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Hemmings Motor News Blog

Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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Trackless Trains or Locomotive Automobiles?

Posted August 08, 2011 4:55 PM by dstrohl

In a way, it's surprising we don't see more automobiles built in the style of locomotives. After all, some of the earliest steam cars of the 1800s had a lot more in common with steam locomotives than with later steam cars. Chalk it up, we suppose, to the evolutions of both automobiles and locomotives to meet vastly different requirements. That said, we do know of a few - Harry McGee's trackless trains, the Owens Motor Sales Ford Special, and A.F. Sternad's locomotive automobile - and we can add the one above to the list today.

Unfortunately, we don't know much about it so far. Like the McGee and Owens cars, this one was built for promotional purposes: It seems the Norfolk and Western Railway wanted to drum up passenger business, which we're sure had dwindled down to almost nothing after the introduction of the Ford Model T. Virginia Tech's ImageBase, where we found these two photos, doesn't provide much more, noting only that the photos come from the Norfolks and Western Railway's public relations department's archives.

Based on the wheels and general shape of the fenders, we're going to take a wild guess and say the Norfolk and Western used a mid-1920s Buick as the basis for their rolling billboard. Anybody care to set us straight or elaborate on the history of the car(s) in these photos?

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Re: Trackless Trains or Locomotive Automobiles?

08/09/2011 12:19 AM

OMG, that's where I live!! Grottoes!!

The Grand Caverns were a huge draw in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from what I've read of local history. Most tourists arrived by N&W trains.

I would presume that "automobile" transported tourists from the train station to the hotels and caverns, where large parties were, and still sometimes are, held. I can vouch that it does not exist locally. In fact, there aren't even the remnants of a passenger station here anymore.

Sorry I can't contribute anything about the vehicle itself. I'll drop by the cavern's visitor center and see if they have anything about it.

Hooker

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#2

Re: Trackless Trains or Locomotive Automobiles?

08/09/2011 4:26 AM

I can't fit enough letters on my vanity plates to accommodate "Tommy the Tank Engine", though that would be cool.

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