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the adventures of one “Ed Harmon” with a used car. During the course of the tale I poked some purely goodnatured fun at the “As is '' industry, and shortly afterward I received a great many letters in which the writers expressed themselves as having had experiences similar to “Ed's.” But one gentleman wrote indignantly that my perspective was all wrong. He recorded that he had spent many happy hours riding about in second-hand automobiles, had never been disappointed in any he had bought, and that the average second-hand automobile was worth its weight in gold ! As there may be still another gentleman like that, I will not risk treading upon any toes, but will proceed with my dissertation.
LTHOUGH in the argot of the auto marts I have been “gypped” in the purchase of second-hand cars times without number, these once dashing, devil-may-care autos which have gone to seed have a lure for me that I cannot resist! It may be the aura of romance that hangs about them, the fascination of speculating upon the associations a car that originally sold for fifteen or twenty thousand dollars must have had, but it is more probably their seductive price at the time of my visit that attracts me. They loaf cynically in long rows against the wall, striving pathetically to make a brave showing with their fresh coats of tawdry, bizarre paint. The still aristocratic 1915 De Vronde-8 that has felt the iron grip of wealth and the caressing touch of beauty at its wheel, affecting a half defiant savoir faire and shrinking from the boorish leer of the ancient and ribald Flivver at its side. They are all there in this inanimate slave market—the once fashionable, now passé, runabout; the testy and gouty old racer, with perhaps cirrhosis of the cylinders, that has backfired its brusque acknowledgment to the plaudits of thousands as it smashed a record to bits; the downat-the-heels, hard-eyed, limousine, that has, corried Cupid or his bas? - impersonator innumerable times as an invisible extra passenger.
—How they must wince when some cal
lous colleague of their master sneers at their fallen fortunes and remarks: “What a terrible bunch of tin cans you got here to-day, hey, Joe?” The automobiles that find an immediate sale in the second-hand market,
vast mileage for which millions have been spent and which are to-day as invisible as the smoke of last year's fires.
We solved that problem too. We solved it with oil, tar, petroleum products. We oiled the roads and let the oil keep the dust where it belonged. Once again we thought our road problem solved. Along came the motor truck—came with a rush, and came to stay. Of seven million cars in the United States to-day, over 700,000 are trucks. There are more manufacturers producing trucks to-day than are engaged in producing passenger automobiles.
Trucks Must Move
OST of our “improved” roads had been built to withstand rubber tires and a weight not greater than 3 or 4 tons. Our trucks are built of all sizes, even as high as 7% tons. At first built wholly, they are still built largely, for wheels with solid tires. True, the solid tire is of rubber, but at best it is but a thin cushion between weight and support. Let those who think it adequate take rubber 2 or 3 inches thick, lay it upon their heads, and get the fool killer to rap them upon their “protected” domes with an ax. The solid tire gives a blow to the road of thousands of pounds weight when any inequality or roughness produces a jar. Under that blow the foundation sinks, the stones spread. Enough blows,
Continued from page 9
regardless of vintage, and often regardless of price, may be divided into two general classes: those with a motor of national reputation and those with showy bodies. This applies to the new car as well. The importance of the last-named feature cannot be overestimated' I know of a dozen makes of cars of unquestionable and known excellence that I am sure would triple their sales by the simple expedient of discarding their iong obsolete and unsymmetrical tonneaus for a modern, smart model. They are priced at from three to five thousand dollars and are undoubtedly worth it, but, dash it all, as Lloyd George was once heard to remark, they don't look it! In this connection there is one well-known make in particular of which I've heard scores of persons remark: “The Blank automobile is the best buy in the country at any price, and as soon as they put a decent body on it I'll get one!” But to return to our recent adventure in buying a car, I persuaded my wife against her better judgment to enter this second-hand auto deadfall out of sheer curiosity. A magnificent 1917 Silly Six touring car stood just inside the door, and I was forcing a reluctant admission from her that it was a beautiful piece of workmanship, when the jovial freebooter in charge descended upon us with a predatory smile. Throttling down his well-oiled and free-swinging oratory upon the unique delights of sitting behind a second-hand motor, I informed him we had no intention of purchasing—we were merely looking around. He was coatless, bareheaded, obviously antibarber, and generously ttled with grease and carbon. . He nodded with easy grace and inquired sympathetically: “Poom the East, I suppose, heh2”
Sophisticated or I answered affirmatively.
“Come from Denver, I suppose, heh’” he persisted. I told him “New York,” which caused him to bat his eyes once before returning to the attack. “Movin'-pitcher actors, I suppose, heh?” was the next citizenship test. Thanking him for the compliment, I regretfully denied the soft impeachment and, as my wife was showing
signs of becoming provoked, I skillfully swung the conversation to the price of the 1917 Silly Six. This
seemed to increase my wife's pique.
She had set her heart on a brand-new, cute little shiny two-passenger roadster and wanted to get out of the morguelike atmosphere of this used-car dispensary at once, and buy it. You know how girls are, bless their little hearts: once they get too old to wear long dresses they’re as imperious as children' “If you really aim to get that there bus,” said the new Dick Turpin, “I’ll make you a special price on 'account of you comin' from New York. I got folks back there myself. Got a stepuncle lives in Tampa. That there 1917 Silly Six ain’t been run over ten thousand mile. Paint's like new, so's the rubber, and the whole job's just been completely overhauled. The man which owns this boiler is called to Chicago on business and has got to sacreyfice it. He craves a thousand dollars, but I'll split my draw down with you and let you have it for nine hundred and fifty, cash to hand, right now !”
ROM the crudely lettered placards that hung from the radiator tops, every car in the place seemed to be ready for “sacreyfice” through its owner being forced to return to Chicago, Baltimore, Battle Creek, Boston, etc., etc. It occurred to me that in a short time we might be the only family left in Los Angeles. At any rate, I was weakening and I turned to my wife. “Don’t you think, dear—” I began, and then stopped sheepishly." She had departed: -At that precise moment a rather dilapidated car lumbered in through the garagelike entrance with a terrific clatter, came to an abrupt stop and emitted a wild-eyed, red-faced personage from the front seat. The dealer grinned coldly as the other came rushing toward him. “Gimme my money back, you burglar !” shrieked the newcomer, ignoring me entirely. “I’m gonna have you pinched. This old tomato can is nothin’ but a mess of junk." When I cranked it up last Friday mornin' the
Your $4.65 Worth of Roads
Continued from page 15
and the foundation disintegrates, the road “ravels,” breaks into ruts and joins the snows of yesteryear. The first answer—and it is still a good answer—was to build trucks with wider wheels, that the blow might be more widely distributed and therefore be less intense. But here came the problem of the overload. The man with the 3-ton truck put 5 tons upon it, but kept his 3-ton wheels. True, in so doing he disobeyed the earnest advice of the manufacturer, wore out his truck and perhaps damaged the goods he transported, but highway transportation was, still is, in its infancy, and the shipper by truck, even the truckers who operate, have often regarded their vehicles as the first road makers regarded roads—as permanent institutions, incapable of being damaged. Seeing the enormous damage done our roads by the motor truck, men began proposing remedies. These are broadly divided into three classes: First, to build the roads heavy enough to stand any possible traffic; second, to build the trucks only to a imited size and make it illegal to put more than a specified amount of weight on any road, or upon that road more than a
specified amount upon any inch of
width of tire; third, to combine these two ideas and build certain roads for heavy duty, and allow anything that can move to travel it, and forbid greater than certain total weights or weight per width of tire on all other roads.
Whereupon a few of the truck manufacturers took the not unnatural attitude that it was a free country and they'd make any darn size trucks they jolly well pleased and sell them wherever they felt like it, and if the road people found they cut up the roads they could go talk to the user. And the truck user who wanted to put 10 tons on a razor-edge tire said he was a taxpayer and a landowner and a citizen, and the Government could fix the roads the best way it could. Our socalled “hard roads” went “blooey” as a result.
Fair Play for Everybody
T was the isolated truck manufac
turer who helped to bring this about.
The vast majority of makers have been keenly alive to public interests and have done all in their power to cooperate with every movement that had for its end the economic and scientific improvement of highways and the equitable distribution of the cost thereof. Manufacturers, through their dealers and their trade organizations, have consistently and constantly preached against the evils of overloading and have been only too glad to join in the movement which ultimately resulted in their fixing a gross weight limit for the operation of commercial motor vehicles. . After all, the road problem must be solved on a basis of fair play to the user of the roads and trucks, the builder
rear end fell out in the street, and the repair man tells me the only reason it ever run a foot is because you went to work and doped the motor with ether! The bearin's is all shot, it needs—” “Ssh !” interrupted the dealer wearily, as one who hears an old story. “That's all apple sauce! I told you the job needed the touch of a monkey wrench here and there. You can’t expect to git no factory pet for what you paid for this car. They's no use gittin’ hysterical, you bought the car as is, and they is absolutely no comeback. If you don't want it, leave it here and I'll sell it for you some time to-day and git, you what I kin for it!” “You’ll get me eight hundred berries, you yegg!” roared the genial stranger, “or I'll come back here and run you ragged" “Or, on the other hand,” said the unruffled dealer, “I kin exchange your machine for a bonus of a hundred dollars more, Mistér—now—Umpson, and give you a 1918 slightly used—” “I’ll see you in Hades first!” yelled Mr. Umpson and fled. “See what I got to put up with fifty or sixty times a day?” remarked the amiable buccaneer. “Makes a man sick ' Where'd he say he was goin’?” “Hades!” I grinned. “Haydees?” he repeated vaguely. “How d'ye spell that?” I told him and he wrote it down carefully on the back of a greasy envelope, . shaking his head in a puzzled fashion.
THE persistent honking of an automobile horn attracted my attention, and, glancing out a window, I saw my wire seated in an obviously new and rather snappy-looki;... roadster, dark blue with gleaming nickel-plated trimmings. “Isn't it a beauty?” she smiled radiantly, when I reached her side and dazedly demanded an explanation. “Jump in, I'll drive you home. It's ours!” As I capitulated resignedly into the soft cushions, I glanced back at the used-car emporium. The dealer was hanging one of those owner-leavingtown placards on the radiator top of the car brought in and abandoned by the apoplectic Mr. Umpson:
Practically Brand–New 1918 Elegant
of passenger and commercial vehicles and everybody else concerned. Institutions like the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce, maintained by the automobile manufacturers, have collected statistics, facts, and evidence to prove that one of the principal roots of our road troubles, if not the largest of them all, is that we have built our vehicles without regard to where they were to run. It was shown graphically in chart and table that a railroad manages to continue being a railroad by having construction, maintenance of way, and traffic departments hand in glove; that no railroad builds cars and locomotives first and track afterward, or track first and puts on it anything in rolling stock which happens to be handy; that railroad engineers put down a certain weight of rail on a certain grade with a certain amount of ballast, to support trains of such and such weight and speed and not more. And they are everlastingly at it, keeping track and rolling stock in the best condition. The truck people believe whole-heartedly in building roads for trucks and trucks for roads, not building each separately and hoping they will fit. Everyone concerned who really knows is now so thoroughly convinced of this essential that the American Association of State Highway Officials, the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce, the American Automobile Association, and (Continued on page 40)
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