Friday, December 28, 2012

General Office Furniture

From the archives, the former General Office Furniture location in Chicago. This was down on Milwaukee, near Grand if memory serves, and was hanging out front of a building that was clearly undergoing some rehab. When I saw the building the glass was out in the storefront, exposing a tin ceiling and some cast iron posts. I don't know if this sign is still hanging-I haven't been back in years.

I don't know much about the company, except that there's still a General Office Furniture listed in the city, over on Lake Street. I've often wondered if this sign was re-purposed from an old Chevrolet sign.

General Office Furniture sign-Chicago, IL

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas! by William 74
Merry Christmas!, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
So a little Chrimbles Cheer this Monday evening. The family Christmas tree, snapped with the ol' iPhone and an app to make it look like an old glass plate. Purty, puts me in the holiday spirit.

So, (insert appropriate holiday greeting here), Everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Bowl-Mor Lanes

Bowl-Mor Lanes by William 74
Bowl-Mor Lanes, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

When I become emperor of the whole world, I will decree that every bowling alley needs to have an interesting neon sign out front. Preferably a fifties style.

Spotted in Streator, IL.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012


AAR Cuda by William 74
AAR Cuda, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

One of the good guys in motorsports, Dan Gurney had a long and varied career behind the wheel. Starting off with hot rods on the dry lakes and drag strips of southern California, Gurney soon moved on to sports cars with varying success. His big break came in 1957, when he finished second in the inaugural Riverside Grand Prix at the famed California track that would eventually become synonymous with Gurney's name. This led to a factory drive at LeMans with Maserati, and by 1959 he was in Grand Prix racing with Ferrari.

A true all-rounder, Gurney went on to race in sports cars, endurance racing, stock car racing (he owned the Grand National event at Riverside, his home track), the Trans-Am, and of course on the Grand Prix circuit. He drove for BRM, Brabham, Porsche, and finally with his own Eagle, manufactured by All-American Racers (or Anglo-American Racers for the GP project).

The AAR Grand Prix project ended soon after that historic win in 1967, but AAR continued to manufacture cars for domestic series, such as USAC and Formula 5000. The company also lent it's name and expertise to Plymouth, for it's Trans-Am challenger, the 'Cuda AAR.

This is a genuine Trans-Am car from the early 70's.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Majestic

The Majestic by William 74
The Majestic, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Streator's fine Art Deco style Majestic Theater. Opened as a vaudeville house in 1907, the Majestic has undergone numerous changes, as well as openings and closings, in it's history. Most recently restored and re-opened in 2002, the Majestic currently shows first run films as well as musical shows.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Out of State Plates

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

Part of an occasional sub-series for our occasional Motorcar Monday series. This is, obviously, a 1963 license plate from Washington state, with a sticker showing it's last current registration from being just three years later. It's also obviously attached to an old Chevrolet Corvette.

However, that's not the whole story. This is an early, first generation 'Vette, a '54 if I'm not mistaken. It was sold originally in the Spokane area, and lived there most of it's life. There's even a dealer sticker on the back for Century Motors, "The Corvette Center". It's stunningly original and in the rare Corvette Copper color, of which a mere 15 were made.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


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

One of the oldest and largest fraternal organizations in America, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has lodges all over the country. This one's in Streator, Illinois, in a great old building downtown. It also has this excellent neon sign. I bet it works, too.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Zephyr! by William 74
Zephyr!, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

The west wind, known as the Zephyr, is considered to be the mildest and most favorable of the directional winds. In Greek mythology, Zephyrus was the personification of the west wind, bringer of spring and summer.

I've long thought this was an appropriate name for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy's famed name trains, most of which typically ran in an east west direction. But, they were also the Burlington's top flight service, and pioneered fast diesels on passenger trains. Fleet, like the wind. This is the lone remaining operable Zephyr train set, the Nebraska Zephyr, currently resident at the Illinois Railway Museum. We've visited it before, but I always think it's worth another look.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Typically found on police cars these days, pillar mounted spotlights were a popular accessory for both cars and trucks back in the 40's and 50's, and a pair of Appleton spots were a custom car standard for years. This one is one of a pair of Unity spots on an old Lincoln Continental that used to sit out front of an old gas station. The car disappeared years ago-I don't know what happened to it.

Lincoln Continental-spotlight

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Turbine by William 74
Turbine, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
I know that the subject of wind turbines is a controversial one. I just think they look kind of cool, in a spooky way.

Illinois River

Illinois River by William 74
Illinois River, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
This is a former Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy railroad bridge over the Illinois River, in the town of Ottawa. It's a fairly rare lift-type bridge-the center part raises up to let river traffic go through. The first bridge at this location dates to 1868, but I believe this one was built in the 1930's, when the lift span was installed.

I've seen this bridge several times on my travels to and around Ottawa, but had never managed to get a good shot of it. It's a good looking example of an older iron rail bridge, and the Illinois River valley in this area is pretty picturesque. But I got lucky this weekend, as I was passing through on my way home, a little later than usual, with the winter sun low in the sky.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Gonnella Baking Co.

The classic Gonnella Baking Company sign, on their bakery on Chicago Avenue in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago. Without a doubt the best smelling photograph I've ever taken.

Gonnella rolls are the official sub roll of Chicagoland. They are awesome.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Founded in the 1950's, Tastee-Freez originally focused just on ice cream products, but as the chain expanded so did the menu, moving into fast food items as well as the traditional cones and shakes. The chain eventually grew to over a thousand locations by the end of the 50's. Fewer than fifty are still around today.

This one was in North Aurora, Illinois, and was undergoing renovation when I shot this in 2009. The building was completely re-done, but I don't know if the restaurant actually opened up again-I never actually saw anyone inside it. The building's closed up again, and this sign, which was from the sixties, disappeared sometime in July or August 2012.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

General Electric

General Electric by William 74
General Electric, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

I think we're all familiar with the General Electric logo, in one form or another. This is an old one, probably from the 50's I imagine. It's on an old piece of railroad signaling equipment, which I found in the back of a local trolley museum. Proof that GE has made just about everything down through the years.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Absence of Color

MG TF by William 74
MG TF, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

A gorgeous black MG TF, in the rain. I took this at a car show that saw a perfectly sunny forecast turn damp. To the entrants' credit, they all just rolled up the windows and stayed out there. Shooting cars in the rain is one of my favorite things, and shooting classics even more so. The interplay of water and chrome, the patterns flowing along bodywork, add an extra, and often rare, dimension.

This is almost in black and white-the only colors seem to be in the taillight and window. Yet, in black and white this doesn't look right.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Philadelphia Church

Another neon church sign in Chicago. This one's on Clark in the Andersonville neighborhood. According to their website, the Philadelphia Church has been serving the neighborhood for 86 years, and has an active calendar of programs as well as several overseas mission programs.

They also mention this sign! It's obviously a source of some pride for the church, as they keep it pretty well maintained and functional.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

South Shore

South Shore by William 74
South Shore, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

The Chicago, South Shore, and South Bend Railroad is one of the last interurban railroads in the United States. It still runs today, under the aegis of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District. They still use electric trains, and there's even some street running through Michigan City. It's one of the icons of Chicago area railroading.

This is a 1920's era South Shore car, currently on display at the Fox River Trolley Museum in Elgin, Illinois.

Monday, November 12, 2012


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

One thing that never ceases to surprise me when I'm out driving around is what's hiding behind the trees. For instance, I was driving through a small town in Illinois, and stopped to look at an eclectic collection of tractors parked in front of an old garage. The neighbors said it was okay if I looked around, and as I went around the side of this building, I saw a couple of old trucks. And two more. Then about four more. Plus some more tractors. And an old Oldsmobile. And a few sixties Cub Cadets. And other stuff I can't even remember. Anyway, other than those initial implements, this whole thing was hidden from the road by a line of trees.

I've visited this site a few times now, and it always throws up something new, hidden in that shady grove.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cole's Furniture

An interesting collection of neon at an old-school appliance store on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. The Admiral sign is particularly interesting-Admiral Electronics was bought by Maytag in the 70's and was exclusive to Monkey Ward's for years. Now Admiral is exclusive to Home Depot. Fun fact, during the opening credits of M Squad, as Detective Ballinger is driving through Chicago at night, you can see the enormous Admiral neon billboard that used to feature prominently in the Loop.

I also think this must be one of the last surviving Hotpoint neons in existence. The "Official Union Discount Store" part must be rare too. This whole thing must have looked awesome all lit up at night!

Cole's Furniture Sign-Chicago, IL

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Way Out Of State Plate

Way Out Of State Plate by William 74
Way Out Of State Plate, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
This is the only one of these I've ever seen. I wonder how common overseas forces plates are-I always thought they had to be returned when one left their overseas post, either leaving the car behind or importing it to the States.

Anyway, this one's appended to an old Porsche.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Stop & Peek

Stop & Peek by William 74
Stop & Peek, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
I don't know anything about this beat up old sign I found in LaSalle, IL. It clearly used to say something other than Sieber Stop & Peek-the neon tube sockets don't seem to match up. And that old car in the sign at the top is a bit of a non sequitur as well. Was this a model shop? A car dealership? Something else?

The building it's attached to is quite plain, just a brick building with a couple of doors on it. No windows, no other signs. And it appeared to be closed up tight, too, so I feel comfortable calling it a ghost sign.

Anyone got any ideas?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Downtown Railroading

Old PRR signals-Chicago, IL by William 74
Old PRR signals-Chicago, IL, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
An interesting shot from just outside of downtown Chicago, on the near west side. These are a pair of Metra commuter trains, heading out of the city on a midday run, just a few minutes out of Chicago's historic Union Station.

The signals are interesting-they're old position signals that date from the 40's, when the Pennsylvania Rail Road ran passenger trains into the city. Position signals have rows of lights that mimic the positions of old semaphore signals. In this case they're also color coded-three greens vertically, three yellows at an angle, and three reds horizontally. Position signals have been gradually phased out, especially in light of more sophisticated communications between dispatchers and crews, but there are still a few of them in Chicago.

This shot is also interesting because you can see the Sears Tower in the background. It's one of, if not the, defining shape on the Chicago skyline, and seems to turn up whenever you shoot.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Faux Retro

Fading Glory by William 74
Fading Glory, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
It's that Cadillac again. I pass it fairly frequently when I'm out in the countryside, and I often stop and shoot a couple of frames, just for kicks. This despite having literally hundreds of different photos of it, taken over the last couple of years. I like to use it to test out new toys or techniques, but also, I've learned that you never know when something you like will disappear. So shoot it when you see it.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Nip 'N' Tote

Nip 'N' Tote by William 74
Nip 'N' Tote, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Rudy's Liquors in Peru, Illinois. Pretty cool vintage sign, with a lot going on-stripes, bold colors, and chasers. It seems like it's in pretty good shape too, as it was turned on this bright sunny day.

Nip 'n' Tote seems backwards, though-surely you tote then nip?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rapid Transit

Rapid Transit by William 74
Rapid Transit, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Former CTA 5000 series cars. These are, I believe, the sole survivors of just four built.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Light Leak

Light Leak by William 74
Light Leak, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Some of you have heard of the Orionid meteor shower that recently lit up the night skies. I had a notion to try and finally capture something like this, so I went out in the country to do some test shots. this is facing east, with the lights of the Chicago suburbs almost making it look like sunrise instead of 10 pm.

Where are the meteor photos, you ask? There ain't none. I slept through it!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Rusty Gold

Rusty Gold by William 74
Rusty Gold, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
We've visited this well-seasoned '53 Chevy sedan delivery once before. I first saw it two years ago, parked in front of a repair shop in rural Illinois. It's still there, getting a little more rusty and listing a bit further to the right as the tires deflate.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thompson Drugs

Thompson's Drugs by William 74
Thompson's Drugs, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
A classic American brand name, Rexall had it's start in 1902, with the formation of the United Drug Stores cooperative, which sold products under the Rexall name. The cooperative developed a franchise system where independent drugstores could use the Rexall name and sell Rexall products. The company grew steadily, and by the late fifties was the largest drug store chain in the U.S.

However, by the sixties Rexall was beginning to come under attack from discount chains such as Thrifty Drug and Eckerd, which were able to drive prices down through block purchasing. By the 70's the company had sold off all of the company owned stores, but allowed franchisees to continue using the name. To this day you can still find Rexall drug stores here and there, usually in smaller cities and towns.

This beautiful vintage Rexall neon sign is on a nicely preserved sixties styled building in the town of Spring Valley, Illinois.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Estate by William 74
Estate, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
You see a lot of those little rectangular vacuform signs around-they were ubiquitous at one time and a lot of them have remained. Usually you'll see one or two segments on a given sign, but this one has eight-a definite record for me! Anyway, this carbon dated beauty is in Ottawa, Illinois.

Do they even make these signs anymore?

Monday, October 15, 2012


Monterey by William 74
Monterey, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Mercury's Monterey was the company's jack of all trades, at various times being the entry level, mid-level, and top of the line full-sized offering. Introduced in 1950 as an upscale coupe in the Mercury Eight line, the Monterey became it's own model line two years later, with coupe, convertible, and sedans on offer.

This taillight is from a '61 coupe.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Trolley by William 74
Trolley, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
This is the former Chicago Surface Lines #3142, one of 169 steel "pay as you enter" streetcars ordered in the early 20's. Built in 1923 by the J.G. Brill Company, 3142 was used by CSL, and later the CTA, until 1953, when it was parked and used as storage at the CTA's South Shops. Donated to the Illinois Railway Museum in 1973, a fifteen year restoration finally put it back on the tracks. Today it is the only surviving CSL steel "arch roof" streetcar.

I saw this operating at the museum, and got it rolling past the Museum's Riverview billboard. I like to think that 3142 delivered patrons to the park at one time.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Gas Class

Gas Class by William 74
Gas Class, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
A predecessor to the modern Funny Car, Gassers were popular from the later 50's up until the early 70's.So named because they used regular gasoline instead of exotic fuel cocktails like methanol or nitromethane, gassers were typically based on old, used cars that could be bought cheaply. The cars were usually stripped out, often with fiberglass bodywork, plexiglass windows, drilled straight axles, and that nose high stance for better weight transfer.

The archetypical gasser is probably the late 30's and early 40's Willys Americar (to the point where I've never actually seen a stock Willys), but plenty of other cars got the Gas Class Treatment. Probably second most popular is the Tri-Five Chevy, usually the squarer '55's (although I've seen a couple of iconic '57 gassers as well). This one was pretty mild by Gas Class standards, more of a street/strip car with it's full compliment of steel panels, glass, and chrome. Still, it ran fast down the strip and looked awesome doing it.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Larson's by William 74
Larson's, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
This sign is a bit of a mystery to me. It's in the town of LaSalle, Illinois, tucked away from the downtown area, in a section that looks like it is (or was) a neighborhood shopping district. Just a few storefronts and an old gas station. The current business is an antique/junk type of shop (it didn't look open the day I was there), but it's not called Larson's. So I really have no idea what a Larson's is or was.My best guess is a restaurant or bar, but what's "BPS" mean?

I mean, look at it. This is a really nice sign. The colors are great, and most of the glass is still there, and it's not all rusted through. My research so far has turned up exactly one reference to this building, and that's my photo.

Any ideas?

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Transit by William 74
Transit, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Faded Waukegan & North Chicago Transit logo, on the side of a derelict ACF bus, which is parked out back behind one of the buildings at the Illinois Railway Museum.

Also, it looks like Rebecca was here.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Chrysler Fire Power by William 74
Chrysler Fire Power, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Some engines are known by their numbers-289, 350, 427, 3.8 litre (that's a Jaguar). Some by their name-Flathead, Commando, Twin-Spark (that's an Alfa Romeo). But one seems to always tower above all the rest-Hemi.

In the broadest terms, a "hemi engine" is just an internal combustion engine with hemispherical combustion chambers at the top. This puts the intake and exhaust valves on opposite sides, providing a direct path for the gases to flow across the combustion chamber. It's an old design, dating to the early twentieth century, and plenty of illustrious manufacturers used the design. Alfa Romeo, Peugeot, Ford, BMW, Bristol, and the wonderful racing engines of Harry Miller all used this design. However, when you say the word "Hemi", one other word usually pops into your head-Chrysler (or maybe Dodge. Or Plymouth. Or DeSoto if you're weird).

Chrysler has been the largest, and arguably most famous, proponent of the hemi-head design. Best known in it's mid sixties 426 version, Chrysler's earliest hemis were introduced in 1951, to power the company's big luxury cruisers. Hot rodders and drag racers soon learned that these engines were quite a bit more powerful than the Ford flathead V-8, and they were easy to tune and able to take serious amounts of forced induction. In fact, these early engines were popular well into the sixties, after they ceased production-plenty of top flight drag racers were using them, running huge blowers and nitromethane on junkyard blocks.

This one's a Fire Power that I saw in a hot rod-I was told it came out of a '54 New Yorker.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Machine Shop Service

Machine Shop Service by William 74
Machine Shop Service, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
For a long time neon signs were the preferred way to advertise your business. A nice bright sign with the letters outlined in colorful tubes was just the thing to get people to notice your shop. Everyone, from chain stores to fast food restaurants to independent shops used them, and still do.

However, it's getting increasingly rare to see national chains with original vintage neon signs anymore. They're expensive to make, need more maintenance that a plastic one with fluorescent tubes inside, and the weather tends to really beat them up, especially in places like Chicago, where the winters are harsh and the summers often blazing. Additionally, when the company upgrades or changes their signage or other store design, the neon sign suddenly is outdated, leading to an inconsistent image. So, often times they're taken down, usually if they deteriorate badly enough, or that particular location moves somewhere else.

This Carquest sign is in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Carquest has been in business since the mid-70's, pretty much at the tail end of mass neon sign usage. I've no idea how common these were, but this is the only one I've ever seen-there's some peeling paint down near the bottom, which makes me wonder what it used to look like.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Nebraska Zephyr

Nebraska Zephyr by William 74
Nebraska Zephyr, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
We've looked at the Nebraska Zephyr a few times now, so I won't bore you with it's history. Suffice to say that this unique train is one of, if not the the, crown jewels of the Illinois Railway Museum's collection. They run it on the Museum's tracks regularly, but rarely off-campus. So it was a pleasant surprise to catch it in rural Somonauk, Illinois, as it passed through on an excursion trip from Chicago to Quincy, along one of the original Zephyr routes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kicks, etc.

Kicks, etc. by William 74
Kicks, etc., a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Originally a two-lane road, Route 66 needed some upgrades by the mid fifties, as America's newfound mobility meant more and more people were traveling by car for that family vacation. This was done by simply paving two more lanes parallel to the existing road, separated by a grassy median-hey presto, two new lanes!

As we all know, eventually Route 66 was superseded by the new interstate system, the paved superslab being better suited to higher traffic levels and higher speeds as well. In most places, old Route 66 reverted to two lanes, usually the newer two, and the old pavement was left to sit, or removed altogether.

In a lot of places you can still see these original stretches of road, parallel to the current alignment, cracked and crumbling, weeds growing through the gaps, markings faded. This one's in Illinois, just outside the town of Dwight.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Payin' The Cost To Be The Boss

The Boss by William 74
The Boss, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
In 1969, at the height of the Trans-Am's popularity, Ford needed to develop a version of the Mustang to take the fight to Chevrolet's Camaro Z/28. The vehicle that resulted was the Boss 302, which ran a composite engine made up of the Windsor smallblock and cylinder heads from Ford's "Cleveland" big block. The resulting 302 cubic inch motor was unique to the Boss, and had it's own distinct sound and feel, a chattering, high-strung race engine for the street.

Other improvements to the Boss were the deletion of the standard Mustang's rear fender scoops, a new functional hood scoop, tightened up suspension, and frequently a lower rear axle ratio. All of this added up to a pretty serious piece of kit, able to entertain on the road and win on the track.

And the name? Ford President Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen was a big proponent of this project, and when designer Larry Shinoda was asked what he was working on, simply answered "The Boss' car". The name stuck.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mann's Chinese Theater

I took this some years ago on a trip to Los Angeles. If memory serves, I just set my camera on the ground and pressed the button. I can't tell what movie they were promoting, but I do remember walking up the street, past the El Capitan, and barging through a live commercial for the Jimmy Kimmel show.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Uptown Building-detail by William 74
Uptown Building-detail, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
One of two matching Indian Chiefs on the facade of a small storefront in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. This whole building-which is quite narrow and only has two storefronts-has some beautiful stonework. Checkerboard pattern tile, some nice bas relief (you can see a bit on the left and right), some nice fluting above the windows, and those Chiefs.

I have no idea what this place originally was-I've been told it might have been a cigar store or tobacconist, although by 1929 it was the Economy Cleaners and the SS Math Army Goods shop.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


37A by William 74
37A, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
An old EMD E-9A, built in 1961. Electro-Motive's E series (and it's cousin, the F-series freight engine) is an icon of American railroading. Built between 1937 and 1963, these cab units (so named because of the car-like shape to their noses) were easy to use and maintain, and their ease of being run in tandem revolutionized railroading. They also proved to be long-lasting-E-series passenger units were still being used in commuter service into the early 1990's, and plenty of short lines continue to use them today, almost fifty years after production ceased.

This late example is a former Milwaukee Road unit, and is on display at the Illinois Railway Museum.

Friday, September 7, 2012

World Real Estate

World Real Estate sign by William 74
World Real Estate sign, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
This beauty must have looked great all lit up at night. Note the tree branch growing through it.

Seen on the north side of Chicago several years ago-I've no idea if it's still there.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Royal Blue

Royal Blue by William 74
Royal Blue, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
A vintage Selz Royal Blue Shoes sign, in the town of Chenoa, Illinois, right along historic Route 66. This is a bit of a cheat-it's a restoration of an old Selz sign that was uncovered when a building was demolished. Although it is starting to fade and flake again-I wonder if they'll restore the restoration?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Great One

GTO by William 74
GTO, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Considered to be the first real muscle car, Pontiac's GTO started out as an option package on the midsized Tempest, and was available in coupe, hardtop, and convertibles. But, instead of a fancy stereo or two tone paint, the GTO delivered a 389 cubic inch mill and a stick shift, and a useful bump in performance. Further options included a Hurst shifter, a three-carb induction system, and a heavy duty ride and handling package.

The big engine/smaller car recipe is a classic one, but one that almost didn't get made. Since the fifties, there had been a "gentlemen's agreement" among the big three to not formally go automobile racing, and to further this, General Motors had a corporate policy limiting engine sizes in their mid-sized cars. Shoehorning the big 389 into the Tempest was against this policy, but Pontiac executives okayed a limited run of cars, fearing it wouldn't find a market.

They were wrong-the GTO went on to sell 10,000 units in it's introductory year, and went on further success on the sales floor as well as on the drag strip.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Ten Gallon Hat

Most people are probably familiar with the Arby's restaurant logo, a little stylized cowboy hat. It's been this way for as long as I can remember (not very, if I'm honest!), but back in the sixties the company really played up the Western theme. The earliest franchised restaurants were called "covered wagons", and were designed to have a sort of domed roof, reminiscent of an old Conestoga. Similarly, floors were tiled, in patterns that outlined steer horns, branding irons, and horses. And The Hat.

The iconic hat sign was designed by the company's sign maker, from the very first store opened in Ohio in the early sixties. Like the Golden Arches, The Hat was Arby's signature symbol, and you didn't have to even read the sign to know where you were heading.

Arby's stopped using the big neon signs some time ago, but older franchisees have made an effort to keep them in place, even when their buildings are updated and replaced (I don't think I've ever seen a "covered wagon", but I've seen a bunch of Hats).

Anyway, this one was in Aurora, Illinois, in front of an older restaurant, probably one from the later sixties. It was a fixture for decades, till the restaurant closed a couple of years ago, and The Hat was taken down. I sort of hope someone saved it-this one was in really nice shape.