Classic Machines, Part II: The Extravagant Hood Ornament, Not My Grampa’s Cruck, and Fuzzy Dice

Posted on June 15, 2010


As I was saying . . . .

I enjoyed talking to Tom MacGregor about his 1922 Ford Touring Car. Its special feature is that it is “close to factory”–just the way it rolled off Henry Ford’s assembly line in 1922. These, says Tom, were designed to work on yourself, the way you worked on your tractor. These cars made it possible for people to “run into town,” jouncing along on rutted two-tracks from the farm.

I admired the hood ornament, and Tom said it was actually the radiator cap, and incorporated a temperature gauge the driver could read without getting out of the car. It was optional equipment back in 1922, something of a luxury, and there was none on his Ford when he bought it. It’s one of the few things he’s added. Now that reminded me of a story my mother-outlaw told about buying their first new car. After extensive marital debate, they decided not to pay extra for the fancy optional turn signal. For heaven’s sake, she told her husband, it’s not a big chore to roll down the window and use hand signals! They work fine!

When I was a little girl a hundred years ago, a ride to town in Grampa’s Cruck was the very height of a good time. Gram and Grampa and I would go to the A&P, with its wooden floors and the wonderful aromas of coffee. All the way there and all the way back the complicated business of changing gears and steering fascinated me. I loved that truck. On its best day it looked absolutely nothing like this one, but this one was reminiscent of Grampa’s Cruck, if you know what I mean, and I am grateful to it for the trip down memory lane.

Tractors always remind me of Grampa, too. 

Fast forward a few decades.  I promised you fuzzy dice.

And looky here, all this one needs is a pair of legs sticking out from under the engine compartment, jeans smeared with oil, to be the iconic image of the Shadetree Mechanic.

Michigan is full of guys who spent their entire adolescence under various old cars. What they were doing under there remains a complete mystery to me, but I salute them. What with one thing and another, I have been rescued from predicaments by more Shadetree Mechanics than I can count. Guys and cars.

The tradition continues.

I see that I have omitted to mention that the 1st Annual Wheels and Keels Classic Machine Show was a project of Uncle Rod’s. Rod Hammond’s Elk Rapids garage repairs all this stuff and does fabrication and light welding, too. Rod thought it would be great to have a party, and extended this invitation:

If you have a cool machine such as a car, truck, boat, golf cart, snowmobile, farm tractor, motorcycle, gyrocopter, velocipede, etc, bring it along and show it off.  This is a free event meant to be a social gathering which will get you together with others sharing the machines that they have fun with. It’s a non-judged event meaning that while we love show-machines, various states of progress or disrepair are also encouraged to appear. It’s all about the fun of showing it off.

I went looking for an Uncle Rod’s website and found a Facebook page instead.  I tellya, I can hardly keep up with the kids these days.

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