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A Look Back: Purchasing your first motorcar

09-06-look-back

 

Looking back while reading the journal from Edgar Spaulding on his camping trip to Florida, it got me wondering: what was around here for him to purchase his motorcar?
I dove into the research material that we have here at the Lucy Bensley research center to find out.
We had several dealerships in town by then. The West End Garage sold Buicks. A.C. Fisher sold Fords, The Central Garage sold Oldsmobile, Elderkin and Graft sold Chevrolet.
You could go to A.J. Hagerer and purchase a Flint, a two cars combination with complete winter enclosure, that featured a 50 mph six-cylinder motor, five full balloon tires (one spare), four-wheel brakes, 115 inch wheelbase, nickel-plated radiator, nickel-plated barreled headlights, front bumper Motometer and windshield complete with wipers for $1,075. So there were no shortages of where to go and get a car or truck.
Then you could get a 4- or 6-cylinder. The average top speed was 60 miles an hour, but you would drive about 40 to 45 miles per hour due to the road conditions, which at that time were not all asphalt and cement, but gravel and dirt and had turns and twists in the roads, bridges and such.
By 1931, there was an asphalt and cement road from New York to Florida. The average gas mileage was 17 to 21 miles per gallon, and the cars could run on gasoline, kerosene or ethanol.
I found an article in the local newspaper that explains that while using honey as an anti-freeze for the automobile radiators, it should be mixed with water, half and half. The engine head gaskets and hose connections should be tightened up before using the solution of honey water because it will pass through, and without tight connections it could cause stickiness. The solution becomes more efficient with evaporation from steaming, whereas an alcohol solution loses strength. Who knew?!
Now when it comes to tires, where could you buy them and what were they like? Well, you could buy Good Tire at S.E. Spencer and Firestone from J.W. Bemet, Luss Brothers garage located on Mechanic Street, A.C. Fisher, A.J. Hagerer and E. Utley, who were all authorized dealers of the tires.
They were around 28 inches to 34 inches by 3½ inches. The cord was made from fabric and then dipped into a solution of gum, which insulated the cord, protecting from internal friction and heat giving the sidewalls greater flexibility and added strength.
The price ranged from $7.25 for Tire and Tube to $15, depending on the size and type. Spark plugs were 60 cents each, and fan belts ran about 50 cents each.
When you get scratches and dings what would you do in 1925? You could take your automobile to an automobile painting establishment located in the Radiator Bldg. here in downtown Springville, run by H.W. Hufstader and Walter Zimmer. They advertised they could take 20 cars for repainting and refinishing, as well as storage.
Prior to July 1, 1924, no one in the state outside of New York City needed an operator’s license to drive an automobile. After Jan. 1, 1925, all applicants for licenses were required to take the examinations as to fitness and efficiency. You had to be 18 years of age to apply.
And, of course, with anything that is new and modern, there will be thieves. In 1925, I found an article where two suspicious characters were discovered hiding in the shrubbery near a house.
They believed these men were the same men who have been stripping automobiles of tires, tools, batteries and anything else they could remove and carry away. Tools were found on the ground where they were seen. The State troopers and Springville Constable secured the men and will investigate more
Oh, the fun you can have when you research through our materials. You are welcome to stop by anytime we are open, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on the second and fourth Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.
You can call us for an appointment as well at 592-0094 or emailing us at lucybensleycenter@gmail.com. We would love to hear any stories you can tell us about your family. Stop by and share them with us!

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