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Bits of automobiles gone by

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, June 20, 2014, at 11:19 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, June 21, 2014, at 6:42 a.m.


A few weeks ago, we asked our readers if they had saved any special car parts as mementos of their favorite cars. As an example, I mentioned an old hood crest from a ’50 Ford, a 100,000 kilometer grille badge from an ’81 Mercedes and a recently acquired key fob from the dealership where I bought my first car, out in Jetmore.

We received a handful of responses, and they were memorable, to say the least.

Suellen Staab sent a photo showing several items. Two of the pieces came from her husband Tom Sparkman’s gorgeous ’55 Buick Special Riviera.

“He shaved his hood ornament off and promised to make a necklace out of it for me. Well, here it is and no necklace,” she wrote. “I guess we have a horn button also to use as a paper weight, but it is all worthwhile as you know the finished product.”

She went on to explain that the Mercury emblem in the photo was given to her by her first steady high school boyfriend, whom she declined to identify.

“It was an awesome car with glass packs that caused me to get a ticket when I drove it. I have taken the emblem to a couple of hometown class reunions to return it to him, be he has been a no-show so I am going to keep it,” she said. “Those are my stories and I am sticking to them.”

Chuck Kerls, also a Buick guy, sent a photo of a key case from the Scoggin-Dickey Buick Co. in Lubbock, Texas.

“In 1965 my family purchased a yellow Buick Skylark from this dealer. I drove the car for many years while I was still at home,” Kerls wrote. “This car was my famiy’s first new car and the first car that had factory AC in our family. Lots of great high school memories.

“Fast farward 42 years, a friend in the Buick Club of America found a car that was sold by Scoggin-Dickey Buick in 1965 and he was looking for any information on that dealer. I brought him up to date and gave him the key case that I have had since 1965. It was a moment full of old memories and I thought the key case should stay with an old Buick,” Kerls said.

Betty Marshall’s story didn’t have to do with a full-scale car, but with a rare rubber dealer’s promotional model.

“I grew up out in western Kansas, in Stockton, where my grandfather, J. A. Marshall, was the first Chrysler-Plymouth/John Deere dealer in Rooks County, beginning in the 1920s. In the fall, usually by October, Chrysler would have delivered the models to dealers for the following calendar year.

“However, in late 1933, the 1934 Chrysler model wasn’t ready, so Detroit sent to dealers a small, hard rubber miniature, complete with white tires, of their new innovation, the sleek 1934 Chrysler Airflow. It was sent in order that prospective buyers could have some idea of what the actual vehicle would look like. It was quite different, and quite a lot of interest was shown, in spite of the difficult financial and weather problems of that time.

“Sometime in 1934, when I was about 5 years old, after the actual 1934 models arrived, my grandfather gave me the model to play with – and I did. I made roads and pushed the car through the dirt and sand. However it is still in great shape (a real low-miler) even after all these years.

“It is very precious to me. I imagine it is quite rare – since the number of dealers in 1933 was not as big as the present time – as well as the fact that probably not many have survived except perhaps for a sample in the Chrysler museum. I intend to eventually donate it to the Rooks County Historical Museum.”

And lastly, we have this from Floyd Beck, who sent photos of a pair of really heavy-duty Moon-style wheel discs.

“Remember these old thick, aluminum, screw-on lathe disks of the ’50’s? I bought these at Halls Speed Shop with paper route money for my first school car, a ’49 Chevy Fleetline 2-door my dad bought for $100.

“These originals use three screws and required drilling holes in the wheels. That was the tricky part because if the holes were drilled too far, the tube was punctured. Notice the covers fit only the indicated wheel.

“After going out of style, I used two of the covers to make a hanging swag lamp for my first apartment. I kept the others and now use them as garage art. If I close my eyes and rub them like a genie’s magic lamp, memories of those way back days rush in and take me on trips without ever leaving the garage.”

Beautifully said, and thanks to you and the others for sharing these great automotive memories.

Reach Mike Berry at mberry@wichitaeagle.com.

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