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Pierce Arrow


Apollo 11: Day 3


Image taken on the third day of Apollo 11’s flight. Earth seen from 162,400 nautical miles away; Africa, with the Sahara Desert, is quite clear. Image credit: LPI

Aldrin: “Houston, Apollo 11. We’ve got the continent of Africa right facing toward us right now, and of course, everything’s getting smaller and smaller as time goes on. The Mediterranean is completely clear. The Sun looks like it’s about to set around Madagascar. The equatorial belt of Africa stands out quite clearly. We’re seeing a dark green or a muddy colored green, compared to the sandier colors of the southern tip of Africa and, of course, the Sahara northern coast of Africa. There’s a rather remarkable cloud that appears in the vicinity of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s just about to go into the sunset now. It is casting quite a large shadow. It’s isolated. There don’t seem to be any other clouds. The band of clouds near the tropical convergent clouds down around the equator clearly separate the clockwise and the counter-clockwise cloud formations. Over.”

This was the final day of preparations for the lunar landing scheduled for the following day. The spacecraft approached the moon, and went behind it, putting Apollo 11 in a blackout with Earth. The crew used that time to prepare for their first lunar orbit insertion maneuver: To position themselves to orbit the moon.


Apollo 11: Day 2


Earth as seen from 113,500 miles away, on Day 2 of Apollo 11’s journey. North is up, with Greenland visible, South America can also bee seen. Image credit: LPI

Collins: “Rog. I’ve got the world in my window for a change and looking at it through the monocular, it’s really something. I wish I could describe it properly, but the weather is very good. South America is coming around into view. I can see on the – what appears to me to be upper horizon, a point that must be just about Seattle, Washington, and then from there I can see all the way down to the southern tip – Tierra del Fuego and the southern tip of the continent.”

Armstrong and Aldrin, while on live TV, put on their spacesuits and went down the docking tunnel from Columbia to the Lunar Module (LM). They gave viewers on Earth a short tour of the vehicle that would take them to the lunar surface.

To break away from the Earth’s gravitational field, Apollo 11 needed a speed of 7 miles per second. By the close of the second day, Apollo 11 would leave the Earth’s gravitational field, and enter the moon’s. The Columbia and Eagle would then slow to 2400 mph at this time.


Pierce-Arrow Museum

Buffalo, New York


Exterior to the Pierce-Arrow showroom

Officially known as the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum, the museum has quite the collection of classic cars, trucks, motorcycles and bicycles, plus one filling station. The museum organized as a non-profit in 1997, and moved into their current location, a former Mack Truck showroom, in 2001.

George Pierce started out making ice chests & birdcages, progressing into bicycles. In 1901, the Pierce Company opened a large factory in Buffalo’s Canalside district. In 1903, the company produced a two-cylinder car called The Arrow. The following year, The Great Arrow came on the market. This car was larger and more luxurious than its predecessor, and it was powered by a four-cylinder engine. In 1905, The Great Arrow won the Glidden Tour, which was an endurance run that determined the most reliable car on the market. By 1909, President Taft had made two Pierce-Arrows the official cars of the White House.

Here are a few of the vehicles I enjoyed checking out at the P-A Museum:


1909 Thomas Flyer 6-40 Flyabout

The Thomas Flyer was also manufactured in Buffalo, NY until 1913. This little Flyabout, was a 5 passenger, powered by a six-cylinder/267 cubic inch engine, coupled to a three speed transmission. The motor put out a whopping 40 HP. In 1908, a Thomas Flyer won the New York to Paris Race.


1932 Duesenberg Model J Town Car

This particular Duesenberg was the most expensive ever produced. Custom built for the Countess Anna Ingraham, the car cost $25,000 in 1932.


The Duesenberg


$2.50 down buys you a Harley?

Automatically, I thought $250.00 down, but no, it was $2.50. I asked for clarification.


1940 Lincoln

Frank Lloyd Wright ordered one of these Lincolns in 1940. He proclaimed it the most beautiful car ever designed. Hard to argue with FLW.


1934 Pierce-Arrow Model 1248A

The 1934 Pierce-Arrow was proclaimed an “All Weather Town Brougham”, with its canvas roll up, and solid leather roof for the chauffeur. This model had an aluminum body, and was powered by a V-12 engine. There was only one of these made. It was owned by opera diva Ms. Mary Garden, whose father had the world’s largest Pierce-Arrow dealership.


Pierce-Arrow’s 1933 Silver Arrow; Designed as a car, that can not be ignored

My favorite car in the collection: the 1933 Silver Arrow. They say this car “caused an absolute sensation” when it was introduced in 1933. Powered by the V-12 engine, the Silver Arrow could hit 115mph. Five of these cars were built, only three remain in existence today.


The ’33 Silver Arrow

What a sharp, futuristic looking car for 1933.


Joseph Seagram & Sons’ Pierce-Arrow delivery truck


The Frank Lloyd Wright designed filling station

In 1927, Frank Lloyd Wright designed a filling station that was to be built in downtown Buffalo, on the corners of Michigan Avenue and Cherry Street. The station was never built.

Fast forward to 2002: The Pierce-Arrow Museum, working off of original drawings, create the copper, work of art within the large showroom. Wright called his station design “an ornament to the pavement”. The station is quite the structure. It contains a second story observation room, complete with a fireplace and restrooms. The observation room was meant as a comfortable place for patrons to wait for their vehicle while it was being serviced. It was also to include an attendants quarters, also equipped with a fireplace. The gas distribution system was gravity fed. The two 45 foot, copper poles holding the station’s marque, were described as “totems” by Wright. It would have been an impressive filling station, if it had been built. As it stands, its an impressive & unique addition to the museum.

The museum has several volunteers with a wealth of information about the items on display. I found them more than willing to share their knowledge. Admission for an adult was $10.


Getting the itch


The Grizzly Torque


Grizzly Torque, circa 1957

In the fall of 1956, Bristol Foster was itching to get out and explore the world. He had recently finished his masters degree in biology at the University of Toronto. Foster immediately thought of his friend, Robert Bateman as an ideal travel companion. The two men mapped out a trip that involved crossing four continents. They only needed a vehicle.


Foster and Bateman picking up the Grizzly Torque in England

“… it had to be a Land Rover,” says Bristol Foster. So they ordered a 1957 Series I with an ambulance body. Foster went to Solihull to pick up the Rover, and get trained on their off road course. Bateman arrived later and they took the Series I on a shake down trip through Scotland.


Camping out of the Torque

Foster & Bateman set off for Africa with the newly christened Grizzly Torque. They had agreed to send regular articles and illustrations documenting their trip back to the Toronto Telegram, where they became known as The Rover Boys.

The Rover Boys had a very loose schedule. There was a general direction they meant the trip to follow, but the route taken from Point A to Point B was by no means a straight line. They were free to do as they wished, at a time when this type of travel was ideal. Today, it would be virtually impossible to make the same trek. Not only due to safety concerns, but the difficulty of getting visas throughout the area.

In the Belgian Congo, the little four cylinder engine whined from the excessive load. Some thirty members of the Mbuti tribe were crammed into and onto the Land Rover along with the two Canadians up front. They bounced along a forest track, with the tribe members laughing and singing traditional hunting songs. Foster and Bateman were in Africa, on an adventure of a lifetime. Robert Bateman, thinking back on that time said, “One of the greatest senses of freedom I think we’ve ever had.”

Bateman, now a renown Canadian artist and naturalist, painted small murals along the body of the Grizzly Torque, documenting the places they traveled through. The artwork is stunning, and no doubt caused some excitement with the people they met along the way.


Elephant meets Grizzly

The trip was not without unexpected “adventures”. The Grizzly Torque was flipped over on its side in India, after swerving to avoid a bicyclist. A window was lost in the crash, and was replaced with plexiglass.

In total, The Rover Boys traveled over 60,000 kms, through 19 countries, on 4 continents over 14 months with their Grizzly Torque. The trip ended in Australia with the Land Rover being shipped back to Vancouver after traveling throughout the Australian Outback. From there, the Grizzly Torque continued to be well traveled.

Foster used it on what was then known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, as he pursued his doctorate. It was eventually sold to a student studying peccaries in Texas. The student was raising a juvenile eagle at the time, and the raptor learned to perch up front between the seats. As an adult, the eagle rode happily along, all across the state of Texas, on various expeditions. The student returned to British Columbia with the Land Rover, where he sold the Grizzly Torque to a rancher. Things become murky after that. At some point, the well traveled Land Rover gets sand blasted down to bare metal, painted light blue, losing the wonderful murals, and its identity. The old Rover then spends decades out of the public view.


A blue Torque (?)

Stuart Longair now enters the story. A rancher has four old Land Rovers out in a field, and he wants them gone. Longair, has been a Land Rover cult member from an early age, since riding along with his father in a Series I as a young boy. He buys all four Rovers, sight unseen. The now, faded blue Grizzly Torque, spends the next decade out in another field. Then Longair comes across an old picture of Foster & Bateman with the Grizzly Torque, and he starts to wonder about the neglected Rover he purchased over a decade ago. Longair gets a hold of Bristol Foster, and convinces him to come out and look over the blue Rover. Foster immediately recognized the Grizzly Torque under all of the neglect, but to make sure he went over to the driver’s side door, and found that it was still fitted with the replacement plexiglass from India.


The Grizzly Torque restored

Now that Longair knew that he had a piece of not only Land Rover history, but Canadian history too, he went about restoring the Grizzly Torque. Working off of old photos, Robert Bateman himself, repainted the Rover’s murals along the flat sides.


The Rover Boys reunite with a restored Grizzly Torque


The restored Grizzly Torque and its repainted murals


The eagle in the Grizzly Torque, somewhere in Texas

Photos credit: Bristol Foster & Robert Bateman; Video credit: Land Rover


70 Years On:

87 year old Solihull native takes her first ride in a Land Rover.


A teenaged Dorothy Peters and #16

In July 1946, Dorothy Peters went to work at Rover’s Lode Lane Factory. She was only 15 when she first went to work for the company. The first vehicle she worked on was chassis number 16. As in, the 16th Series Land Rover to cross the assembly line.

The now retired Ms Peters, has been a lifelong supporter of the brand, but surprisingly she had never ridden in a Land Rover. Over the years, Peters had dreamed of at least once, driving Solihull’s famous Jungle Track, the off road course that Land Rover tests its vehicles on.

As fate would have it, #16 is now owned by Mike Bishop, Land Rover Classic’s Reborn Engineering Specialist and Heritage Expert. Bishop reunited Peters with #16, and took her for a little spin, Land Rover style. The reunion and visit to Jungle Track can be seen in the following video.


Bug Profile


A Beetle under cover


Slow Motion

Has it really been four + years, since The Rover has traveled Outside? I received that reminder earlier in the week, which did catch me by surprise, I have to admit. Seems like just yesterday. Time does have the habit of sneaking up on you, doesn’t it?


The Rover traveling down Route 66

I clearly remember this section of Route 66. I was traveling along, the only vehicle on the highway, when suddenly, out of nowhere, a silver Porsche blew past me. I saw brake lights, and the Porsche hovered in the opposing lane, off The Rover’s left, front fender. The passenger window was lowered, and a camera, with an extraordinarily large lens, appeared from the passenger window pointed directly at The Rover & I. One click later, I received a “thumbs up” sign, the camera retreated back into the car, and the silver Porsche disappeared down the brick-colored highway in a flash.

“Drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested.”
— Hunter S. Thompson — at Kickin’ it on 66.


Attack of the Cobra


1965 289 Shelby Cobra

The host of some show called Barn Find Hunter has been touring Alaska in his 1965 Shelby Cobra. His tour, which includes three more Cobras and their passengers, had stopped in Girdwood overnight. Girdwood is a small community south of Anchorage, just off of the Seward Highway.

On Wednesday morning, it was obvious that the Cobra had been broken into during the night. There were prints all over the car, some dents in the rear fender, and the convertible top had been ripped open.

Alaska State Troopers, called to the crime scene, confirmed what was apparent from the tracks in the mud.

“Grizzly”.

The stolen item? A small package of Fig Newtons, that had been left behind the seat.

That’s why us residents always say: Don’t bring food into your tents. Or your classic convertibles…

On the plus side, Barn Find Hunter has a good future episode.

Photo credit: Hagerty