Trucks, Jeeps

A tour of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, with docent Pete Hagenbuch - part 3

Jeep MB on displayBack here is one of our acquired American Motors vehicles. Our original director was quite a museum man, and I think his work here is just fabulous, you almost get a feeling of three dimensions. The only thing that’s been criticized about it is, the Jeep is too clean. It doesn’t go with the stage, but… well, it’s the same problem as one of the racing Vipers downstairs. [We brought it in] just the way it finished the Daytona 24 hours, filthy all over. The front end, all you saw was brown fiberglass. It was just totally grit blasted. It won, by the way, first overall that year [2000].

But our porters just couldn’t walk by without cleaning it somewhere, because it was so filthy. And they eventually kind of ruined the whole thing. If it wasn’t for the fiberglass, you wouldn’t know it was “as raced.”

So, [going back to the older cars], now Walter had the Dodge, he was in control of the engineering, as well as the Plymouth and the Chrysler. So, he needed another brand, right? So here’s the first DeSoto. Pretty… pretty… these little cars, then of course, again, the top of the line. I’m sure they weren’t all that pretty.

1929 DeSoto roadster

DeSoto grille

A lot of the ladies really go for this one.

I think now that the Atlantic’s gone, the tourists like the white Airflow about #1, and, as a matter of interest, I do too. I just don’t think it’s very pretty. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It’s got all kinds of other good features.

Hudson car

Anyway, another one we picked up was Hudson, when we got American Motors. This is one of my favorite older models. I love that, red and gold and black. It’s an ’09 [1909]. You’ll notice there’s some crinkling in the paint on the hood, but I think you’d have to agree with me that, let’s keep it this way as long as we can. It’s so damn gorgeous in every other way, what’s a little crinkle?

Hudson kerosene lights

Audience: What’s with the white tires?

It’s the natural rubber. Carbon black is what we use to make the tires black.

Hudson roaster

The headlights on this are acetelyne. What you did, this little tank over here, you bought a package of carbide bricks, or chunks or something, you put them in and you fill it up with water, then you use the little handle here on top to pump up the pressure. Then you lit the lights. The running lights were kerosene lanterns. They were really easy, just put a match in and if the wind isn’t blowing, you just fire it up.

Oh, and of course you know what the seat back there was called? The mother-in-law seat.

1909 Hudson cars

This beautiful thing is another one of our acquired ancestors, being a Rambler. A 1902 Rambler Runabout, tiller steering, gold pinstripes.

That’s a 1915 Dodge Brothers, Dodge. Dodges were noted for reliability, long life, really good cars. They were not inspiring in performance, they were reliable. Everybody loved them.


This here… you have to take your own time and look at this [the corporate timeline]. If it was me, I could spend two hours just studying this thing. It doesn’t work in too often. And if I was in charge, I would be very tempted to remove that [the DaimlerChrysler logo]. I would love to see that gone.

ZSB [in ZSB Engineering, the highest company name in the display] stood for Zeder Skelton Breer. They had agreed to come to work for Chrysler. He wasn’t ready yet, so they went into business. And the first couple of things they did were to design a whole family of engines, one of which became the Chrysler Six.

Walter was working with Mr. Willys of Willys-Overland to get it back on the track, so to speak. He got it to where he thought it was all right, and then he left and joined his engineers to breathe some life into Maxwell-Chalmers, and he did this, and he eliminated Maxwell-Chalmers brands, and created Chrysler Corporation. There were a few legal moves there.

So anyway, we’d better move on… you can’t hurry past this one, can you?

Dodge Power Wagon (1954)

Power Wagon

I love this thing. It is so damn ugly.

Audience: These were all Sixes?

Interviewee: Oh, yeah, flathead Sixes, and I don’t think the Dodge Power Wagon ever got the old monster six, the 413. Did you know about that one? That was pre-war, for trucks, 413 cubic inches, flathead six-cylinder. That’s all I know about it. I’ve seen the torque curve on it. It kind of goes like this [gestures straight] and stops at 2000 rpm.

Next: 1948 Town & Country, 1951 New Yorker, Road Runner and Viper, Chrysler Special, Hudson Hornet

Previous: Car, tank, and aircraft engines

There’s no substitute for a personal visit to the Chrysler Museum.

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