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Transmogrify – The Rat Rods and Transformation

On March 23, 1987, cartoonist Bill Watterson introduced his readers to ‘The Transmogrifier’. In appearance, it looked like a cardboard box, but in the hands of Calvin and Hobbes, it was a miraculous change agent.

Calvin: You step into this chamber, set the appropriate dials, and it turns you into whatever you’d like to be.
Hobbes: It’s amazing what they can do with corrugated cardboard these days.
– Bill Watterson –

‘Transmogrify’ was a new word to me, but the dictionary says it has been with us since the 1650’s. It means ‘to change into something very different, especially in a way that is funny or strange’.

I can’t think of a better world to describe the cars below – the Rat Rods. They are built from salvaged parts and random trinkets. No two would ever be alike!

Above all, rat rods are built to be enjoyed and driven. They are a mechanic’s art form that allow each builder to think outside the box.
– Tara Hurlin –

555-rat-rod-sabotage-ii

555-rat-rod1

555-rat-rod2

I can’t get The Car Guy interested in building one of these cars. His transmogrify box must be broken…

555-henry garden sculpture

We have done our own small transmogrifying project though. A visit to a friends’ farm revealed a wealth of metal scraps. I chose rakes for some wings, a big spring and a length of rebar for the backbone, a hinge for the beak, some nails for a tail, and some bits that I don’t even know what they once were, for the rest of the body. Once our Friendly Farmer Friend welded the bits together for me, I decided  my creation was a chicken. I named her Henrietta. Some time later, The Car Guy and FFF made a slight modification to Henrietta. They added a bolt and a couple of nuts… and that is how my chicken became Henry.

What do you think of when you hear the word Transmogrify?

This weeks WordPress Photo Challenge is Transmogrify.

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A Vibrant Willys Coupe at Barrett-Jackson

Willys-Overland Motors produced the Willys Americar from 1937 to 1942 – either as sedans, coupes, station wagons or pickup trucks.

The coupe version is very popular with the hot rod set, and this beautiful 1941 Willys Custom Coupe wears vibrant metallic pearl and royal ruby pearl paint. With extensive chroming from front to back, this car sparkled under the lights at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale in January 2016.

Willys-Overland’s biggest claim to fame is the famous 4×4 “Willys” which was chosen by the War Department as its light utility vehicle of choice. The “Jeep”, as it would become known, was based on the original Bantam design of the Willys company.

A Willys Americar would have cost about $630 in the early 1940’s. As a hot rod, this one sold in 2016 for $80,300. In 2015, the same car sold at Barrett Jackson in Las Vegas for $110,000. What goes up, must come down, they say…

Have you ever taken a big ‘hit’ when you sold a car?

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Vibrant

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Oil Field Dodge and Stalking John Dillinger

The Oil Field Dodge was the star of a Dodge Brothers promotional film that was apparently filmed in Texas in the 1920’s. (The piano music in this video is “New Walk” by Dave Hartley, released 2006.)

The vehicle used in this video would probably have been produced after March of 1919 (when a four­ door enclosed sedan was introduced into the Dodge line) and before the 1924 model year when the wheelbase was extended to 116 inches, louvers were placed on the hood, and the entire car was given a lower appearance.

Oil Field Dodge

1919 Dodge

1924 Dodge

1927 Dodge

The Dodge Brothers (John and Horace) began building motor cars in 1910. Initially they manufactured and assembled Model T’s for the Ford Motor Company. In 1913 they began designing their own car, and on November 14, 1914 the first Dodge Brothers vehicle rolled off the assembly line. In just three years Dodge became the fourth largest American automobile manufacturer. By 1919, the company was producing about 106,000 vehicles per year and in 1925 they sold their one millionth car.

The Dodge Brothers both died in 1920. In 1925 the Dodge heirs sold the firm to New York investment bankers Dillon, Read & Company for $146 million. Dillon then sold it to Walter P. Chrysler in 1928 for $170 million.

DH 4 Door Sedan movie ‘Public Enemies’

1931 Dodge

This 1931 Dodge 4 door sedan was owned by Hurley County, Wisconsin, Sheriff Frank J. Erspamer. The original purchase price of the car was $950. In 1934, the Sheriff supposedly accompanied the FBI to the Little Bohemia Lodge where the outlaw John Dillinger was.

The car sold at the 2014 Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona for $19,250.

Last, but certainly not least, is The Car Guy’s Dodge Dakota:

While it probably could not navigate the mud like the Oil Field Dodge, and it certainly isn’t used to hunt down famous criminals, last month it started (without being plugged in) when the temperature was -30C (-22F).

I’ll be glad to reply to or dodge your questions, depending on what I think will help our election most.
– George H. W. Bush –

If you can’t Dodge it, Ram it.
– Author Unknown –

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Harley Survives. Will the Honda Lawnmower?

When we last saw the Harley Davidson in August 2012, it was being loaded onto the back of a truck. Bent and broken like it’s owner, the bike was no longer The Car Guy’s concern. The Harley’s destiny was in the hands of the insurance company.

Then – we got a phone call from our Son-in-law a few months ago. “I’ve found your Harley,” he said. “Not only that, it is repaired, and is being sold by the same guy here in Alberta that I bought my Harley from. If that isn’t coincidence enough, the guy who is selling the bike is the guy who repaired the bike, and he did the work this past winter in Phoenix Arizona!”

Phoenix – that meant the Harley had spent the winter in the same general area where The Car Guy had spent the winter recovering from his damages. But there is even more to the story. The guy who repaired the bike has a son who lives right next door to The Car Guy’s dad. It really is a small, small world!

The Harley survived, but will our Honda? This Honda lawn mower is 30 years old. It spent the last 3 years out at the cabin, and was one of the items The Car Guy salvaged from our flooded cabin last weekend. So far all he has done is pressure washed it, but starting this week, he and his Dad will start to dismantle it and see if they can bring it back to life.

“Why bother?” you might ask. Indeed, why.

Maybe it is because it has faithfully mowed our lawns for 30 years, and it deserves another chance.

Maybe it is because we were raised to reuse, recycle, fix and make do – long before it was the popular thing to do.

Or maybe it is because there was so little we could salvage from the flood, that anything is better than nothing, and something is a nice reminder of all the happy days we spent there. Mowing the lawn. We didn’t have much, so it wasn’t really a big job. But it smelled so nice when it was being done, and it looked so nice when it was finished. And every time we fire up this mower again, we will be reminded of all our neighbours, and the sounds of their mowers on those happy sunny days when all the mowers on the street came out for a quick run around the yard.

Consider the many special delights a lawn affords: soft mattress for a creeping baby; worm hatchery for a robin; croquet or badminton court; baseball diamond; restful green perspectives leading the eye to a background of flower beds, shrubs, or hedge; green shadows – “This lawn, a carpet all alive/With shadows flung from leaves’ – as changing and as spellbinding as the waves of the sea, whether flecked with sunlight under trees of light foliage, like elm and locust, or deep, dark, solid shade, moving slowly as the tide, under maple and oak.  This carpet!
–   Katharine S. White, Onward and Upward in the Garden, 1979

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PT Cruiser Gets a Short Block Transplant

For the past ten years I have been driving a 2003 PT Cruiser – the Dream Cruiser Series 2. It has a turbo engine, is tangerine in colour and has very low mileage. I call my car Pete. Up until a week ago, PT Cruiser collectors would have said it was one of the more rare and valuable PT Cruisers in existence. According to a guy who has researched these cars, there were only 2200 made.

Several weeks ago ‘Pete’s engine light came on, so we took Pete to the local Chrysler Car Hospital. We expected some minor malfunction, an hour or so of labour, a few small parts and then Pete would be back on the road again.

engine

This is a photo of Pete’s engine compartment. It is only slightly larger than the glove compartment of a big truck – at least, that is how The Car Guy describes the cramped quarters of the place where Pete’s stomach, heart, lungs and circulatory system are. Wedged somewhere under the upper bits is the Short Block.  It contains the pistons, the crank shaft and the connecting rods.

To make a long story short, Pete’s ailment was not minor. Pete was going to need a Short Block transplant. The Car Guy questioned Pete’s surgeon about this diagnosis. Surely the condition could be cured by rebuilding the block. The surgeon looked at The Car Guy, as only a Young Car Guy can look at an Old Car Guy, and said, “No one rebuilds these things anymore.”

When The Car Guy explained the situation to me, I asked him if he could rebuild it. He told me he certainly could, but if I wanted to have Pete back on the road in less than a year or two, then the transplant was probably the best way to go. (The Car Guy and his dad are good mechanics, but they aren’t fast.)

A short block was ordered and Pete was pushed out into the parking lot behind the Car Hospital. On about the sixth day of Pete’s absence from the safety of our garage, large dark clouds rolled into town. They were packing pellets and weren’t afraid to use them. As I watched the hail beat down, I wondered about Pete. What were the chances that the hail was big enough and hard enough to beat holes into Pete’s tangerine skin?

Would the Fickle Finger of Fate (the Insurance Company) then decide that Pete, (with no engine block and a pock marked body), was a complete write off? Fortunately, the hail did no damage and I brought Pete home a few days ago. Pete’s Hospital stay cost about as much as what Pete would be worth if I sold him, which doesn’t make much sense, but that is how things are with used vehicles.

No, no, no. There’s no such thing as cheap and cheerful. It’s cheap and nasty & expensive and cheerful.
– Jeremy Clarkson –

I’d show you a photo of Pete’s engine now, but it really doesn’t look any different than it did before.

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The Car Guy and his Automotive Quests

If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend.
– Doug Larson –

 The Car Guy attended  the Barrett-Jackson Car Auction in Scottsdale this past January.

yellow red

He is always on the look out for another Challenger like his.

Or a truck like his 1950 Fargo.

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From Pumpkins to Tangerines – Colourful Orange Vehicles

Orange is red brought nearer to humanity by yellow.
– Wassily Kandinsky –

Orange – it can be the color of a carrot, orange peel, pumpkin or persimmon, to name just a few shades. It was never my favourite colour until I walked into a car dealership and saw a Tangerine PT Cruiser. It was love at first sight.

The colour continues to appeal to me, as you can see from this set of photos I have taken at various car shows and auctions.
Irricana Pioneer Truck Museum Ron Carey Collection

A 1926 Mack, Riggers Truck – Ron Carey Collection, Irricana Pioneer Truck Museum, Alberta, Canada. These trucks were used primarily for bridge and subway construction.

Tangalo Pearl Orange

A 1932 Ford 5 window custom 2 door coupe in Tangalo Pearl Orange.

orange with suicide doors

A 1933 Dodge truck with suicide doors.

Two views of a 1935 or 1936 Plymouth.
orange, chrome wings on sides of the grill

A 1948 or 1949 International truck, chrome “wings” on the sides of the grill.

orange

A 1950 Ford Thames E83W. This was built by Ford of Britain at the Ford Dagenham assembly plant (home of Fordson tractors).

2001 or 2002 Prowlers, one original, one modified, in Prowler Orange Metallic.

Tangerine Pearl Coat paint

Last, but not least, my 2003 PT Dream Cruiser Series 2, in Tangerine Pearl Coat paint. Production was limited to 7,500 units for North American markets including 750 for Canada and 2,000 units for international markets.

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