V8 Views – Pittsburgh Edition
GREATER PITTSBURGH REGIONAL GROUP #48 March 2022
V8 – Views
GPRG #48 held its first business meeting of the year at the Red River BBQ near Portersville on March 24th. As noted in the President’s Message, our President and Secretary, Dave and Nancy Collette, have been very busy making plans for spring and summer events.
As noted last month the group is planning a road trip to Hanoverton, OH and the Spread Eagle Tavern. The date for the trip has been set for April 23rd. This will be our first chance as a group to get the cars back on the road. The food and atmosphere in the Tavern are both outstanding. Hope you can join us.
Dave also notes plans for a catered picnic and the return of the Collette picnic in July. After a couple of years of not being able to have these kind of activities it will be great to be able to get together again. More information on these and other events will follow later.
If you have an idea for an outing or other club activities we would like to hear from you.
In honor of Women’s History Month I thought it would be interesting to look back at some of the early contributions of women in automotive design. As you will read in V8’s N’At their contributions often had an impact on the style of the cars in the 40’s, 50’s and beyond.
Good news – Spring is finally here. I’m being positive; while I write this on Sunday afternoon, snow has returned to cover the ground.
We recently had a very good planning meeting at the Muddy Creek BBQ. It was well attended and several members drove their old cars. I’m excited about next month’s driving tour to the Spread Eagle Tavern in Hanoverton, Ohio. The date is the Saturday following Easter (April 23). More information will follow; please watch your email. Thanks to Tom Franks, our newsletter editor, we were given background information on the tavern in last month’s newsletter.
On Saturday, May 14, we will have a catered picnic at Ellwood City’s Ewing Park. It is a great venue for the entire family – with walking trails, a Kids’ Kingdom Playground, a skateboard park and basketball courts. Our picnic shelter is located so as to afford a great display for the old cars. The dinner price will be cut in half – thanks to the club (again because we had no Christmas party). More information will follow about sending in a deposit for you (or your extended family) so we can make sure of the amount of food to order.
The Collette picnic is back on again for this year. The date is Saturday, July 30th. Again – you’ll get more information soon. Invite your old car friends – even if they don’t own an Early Ford V8.
When this snow melts, I hope we can all take our cars out of the garage and put them back on the road where they belong.
Dave Collette firstname.lastname@example.org 724-368-8226 (H) 724-822-5815 (cell for text)
You’re All Invited … Collette Car Picnic Saturday, July 30, 2022 1p.m. (we eat at 2 p.m.)
844 Mountville Road
Portersville, PA. 16051
What to bring —Antique or collector vehicle (if you have one)
Dish to share (meats, casseroles, salads, chips, pop, etc.) Folding chair
Family Friendly Event! (Please – no pets, no alcohol)
Questions – call Dave of Nancy at 724-368-8226 or email email@example.com
The Hotrod Lincoln (by Les Kotouch)
One definition of a hot rod: “is taking something slow (preferably an old Ford) and modifying it to go fast”! Maybe the weirdest hot rod design was the “belly tank (streamliner)”. A belly tank streamliner was fashioned from a surplus wing tank from a World War II airplane. They were powered by four banger or flathead V8 engines. After the war, surplus aircraft belly and wing (fuel) tanks were plentiful and cheap. Bill Burke, a salt lake racer before the war is given credit for building the first “belly tank streamliner” after he returned home to Southern California from the South Pacific. His belly tank racer was constructed from one of the smaller tanks. The bigger tanks (held 315 gallons) were 36″ diameter and the smaller tanks (held 165 gallons) were 24” in diameter. They were light and made of aluminum. The tank itself formed the outer covering and most had a steel tube framework. Since the center of the tank was the largest part, that’s where the engine was usually positioned. Bill had to cram himself behind the engine and sat on a bicycle seat on the drive shaft. Another early belly tank racer, Fred Lobello, parked his ’32 roadster and removed its Winfield four, and crammed it in a small “165 gallon- $7 belly tank”. This same engine went 96 mph in the roadster and 116 mph in the aerodynamic belly tank. Alex Xydias of So-Cal Speed Shop fame, powered his belly tank racer with a V8-60 and attained a speed of 130.355 mph. Wally Parks in 1948 set a record of 153.32 mph in a flathead V8 powered, rear engine belly tank streamliner. As they evolved, the rear engine design with the V8-60 engine became the norm. They had no radiators (large water tanks instead) or transmissions. Clutches were activated by a handle/ cable assembly. Don’t get the idea that they all were alike, because they were not. In “hot rodding” one’s imagination rules; and this was true in building belly tank streamliners. Some had engines in the front, and some had engines behind the driver. Nose and tails were also creatively modified. Although most were designed for racing on the salt lakes, some were actually built to be driven on the street. Sadly, this is one part of the hot rod culture that didn’t move to the East coast. Probably because there are no salt lakes the East, I only know of them from books, and from seeing them in old issues of “Hot Rod Magazine “. I know they were run on drag strips here in the East, but I don’t remember ever seeing one.
Hmm, if I could find a belly tank and take my ’09 Focus engine……………
V8’s N’At – Women In Automotive Design.
March is women history month and we all know that women have been breaking barriers in a lot of different areas and professions. We have a woman Vice President, Kamala Harris, CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra, and Karen Lynch CEO of CVS Health just to name a few. We know that women worked in clerical, sales and other support roles, but what role did women have in the automotive design during the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s?
Actually starting in the 1920’s a woman was employed as an automotive designer. Marie Luhring, hired by Mack Truck, is often considered to be the first woman automotive (or truck) design engineer. She was also a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers, possibly the first woman to be a member of this prestigious group.
Studebaker was the first automobile company to recognize the contribution that women could make in automotive design. Helen Dryden was hired by Studebaker to work on interior styling. Helen worked for Studebaker from 1934 until 1937.
Audrey Moore Hodges also worked for Studebaker as a design engineer. Hodges studied fashion design at Detroit’s Art Academy in 1936. She attended UofM and in 1943 graduated from the industrial design program. Virgil Exner, a design engineer most known for his forward look in design, hired Hodges to work at Studebaker’s design studio in South Bend, Indiana. She was later hired by Alex Tremulis and made contributions to the interior design of the Tucker Torpedo.
Betty Thatcher Oros worked for Hudson on the exterior design of the 1941 Hudson. She also made significant contributions to the instrument panel and interior trim fabrics. She worked for Hudson from 1939 to 1941.
As automotive designs were evolving in the 1940’s, most notably after the war, Harley Earl offered Helene Rother an engineering design position at General Motors. Rother was considered to be a very talented designer. With her passion in upholstery design she made significant contributions to the interior styling as a member of GM’s interior styling department. After working on GM Electro-Motive Division’s “Train of Tomorrow” Rother opened her own design studio in the Fisher building in Detroit. She was involved in the design of Nash automobiles from 1948 to 1956. During this time, Nash received several awards for automotive design.
Mary Ellen Green Dohrs was also hired by Harley Earl in 1950. She was the first women to become part of GM’s design department and the group of designers that became known at GM as the Damsels of Design. She was a graduate of the Pratt Institute of New York, one of the most prestigious art collages in the country. Mary Ellen passed away in January of 2022 at the age of 94.
The Damsels of Design (some pictured at right) included Gere Kavanough, Ruth Glennie, Marjorie Ford Pohlman, Suzanne Vanderbilt, Jeanette Linder, Sandra Longer, Peggy Sauer, Jayne Van Alstyne and Dagmar Arnold.
While all of this recognition of women designers was occurring what was Henry doing? Not to be left out, Ford Motor Company hired its first female designer, Leota Carroll, in June of 1945. Not much is known about Leota’s design work at Ford. She did appear in several Ford advertisements in the late forties.
This certainly was only the beginning for women’s role in automotive design and their contributions continued to grow through the 1950’s and beyond. The bulk of the information on these designing women was obtained from the motorcities.org website. Please visit the website for additional information on these women and other related stories.
Another reminder to everyone that you can run your ads for parts and other items in the newsletter at no cost.
GPRG #48 Officers and Support Personnel
President: Dave Collette Vice President: Les Kotouch
Secretary: Nancy Collette Treasurer: Dan Taylor Email News & Announcement Editor: Les Kotouch
Membership Roster Editor: Nancy Collette (open for new volunteer) Webmaster: Dale Wimer
Newsletter Editor: Tom Franks firstname.lastname@example.org 724-504-0685 (cell)