29 August 2016

Motoring Monday : 1928 Star Coupe

Most likely a Durant 1928 Star Coupe, or darned close to it!
From the 1928 Star M2 Fact Sheet at DurantCars.net.

1933 - 1934 : Back to Durant


As far as I can tell, because it seems that nothing is straight-forward as far as the production information of vintage automobiles, the car owned during the years 1933-1934 by Wallace B. Dixon(1) looked something like the image on the left. You can see lots of pictures of a modern restoration  of a 1928 Star Coupe at the Texas Transportation Museum website.

It certainly makes a change from the huge family-sized cars that my grandfather owned in previous years. I guess the kids rode in the trunk.

The Star Line


Wikipedia image.
Public Domain.
We covered the Durant Motor Company in a previous post featuring my grandfather's 1923 Durant Touring Car. I will just add a few comments about the Star. This Durant line was intended to compete with the Ford Model T. According to this Wikipedia article, it was in production from 1922 to 1928. The six-cylinder engine was first offered in 1926. Prior to that the Star line featured a four-cylinder engine. Star vehicles were produced in several Durant assembly plants around the country, including the one in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The serial number on the Vehicle Registration is missing the letter code that would indicate where this car was assembled. Too bad. It would be very cool if it had been made in Elizabeth!


License and Registration


1933 New Jersey Auto Driver's License issued to
Wallace B. Dixon. Privately held by E. Ackermann.
As you can see on the 1933 Auto Driver's License and the 1933 Passenger Vehicle Registration, the family is living at 239 Marshall Street in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the site of Wally's Confectionary. My grandfather was 27 years old when the license was issued. It looks like he's put on about ten pounds since his 1930 Driver's License was issued, but he's still standing tall at five feet, seven inches. (2)

1933 New Jersey Passenger Vehicle Registration issued to
Wallace B. Dixon. Privately held by E. Ackermann.
Resources


Citations
  (1) Wallace B. Dixon, handwritten note listing all the cars he owned and home addresses. Wallace B. Dixon Collection, privately held by his grandaughter, E. Ackermann, 2016.

(2) New Jersey driver's licenses from 1926, 1928, 1929, Wallace B. Dixon Collection; privately held by Elizabeth Ackermann, [address for private use], 2016. Inherited by his daughter, Mary E. Dixon Traina, and then by her daughter, E. Ackermann. 
 

22 August 2016

Motoring Monday : 1926 Overland Coach

This might be the 1926 Overland Coach owned by Wallace B. Dixon. This photo is from his collection, privately held by E. Ackermann. The image has been cropped, removing a cottage and two unidenified people. 2016.
This might be that car! From illustrations I've found on line, it's pretty darn
close to what the 1926 Overland looked like. This is cropped from a photo
that may be of the Payne family country cottage. Wallace B. Dixon Collection
privately held by his granddaughter, E. Ackermann, 2016.
From 1929 to 1934 Wallace B. Dixon owned a 1926 Overland Coach, Model 93.(1)  I wasn't able to find any illustrations of that specific model that were free from copyright restrictions. If you follow this link you will see a 1926 Overland Model 93 Coach from the Willys-Overland-Knight Registry website.(2) It's a pretty spiffy looking car. The photo here may be of that car.

If you happen to be a vintage car buff and can help me out with an illustration for this post, I'd be grateful!

Here's a list of the Overland's fine features according to a 1926 advertisement:
“With bigger, wider doors, more inside room, longer, higher windows, rich Baker Velour upholstery, a longer wheelbase,…one-piece windshield, Sun-visor, windshield wiper, Fisk full-size balloon tires, …this car is a phenomenal buy.”(3)

The Willys-Overland Motor Company

From 1912 to 1918 the Willys-Overland Motor Company was kind of a big deal. Only Ford produced more automobiles in the United States. In 1919, John Willys expanded the company with the purchase of the former Duesenberg Motors Plant in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The effects of the Great Depression forced Willys to sell that plant to William Durant.(4) We've covered that in a previous post.

It was during World War II that the Willys-Overland Company achieved lasting fame. Under U.S. Government contract, the company began manufacturing the Willys MB, better know as the Jeep. (4)

You can read more about the history of the company in this Wikipedia article.

License and Registration, Please


1930 NJ Passenger Vehicle Registration issued to Wallace B. Dixon for his 1926 Overland Coach. Privately held by E. Ackemann, 2016.
1930 New Jersey Passenger Vehicle Registration issued to
Wallace B. Dixon for a 1929 Overland Coach
Privately held by E. Ackermann, his granddaughter.
As you can see from the 1930 Passenger Vehicle Registration, this 1926 Willys-Overland Coach was a six-cylinder vehicle that had a 22 horsepower engine.(5) It appears to be another roomy vehicle suitable for a young family. During the time when my grandfather owned this car, his family lived at 239 Marshall Street. This is also the location of Wally's Confectionery, the candy store he owned, and according to the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, the place where my grandmother, Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon, worked as a "saleslady."(6)

1930 NJ Auto Driver's License issued to Wallace B. Dixon for his 1926 Overland Coach. Privately held by E. Ackemann, 2016.
1930 New Jersey Passenger Auto Driver's License
issued to Wallace B. Dixon.
Privately held by E. Ackermann, his granddaughter.
Wally Dixon's Auto Driver's License confirms the address. The personal details on this license are interesting, to me anyway. The 1930 license shows that Gramps gained five pounds since 1929, and he grew three inches! It seems incredible to me that he was ever 5'7" tall.(7) In examining the full collection of driver's licenses, I see that he remained at this towering height until 1938, when he dropped back to 5'5" tall. Did a change in fashion in men's shoes cause the ups and downs? Another thing we may never know.


 Extras

Here are a few links if you'd like to learn a little more about the Overland. I'm also including images of the other registrations just for the record. If you click on the images you can view them at a larger size.

1931 NJ Passenger Vehicle Registration issued to Wallace B. Dixon for his 1926 Overland Coach. Privately held by E. Ackemann, 2016.
1931 Passenger Vehicle Registration issued to
Wallace B. Dixon for a 1929 Overland Coach
Privately held by E. Ackermann, his granddaughter.

1932 NJ Passenger Vehicle Registration issued to Wallace B. Dixon for his 1926 Overland Coach. Privately held by E. Ackemann, 2016.
1932 Passenger Vehicle Registration issued to
Wallace B. Dixon for a 1929 Overland Coach
Privately held by E. Ackermann, his granddaughter.

1933 NJ Passenger Vehicle Registration issued to Wallace B. Dixon for his 1926 Overland Coach. Privately held by E. Ackemann, 2016.
1933 Passenger Vehicle Registration issued to
Wallace B. Dixon for a 1929 Overland Coach
Privately held by E. Ackermann, his granddaughter.

Post updated on 23 August 2016 to include photograph of car.

Citations
(1) Wallace B. Dixon, handwritten note listing all the cars he owned and addresses he lived at. Wallace B. Dixon Collection, privately held by his grandaughter, E. Ackermann, 2016.

(2) The Willys-Overland-Knight Registry, Willys-Overland-Knight Registry (http://www.wokr.org/ : accessed 20 August 2016), photo gallery.

(3) "No car in it's class has such power," advertisement, Wallace's Farmer, DesMoines, Illinois, 16 April 1926, page 9, Advertisement describing the Willys-Overland Six automobile; online images, Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections (http://idnc.library.illinois.edu/ : viewed 20 August 2016); Willys-Overland, Inc.

(4) "Willys." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 27 Jul. 2016. Web. 20 Aug. 2016. 

(5)(7) New Jersey driver's licenses from 1926, 1928, 1929, Wallace B. Dixon Collection; privately held by Elizabeth Ackermann, [address for private use], 2016. Inherited by his daughter, Mary E. Dixon Traina, and then by her daughter, E. Ackermann.

(6) 1930 U.S. Census, Union County, New Jersey, population schedule, Elizabeth, enumeration district (ED) 20-29, sheet 72A, dwelling 152, family 248, Wallis Dixon; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : downloaded 27 March 2016); National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. T626.

15 August 2016

Motoring Monday : 1923 Durant Touring Car


The Durant: Just a Real Good Car

The Durant Touring model was Wallace B. Dixon's second vehicle. After the Model T Ford "Sport Racer" this must have seemed like such a sensible family car.

After three years without a vehicle, Wally got the Durant in 1928. He had this car until some time in 1930.(1) By the time he got the Durant, Wally's wife, Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon, had given birth to their two children, Mary Elizabeth and Wallace Andrew. I'm sure a larger car was needed to tote the family around town.

As you can see, the Durant was pretty roomy.

1923 Durant Touring model.
Photo courtesy of BarnFinds.com,
used with permission.


 

Driving the Durant

I was able to purchase the Instruction Manual for the Operation and Care of the Durant Model A-22 on eBay. It's 60 pages long, plus a two page fold out illustration of the 39 lubrication points on the car. [Grease gun included with purchase of vehicle!] It's actually a pretty entertaining read. Just to give you some perspective on what new vehicle ownership was like in the 1920's, this caution is given to new Durant owners (2 & 3):

Caution
A NEW CAR SHOULD NEVER BE DRIVEN FAST
A new car should be driven at moderate speed for the first thousand miles. During this important period of a car's life it is not advisable to exceed a speed of
25 miles per hour
.(2)
 And since you're going that slow it's a good time to learn to drive. Some advice for the novice driver:
"Steering is mostly a matter of confidence,
good judgement and practice."(3)
As with today's auto manuals helpful pictures and diagrams are included, like this one of the driver's controls, that help illustrate the multi-step process required to start the car. Note that the starter button is on the floor, and one apparently drives with one's feet suspended in mid air.

Driver's view of the controls, 1923 Durant.
From the Instruction Manual.

Durant and Elizabeth, New Jersey

1923 Durant Touring model.
Photo courtesy of BarnFinds.com,
used with permission.
Although my grandfather's Durant was not built there, the Durant Corporation has a special link with Elizabeth, New Jersey.

In 1921 a former CEO of General Motors, William Durant, established Durant Motors, Inc. By December of 1922 Durant Motors had factories in Michigan, California, Canada, Indiana, and Elizabeth, New Jersey. Mr. Durant claimed that the Elizabeth plant, formerly owned by the Willys Corporation, had the capacity to assemble six hundred cars per day, or 150,000 cars per year. This plant produced Durant and Star Cars. (4)

Durant was the third auto manufacturer to be located at the plant on Newark Avenue. During World War I, Duesenberg Motors had a contract to build engines for the U.S. military. The Duesenberg brothers lived on Kilsyth Road, just two blocks from their factory. [As an aside, my mother and I once lived at 950 Kilsyth Road, in a two-family home owned by my Great-Aunt Estelle Karvoius.] With the end of the war the facility was sold to the Willys Corporation who expanded the facility and manufactured cars there for just two years. Durant purchased the property around 1920, enlarging the facility yet again.

The company produced cars up until the 1930's. The Elizabeth location then became a supermarket. When the supermarket went out of business the site became Burry's, maker of baked goods in general, and Girl Scout Cookies in particular. [Another aside: When I was just out of college and working as a temp for Kelly Services I had a long term job at Burry in their offices. I could walk to work - just like the Duesenbergs! - and the air in our neighborhood almost always smelled like cookies.] Burry closed in 2006. The building was destroyed by fire in December of 2011. (5)

License and Registration Please

Vehicle Registration issued to William Dixon
for the 1923 Durant.
Privately held by E. Ackermann, 2016
I've only got one registration for the Durant. It was issued on 2 July 1929. The registration indicates that the year of this model was  1923.  The Classic Car Database shows that the Durant Company didn't make a Touring model in 1923, but did make one in 1922 and 1924.(6)  However, the 4 cylinder, 24 horsepower engine does match up with the 1922 A-Series Touring model. The Durant Motors Automobile Club offers information on Serial Numbers and shows that Serial Number N 5789 (Touring) was made at the New York plant in 1922. (7)

There are some other issues with personal information on the registration as well. As you can see, the person it was issued to was William Dixon, not Wallace! So, what gives? William A. Dixon, Wally's father, died in 1927 - two years before this registration was issued. I suppose it's possible that Wally inherited the car when his father died and it was just easier to renew the registration with his father's name on it. I'd have to look for probate records to see if that was the case. But read on for another possibility!

You might notice that, according to his 1928 and 1929 Driver's Licenses, Wallace B. Dixon lived at 153 Clark Place. The registration gives 153 Park Place as the address.

William A. Dixon's residence at his time of death was 67 East Jersey Street. According to the 1929 Elizabeth City Directory, the only Dixons living on Park were Alfred and August Dixon. Wallace B. Dixon is listed at 153 Clark Place. (8)

So what gives? Did the clerk at the DMV have hearing difficulties?  Did my grandfather say "Wallace" and "Clark" and the clerk heard "William" and "Park." I don't know that I'll every figure this one out. It just goes to show that even "official" documents can contain questionable information!

Special Thanks and Some Links

I'd like to thank Josh from Barn Finds.com for letting me use the two photographs of the 1923 Durant Touring model that I found on his website. If you like to look at vintage cars, you should definitely check out his website!

You can find more information about the Durant Company and it's automobiles at the following:

Citations

(1) Wallace B. Dixon, handwritten note listing all the cars he owned and addresses he lived at. Wallace B. Dixon Collection, privately held by his grandaughter, E. Ackermann, 2016.

(2) & (3)  Durant Motors, Inc., Instruction Manual for the Operation and Care of the Durant Model A-22 (New York, New York, 1923), p. 9, p. 15. Privately held by E. Ackermann, 2106.

(4) William C. Durant, Letter to Stockholders of Durant Motors, Inc. Offices of Durant Motors, Inc, New York, New York, for year ending 31 Dec 1922, p. 2. Held by University of Rochester River Campus Libraries, pdf document (http://www.lib.rochester.edu:84/Mergent_AR_Collection/Archive/8400.pdf : Accessed 2 Aug 2016).

(5) Amy Ellis Nutt. "Elizabeth fire claims a storied building." The Newark Star Ledger, 25 December 2011. Online article appearing at NJ.com (http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/12/elizabeth_fire_claims_a_storie.html : accessed 2 August 2016).

(6) Classic Car Database, Prewar Car Model. Beverly Hills Restoration Company website [http://classiccardatabase.com/prewar-models/car-models-D.php : accessed 2 Aug 2016]. Lists Durant models from 1921 to 1932, with links to model specifications.

(7) Durant Motor Car Serial Numbers, The Durant Motors Automobile Club website [ http://www.durantmotors.org/ : accessed 2 Aug 2016.] Website contains a plethora of information about Durant cars.

(8) 1929 Elizabeth City Directory, p. 280 Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line, http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 August 2016, image 155 of 616]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

08 August 2016

Switching Gears : Motoring Monday

Let's take a break from Mystery Photos for a while and switch gears to enjoy a little gem I found in the Wallace B. Dixon Collection [a.k.a. Grandpa's Stuff]. As part of my new archival enthusiasm I decided to try out my shiny new micro spatula and remove some photos and ephemera from one of those awful "magnetic albums" that my grandfather put together. I found some treasures there! Gramps had saved nearly every automobile registration for every car he owned, as well as most of his driver's licenses. Neat.

For the next several weeks we'll be enjoying Motoring Monday as we explore Wally Dixon's automotive history. 

Buckle up!

Motoring Monday : The 1920 Model T Ford Sport Racer



"Derby" Moore at the wheel of his Uncle's 1920 Ford Model T Sport Racer. This was the first car owned by Wallace B. Dixon of Elizabeth, NJ. Image in the private collection of his Granddaughter, E. Ackermann, 2016.
Wallace B. Dixon's first car. This is a blue 1920 Model T Ford "Sport Racer."
At the wheel is Wally Dixon's nephew, Milton "Derby" Moore.
Privately held by E. Ackermann, 2016.

Wallace B. Dixon
in the early-mid 1920's
First, let's just marvel at the wonderfulness that is my grandfather's first car.  Pretty awesome, isn't it? According to a handwritten note (1) that I found in the album along with the car registrations, Wallace B. "Wally" Dixon owned this car from 1922 to 1925. He must have purchased the car when he was 17 years old.

Wally Dixon married my grandmother, Sophie Karvoius, in 1925 (2). This must have been the car he drove when they were courting. Did he have to sell it when they married? Did my grandmother ever ride in it? Did my grandfather actually race this car? So many things we may never know!

The young man pictured behind the wheel is Milton "Derby" Moore, my grandfather's nephew. Derby was only two years younger than his uncle, due to the age gap between Wally Dixon and his oldest sister, Derby's mother, Minerva (Dixon) Moore. [You can read more about the Moore family in this post.]

My grandfather gave the particulars of this vehicle in a note taped to the back of a framed copy of the picture.

Note handwritten by Wallace B. Dixon describing a photograph of his first car, a 1920 Ford Model T Sport Racer or "Hot Rod." Private collection of E. Ackermann, 2016.
He refers to the car as "The Original Green Hornet."
[No doubt he was making a joke,
as the car was blue when he owned it -
if the Vehicle Registration card is correct.]
Privately held by E. Ackermann, 2016. 
In this note that Wally Dixon wrote he calls the car a Ford "Hot Rod." The 1924 and 25 Vehicle Registration cards call it a 1920 Ford Model T Sport Racer. Interestingly, I've found very little on the internet about this type of Model T. I have to wonder if the body of the car was a later addition to the original chassis. It doesn't appear to be a standard production model. At least not that I've been able to find.

The Model T was first introduced by Ford in 1908. It was remarkable for the many "firsts":
  • first car affordable for the middle class
  • first mass produced on moving assembly lines
  • first car with completely interchangeable parts
You can find a nice summary of the history and specifications of the Model T at Wikipedia.



License and Registration, Please

 

New Jersey Passenger Vehicle Registration from 1924. Wallace B. Dixon's first car, a 1920 Ford Model T Sport Racer. Privately held by his Granddaughter, E. Ackermann, 2016.
1924 Vehicle Registration for the
Ford Model T Sport Racer owned by Wallace B. Dixon.
Privately held, E. Ackermann, 2016.
It was pretty remarkable to find these New Jersey Passenger Vehicle Registration cards for the Model T from 1924 and 1925.  There is some good automotive information here.

The "Green Hornet" was actually blue. It was a 1920 model with 4 cylinders and a screaming 23 horsepower engine. Zippy! Remarkably, the cost of registering this passenger vehicle went from $4.60 in 1924 to $9.20 in 1925. Highway robbery!





Vehicle registration card for Wallace B. Dixon's first car, a 1920 Ford Model T Sport Racer. Privately held by E. Ackermann, 2016.
1925 Vehicle Registration for the
Ford Model T Sport Racer owned by Wallace B. Dixon.
Privately held, E. Ackermann, 2016.
Notice that the street address for the 1925 registration is on West Grand Street. Interestingly, no Dixons are listed at that address in the 1923, 1924, 1925, or 1926 Elizabeth City Directories. The address on the 1924 registration, Julian Place, was previously unknown to me and I believe requires further investigation. A quick look at the Elizabeth City Directory for 1923 and 1925 don't show my grandfather as a resident at that address, although I suppose it's possible that he boarded with someone in the building.




New Jersey Driver's License issued to Wallace B. Dixon in 1925. Held by his Granddaughter, E. Ackermann, 2016.
Wallace B. Dixon's Auto Driver's License, 1925.
Privately held, E. Ackermann, 2016.
Finally, we have Wallace B. Dixon's 1925 Auto Driver's License. Here we get a great physical description of my grandfather at age 20 : 5'4" tall, 135 pounds, light hair, blue eyes. His signature is there as well.

I hope you've enjoyed this first installment of Motoring Monday! See you next week.







Citations
(1) Photograph of Wallace B. Dixon's first car, scanned image of original, note taped to back. Owned 2016 by Elizabeth Ackermann, granddaughter of Wallace B. Dixon.

(2) Certificate of Marriage for Wallace B. Dixon and Sophia Karvojius, 26 October 1925, No. 2368 (issued 1984), Registrar of Vital Statistics, City of Elizabeth, New Jersey; Office of Registrar of Vital Statistics, City Hall, Elizabeth, New Jersey.

(3) "Ford Model T." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 21 July 2016. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Model_T : accessed 02 Aug. 2016). 

Sources

Photograph of Wallace B. Dixon's first car, scanned image of original, note taped to back "The Original Green Hornet, Date - 1922, Make - Ford "Hot Rod," Enlarged cylinders, special gears under slung springs, etc., Owner - Wallace B. Dixon, Milton (Derby) Moore at the wheel." Owned 2016 by Elizabeth Ackermann, granddaughter of Wallace B. Dixon.

New Jersey Passenger Vehicle Registration issued to Wallace B. Dixon, 1924, replacing original No. 397464. Owned 2016 by Elizabeth Ackermann, granddaughter of Wallace B. Dixon.

New Jersey Passenger Vehicle Registration issued to Wallace B. Dixon, 1924, No. 117471. Owned 2016 by Elizabeth Ackermann, granddaughter of Wallace B. Dixon.

New Jersey Auto Driver's License issued to Wallace B. Dixon, 1925, No. 378299. Owned 2016 by Elizabeth Ackermann, granddaughter of Wallace B. Dixon.


01 August 2016

The Mysterious Buddies at the Beach

 You may recognize some of these fellows from last week's edition of Mystery Photo Monday.

Apparently that pyramid they made impressed some of the girls at the beach. Three couples? Who's taking the photo? And that eternal question - who the heck are these people?

Just like last week, these came out of an album belonging to my Great-Aunt Estelle Karvoius. Looks like maybe the 1920's? In the second photo, two of the people are wearing shirts with large letters on them. Can you decipher what those initials mean? Help!

Three young men and three young women posing arm in arm on a beach. All wearing bathing suits. c. 1920's? Photo from album owned by E. Karvoius, privatley held by E. Ackermann, 2016.
Six unidentified beach buddies. From Estelle Karvoius's photo album.
A young man poses arm in arm with two young women on a beach somewhere. He wears a shirt with the letters "?YC" and one girl has "HD" on her shirt. From album belonging to E. Karvoius, privately held by E. Ackermann, 2016.
What do the letters mean? Who are these people?
They look like they are having fun.
Photos from Mary Dixon Traina Colleciton, privately held by E. Ackermann, 2016.