Tellico Car Club

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Our Alpine

by Alex Gabbard

    The time was the spring of 1966. I was two years out of high school and in my second year of college in mechanical engineering. I was 20 with a pretty wife, newly hitched the previous fall. Come springtime that year and we had won a radio contest for $1,000 cash, enough to buy a new car. No need for a new car existed because Mary’s 1962 F-85 Olds was still in good shape, an excellent performer, our daily driver, and completely reliable. 
    Our Sunbeam dealer had a red Alpine with wire wheels and a white Mk I Tiger on the showroom floor. Both were in our affordable range, and I really liked that Tiger. However, Mary concluded the deal when she said, I’ve always wanted a red sports car. So, during May that year, 1966, we bought the Alpine, a snazzy sports car costing us $72.79 a month with trade-in. Life was good. That summer, my sister rode the jump seat with us to a North Carolina beach where she met her future husband.  
    Cars and racing were enormously popular in our area, and we were often at the drags. Five drag strips within easy driving distance kept us in the fun on warm weekends, along with the Virginia International Raceway for sports car road racing. Mary became quite good at winning with the Alpine and soon became the drag-on queen of O/Stock class. She drove our Alpine to a succession of 75 mph, 17-second runs in the quarter-mile. Since it was her car, we agreed that if she won her class, then I could drive in the eliminations. That day came; she won a trophy, and I got to drive.
    The day was a clear and sunny September Sunday. The week before, I had gotten my draft notice and resolved that I would be sent to Viet Nam and never return. Several of my friends had made a similar exit. Weeks earlier, late at night on the way back from being examined, Mary was driving when a dog leaped in front of the car. The front bumper of the Alpine was seriously bent, and I took it off the next day, then reinstalled the bumperettes.
    When we arrived at the drag strip ready to race, the tech inspector motioned for me to drive the car up on the scales. This was unusual for a stock class car; he said the car was being put in Gas class.
   This is not a gasser, I exclaimed. It’s stock, except for removal of its front bumper! Nothing would change his mind, and our less than 100 horsepower Alpine, with no more than its exhaust pipe uncoupled, was classified F/Gas. Our shiny red Sunbeam was pitted against fully prepared drag cars, but Mary performed the miraculous; she won her class! I think it was her long blond hair that the other driver noticed just before being flagged away.
    Since there were six classes, the first round of Gas Eliminator disposed of three cars, and I was still in it. Dang! How was that even possible? I made another run and won again! Now I was one race removed from scoring a huge victory and taking home the Gas Eliminator trophy, but the flagman (we had no Christmas tree of lights in those days) kept motioning me farther and farther out into the lengths marked off on the sides of the strip that gave a head start for different classes. I counted 12 lengths… Gasp! I was racing an A/Gas car.
    While I sat on the strip plotting my strategy to win, the announcer gave the last call for my opponent. I noticed that the crowd was cheering wildly, and I hoped that my adversary would not show. I would win by default. Then the earth shook. The din of the crowd was overwhelmed by big cubic inches brought to life to wage war. It was the B&M Drag Team Anglia from Atlanta, a beautiful car I had admired earlier. Its fuel injected 426 Hemi was a jewel; the car was magnificent; my Alpine now seemed less than diminutive.
    Craning my neck to look backward, I watched the gold Anglia roll into the staging lane. A helper sprinkled BX-10 rosin powder in front of its huge slicks. The driver rapped the gas pedal; the Hemi’s blast echoed off the trees; the body flexed; the tires bit and boiled into clouds of smoke. Goliath was ready.
    Meanwhile, I sat about one-fourth way down the strip. My strategy was to shift at the 4-banger’s torque peak. A tense moment followed as Goliath eased up to the line. Then, with the motion of the flagman, we were away. The needle of my tach rose steadily to 5500 rpm. I speed shifted to second and was winding up when the Anglia rocketed by me like I was going backwards, its exhaust an ear shattering blast. Undaunted, I ran the quarter-mile with every ounce of power the Alpine could muster. Goliath was out of sight.
    Through the traps, I slowed and circled onto the return lane. Goliath was parked on the side up ahead. I stopped and offered to help, but the driver declined, saying that his crew and tow truck would be along shortly. Going on, as I approached the timing tower, I noticed the crowd cheering and clapping. I waved. Had Goliath been disqualified, I wondered? No, as I soon learned. I was being cheered as the underdog. Goliath had won. I picked up my ET slip; 55 mph.
What did he do? I asked the timer.
Hunderd an’ fifty-five; set a new North Carolina A/Gas record against you.
    I just smiled.
    After the racing, Mary and I kept our Alpine through four years of Navy time, driving from our home in North Carolina into a northern blizzard, then from Chicago's bitter cold winter of 1966-67 and tornadoes of April along Route 66 to months of Albuquerque's glorious sun, then more than two years assigned to Tennessee's secret Clarksville Base where our first son was born, then Norfolk for assignment to a Mediterranean cruise on an aircraft carrier. Adept at tending to the needs of our British roadster, Mary kept our Alpine going during my absence, but upon exiting the Navy and needing a larger car, our roadster went into storage during 1970 showing 60,019 miles. Forty-two years later Ralph Wright and I restored our Alpine for Mary with intensions of retracing our Route 66 trek to Albuquerque during 2017, same car, same couple fifty years later, but her failing health did not permit the drive. Restored back to showroom condition with much of its original equipment, Mary drove her Alpine a short distance for a newspaper story and photos, then... 
    Memories, memories; the greatest adventures of our lives were made in the first car we bought as newlyweds, our favorite car.

The year 2022 is the 90th anniversary of the all-time classic 1932 Ford.  I put together this information about that model year.  I hope you find it interesting.


Henry Ford manufactured the Model T for years with few improvements along the way.  He looked upon the car as an appliance.  He figured that you make a product and if you made it well and the public bought it,  there was no need to change it regularly.  Henry's son, Edsel,  took over the company and he understood the consumer's mind better.  He knew the customers would buy a car that was modern and had the latest improvements.  Edsel introduced the Model A which was much more up-to-date and it sold from 1928 through 1931.


Back in the 1920s,  my grandfather bought a Locomobile touring car.  Since he lived in a small town in western North Carolina,  he had it shipped there on a railroad freight car.  When it arrived, the crates were taken to the local blacksmith for assembly.  Most of the pieces were already put together,  but the major components had to go together so he could drive it.  Ford Motor Company had already perfected the assembly line and by 1932, Ford had 32 assembly plants in America plus another 17 overseas plants in places like Australia, Canada,  and Europe.  There was no longer the need for assembly after sale.

Ford came out with an all-new car for 1932.  There were several improvements but the one that received the most attention was the flathead V8 engine, because none of the other low priced cars had a V8.  Chevrolet had introduced a six cylinder engine and Plymouth continued to use its successful four cylinder powerplant.  After years of Ford dominance,  Chevrolet had outsold Ford in 1931,  so Ford was eager to really update its new model in an attempt to regain its number one sales ranking.  Some of the improvements included improving the suspension as well as changing from the 19 inch Model A wheel to an 18 inch unit.  These two changes along with some body changes made the car lower and more sleek.  The '32 was the first year that the radiator was covered with a grille to give the front end a modern look.

The four cylinder engine was still produced,  but improvements included a 10 pound heavier crankshaft which allowed for higher RPMs,  plus an increase in compression ratio.  Their first use of rubber engine mounts made for a smoother operation.  The improved four cylinder showed a gain of 25 percent more horsepower than the previous Model A engine.  At 200 cubic inches,   the Ford was larger than Chevy's 194 cubic inch  6 cylinder and Plymouth's 196 four cylinder,  but had less horsepower than either competitor.


Ford's V8 had twice the number of cylinders as their four cylinder,  but at 221 cubic inches it only showed a 10 percent increase in displacement and 30 percent more horsepower over the improved four cylinder.  There was a major overheating problem with the new V8.  To try to fix this problem, Ford improved the radiator and changed from a 2 blade fan to a 4 blade unit.  Also shortly into the production run,  Ford changed from 20 hood louvers to 25 louvers per side which helped with the cooling problem.  The Ford water pumps worked incorrectly because they sucked the water through the engine instead of pushing it.  This problem was not fully solved until the 1937 model when the pump was relocated.  Because of working on the overheating problem,  Ford was not able to introduce the new cars until March 10th.  This gave their competitors a few months of unopposed sales of their models.

When the Fords were introduced,  there were 9 models from which to choose.  These included roadsters, coupes and sedans.  Commercial trucks were counted separately and the wood body station wagons were part of the truck line ( but only 334 station wagons were manufactured ).  The four cylinder Model B sold 89,036  and the Model 18 with the V8 sold more than twice as many at 193,891.


From the beginning,  Fords were just another car.  Chevrolet outsold them,  but Ford sold more than Plymouth to round out the low-priced three manufacturers.   The popularity of the 1932 Fords mainly increased following World War II.  Our soldiers and sailors returned home from the war and they wanted new cars.  There were few new vehicles to be had because automobile production had stopped during the war and was just slowly returning.  People had to buy used cars, and cars from the early 1930s were plentiful.  Also these older models were easier to modify  to increase their speed.  Drivers would remove the fenders and running boards to make their car lighter and would modify  the flathead V8s for more power. The hot rod was born.

The '32 Fords have always been sought after for hot rod material.  The first hot rods were the lighter roadsters and coupes,  but eventually all models were modified.  Because of its popularity,  in recent years several manufacturers have built replacement parts for all '32 cars,  including both fiberglass or steel bodies and body parts.  You can look through their catalogs and buy all the parts needed to build a complete car.  So I guess you could say there are more 1932 Fords on the road today than there were in 1932.

When attending car shows we always see all types and years of vehicles,  but it is really out of the ordinary to see an unmodified and fully restored 1932,  but they would stand out like a hip flask in a bikini.  


Loren Lesh

My 1st car has probably been crushed and recycled by now.  Story is mostly true, the car had 172,000 miles on it and it was a two tone green convertible.  He drove it for 62 years till he was 88.  Interesting read on how they made and tested these cars back in the 1920’s, and made here in the U.S..  Didn’t know Rolls Royce’s were ever made in the U.S.  Wonder how much today’s cars would cost if they built and tested them like this?  Today Rolls Royce are still hand made in Goodwood, England.

 

See =>Rolls-Royce Company, Springfield, MA  

 

 Rolls Royce Phantom 1928....

This person had a great start in life, an early exotic present. Mr. Allen Swift: Born - 1908, Died - 2010

This man owned and drove the same car for 82 years.

Can you imagine even having the same car for 82 years ?

Mr. Allen Swift (Springfield, Massachusetts) received this 1928 Rolls-Royce Piccadilly-P1 Roadster from his father, brand new - as a graduation gift in 1928.

He drove it up until his death... At the age of 102.

He was the oldest living owner of a car that was purchased new.

Just thought you'd like to see it.

Rolls Royce Phantom I 1928

It was donated to a Springfield museum after his death.

It has 1,070,000 miles on it, still runs like a Swiss watch, dead silent at any speed and is in perfect cosmetic condition.

82 years - That's approximately 13,048 miles per year (1087 per month).

1,070,000 that's miles not kilometers. (Thats 1,721,998 Kilometers.)

That's British engineering of a bygone era.

I don't think they make them like this anymore

High School  Days

Recently, while speaking with one of my long-time friends, he reminded me about one of our friends in high school.  This guy was sort of a laid-back,  quiet guy and seemed normal in every way.  Well every way except that he had larger than average ears and they really stuck out.  You ask how far did they stick out?   Let me put it this way,  they stuck out far enough that his nickname was "Wingnut".  I mean this guy looked like a  1959 Cadillac limousine with both back doors open.  

Throughout junior and senior high school he worked at his parents ice cream shop,  so he never really had time to  "hang out"  with other students.  He always seemed to be in school or working,  so he didn't have that many friends.  When his senior year arrived,  he drove to school in a brand new 1965 Pontiac  2+2  fastback.  It was eye-catching black with red interior and the finned aluminum wheels.  Everyone gathered around it in the student parking lot and there were plenty of oohs and aahs.  We looked inside and saw the bucket seats and the 4 speed shifter.  Looking at the front fenders,  we could tell it was a 421 engine and he confirmed that it had 3 2-barrels.  Someone said they had seen this car around town but didn't know it was his.  He then told us he had special ordered it and he received it 2 and a half months ago.

Someone asked if his parents paid for it and he said, "No.  I have worked at my parents shop for a long time and each time I received my pay I put most of it in a drawer in my bedroom.  So when I had enough cash, I took it to the dealership.  Not surprisingly,  it was around this time that people stopped calling him Wingnut and used his real name ( Spenser ).  It was also this time period when the high school cuties started asking for rides in his car.  Coincidence ?

Loren Lesh