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The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
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July 2005 Issue
 
ARTICLE
 
  
 

Getting Home Alive! Memories of Car Collecting Before it Got Civilized, by Joe Puleo.
Published by "The Radiator Cap Press", a division of Joseph Olney & Co. Soft cover, 65+ photographs and 216 pages. Price: $22.00. ISBN #0-9754865-1-9. Available from:
Joseph Olney & Co., 67 Ridge Road, Smithfield, RI 02917/ E-Mail: jolneybooks@aol.com
Amazon.com - www.amazon.com
Mowbray Publishing, P. O. Box 460, Lincoln, RI 02865 - www.manatarmsbooks.com
E-Mail: orders@manatarmsbooks.com / PHONE: 1 (800) 999-4697

 

Excerpts:


"My friends and I grew up covered in grease. We loved cars — old ones, new ones, disassembled ones ... it didn't matter to us. But our favorites were the vintage autos from before World War II. And the amazing thing is that in the late 1960s and '70s you could actually afford to buy a Rolls Royce or a classic Cadillac on a teenager's budget. But we didn't just collect them. They were our only cars and we drove them literally everywhere — from school to social events, and in all kinds of weather."

"Those were the days when you could still find great classic cars in barns and farm fields. We didn't have a trailer, we didn't have proper tools and we didn't always know how the engines worked. But young and foolish, we somehow got them running and drove them home — trying not to get killed or arrested along the way. No brakes, no headlights, 60-year-old tires — "Let's take the Interstate!" Our adventures were terrifying, but in retrospect they were also pretty funny. And we sure did meet some odd and interesting people."

"So if you, too, have some grease under your fingernails, sit back and listen to this. I've got a story to tell about how I survived being a car nut in the old days."

Click for larger view
     
The usual staff of G. Pendleton & Company (left to right), the writer, J. R. Guise and Paul Zangari leaning on our lathe. Note the REO wheel. We had more hair in those days.
Photo by Jack Connors.
Another view inside the shop at G. Pendleton, this one
showing more of the equipment. We are leaning on the lathe
and to the right can be seen our large antique drill press.
Though only part of one hand wheel shows, there was a
Brown & Sharpe milling machine to the left. In the foreground
is the lower crankcase of S193FR on its engine stand and
an English Ford engine block that we did much of our welding
and brazing on. Photo by Jack Connors.
     
The peach and white Rolls Royce Avon with the gold plush interior and vacuum plated wheels. This is the car that caught fire while the writer was driving a wedding party. The 1912 Metz. A note in Jack's hand on the back of this picture identifies the people as Mr. & Mrs. Richard Knies of Plandome, New York. In place of a horn, there is a siren mounted on the passenger seat. Photo by Jack Conners. The author with friend, Jean Luzon, on the REO only a few days before I left on the trip to Long Island. I still have the boots, duster and hat. Photo by Rita Luzon.
     

My initial reaction to this book was that it is a "how-not-to" guide. But the more I got into it the more I remembered my early experiences which occurred at about the same time. By the end of their story the boys and I had become fast friends.

From amateurs to professionals, this is the story of failures, humor and successes dealing with old cars. In Lincoln, Rhode Island, beginning in the early 1970s, the author and his friends, with guidance from Andrew Mowbray, began exploring the lifestyles of old car enthusiasts/restorers and it led to fun and adventure. Their trial and error approach initially gives the impression that they were having more fun than success, but old cars were cheap and plentiful. Their lack of formal training was overcome by experience and, with the multitude of cars they worked on, their accomplishments are impressive.

The cars ranged from an 1899 Panhard et Levassor to a 1957 Imperial. There were dozens of cars, including a Rolls-Royce Phantom I and Silver Ghost, 1934 Chevrolet, Model A Ford, 1910 Reo, 1951 Citroen, 1931 Chrysler, Corvair, Allard, Vintage Bentley, Jaguar XK120, and many more. With so many cars there were apt to be many interesting, sad and funny experiences. If you enjoy working on old cars you will be rewarded with good entertainment. On the other hand, a professional restoring a Duesenberg today, may be appalled and distressed!

As I read through the book I found myself relating to their experiences and remembering incidents that I had tried to forget. I would have enjoyed being a member of their crew and I wish to thank Joe Puleo for taking the time to share his adventures with us. As I write this at my workshop desk, beside my unfinished 1925 3-Litre Bentley, I can almost picture Joe handing me a wrench and saying, "Enough writing! Let's get back to doing what we do best."

 
 
The Automotive Chronicles, July 2005
 
 
 
 
 
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