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1950's cars you never saw

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         The old wicker baby carriage would have been worth quite a lot today, but in 1952, my grandfather took the wheels off the carriage and made his first small car.  We called it “the buckboard” and if you google buckboard, you will get a good idea of what it looked like.  It was made entirely from wood.  A 3/4 hp Briggs & Stratton engine with belt drive and a tensioner because we did not know about centrifugal clutches.  The ride was rough, with no suspension, and baby carriage wheels.  It went entirely too fast probably about 25mph.  I was 11.  

         The next year, my grandfather, Honey is what the whole town called him, decided that he could improve upon the original design.  Below, you see a picture of it, headlights and all.  The bumpers and all are wood. The frame is oak flooring and it had just enough spring in it to soften the ride considerably.  Semi-pneumatic tires.  Power was upgraded to about 2 hp.  That’s me driving in the town’s Easter Parade.  The Bride is (although he won’t admit it) is my brother.  This one although slower, was much more civilized and and had a centrifugal clutch:
    In 1954, Honey made a second, just like the orange one to stop sibling fights.  
    But, by now  I was getting older and thought that I really SHOULD have a faster car than my brother who is 6 years younger.  (Makes sense to me.)  Now (1955) I had started to get really involved in the planning and building.  Still all wood with a masonite body.   Fence gate hinges for front axles.  A rope around the steering column (rack and pinion? No).   But look closely and you will see that this one had a suspension system of sorts (use “ctrl” + to zoom in).  We lived in the country and used what we had, hardly ever went to the store.  We had bed springs galore.  No shocks, but springs.  Rode like a baby carriage.  Bigger tires.  3-1/2 hp B&S engine and get this, a 2 speed transmission with reverse.  The transmission was all belts and tensioners and reverse was a belt that we “figure 8’ed”.  This Red Car had a more modern look, went about 35mph and was my introduction to our home version of a 4 wheel drift and this car was flipped many times zooming around our large circular gravel driveway. 


    And here is a frontal view

    Years later, I built one that had a track of only 29″ so that my son could drive it through doors in our house.  Up and down the halls, and into the bedrooms and the recreation room.   (Hey, I was young, – and stupid.)  He did and I’m sure it won’t surprise you that my wife did not approve of a Briggs in the house.  You could hardly hear her yelling.:D   These projects were all a load of fun and both of my sons now are quite excellent amateur mechanics and fix-it men.    Life in the 50’s was idyllic.  (There is a lot more to this story and more home made “go-cars” but I suspect you have had enough “home movies” and listened to enough rambling from me.)    
    john barry


    Good Stuff Roy ..

    we would love to hear more..

    edward ericson


    Nice, Roy! Great “wedding” shot too. I’m sure your poor brother never will live it down.

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