It’s As Easy As ABC
— By Lynn Newport
Like most car buffs, when growing up I read any magazine I could get
my hands on to learn about those new and exciting future cars Detroit
had in the pipeline. Popular Mechanics had a particularly good name
for their monthly ‘Spy’ report called the Detroit Listening Post,
Popular Science named it The Detroit Report. These articles where
nothing more than a crystal ball prediction of what new cars were
coming down the line.
In these magazines’ pieces, it was often stated a GM car was going to
use an A-B-C or D body design. Back then, such nomenclature was at
best confusing. I never was really able to understand its meaning. It
wasn’t until many years later I was able to clear up this alphabet soup
to understand what the General really meant.
The birth of the ABC styling system, according to some accounts,
starts in 1931 with an engineer by the name of Kap Kuptur. While
serving as the liaison between Harley Earl’s famous GM Art and
Colour (A & C) design studio and the Fisher Body fabrication unit,
Kuptur made an interesting observation. He noticed that the door
dimensions for Chevy, Pontiac and the small Olds were all within less
than a half an inch of one another. Likewise, those for the big Olds,
Buick and small Cadillac were also very close.
To prove his observation, he made paper tracings of each type of door.
He showed them to Mr. Earl, who immediately became very excited.
There was a simple reason. Like those of the other auto manufacturers,
GM’s sales had fallen through the floor - the real effects of the Great
Depression had taken hold. Tremendous pressure was being put on Earl
to reduce vehicle costs. He was searching for ways to come up with
more economical designs. Remember, up to then each of the General’s
five major car lines was quite distinct, totally independent from the
design standards and methods practiced by the others.
Harley Earl realized immediately that at least in theory the introduction
of an A-B-C-D shared body system could save the corporation
hundreds of millions of dollars every year. On the other hand, in order
to pull this off, the Art & Colour group would have to figure out a way
to disguise each car line to give the illusion of totally unique styling. In
the end, they did such a good job of it that Ford did not fully grasp the
concept until around 1950! It must be noted that early on Chrysler did
use some shared bodies for economic reasons, but Chrysler was never
able to disguise them as skillfully as had General Motors.
Some people referred to this as product rationalization. It began to take
roots in the mid-1930s, but it was a full-grown phenomenon by 1949 or
’50. For the sake of simplicity, this sophisticated program could be
described as follows: All Chevrolets, Pontiacs and small Oldsmobiles
would use the ‘A’ body, hood, doors, fenders and the like. The large
Olds, the Buick and the small Cadillacs shared the same basic, but
larger ‘C’ body. The ‘D’ bodies were reserved for the limos from
Buick and Cadillac.
By wisely investing some of the savings back into the exterior designs,
GM A & C was able to afford many visual tricks to maximize the
unique appearance among marques. They started with the paint and
chrome schemes, and fleshed those out with the grille and bumper
treatments. For some models, such as the 1950 Cadillac, the Series 62
rode on a C body, while the Series 75 modified the C body by
lengthening the rear doors and stretching a C body roof. Sometimes
stampings were slightly modified during production to add things such
as the Cadillac P-38 fin effect. Underneath, we often discover many of
the body parts are interchangeable with other GM sister makes. What’s
truly amazing to see what a wonderful job Art & Colour pulled off to
maintain this distinct brand identity. The differences are dramatic.
Did you see the photos at the top of this article showing the
1951 Cadillac 60 Special and an Oldsmobile 98?
Can you find the resemblances?
As time went on the A & C designers became extremely skilled in the
art of illusion. In order to better cost-justify the vast re-tooling
expenses needed for the all-new 1959 models, the A-B-C-D body plan
was scrapped and one basic ‘C’ platform was adopted. This universal
platform could be lengthened or shortened, but the windshield,
cowling, width, front doors, as well as longer or shorter fenders
remained the same. Fins and wings could be added, trunks modified,
but underneath was the C body.
By understanding the basics of the A-B-C and D design concept, when
looking at many of the GM 50’s era cars, one can easily see the family
PRESERVATION OF ROUTE 66
Originally posted on Hemmings’ website on November 16, 2017 by Daniel Strohl
A proposal to continue preservation efforts for Route 66 by designating it a National Historic Trail received endorsement from the National Park System in a legislative hearing this week.
“Route 66 has become a powerful symbol of America’s social, political, and economic mobility and freedom,” Sue Masica, the acting deputy director of the National Park Service, said in prepared remarks before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands Wednesday. “Every year, thousands of visitors, many from other countries, come to experience the mid-20th century American automobile-centered culture represented by Route 66. These visitors are vital to the economies of the numerous rural communities through which the route passes.”
The National Park Service studied Route 66 for a potential National Historic Trail designation once before, in 1990, and found that it met the criteria for National Historic Trail status. At the time, however, Congress decided not to designate Route 66 as a National Historic Trail and instead created the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, administered by the National Park Service, which is set to expire in 2019.
According to the National Trails System Act of 1968, only an act of Congress can create new Historic Trail designations, and a trail must meet three criteria to qualify for the designation: It must be of historical significance; it must be of national significance; and it must have potential for historic interpretation or public recreational use.
Along with the permanent designation and ongoing federal funding, National Historic Trail status would provide uniform signage along the 2,400-mile road, interpretive panels, and the opportunity to develop cooperative agreements with local organizations, according to Bill Thomas, the chairman of the Route 66 Road Ahead Initiative, who also testified at Wednesday’s hearing.
“Over the past 30 years, Route 66 has once again returned to its original purpose, which was both in economic development and in connecting small towns and rural areas to the rest of the country,” Thomas said. “The potential of leveraging Route 66 for even more economic development exists and will be greatly assisted by its designation as a National Historic Trail.”
Representative Tom McClintock of California, the chairman of the subcommittee, raised the possibility that H.R. 801, the bill that would give Route 66 National Historic Trail status, could allow the federal government to appropriate land along the route to develop the trail, as it has done along other National Historic Trails. “It’s important we don’t turn this into a federal land grab,” he said. However, Thomas pointed out that the language of the bill specifically prohibits the acquisition of land for the trail without consent of the existing landowner.
Masica did introduce one technical amendment to the bill, recommending a thorough description and map of Route 66.
Commissioned in 1926, Route 66 connected Chicago to Santa Monica, California, as part of the country’s first federal highway system. Following the completion of the Interstate Highway System and the bypassing of most Route 66 sections, it was decommissioned as a federal highway in 1985.
A separate bill intended to preserve Route 66 introduced earlier this year, H.R. 66, the Route 66 Centennial Commission Act, also remains in subcommittee.
INSURING YOUR COLLECTOR CADILLAC:
Here’s a question I am asked a lot, especially by members new to Peach State Cadillac: “How should I insure my ‘new’ collector Cadillac?” There are three ways to learn this lesson:
So, take a lesson from me… You want coverage that has these four features:
Agreed Value. If your classic Cadillac is totaled by your insurance company, will you receive a fair value for it? Be clear: it’s the policy language that matters, not the sexy ad copy or TV commercials. The policy will spell out what and how you get paid. In Agreed Value coverage you and the insurance company agree on the vehicle’s value when you sign up - before the policy is issued. Before money changes hands. If a disaster happens, the insurance company guarantees to pay the value that the two of you agreed upon. The physical damage section of your policy should read something like this: “In the event of theft or a total loss we will pay the Agreed Value.” Now, the lowest premiums will most likely match what an appraiser would certify as fair market value, but if you insist on a higher valuation you may be able to negotiate a higher agreed value. Once agreed, that’s the value you’re paying for.
“Stated Value” coverage is NOT Agreed Value. It is what’s usually written on daily drivers, and it can be trouble for collector car owners. Typically, Stated Value policies say this about a total loss: "In the event of theft or a total loss we will pay the Stated Value or the Actual Cash Value, whichever is less." That escape clause lets the insurance company declare the car’s value (based on its own sources of valuation, such as Kelley Blue Book). Stated Value exists so you can decide how much premium you’ll pay, not how much you will be paid. It allows you to insure a car as it depreciates, in exchange for a lower premium. That’s a good deal if your car is at risk daily. But collector car premiums are already low: You drive your car less often, you maintain it well, and you do not expose it to the dangers of other drivers as often. As a result it’s not depreciating like your daily driver.
If your policy is not specifically written for Agreed Value, go get another quote from a reliable collector car company. Do it now. Don’t wait until you have a problem, or get into a disagreement with your insurer. Don’t leave it for the lawyers to sort out!
A reputable company that knows collector cars. You know the big NAMED players in this game, right? Hagerty, J. C. Taylor, and Grundy advertise the most. But I am covered by ANPAC — the largest insurer of collector cars in the business. American National Property and Casualty Company is the property and casualty division of the American National Family of Companies of Galveston, Texas. ANFC is 109 years old and a multi-line insurer with $160 billion under management. ANPAC’s collector car insurance package is called CHROME. You may have seen CHROME classic car insurance featured in ads in Hemmings and other magazines (with an app for your smartphone). They sponsor both the National and Georgia Street Rod Associations. CHROME stands for the vehicles it was designed to cover – Classic, Hot Rod, Original, Modified and Exotic. These policies feature agreed value coverage for annual mileage up to 10,000 miles (with an unlimited mileage option in many states). CHROME covers roadside assistance and towing. You will have your choice of repair facilities, and spare parts are covered. There are discounts for car collectors who insure multiple specialty vehicles, with endorsements for vehicles under construction. Good coverage… But with all insurers, be careful of the mileage you accumulate, and stay within the limits.
Someone you can get to know and trust. What you want is personalized service through a local agent you can count on being around when you’re at the cruise-ins. Someone you can trust. I gotta tell you, I cannot remember the last time I actually SAW my State Farm agent, and I can only speak to his employees on the phone. But my ANPAC agent has been to my house several times.
Cost is favorable compared with other insurers’ products. All I can say on this matter is to shop around. Give the insurers a call and let him offer you a quote. I know my CHROME premiums are a LOT lower than they were with the other auto insurance company, and we are talking about converting my daily drivers!
From the Dixie Olds Club...
Thank you to all of you who supported our recent BOPC Event.
However, in the midst of our celebration, we had a very unfortunate incident and we'd like to ask for your (continued) help with the situation. As some of you may already be aware, Larry and Elaine Palmer had their beautiful Oldsmobile stolen the night before the event took place. Their truck and trailer carrying the Olds was also stolen however both the truck and trailer have recently been found. The Oldsmobile is still missing and we'd like your help in spreading the word. Please share this with everyone you know and be on the lookout for this vehicle:
1952 Oldsmobile Super 88, Burgundy, Convertible
Vin # 528M12355
Tag # AA 96827 TN (antique). REWARD $10,000
If found, contact the Cobb County Police Department
Officer- X.D. WIlson
Badge # 2628
Or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please share this email with your friends and fellow car enthusiasts. Please also let everyone know to be aware of purchasing any specific parts to this make/model that are offered as new/like new.
Dixie Olds Club
Looking for the missing piece in the photos below. This is the lower left rear window garnish molding on a 1976 Coupe DeVille. The right side is pictured for comparison purposes. My friend Kate would like to find this piece or an entire set. I don't know if this piece interchanges with other models but the photos should help determine that.
Please contact Forrest Ward
Roger Williams shares this MSN.com video about a high school dropout who became a millionaire and king of classic cars. It's a neat story! We know this company because they conducted the auction some of us attended a few years ago where Milton Robson sold off his multi-million dollar collection. Milt is Dick Peden’s good buddy, and we are talking with him about coming out to Gainesville to visit his NEW collection. CLICK ON THIS OR THE SCREEN BELOW TO WATCH THE VIDEO.
Recently I was sent a copy of Southern Wheels magazine by the guy in Texas who rebuilt my mechanical fuel pump (Terrell Machine). He had circled an article to help me visualize fuel delivery problems in older, carbureted cars. The piece was about heat soak, or percolation, and that’s a topic for another day. Let’s just say that this is a great magazine for those of us who like to tinker with our cars. You can find it downloadable at http://www.southernwheels.com/ Well worth your time, and FULL of great articles, such as shimmy in the steering, high hard brakes, low soft brakes, leather interiors, and so forth. Go check it out! See you on the road
PS. While I was messing around I found a neat piece on Shop Safety Thoughts, and I figured this might be a good one for our Cadillac Clinic regulars. Here it is, from Wayne Smith at Dependo Rent-All:
“The more we work around tools the more careless we get." Would you agree? Human nature.
Every once in a while I need to be reminded about how bad things happen. The way my brain is wired I learn by pain. If it hurts, I will try not to do it again. I should learn by others’ mistakes, but sometimes I think ‘this will only take a minute.’ You know the rest. God gave most of us ten fingers and two eyes and he expects us to use them to his glory. I don’t want any of you to feel pain from a shop accident, so I’m going to list just a few things to remember while working on our projects:
1. Don’t wear gloves around rotating equipment. Gloves can get entangled in rotating parts, resulting in serious injuries.
2. Never remove safety guards. I know, they get in the way but…
3. Never work without proper eye protection. Don’t use the cheap stuff. What are your eyes worth?
4. Never work with rings, loose jewelry, and long hair. They can get caught and pull you into the machine.
5. Always dress your punches and chisels before using. A mushroomed head can chip off and lodge in your arm or something worse.
6. Don’t use your air hose to blow off your body. Trash can get into the air hose and get lodged in your skin.
7. Never use equipment when impaired. Be sober and smart. When you are on medication, are sick, too tired, stressed or hurried you can hurt yourself before you know it. I know from personal experience if you are tired before you start, nothing goes well.
There are more of course, but I just wanted to get you thinking. Remember:
Keep it safe, keep it fun!
Doug Bailey recently heard from Leigh Spivey and we share his email here...
Just a quick update to let you know how we are all doing It was nice to talk to you while we were in the US - good to hear your voice! We thoroughly enjoyed our holiday in Florida and look forward to our next visit in Spring - fingers crossed. Went to pick up the hydraulics for the top from Convertible Tops Inc. and were made very welcome . They copied some photos of the Eldo I had to put on their website. Packed them in all in a box and just walked straight through our Customs - saved about $200 dollars on postage and duty doing it like that. Fitting them is a winter project now. Got a new OE fuel filter posted to the villa from California as well .
As you can see from the enclosed photo the fuel system is all back together and the car is now running like a dream. Pity we have missed most of the big Shows, though Our small Town is putting on a 1940`s weekend this weekend with WW2 aircraft fly past, military vehicle parades, re-enactors plus normal classic cars and lots of `40`s music — should be quite good. Should have had the Austin 7 on the road though - that's the right era. Hopefully everybody will be dressed up as well - shopkeepers as well - but they won`t be selling at 40`s prices though. We are helping to put up display in the Market Hall later this week. We have quite a bit of wartime memorabilia what with my Dad being in the RAF, Thanks once again for your help with the fuel problems.
Take Care, Leigh.
Read Richard Dormois' interesting article about 'Modified' Cadillacs (click image to read full size PDF) . If you're thinking of taking a modified car to a Grand National, this is how your car is supposed to be judged. Modifying Cadillacs and LaSalles has a been a long and contentious debate... The CLC was created to protect and preserve the originality of Cadillac and LaSalle cars. But more people today, especially younger folks and those who want a comfortable and safe motoring experience, like to modify their cars. The cars included below are owned by PSCLC and former PSCLC members who have modified their cars for both comfort/safety and for design individuality. It’s your car, and you get to do with it what you like… and now the CLC is making a serious effort to draw modified Cadillacs into the fold. Enjoy the 2017 Grand National, whatever your car looks like!
We understand the judging will be by four categories of modifications. Can you find examples of each?
"HOTRODS are any 1940 and earlier bodied cars constructed with an emphasis on improving speed, handling and appearance. If the car body is not a Cadillac or La Salle, the car's engine must be a Cadillac or LaSalle."
"RESTOMODS are any Cadillac or LaSalle constructed in 1960 and years before which have been modified to incorporate a modern chassis, driver/passenger convenience items e.g power steering, air conditioning, power windows, etc., and/or improved sound systems. These cars may be powered by any engine. The exterior appearance will be the same as a factory produced car of the same year and model. There will be no chopping, channeling, sectioning, or other modifications that would alter the stock appearance."
"MILD CUSTOMS are any Cadillac or LaSalle with minor changes to the body, interior or changes to upgrade performance or (appearance to the stock engine) installation of air conditioning and sound systems are allowed, along with changes to the exhaust system, brakes, wheels and tires."
"RADICAL CUSTOMS are any Cadillacs or LaSalles that have had major body changes, chopped, channeled, bumpers removed and/or major changes to the interior, engine and suspension changes."
Peach State Cadillac and LaSalle Club enjoys the benefit of multiple talented writers/members for this blog. A BIG thanks to all our contributors for sharing your deep knowledge base about classic Cadillacs!