roanoke Trolley and a 1959 Southern Coach that originally served as base transportation at Camp Lejeune. Donated to the museum in 2009 and restored just last year, the bus was refinished in its original Marine Corps livery to offer rides in parades to area veterans. As local news station WDBJ reports, the Southern Coach was one of the vehicles destroyed in Wednesday’s fire. The Roanoke Times reports that a 1955 GMC 4501 Scenicruiser, one of just 1,001 examples built, was also a total loss.

Other vehicles in the museum’s collection included a 1934 Dodge Brothers school bus; a 1947 Mack C-41; a 1953 Mack; a 1958 GMC TDH3714; 1962 and ’69 GMCs; a 1962 Diamond Rio wrecker; a 1966 GM Fishbowl; a 1968 GMC Buffalo; a 1973 GM Mini-Fishbowl; a 1974 AM General; a 1976 Flxible Pentran; 1976, ’87, ’89, ’90 Flxible Metros; a 1979 Grumman; 1982 and ’89 GMC RTS; a 1991 Orion; 1991,’97, and 2000 Gillig Phantoms; a 1993 Volvo service truck; a 1994 TMC RTS; and a 1998 New Flyer D40LF.

The heat from the blaze was hot enough to destroy several coaches parked in a lot outside the building, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation. Though a full accounting of the loss has yet to be tallied, current estimates are that 15 buses – including the majority of the museum’s restored stock – were destroyed. The fire melted steel ceiling beams, leaving the remaining brick structure in danger of collapse, and the extent of the damage means the building will need to be razed.

The Commonwealth Coach & Trolley Museum also provided shuttles for Virginia’s Explore Park, Center in the Square, National D-Day Memorial, Mill Mountain Zoo, the Heart Association, Lions Conventions, the Rescue Mission, local churches, and the National EMS Memorial Service. Drivers were unpaid volunteers, and donations were accepted to offset the cost of fuel and maintenance. Donations were also the primary source of funding for the museum’s restoration projects.

In a comment to this article, museum curator Fred Donaher stated, “… our collective mission is to rise above this crisis with what’s left and continue moving forward. All does not appear to be lost at this time. We are striving to stay positive and welcome any relief and support that any of you in the rolling preservation community are willing to offer. Last but not least, feel free to visit us online at commonwealthcoachandtrolley.org and in real time in Roanoke, Virginia to see our natural beauty and unique fellow museums.”

Donations to aid the in its rebuilding are being solicited by the Virginia Museum of Transportation; for more information, visit VMT.org.


Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

Sports car collector and restorer DeWayne Ashmead dies at 73

Sports car collector and restorer DeWayne Ashmead dies at 73

Photos by the author.

In 1999, no American Motors products had entered judging at the Mopar Nationals, let alone completed for top honors. DeWayne Ashmead, however, didn’t let a thing like precedent stop him from shipping his restored Mark Donohue edition 1970 AMC Javelin to Ohio, showing the judges the quality of his restoration, and then improbably taking Best of Show ahead of all the Dodges, Plymouths, and Chryslers in contention.

In fact, Ashmead – who died earlier this week following a stroke – didn’t seem to let precedent or convention interrupt his notions of which cars to add to his car collection. As he pointed out in a Hemmings Classic Car profile on him, he had three criteria a car needed to meet before he added it to his pan-marque, every era, economically diverse, all-nationalities-welcome collection.

“First, it has to be a sports car, and I take a broad definition of sports car,” he said. Essentially, it had to go fast and had to have been built to go fast originally. His first collector car, a five-speed 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SL that he bought and restored in the 1980s, meets that criteria, but so does his thoroughbred 1920 Stutz Series H.

Next, “it has to be something rare, unique and unusual.” That explains the Mark Donohue Javelin – one of 2,501 built – as well as his 1925 Kissel 6-55 Speedster – the only one known to exist.

“Finally, I have to like it. If I don’t, it really doesn’t matter.” And who doesn’t like a Sunbeam Tiger Mk II or a nearly body-less Dodge Brothers speedster or an all-original Volvo P1800S?

Over the years his cars became staples at concours events and other judged shows, from Pebble Beach to the AMO Nationals (the Donohue Javelin shared space in the collection with a 1952 Nash-Healey, a 1970 Javelin Trans-Am homologation special and a Big Bad Blue 1970 AMX), and rather than confine the cars to museum-like suspended animation once they’d completed the show circuit, Ashmead returned them to the road, tasking his staff of restorers with keeping them in turnkey condition.

And while the collection included everything from a supercharged 1937 Cord 812 to a 1954 Kaiser Darrin to a1932 Auburn 8-100A Speedster to a 1953 Glasspar G-2 to a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL gullwing, Ashmead notably didn’t replicate his first car – a 1950 Mercury that he’d customized and raced – likely due to the plethora of other cars out there that did meet his criteria.

Ashmead retired from Albion Advanced Nutrition – the company he and his father started – last year. According to his obituary, funeral services will take place at the Mountain Road Chapel in his hometown of Fruit Heights, Utah.


Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

Emergency Balloon Kit

Emergency Balloon Kit

While photographing a 1969 Buick Riviera on Long Island recently for a forthcoming feature in Hemmings Classic Car magazine, the car owner, Eric Sporrer, showed me some of the many pieces of original Buick-related literature that he has collected through the years. This one particular piece, which I never knew existed, I found very interesting, and somewhat entertaining.

It’s an Emergency Balloon Kit. Printed on the bottom of the envelope: “A product of the Cy Prisyon Co., Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230”. The space where car dealers would stamp their company’s name, shows that this particular kit had been given away at Arnold Buick on West Montauk Highway in Babylon, New York; Babylon is a town on the south shore of Long Island.

Peeking inside the now-brown envelope I saw the three original balloons. I tried to remove them to take a photograph, but they were stuck to the inside of the envelope, so I left them alone.

As stated, if you were stuck on the highway and needed medical attention, you inflated the red balloon. An inflated green balloon meant you needed the assistance of the police. And for mechanical aid, the car owner would inflate the blue balloon. Once inflated, the balloons would then be attached to your car’s radio antenna.

Back in the day, this was a motorist’s version of a boater’s distress signal. However, I wonder just how many people and organizations really knew what these balloons signified. Did any readers experience such an emergency “balloon” alert?


Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

Hemmings Find of the Day – 1971 Kaiser M35A2

Hemmings Find of the Day – 1971 Kaiser M35A2

1971 Kaiser M35A2

From the seller’s description:

1971 Kaiser M35A2 Turbo C Whistler, This is a 1971 custom professionally bobbed M35A2. It was bobbed and all mechanical work completed by a machine racing shop (facebook.com/JakesPerformanceFabrication/). All body work was completely stripped and painted (Porsche Metallic Peridot Green) at a restoration shop (restomodstore.com). I have no doubt this is the nicest one available!

Reason for sale: we are decreasing the number of vehicles we own!

If you know about these vehicles they are unstoppable and we have made this one 100% unique with the metallic color & dark chromed accents.

– This is the whistler C Turbo version engine!
– Exhaust was rerouted underneath the truck to reduce the noise
– Truck needs nothing!
– Drives at 70 MPH, no problem, steers straight
– Original engine was replaced with one with 4000 miles from a fire truck pumper.
– No leaks!
– Great oil pressure
– Oil filters converted to quick spin on style
– Engine heater installed (plug in)
– This had the original bed chopped and perfectly welded (most use a military trailer)
– Custom one piece wheels
– Rear troop seating
– Big 46″ Tires 95% tread
– Never been in mud or snow or water! (Only rained on slightly once!)
– This is a multi-fuel engine (we only have used diesel however)
– 2 Speed transfer case
– 5 Speed transmission
– Removable Hardtop
– Clear Missouri Title
– Insured through Hagerty Classic Cars
– Can not be sold outside of the U.S.

This truck is ready to show or drive anywhere until your heart’s content!

1971 Kaiser M35A2 1971 Kaiser M35A2 1971 Kaiser M35A2 1971 Kaiser M35A2

Pricetag

Price
$25,500

Location Marker

Location
Rocky Mount, Missouri

Magnifying Glass

Availability
Available

Find more Kaisers for sale on Hemmings.com.


Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

Hudson Super Six race car copy pays homage to Indy’s “junk formula” days

Hudson Super Six race car copy pays homage to Indy’s “junk formula” days

Hudson Super Six

Looking to bring both spectators and American automakers back to the Indy 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Eddie Rickenbacker proposed a series of rule changes in 1929 that would become known as the “junk formula.” From 1930 to 1937, the race once again included normally aspirated stock-block cars, and while this Hudson Super Six racing car, part of the Bothwell Collection to be sold by Bonhams on November 11, never raced at Indy – or likely at all – it still pays homage to the American cars that ran at the Brickyard in-period.

Hudson Super Six

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was supposed to be a proving ground for American automakers, but in the years following World War I the track became the domain of exotic, purpose-built machinery that held little in common with production cars of the day. Domestic automakers lost interest, but so did spectators, and when Rickenbacker took over in the fall of 1927, it was clear that changes were needed to ensure the future of the Indy 500.

Hudson Super Six

Working with the AAA Contest Board, Rickenbacker formulated a rule package that banned supercharging on four-stroke engines, permitted no more than two carburetors, allowed normally aspirated stock-block engines as large as 366-cu.in., and as Jim Donnelly explained in the December 2014 issue of Hemmings Classic Car, implemented minimum weight requirements based upon engine displacement.

Beginning in 1930, riding mechanics – made optional at the 1923 race – were once again required at Indy, the two occupants perhaps reinforcing the connection between race car and road car. The rule changes had the intended result, and within a few years the Indy 500 field was filled with cars from automakers like Auburn, Buick, Chrysler, Ford, Oakland, and Studebaker. Some, as Dan Strohl wrote in a 2016 Hemmings Daily article, were “little more than showroom stock cars stripped of fenders, headlamps and windshields.”

Hudson Super Six

Compared to the purpose-built exotics that previously dominated the race, these inexpensive and crude race cars may have indeed resembled “junk,” giving rise to the tongue-in-cheek “junk formula” nickname. No stock-block car ever won at Indy during the 1930s, but for spectators – those who could afford automobiles in the grips of the Great Depression, anyway – the cars that raced at the Brickyard were once again “real.”

Hudson Super Six

The Hudson Super Six race car shown here, on the other hand, is likely a complete fabrication, built by a Hollywood studio to depict what a competition car from the period may have looked like. Powered by a mostly stock, circa-1920 Hudson Super Six engine, rated at roughly 76 horsepower, it likely wouldn’t have been fast enough to compete on track during the 1930s, though for on-screen appearances in movies, reliability is more important than performance. Had this Hudson been raced in the 1930s, chances are good its Super Six engine would have been updated with Hudson’s flathead inline eight, introduced for the 1930 model year.

Now finished in a Gilmore Red Lion Special livery, the Hudson was purchased by Lindley Bothwell from 20th Century Fox in 1961. It isn’t clear what movie (or movies) the car appeared in prior to Bothwell’s acquisition, but in 2003 it reportedly appeared – albeit briefly – in the major motion picture Seabiscuit. As offered, the car sports a cast aluminum “Miller-style” nose, a custom single-piece exhaust, and a set of period-correct Rudge wheels.

Hudson Super Six

Absent of any in-period racing history, the Hudson could probably be converted to run in a contemporary vintage racing series, thus establishing a new competition history of its own. As an alternative, the boattail roadster could be equipped with full instrumentation, lights, and other required safety devices, then (depending upon location) registered for road use. It would certainly make an engaging weekend driver, though in the interest of safety we’d probably want to add front brakes.

Hudson Super Six

Its absence of an in-period competition history may pay unlikely dividends for the car’s next owner as well. Bonhams is predicting a selling price between $20,000 and $30,000 in the no-reserve auction, likely less than it would cost to duplicate such a car today.

The Bothwell Collection sale will take place at the Bothwell Ranch in Woodland Hills, California. For additional details, visit Bonhams.com.


Source: www.hemmings.com/blog

Corvette production slated to resume November 6, but plant tours still halted

Corvette production slated to resume November 6, but plant tours still halted

2016 Corvette

New Corvettes roll off the Bowling Green assembly line in 2015. Photo courtesy General Motors.

On July 28, production at GM’s Bowling Green Assembly Plant, home of the Chevrolet Corvette, was halted for a 90-day period to install updated machinery and finish construction of the facility’s elaborate new $500-million paint shop. Now, as the Bowling Green Daily News (via Corvette Blogger) reports, the plant is expected to reopen to employees – but not visitors – on November 6.

Corvette fans who simply want to tour the plant will need to be patient. Per the Bowling Green Assembly Plant website, “Plant tours are unavailable as of June 16, 2017, and may resume at a future date.” The National Corvette Museum, now tasked with administrating the guided walks, is a bit more upbeat and informative, saying, “Plant tours are unavailable and resume in 2019.”

The updates to the plant have changed workflow, and employees will be reporting back throughout October and into November depending upon retraining requirements. The revised build process for Corvette models is expected to improve ergonomics for workers, and the end product should be higher in quality as well. The new paint shop, for example, is said to be better-equipped to finish carbon-fiber panels than its predecessor, while also reducing the plant’s overall environmental impact.

Bowling Green Assembly may be slated to reopen on November 6, but production of 2018 Corvettes bound for dealers isn’t expected to resume until November 20, identified by Corvette Blogger as the first Target Production Week for new Corvette orders. The plant will continue to build the current 2018 model year Corvette though January 22, 2018, at which time it will shut for a week to prepare for 2019 Corvette assembly.

Sales of the current Corvette are down from previous years, running roughly 17-percent behind last year for the U.S. market through September. One potential reason is the rash of rumors – now supported by spy photographs – that the 2019 Corvette will be a mid-engine design, or will include a mid-engine model variant. Expect Chevrolet to remain tight-lipped about any new Corvette models (and hence, the resumption of Bowling Green plant tours) until early 2018.


Source: www.hemmings.com/blog