view counter

What’s This Car?

Read on to find out

Seek and you shall find is the journalist’s creed.
     So I was anticipating a full mailbox after I asked in the paper of June 15 for your help in identifying my grandfather’s car.
    You came through.
    First, on the afternoon of the very day Bay Weekly was delivered throughout Anne Arundel and Calvert counties, was William Hopkins.
    REO Speedwagon, he wrote. Likely a ’27 Flying Cloud, he later added, specifying that 1927 was the first year for Flying Cloud. 1936 the last. Patterned after their fire truck.”
    That was the first of a litany of early auto makes.
    “I think it’s a 1927 Chevrolet Touring model,” wrote Barry Scher.
    Packard, Alice Dunlap called in, basing her supposition on pictures from her parents’ youth.
    John Overholser agreed. “It looks like a 1927 Packard Six touring car to me. Cool photo!” he added.
    Lois Noonan, a fellow Billiken from St. Louis University, also guessed, “A Packard?”
    Packard, a Detroit company, built luxury automobiles from 1899 to 1958. Look them up. Packard is definitely in the ballpark.
    Ford Model A was Kevin Moran’s vote.
    Mike Kress of Marlboro Tire & Automotive, Inc. had another opinion. “I believe your grandfather’s car was a 1924 Studebaker Big Six with a Rex-equipped all-season top,” he wrote. “Keep up the good work.”
    Well gosh! It was looking like I’d have to call in an expert.
    Then Mike Lechlitner got out his magnifying glass. Sherlock Holmes-style, he studied the car point by point.
    “I believe the auto pictured is a 1924 Hudson Super Series Six for the following reasons,” he wrote.
    “1. Most purchases in those days were regional. Hudson fits.
    “2. From the front of your picture to the back:
    “A. Side louvres do not surpass the height of the front wheel fender. This is uncommon with the exception of Hudson’s and Flint automobiles.
    “B. The side engine louvres end right at the cowl fairing, not before (a Hudson characteristic).
    “C. Cowl fairing is slightly scalloped, and reflective sheen shown in your picture matches.
    “D. Windscreen and front awning over front windshield match exactly (Hudson awnings were shorter than others).
    “E. The door handle for the driver’s door is located forward on the vehicle. Most other manufacturers had ‘suicide doors’ with the driver’s external handle behind driver’s left shoulder.
    “Now, continuing to the rear of the vehicle:
    “3. There are no roof pillars in your photo. However you’ll note two shiny spots along the roofline where the roof pillars would be mounted. These were removable and are close to where they should be for a Hudson. I’d guess the pillars were removed for this summer golf excursion.
    “4. Missing rear passenger door handle, the gap between driver and rear door matches a Hudson, but it may have not shown up due to sun angle.
    “5. Your photo has a sharp 90-degree turn at corner of the rear roof pillar to the body of the vehicle. Not quite similar to a more rounded and thicker back-end pillar on a Hudson.”
    Pretty convincing evidence. Is he right?
    My arbitrator appeared in the form of a motorhead we hadn’t seen since he was a high-schooler delivering papers for Bay Weekly one summer in the mid-1990s. Stopping by our office out of the blue, Russ Pellicot took on the challenge.
     “Could it be a Biddle?” Russ wondered, explaining his thinking.
    “Apparently Biddle was a small luxury auto maker out of Pennsylvania. At www.earlyamericanautomobiles.com/1916.htm, scroll about three-quarters of the way down and look in the right-hand column for the 1923 Biddle Sedan.
    “I’m looking at the size and shape of the vents in the side engine cover, the profile of the windshield, location of front door handle, contour of the cowl, and the lack of any vertical posts in the side window openings as my clues.”
    So the plot thickened.
    Pellicot dug a little deeper, finding his answer in an online conversation among car buffs.
    “It seems,” he wrote, “that Hudson was using bodies built by an outfit named Biddle and Smart up until about 1930, hence the confusion. It makes sense, because the other pictures of Biddle vehicles that I found didn’t look enough like this one for it to be the same manufacturer. All that being said, it is my belief that your grandfather’s car is a Hudson.”
    So I conclude I have two winners to take to lunch. Mike Lechlitner and Russ Pellicot, you’ll be hearing from me.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com