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Monday, 20 June 2011

Function 4 Junction Part 2 - The 50s

Around 1950 the technology (or design) improved enough to allow front widscreen glass to be curved - but not enough to make a full curved windscreen. The cars of these years thus still retained split windscreens, but the two sides were now made from curved sections. The rear windscreen was always smaller, and thus could be mouded in one curved piece.

This was the decade of Rock'n'Roll, teenagers, crusing to the soda fountain and dancing to music on a Wurlitzer jukebox.  American car makers started to add more and more gadgets and designs to their vehicles, competing for a growing market.

Factories that had been built to produce bombs and tanks now pumped out cars, fridges, and other luxuries that we now take for granted. America had suffered nearly zero infrastructural damage in WW2, and 5% of the world's population enjoyed 95% of the luxuries it could produce. It was a good time to be American, and the cars show it.

In 53 the split windscreen was finally replaced with a one piece screen. A exterior sun visor was available (presumably at an optional extra cost), before makers realised that putting the visors inside made them easier to adjust.

The car above is a remarkable find, bought in 1953 and more or less put straight into storage, it has just 16,000 miles on the clock, and is in near-mint condition with almost no restoration. Two-tone exterior paint jobs (and two-tone interior trim), white wall tires, and bright chrome trim are typical of this era.

The dashboards of this era start to look like jukeboxes too. Compare with the muted tones in the 40s vehicle below.

I do like the design of the door panel here, with the door handle and window winder matching the lines of the handle and trim. There is an art deco feel to it.

Bench seats were also common at this time, and lots of chrome on the inside as well as out.

They didn't have built-in GPS units in the 50s, that's a later addition. This car is in beautiful condition, yet clearly used a lot if it's worth putting the GPS in.

The 55 Chevrolet Bel Air seemed to be the most heavily represented car in the show. I think the cars above and below are both 55s, the one above has the GPS and modified interior.

The 56 Chevrolet Bel Air (above) was much like the 55 but with a light redesign. Nowadays car manufacturers do a redesign every 2-3 years, so to do one every year shows how popular it was to buy a new car during the 50s.

Not sure what make this one is. The paint is a modern custom, so I'm not sure how much else is original.

A rare Ford (in this show). I doubt that Chevrolets outsold Fords to a huge extent, but maybe they made better collector cars. There's less visible chrome on this late 50s Ford than on the Chevys.

I'm pretty sure this is a 56 Chevrolet Bel Air.

I know this is a Chevrolet (the bird/plane on the hod proves that), but I can't find any online images that match it. The glass roof may thus be original, or a very good later addition.

This is a Ford F100 Pickup, I think from 1955. Running boards lasted longer on pickups because they were still necessary for getting into the cab, and even modern pickups have to have some form of step for a high cab.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It's a Chevrolet hood ornament from the mid-50s.

Towards the end of the decade the manufacturers started lowering rooflines and lengthening the bodies,  adding fins to the rear wheel arches, and strange taillights and curves on the rear end. Curves were squared off, straight lines held sway.

To my eye, the golden age of American Motoring was coming to an end. The Interstate Highway system was developing, and more and more people were driving further from home.

Next Blog Post:

The 60s and 70s

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Function 4 Junction: Part 1

Junction City is a conurbation a few miles north of Eugene. It was named in the hope that it would be chosen as a major site for trains in the Pacific Northwest to stop for delivering and collecting freight, but lost out to Eugene for reasons I have mentioned previously in this blog.

As a consequence it's a bit of a backwater for most people, somewhere to travel through on the road from Eugene to Corvallis or Newport.

The tracks run straight South towards Eugene...

and straight North towards Albany.

This bit was left over when they finished laying the tracks.

Once a year Junction City hosts the Function 4 Junction Car Show, when owners of "interesting" vehicles for miles round gather together to show their vehicles throughout the day, and have a drive up and down the strip in the evening. The joy for an outsider is that the owners pay to show their vehicles, while the general public (i.e. me) pays nothing - not even to park.

An area was cordoned off around a crossroads just off the main road (Highway 99), and here the show took place. I estimate there were nearly 100 vehicles on show, and more attended the evening cruise. The show is not limited to any specific decade, make, model or anything else, so there was a tremendous cross section of American Vehicular Splendor to be seen.

I'd like to have seen the vehicles organised a little more myself, so that one could walk through the decades and see the development in styles and ideas. Thus in my rough and dirty guide to Function 4 Junction I am organising my photos into groupings that make sense to me.   

1920s and 30s

This car (I don't recall the make, but it's not a Model A Ford) was actually parked a little outside the official show area, but probably the oldest I saw that day. The boxy body, flat windscreen, running boards, and substantial spring-mounted fenders (bumpers)  all mark it out as a late 1920s car.

Five pedals? Yowsers. The functional rather than styled dashboard at least has most of the instruments considered necessary for modern driving.

Another 20s car here has been heavily customised, yet is still clearly showing its pedigree.

A customised pickup rounds out the 20s for me. I found that I prefer seeing a restored car rather than a customised car, though I appreciate the skill and work required for both branches of show cars.

Behind the engine and wheel replacement this custom hotrod shows its pedigree.

This wonderful restoration from 1938 is perhaps my favorite from the show. It retains the running board, but the windscreen has now been split and angled in a nod to aerodynamics. The headlights are still housed separately and the engine accessed from the sides of the vehicle, the nose being almost entirely radiator. This style of car remained throughout WW2, as factories were busy with bombs, tanks and areoplanes, and had no time for redesigning vehicles. Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower would not have looked out of place in the back of this car.


This customised milk float shows its 1940s roots in the split flat windscreen, flared wheel arches and vestigial running board.

Still with a split flat windscreen, the headlights have now been absorbed into the main bodywork of the car, and the running board remains only as a slight flaring out of the doors and panels.

You cold be forgiven for thinking this is the same vehicle as in the previous picture, but check the radiator grille. At $7,500 for the pink slip I was tempted!

Not sure the bright yellow was a popular 40s color, but the split windscreen and hint of a running board at the bottom of the door confirm this pickup's vintage. The pickup in the USA became the popular vehicle for farmers and is still a popular style.

The station wagon too makes its appearance, though I'm not sure whether the lack of a front fender is original.

This may be late 30s or early 40s, with the running board still functional and the split windscreen. I found the vast unrelieved expanses of paint somewhat dull, but Beth liked the clean lines.

More custom than original I think, but the split windscreen and running board put this in the 30s to 40s era.

Hidden behind the hood (bonnet) the windscreen is still split flat panes, but the running board has vanished entirely. With a different paint job this vehicle could almost be Doc Hudson Hornet from Disney's "Cars"

Next blog post, goodbye 40s, hello 50s !