Tuesday, June 7, 2016

shooting brake

Yesterday son Joe returned from his annual June motorcycle jaunt up into the mountains with biker buddies, I think there are four or five or six of the friends, and they take vacation and ride for most of a week. 

A motorcycle enthusiast since before I knew it (high school), he’s had several, Japanese, then Harleys he brought home in baskets and rebuilt and refurbished himself. One Sunday a couple years ago he showed up on a Ducati, having ridden it down from his home in Winston-Salem, and recently added the BMW that took him on this year’s jaunt.

They go interesting places, and on his return yesterday he texted me several car pictures from Wheels Through Time, a North Carolina motorcycle museum that also has a number of automobiles. One is a 1949 Cadillac, a favorite lust item from my teen years. Most intriguing is a 1921 Cadillac shooting brake, obviously ordered by a wealthy hunter and custom built for his use with his friends. "Shooting brake" is a bit archaic British term for what we call a station wagon or estate wagon, originated for a carriage to break in wild horses; then when automobiles came along applied to cars built to carry hunters, their weapons, ammunition and game.

Receiving old car pictures from Joe invariably sends Uncle Bubba here into a frenzy of research, to ID them if he asks me what they are and I don't immediately know; in this case to verify the make and year. This car’s body is unique, but identifying features, headlamps, radiator, bumper, windscreen on other cars do add up to a 1921 Cadillac.

Both of these are touring cars, the four door open car of early automobile years, that eventually was classily restyled “phaeton” for marketing reasons. 

Touring cars were long popular after sedans came along, one reason being that until about 1925 car windows were regular plate glass that shattered and splintered disastrously in car crashes, while touring cars had safer snap-on side curtains "in case of a change in the weather.” In America at least, the last phaeton (four door convertible) production ended just as WW2 began, and were no more until the 1961 - 1969 Lincoln Continental four door convertibles with “suicide doors.”

Some will remember that JFK was riding in the back seat of one of these Lincoln convertibles that November 1963 day in Dallas.

Who was expecting a spiritual lesson this morning, come back another time.


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