The Mystery Car
More nostalgia from Reminisce Magazine. Each month Reminisce Magazine features a mystery car. They provide a number of clues and ask the readers if they can identify the car. I have always been fascinated—perhaps even enamored—by older cars. Especially those made in the mid to late 1930s, and early 1940s. There is just something about their classic lines that I like. I have long maintained, that if I had the resources, and could find one, I’d like to have a late 1930s model luxury car restored with a few added modern amenities—like air conditioning, and perhaps an automatic transmission. I have been a Ford Motor Co. buff all my life, but I must admit I like the looks of the mid to late 1930s, and early 1940s, General Motors luxury models a mite more than I do the Ford luxury cars of that same era. My favorites are Cadillac and Buick. There is just something about those models that reeks class.
The car featured in the particular issue I’m talking about here, was listed as a 1934 Franklin luxury sedan. I had never heard of Franklin. I showed the picture to a bunch of friends at the coffee klatch and we were all puzzled at what make of car it really was. I thought it bore a strong resemblance to a late 1930s or early 1940s Cadillac, and that was my guess, which of course, according to the magazine, was wrong. Unfortunately, I don’t have the picture of that particular auto featured in the article, but as I said, if my memory serves me, it bore a remarkable resemblance to the two Cadillac models pictured herein. Another thing that tipped my guess toward Cadillac was in the clues given, one of which, was the phrase: “Standard of the World.” Now, if I’m not mistaken, that was a slogan used by Cadillac up to, and all during, the 1940s and into the ‘50s, and maybe even still in use today.
Henry Leland started Cadillac Motor Company in 1900, and how this slogan came about was because Mr. Leland was a precision machinist. He was the first person to use precision made standardized parts and components that were interchangeable and didn’t require hand fitting. He set the “standard” for all motorcars and other equipment in the years to follow. Hence the slogan: “The standard of the world.”
Cadillac’s strongest competitor up to the time of World War II was Packard, and they had two slogans; “Ask the man who owns one,” and, “Fifty-two percent of all Packards built are still on the road today.”
Other Reminisce clues for that month’s mystery car stated that it was available with a V-8, V-12, or V-16 engine. The V-16 developed 185 horsepower, which was supremely powerful for those days. Lincoln also offered a V-12 and V-16 about that same period, but this mystery car just didn’t look like a Lincoln. This was another reason for my thinking it was a Cadillac.
The Franklin model featured as that month’s Reminisce mystery car sold new for $4,000. A standard 1934 Ford or Chevy sold for around $750. So it appears this car was definitely meant to be America’s version of the Rolls Royce or Bentley, and only for the super rich. But 1934, in the middle of the great depression, was not a good year for featuring a $4,000.00 automobile It sold very poorly, and Franklin Motor Company took out bankruptcy that same year.
I have since learned that the featured “mystery” car, mentioned in this article was in fact, not a Franklin. After my original column a few years ago in the Idaho State Journal listed the mystery car as a Franklin, I got called out to the wood shed by members of the local Franklin Club informing me that the mystery car was, indeed, not a Franklin.I still don’t know who the manufacturer of that mystery car was but I’m still leaning toward LaSalle or Cadillac. Those two models of luxury car were manufactured simultaneously by General Motors for a few years, the LaSalle being the least expensive of the two . Sort of like Rolls Royce and Bentley; Bentley being the lesser expensive of the two.
Now, let’s go a little further back in time and let me tell you a little bit about my latest novel, LouIsa–Iron Dove Of The Frontier. It’s a Western sort of novel about Louisa Houston Earp, Sam Houston’s quarter Cherokee granddaughter. She was a well educated lady who, when necessary, fit right in with Vassar graduates; but, also, when necessary, she could wrangle cows and little dogies with the best of Cowboys. She was also a crack shot with her .38 caliber revolver, and could hold her own with the crustiest of gutter rats. She also played classical music in frontier saloons. I think you’ll like LouIsa.
You can bounce on up to the “Book” page of this website and read more about LouIsa, and also read a few excerpts.
The book will be on sale about mid December on www.amazon.com.