1912 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost

When the 40/50 horsepower “Silver Ghost” debuted in 1907 it was the most advanced motorcar money could buy. Centered on Henry Royce’s 7,428cc side-valve inline-six, the Silver Ghost was an engineering marvel. The cylinder block was built incredibly strong but was also light weight due to the use of an alloy crankcase. Royce’s engine had a crank that was shorter and stronger and was supported by seven large main bearings. Features like pressurized oiling, fixed heads to eliminate leaks, and a twin ignition system via magneto or distributor were advancements that set the Silver Ghost as the standard.

This 1912 Silver Ghost was once sold to the British Admiralty where it served war duty.  Throughout its life, it wore several bodies, which was not uncommon and it was often a chassis would outlast more than one body. In 1988, it was fitted with its current “Roi des Belges” or “Tulip Phaeton” body by Wilkinson, a style made popular the early 1900s by Barker.

1948 Tucker

Preston Tucker (1903-1956) was an entrepreneur and car designer. Early in life he had been an office boy at Cadillac Motors, ran a gas station, was a policeman, and settled into a sales career with many car dealerships, selling Stutz, Chrysler, Piece-Arrow, and Dodge cars. His fascination with racing led to a partnership with famed race car engineer Harry Miller in Indianapolis.

In 1939, sensing an opportunity in the coming war in Europe, Tucker designed and built a prototype armored combat car at the request of the Dutch government. The car was far faster than the design requirement and the Dutch government declined to continue with the project. It did feature a unique gun turret, which attracted the attention of the U.S Navy. Tucker was soon in production of these turrets for use in ships and aircraft.

As the war ended there was a pent-up demand for new cars, Tucker realized his dream of starting his own car company, offering a car very different from the warmed-over pre-war designs of established car companies. Tucker was a salesman, and had a lot of interesting, highly advanced ideas that his small organization with tenuous funding had no realistic hope of producing. The 1948 Tucker sedan did manage to feature many of his more reasonable, achievable ideas; a safety frame that deflected from a collision rather than absorb the force and also protected passengers in a side impact, a powerful rear engine adapted from a helicopter power plant that could propel the car to 100 mph with ease. The front passenger area was designed to be a “crash zone” that passengers could climb into if a crash was imminent, a roll bar built into the roof, and a laminated windshield was designed to pop out in a collision.

In July of 1946 Tucker leased the former Dodge Chicago Aircraft Plant from the U.S. Government’s War Assets Administration and began to slowly acquire the needed equipment for auto production, as funds allowed. Tucker’s methods of finance and raising capital were unorthodox, and soon raised the ire of the Securities and Exchange Commission, resulting in a trial that halted the rudimentary production that Tucker had set up in an effort to satisfy investors, creditors and the 1,800+ dealerships that had been sold. The trial dragged on, and when the trial ended in January of 1950 Tucker was exonerated, but it was too late. Tucker’s remaining funds were spent fighting the trial, the War Assets Administration took back the factory, and there were numerous lawsuits by dealers who never saw a car, let alone sold one.

Just 51 of the Tucker sedans were produced before the company was forced to halt production, of those 51, 47 survive today, and are considered one of the rarest and most desirable collector cars today. The example seen here was purchased by the Stahls Foundation in 2008 from a museum in Stone Mountain Georgia. It was completely restored by Classic and Exotic Service in Troy Michigan and is considered to be the best example of a Tucker sedan today. In 1987 famed director Francis Ford Coppola, himself a Tucker collector made a movie of the Tucker Story, “Tucker, the man and his dream”. This car was one of 22 Tuckers assembled for the production of this movie.

1941 Packard 120 Convertible

By 1941, Packard’s model line and had come to include the 110, 120, 160 and 180.  The Packard Twelve had been discontinued as demand had fallen off considerably.  It was replaced, however, with a 160-horsepower engine that proved to be very capable of filling the Twelve’s big shoes.  The new eight-cylinder motor was introduced as standard equipment on the 160 and 180 models, which rode on a longer wheelbase chassis and benefited from elegant, body designs.  The more affordable Packards were the Model 110 which was powered by a 100 horsepower, 6-cylinder engine and the Model 120 which was powered by a 120 horsepower, eight-cylinder engine.

This Packard carries one of eight body styles offered on the Model 120, the four passenger, convertible coupe.  It was sold new by the Smith Motor Company of Hanover, Pennsylvania to a pair of single sisters who owned it until about 2000.

This vehicle has been involved in The Great Race, an annual rally race across the country, since 2012.

1914 Rauch and Lang Electric vehicle

Jacob Rauch was a well-known carriage maker in Cleveland, Ohio who formed a partnership with Charles Lang, a real estate magnate, selling Buffalo Electric automobiles in 1903.  Two years later they developed and built their own electric car.

This Model J4 was one of four body styles offered in 1914 and the most expensive at $3,200.  The car was originally equipped with 40 two-volt batteries and a five-speed selector accelerator.  Electric cars were cleaner, quieter, and easier to start with no hand crank.  Most taxis in New York City were electric vehicles in the early part of the century because of these qualities.  Electric cars were eventually eclipsed by gas cars because of their limited range and substantial weight.  This exhibit is now equipped with seven deep-cycle, 12-volt batteries, four in front and three in the trunk.

1910 Ford Model T Firetruck

The Ford Model T is perhaps the best known early American automobile.  More than 15 million were built and sold from 1908 to 1928.  A myriad of body styles were produced: everything from roadsters and coupes to phaetons and sedans.  But many Model T’s saw duty in industrial, commercial, and municipal applications.  The engine is coupled to a 2-speed planetary transmission and is built as a monobloc construction with a removable cylinder head, an industry first.

This Model T Firetruck is one example of how these adaptable vehicles were utilized.  Cheap to buy and maintain, Model T firetrucks could be driven into areas not accessible by larger, heavier rigs.  This example was once part of the Imperial Palace Collection in Las Vegas where it was used in a vintage fire station scene they had created in the museum.

1910 Paterson

William Patterson began building horse-drawn carriages in Flint, MI in the late 1800’s.  By 1908, Paterson had abandoned the carriage business to build his first powered automobile.  By 1910, his vehicles were competed with Buicks and Overlands in sales.  Paterson died in 1921 and his son tried to continue the company but sales were declining.  The company was sold to Dallas Winslow, a local Dodge dealer who ran it for a few months and realized more money was made by running a dealership.  This Paterson is fitted with the four passenger tourabout body style with a single front bench style seat and a rear, detachable double bucket seat.

It is estimated that fewer than 100 Paterson automobiles remain today.

1930 Packard Speedster Eight Runabout

By 1930, Packard was firmly entrenched as the leader in America’s rarefied fine car market. In fact, more Packards graced the driveways of America’s growing upper class than did all other makes combined. While Packard certainly had a well-deserved reputation for quality and luxury, the venerable marque’s products were not known for speed.

Colonel Jesse Vincent was determined to change all that. In 1929, he had a special speedster built to demonstrate what could be done when the performance was increased and the weight of the production Packard was reduced. According to famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, who drove Vincent’s prototype at Packard’s proving grounds, the car easily exceeded 109 mph, which was a truly remarkable speed for the time.

Packard chief Alvan Macauley was so impressed that the 734 Speedster series was born for 1930, as a direct image-leading competitor to Cadillac’s V-12 and V-16 models. A specially lightened boattail body reduced weight by a whopping 455 pounds, while performance enhancements, including a twin-throat carburetor, a finned exhaust manifold, and other updates, raised the eight-cylinder engine’s basic output to 125 brake horsepower. With the optional high-compression (8.0:1) cylinder head, 145 brake horsepower was available. The 734 Speedster series debuted in January 1930, which was five full months after the public introduction of Packard’s Seventh Series models on August 20, 1929.

For reasons unknown, but most likely due to the devastating effects of the 1929 stock-market crash and the rapidly deteriorating economic climate, the 734 Speedster was one of Packard’s best-kept secrets. No advertising was placed, and little promotion was ever done, with the sole exception of a single eight-page, black-and-white brochure. As a result, it is believed that just 113 examples were ever built. However, their high performance, stunning good looks, and extreme rarity resulted in high demand amongst knowledgeable collectors and marque enthusiasts shortly after the end of World War II, which was long before the collector-car hobby emerged.

1951 Mechanimal Elephant – Wendell

Originally named Jumbo, this elephant was bought by Detroit’s Cunningham Drug Stores in 1951 to promote its jumbo photo prints and jumbo milk shakes. It carried about 10,000 children on rides during its first four weeks, according to newspaper clippings. The thrill ended on Week 8 when a mechanical leg failed, spilling six to 10 children to the curb, according to differing news accounts. Three or four were slightly injured. Two years later, in July 1953, the pretend elephant was up for sale.

Ownership changed several times. Wendell was repurchased by Cunningham Drug Stores in 1961 for a static display. He was sold and used as an attention grabber at a riding stable. In 1978 he was bought and restored, and for the first time since 1962 it provided rides to neighborhood children.

Over the years the elephant was used in Dwight Eisenhower’s and Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaigns and other Republican events.