Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Gunfighter by William 74
Gunfighter, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
A horse of a different color compared to yesterday's entry! North American Aviation's P-51 Mustang is one of the most legendary airplanes to come out of the Second World War. Designed as a long-range escort fighter, the Mustang was only a middling fighter until Packard began to license build Rolls-Royce's equally legendary Merlin engine. This transformed the Mustang into a fantastic, fast, long-range airplane and sealed it's place in aviation history. The Mustang went through several iterations, and continued to serve with American forces until the mid 50's, and with several other countries until the sixties. It remains a popular airplane, with many being used as the basis of racing craft, as well as touring with other warbirds.

This one is "Gunfighter", and flies with the Commemorative Air Force. It's been modified with a second seat, and gives rides at air shows across the country.

Monday, August 29, 2011

California Special

GT/CS by William 74
GT/CS, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Available for only a year, the California Special was a factory built limited edition Mustang, and was an attempt to get some of the Shelby magic to rub off on the rest of the range. The package consisted of Shelby styling cues, such as the Marchal foglights, scoops, Thunderbird taillights, and the Shelby hood. Ford meant to build 5,000 examples, but demand for the California Special fell a bit short.

Ford did this sort of small-market limited edition a couple of other times. A nearly identical car to the GT/CS was marketed in the Denver area as the "High Country Special", and a few years later the "Twister Special" appeared in the Kansas area. All of these editions are pretty rare today, and are an interesting footnote to the Mustang story.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Victor Lezza & Sons

We're a bit late with this one, but August 21 was National Spumoni Day. In honor of this holiday, I give you the Victor Lezza & Sons sign in Bellwood, Illinois. Aside from some rust, and the dingy plastic bits, this one looks pretty good and appears to work as well. Sadly I've not managed to get out there and capture it at night. Yet.

I wonder if one could order a spumoni wedding cake?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Campana Building

Storm by William 74
Storm, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Second week in a row we've had heavy weather!

This is the Campana building in Batavia, Illinois. Built in 1936, this building features styling cues from both the Streamline Moderne and Bauhaus schools of architecture. It was designed to be the main factory for the Campana Company, which made the popular Italian Balm hand lotion.

Considered very modern when it was built, the Campana building featured full air conditioning (there are no opening windows), fluorescent lighting, desks arranged in rows, and an automated manufacturing system.

Today the factory is closed, but the building is still in use for other businesses. The Campana building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and remains fundamentally in the same condition as when it was operating, and retains most of it's period detailing.

And, it was raining that day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Be Specific, Ship Union Pacific

As befits one of the powerhouse railroads in the U.S., the Union Pacific ran the largest fleet of gas turbine electric locomotives in the country. Built in three series, UP's GTEL's were meant to provide the same power output as several diesel engines, which in the postwar years weren't as powerful as the steam engines they were trying to replace. It cost the same to run a smaller number of more powerful engines, and locomotives were at their most efficient at high, sustained speeds. Despite being thirstier than equivalent diesels, the turbines proved to be less costly to run on fast, mainline freights, and this is where they excelled.

Built in three series, UP's turbines had all been retired by 1970. The turbines used Bunker C heavy fuel oil, which had few uses outside of this one, but by the seventies oil prices were up and new uses for this former waste product were being developed. It spelled the end of the turbine locos, and most were broken up, their parts recycled into conventional diesel locomotives.

Two of the turbines still exist, both from the third series built. This one, engine number eighteen, resides at the Illinois Railway Museum.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nickey, Nickey, Nickey....

Nickey Chicago by William 74
Nickey Chicago, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
....with the backwards K!

Established in the 1920's, Nickey Chevrolet was a legendary Chicago area dealership, and one of the first to specialize in high performance cars. Nickey ran a series of ever-faster Corvettes, all dubbed the "Purple People Eater", as well as acquiring one of the beautiful, fast RAI Scarabs. Eventually, they got into the super-muscle-car scene, using GM's infamous COPO ordering scheme to get big block Camaros and Chevelles. Though Nickey Chevrolet closed it's doors in the seventies, the name lives on, building high performance versions of Chevrolet's newest Camaro.

Fun fact-the Vinegaroon (I don't know what it means either) is a Genie Can-Am car, and was originally owned by Dan Blocker. Yep, that Dan Blocker.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stop & Drink

Stop & Drink #2 by William 74
Stop & Drink #2, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Happy Neon Friday! This week we're back in Chicago, in front of what's now known as the Clark Street Ale House. It used to be known as the Stop & Drink, and the antique neon sign dates from the days when Clark Street in River North was still a bit rundown and seedy. Fortunately, when the bar was renamed the new owners did the sensible thing and kept the awesome vintage sign.

I'm told that this sign-less the added on ale house bit-can be seen in the somewhat obscure film Mickey One, starring Warren Beatty. Although now that I think of it, maybe it was Goldstein, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's in The Blues Brothers.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Schafer Bros.

Patina by William 74
Patina, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
We've visited this derelict Chevy truck before. Suffice to say, it is still there, gently going to ground. I wonder if it-and the trucks and tractors that surround it-will ever be moved again.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Bel Air by William 74
Bel Air, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Long a symbol of jet-age Populuxe America, the tailfin is probably the one thing people think of when you ask them about cars from the 50's. Fins and chrome. They started off small with the '48 Cadillac, just little fins inspired by the Lockheed P-38 fighter plane (or so Harley Earl said), and eventually grew to rocket-like proportions, right along with America's fascination with the Space Race. And they weren't just an American phenomenon-auto makers the world over used this styling cue, although for not nearly as long.

Anyway, all this is really just an excuse to show some of my favorite fin photos. Up top is the classic '57 Chevy Bel-Air.

'61 Imperial
This here's a '61 Imperial. The wiggiest fins in my book, with those little hanging gunsight taillights.

The famous, melting fins of the '59 Chevy Impala, with those excellent teardrop taillights.

Cadillac had the first, and always seemed to have the biggest too-the towering fins of the '59 Biarritz is almost a cliche. I prefer the subtler looks-relatively speaking-of the '60 Eldo, as seen here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hey Brothers

Hey Brothers! by William 74
Hey Brothers!, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Another nice piece of vintage neon in the city of Dixon, Illinois. This one happens to be across the street from the Walter C. Knack building, just outside of downtown.

Hey Brothers Ice Cream was made in Dixon from about the 1920's up until the early 80's. I'd never heard of the company (outside of this old sign) until recently, when I read a novel that was set in Chicago in 1932-the main characters undertake a road trip to the Quad Cities and stop for some Hey Brothers ice cream in DeKalb.

I had thought that the company was no more, until I decided to have some ice cream at the Kane County Flea Market a couple of weeks ago-it was Hey Brothers! I was shocked-clearly the company had simply moved somewhere else. It was pretty good too, and I'd certainly have some again.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

SHerwood 2-2296

SHerwood 2-2296 by William 74
SHerwood 2-2296, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

It's been a sort of a trend in old car circles to paint up trucks in old, flat, faded paint, with artificially worn signwriting on the sides. I kind of like it-usually such paint jobs are fun and don't take themselves too seriously.

This one, though, is the real deal. It's a 1960's International Harvester Metro step van, formerly in the stable of the M.C. Lohbauer heating repair company. Note the genuine old phone number (a real number, in fact), and the old Republic sticker. A really neat piece of local history.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fading Glory

Fading Glory by William 74
Fading Glory, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

I haven't visited the old Caddy in a while, so I felt that the new Argus was as good a reason as any to drop by and see the old girl again.

Fading Glory

Monday, August 8, 2011

Russetta Timing Association

Plate by William 74
Plate, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

In the earliest days of hot rodding, guys would form clubs, partially to have a group of like-minded buddies to go to events with, and partially to gain acceptance to a timing association. One of the most famous (if not the most famous) is the Southern California Timing Association, which would sanction speed events at places like Muroc Dry Lake and Bonneville.

However, the SCTA would only accept open cars, and plenty of rodders owned and wanted to race closed cars. The Russetta Timing Association was formed in part to cater to this group, and proved popular enough to be around into the sixties. It was also not uncommon for drivers and clubs to be members of both the SCTA and Russetta, so all members could race their cars.

Club and timing association plaques were a popular accessory back in the day, and remain so today.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Granville Frame Shop

Granville Frame Shop #2 by William 74
Granville Frame Shop #2, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Located on the corner of Granville and Broadway in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood, the Granville Frame Shop has an excellent, if sadly burned out, neon sign.

Didn't last week's Neon Friday have a clock, too?

Granville Frame Shop

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Signal by William 74
Signal, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

In railroad terminology, a wye is a triangular arrangement of tracks, allowing three lines to connect. It's often used to turn trains around, allowing them to do a sort of three point turn. Usually there's a switch or signal at each corner as well.

This is one corner of such an arrangement, at the Illinois Railway Museum. It's guarded by this unusual, short position signal. The only other place I've seen similar signals is at Chicago's North Western Station...er, I mean Ogilvie Transportation Center. I don't think they're in use at Ogilvie, though, however I think they date back to CNW days.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Corner by William 74
Corner, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

TtV Tuesday! We're back in Dixon at the Walter C. Knack company's building. Actually, we're kitty corner to it. I like the way this turned out, very retro, despite the modern sign on the lamppost and the newish blurry car parked there.

Amazingly (to me, at least) hardly anyone drove by while I was shooting this. Dixon is truly quiet on a Sunday afternoon.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Red, White, and Vroom

Fast Pointy Thing by William 74
Fast Pointy Thing, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Made up of a number of smaller independent manufacturers, American Motors Corporation could always be counted on to offer up interesting cars (some might say "weird"), but nobody was surprised when they entered the performance market in the sixties with cars like the S/C Rambler and AMX. However, the company surprised the road racing fraternity with it's entry into the Trans-Am series in 1970, using the Javelin. Originally run by Roger Penske's famous team, by 1972 the mantle of AMC factory team had passed to Roy Woods Racing, with Woods and George Follmer driving.

The Javelin was AMC's entry into the pony car market, which was dominated by the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford's Mustang (Mopar's Barracuda and Challenger were far less popular, despite their legendary reputations today). It proved to be relatively popular, certainly by AMC's standards, and the car was rated highly by the magazines.

This one is a second generation car, from 1972. The Javelin had grown a bit, but was available with big-block engines to make up for it. The car proved to be just as popular, even making it as one of the few two-door sports coupes to be used by police forces (those big blocks again!) in the States.

Red, white, and blue liveries were an AMC trademark-special editions of the Javelin were available in this exact scheme (less numbers and sponsor stickers), and the patriotic theme returned on the S/C Rambler and Rebel Machine muscle cars.