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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.

Green Monster Among Multiple Land-speed Cars in New Speed-focused Exhibit

Posted February 24, 2018 1:20 PM by yamdankee

To this day, Art Arfons holds one rather inglorious record: After crashing his Green Monster land-speed-record car in November 1966, he became the only person to survive a 600-mph-plus car wreck. That car only exists in memories and scraps now, but the replica of it that Arfons built remains and will anchor a display dedicated to land-speed-record holders at the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

Arfons’ land-speed-record ambitions date to the Fall of 1962, when he hit upon the idea of building a jet-powered car in the vein of the Cyclops and Green Monster jet drag cars he’d been campaigning across the country. Except Arfons believed he could take the record with a far more powerful engine, the afterburner-equipped J-79 from the F-104 Starfighter, good for about 17,000 pounds of thrust, or about 10,000 more than other jet-powered land-speed racers were harnessing at the time from their J-46s and J-47s.

Rather than worry about streamlining, Arfons built a basic fairing around the engine and attached two narrow cockpits to either side of it and a tailfin to the back of it. According to Samuel Hawley‘s Speed Duel, Arfons reasoned that because the intake of a jet engine doesn’t technically contribute to frontal drag, it made little sense to cover it with a nosecone and then try to duct sufficient air to the engine. The chassis consisted of whatever Arfons could find around his yard: an axle from a Dodge truck, a steering assembly from a Packard, the instrument panel from one of his old airplanes.

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1 comments; last comment on 02/24/2018
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Automobilia: Gow Paint Your Flivver!

Posted February 21, 2018 10:38 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: classic auto DIY sears

One of the neatest references for everyday-material culture of the past is a Sears, Roebuck and Company Catalog. Sears in its catalog days was to many folks what Amazon is today. You perused pages and pages of everything from workwear to Sunday suits to firearms to tools to camping gear to auto parts, then you placed your order and the post office brought it to your home. If you want to know how something was done in the past, the Sears catalog from your era of choice probably has clues.

One of the things I was curious about was paint application for my 1923 Ford project, Tilly. Period photos indicate that after only a year or two on the streets, the factory Japan Black finish on most Tin Lizzies had decayed into something resembling a chalkboard. Duco-finished products from General Motors fared somewhat better, but worn-out paint was a problem that all auto owners eventually faced.

To see what the average do-it-yourselfer might have done back in the time period I’m emulating, I pulled my trusty Sears, Roebuck and Co. Catalog No. 149 (Fall and Winter 1924-1925) off the shelf and turned to the index, seeing “Automotive Enamel” listed on page 965. That revealed Sears carrying a whole line of Seroco Auto Paints to “Make your car look like new.” It also revealed two complete kits for refinishing an aged car: A “Special Painting Outfit for Ford Cars” and a “Complete Automobile Refinishing Outfit.”

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5 comments; last comment on 02/24/2018
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Japan 1990 – The Year that Cars from the Land of the Rising Sun Went Supernova

Posted February 21, 2018 10:33 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: 1990 classic auto japan

For decades, Japanese cars were about simple reliability and (particularly after 1973) fuel economy over style and speed. A decade after the first fuel crisis, the first Japanese car company (Honda) opened a factory on our shores, in part to get around “voluntary” import restraints. If import numbers were to be limited, then profits should not be, and so the Japanese car companies started marching upscale, with more options and higher price points. In the ’80s, the strength of Japanese cars spread out in all directions; from efficiency to luxury to sheer driving pleasure, the Japanese seemingly had a model for all seasons, all reasons, and all buyers.

Whether by some grand design or by happenstance, 1990 seemed to be the year that Japanese cars really changed things–not just in America, but worldwide. The basics–family cars like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry–occupied the sweet spot that they had for most of the ’80s. Every year brought incremental improvements, and real game-changers–a Lexus division, a Miata roadster–come along once in a while. But when a bunch of paradigm shifters hit more or less simultaneously? Japanese car companies continued not to just offer interesting, competitive products–they reset the standard, becoming the bar that others had to live up to.

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Fast and Furious, Circa 1962: The Further Adventures of a Hot-Rodding Teen

Posted February 15, 2018 9:00 AM by dstrohl

The baby-blue 1940 Ford convertible with top down, engine straining, was doing 90 miles per hour. Wearing no seat belt and sweating, I suddenly imagined myself flying like a cannonball from the rear seat and landing head first on the pavement.

We were side-by-side, but losing, to a 1961 Pontiac Bonneville on a dark stretch of dangerous three-lane highway called “Seven Bridges Road” near Springfield, New Jersey. Heading straight at us as we rocketed forward in the middle lane were the high beams of an oncoming car.

Heart pumping like crazy, I was eternally grateful when the Ford’s driver, a high school buddy, slowed and pulled behind the Pontiac…just in time. His car, named “Blue Moon” after the hit rock-and-roll song that year, was fast—it had a 1955 Corvette engine—but no match for the big-block Bonneville.

There is no replacement for displacement, or teenage years drag racing at the Jersey Shore.

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The $5,000 Challenge, Valentine’s Day Edition

Posted February 14, 2018 9:00 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: classic auto classified

What is it that prompts automotive attraction? Why do some of us favor small cars over large cars, or station wagons over coupes, or four-doors over two? Is it genetics? Is it our experience early in life? Is it Cupid, shooting us with a metaphorical gasoline-dipped arrow at a specific point in time?

That’s the beauty of the old-car hobby, and to borrow the timeless used-car-salesman’s creed, there truly is a p(ass)enger for every seat. This time around, the $5,000 Challenge presents an interesting mix of choices, conveniently just in time for Valentine’s Day. If you’re on the receiving end of the gift-giving process, feel free to forward this to your significant other, or, perhaps, print a copy and circle the object of your desire in red. In the end, all of these four-wheel gifts will last longer than a box of chocolates, and they’re healthier as well.

So, what kind of car can you surprise your sweetheart with on V-Day - for just $5,000?

3 comments; last comment on 02/15/2018
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