Posts Tagged ‘1949’

In this story from Mining Review 2nd Year No.12, we join Durham miner Tom McDonagh, his wife and their triplets on a family break to Butlin’s holiday camp in Filey, North Yorkshire. The very first Butlin’s opened 75 years ago in Skegness, with Filey following in 1945 after postponement during WWII. All the communal games and activities you would expect of this classic British holiday are here, introduced by a suitably jolly narrator, but as you may notice poor Mum hasn’t quite escaped the domestic drudgery.

Text and movie from British Film Institute BFI’s Youtube pages

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Cadillac made a ton of history for 1949. To its trendy, year-old "fishtail" styling the division added a modem and potent overhead-valve V-8, its first new engine in 12 years, plus a major new body style, the pillar less hardtop coupe. Though it shares credit for the last two with this year’s Oldsmobile, the ’49 Cadillac remains one of the decade’s most influential cars. With it, the "Standard of the World" secured its position as America’s most popular luxury make.

The story behind General Motors’ new post-war look, first seen on the 1948 Olds 98 and all Cadillacs save the Series 75, is well known. In 1939, company design chief Harley Earl and some of his charges went to Selfridge Field near img_009Detroit. There they got a look at the then top-secret Lockheed P-38 Lightning, a twin-engine pursuit aircraft that would be instrumental to the Allied effort in Europe during World War II. Earl was quite taken with its design, particularly the twin-boom tail, gracefully shaped rudders, pontoon-style engine nacelles, and bullet-like nose. By the time the U.S. entered the war, these and other elements had been adapted for possible use on future GM cars in a series of 1/5-scale models known as the "Interceptor" series, and this was the starting point for 1948-49 styling. Frank Hershey, Art Ross, and division studio chief Bill Mitchell worked with Earl on the new Cadillac. Its most striking feature, of course, was the now famous tailfins, which Earl said was used "to give the car some definition" and thus set it apart from lesser GM makes. Cadillac didn’t initially refer to them as fins but simply as "rudder-type styling." It was a perfect finishing touch on a handsome overall package.


Due to production delays, the ’48 Cadillacs were on the market only about nine months before it was time for the’ 49s. Styling was predictably unchanged apart from a lower grille ‘ opening and wraparound chrome trim for the parking lamps. As before, the basic line-up comprised the 126wheelbase Series 61 four-door img_007sedan and two-door fastback coupe ("sedanet"); the plusher 62, which added a convertible and, late in the season, the pioneering Coupe de Ville hardtop; the four-door Sixty-Special, still on its own 133-inch chassis; and the 136-inch-wheelbase Series 75 sedans and limousines, which now acquired the ‘new postwar styling’.

But the big news was the long awaited successor to Cadillac’s durable 346-cubic-inch L-head V-8. Developed by Edward N. Cole, Harry F. Barr, and division chief engineer Jack F. Gordon, this over-square unit (bore and stroke: 3.81 x 3.63 inches) would set the pattern for all Detroit V-8s to come. It was made of cast iron, like the L-head, yet weighed 188 pounds less and produced 160 horsepower, 10 more than the old V-8 despite less capacity, initially 331 cid. Features included ample room for enlargement, wedge-shape combustion chambers, and innovative img_011"slipper" pistons. The last, devised by Byron Ellis, travelled low between the crankshaft counterweights, permitting short connecting rods and low reciprocating mass. Compression was just 7.5:1, but ratios as high as 12:1 could easily be achieved. And indeed, compression would be upped in later years as higher octane fuel become available. Displacement would go up, too.

The new V-8 made every’ 49 Cadillac a genuine 100-mph car. Typical 0-60 mph acceleration for the Series 62 was 13 seconds with manual shift, though some 98 percent of Cadillac buyers were specifying Hydra-Matic img_010by this time. Nevertheless, such go was unheard-of in the luxury league, and the new V-8 even enjoyed a brief moment in the racing spotlight. A major triumph came in 1950, when Sam and Miles Collier drove a near-stock model to 10th overall at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.

With so much to offer, Cadillac racked up record 1949 model year sales, a smashing 92,554 units, eclipsing the old 1941 mark. But even that didn’t stand very long, as the division went on to dominate the luxury class in the Fifties and Sixties. Today, Cadillac still reigns supreme. The ’49 made it all possible.


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In 1945, Hermann Holbein, a former development engineer for BMW, recovered his beloved BMW 327 sports car from the haystack where it had been interned and reluctantly gave it up to an American GI in trade for an Opel-Blitz army truck. He made a lucrative business out of picking up scrap metal and transporting various materials into a devastated country bent on cleaning up. He picked up a scrap BMW 328, rebuilt it, and Holbein made a name for himself as a successful racing driver for the next three years.

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Racing did not pay the bills, however, and he resolved to fill the post-war need for a small car, which he would design and sell the production rights to. A chance meeting with an old acquaintance, engineer Albert Maier of the gear-making firm ZF, brought together their individual interest in building a small car. In fact, Maier had already built a very basic open roadster with the backing of the ZF Company. In January 1949, Holbein came to a licensing agreement with ZF to build the car, raising the money by selling his three racing cars and two trucks. It would be called the Champion, with a nod to Holbein’s racing successes.

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Holbein and Maier saw the need for the development of the little car and worked out the design for a custom transaxle driving the rear wheels and incorporating inboard brakes. Meanwhile, the prototype used an Irus lawnmower gearbox. The new, stylish, aluminum body was found to be too expensive to make, so Holbein modeled a simpler body in clay, and his racing mechanic built it using a bent flat sheet and motorcycle fenders. Aluminum discs hid the tall wire wheels’ humble motorcycle origins. There was a single “Cyclops” headlight, and the 198-cubic centimeter Triumph motor, along with its cylindrical fuel tank, sat nakedly out in the open on the tail. It was called Champion CH-1, and it made its debut at the Reutlingen show in April 1949. Orders flooded in, but the vehicle was not yet ready.

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Development continued, and companies that could supply parts had to be found. The Hörz Company in Ulm made large clocks for clock towers, and they agreed to make the transaxles. The new ZF transaxle was incorporated into the two upgraded CH-2 prototypes, along with a new Triumph 248-cubic centimeter motor used as a stationary engine in farm applications, which was now under a louvered cover. Bosch in Stuttgart supplied the generators, Continental in Hannover supplied the tires, Schleicher in Munich supplied the hubs, and Hella in Lippstadt supplied the lamps. Former aircraft builder Böbel had a press, and they agreed to do the body shells.

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Production of the CH-2 got underway, and the press was enthusiastic about the new, small roadster. The first cars made it clear that the transaxle was not up to the job. The Hörz people refused responsibility, but ZF stepped in to help. In addition, teething problems with breaking in the front and rear suspension elements caused Holbein to take the drastic action of recalling all cars sold to date and refurbishing and upgrading the chassis to the latest specifications. The public’s faith in the new car was not shaken.

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The CH-2 became the CH-250 in March 1950, with a new twin-piston motor, a split windshield, bumpers, and smaller wheels. This model would lead to the charming Champion 400 coupe and eventually to the Maico 500 sedan. Perhaps two of these CH-2 cars exist worldwide. The bare metal bodywork of this exceptionally rare car was completely remade by a master metalworker, and it was restored by the museum’s in-house staff; it runs and drives just as well as it looks.

Text and images from RMauctions

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Fiat introduced the ‘C’ version of the famous 500, or Topolino at the Geneva Motor Show in early 1949.


The Fiat 500C Topolino was basically a two-seater with space for luggage behind the seats. This car had an all-new front as well as rear end though the basic overall structure and proportions were akin to its predecessor.

Text and images found at zigwheels.com

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Air France travelogue from the late 1940s that describes the highlights a visitor would have on a trip to the beautiful Cote dAzur. Posted on YouTube by “The Travel Film Archive

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1949 Moto Major 350


Torinese engineer Salvatore Majorca created the revolutionary Moto Major straight after WWII. Apparently it was an engineering rather than styling exercise, but 60 years on, its shape is still breathtaking. The wheels, in particular, would not look out of place on many modern motorcycles. Text and image from “BikeExif

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The 1949 Veritas "Saturn" sports coupé, the newest product of the Veritas works. This new three-seater coupé is delivered with new 100 bhp Veritas-engine and five-speed transmission.

This small company, although lasted only for a couple of years did more to the German motorsport than many others for decades. After the War ex-BMW engineers Ernst Loof and Lorenz Dietrich set up their own shop to convert BMW 328s into racecars in Baden.
Then they moved to the French zone where they offered various models, but then they became too ambitious and the project folded. 

Loof returned to Nürburgring and the then with the financial help of Heinkel constructed several models until 1953, when he returned to BMW. In all 78 models from the Veritas workshop saw the light.

Text & image found at:team.net-automotive-webs
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