Our first day on the road although we feel somewhat like imposters discreetly driving a renta-Chev a few cars lengths behind three MGs. RIP, Blue B and Navy Car are driving to Louisville via Auburn where we will visit the Duesenberg Museum while Red and Green Car are taking the long way around via Nashville to satisfy their love of Country Music.
A quick recap of the group’s trip so far after they all met again in Vancouver 3 weeks ago. Most of the group have had a pretty uneventful drive enjoying the Rockies and meeting MG enthusiasts along the way. This trip has generated considerable interest among US and Canadian enthusiasts because they are all gathering at the MG National Meeting in Louisville running from 13-17 June. The others have found that some of the people they meet remember more about our previous adventures than we do just from reading the various blogs. A few glitches along the way – Red Car burnt an exhaust valve and failed an overdrive solenoid. Green Car had an alternator failure and Navy Car burnt out its brand new starter motor. There’s a bit of a pattern here. All the parts which failed apart from the exhaust valve are Chinese or Indian copies of the Lucas parts which were fitted to the original cars. It seems the clever after-market replicators have managed to incorporate all the original faults and added a few new ones so they are now totally rubbish. Oh well, all part of the experience I suppose… A few hours work yesterday in the Chicago hotel car park and everything is working again ready for our trip today.
An easy drive out of Chicago using the express toll lanes and we were soon across the border and driving through the lush green corn fields of Indiana. No dramas at all and after a short lunch stop we arrive in Auburn where we find the museum dedicated to some of the most exclusive cars ever built in the US –Duesenberg, Cord and Auburn. Fred and Augie Duesenberg were German immigrant self-taught engineers who started building engines and race cars firstly in Minneapolis then moving to New Jersey and Indianapolis. Good engineers don’t always make good business people and they experienced several financial disasters before being rescued by E.L. Cord in 1926. He wanted a US built Duesenberg to compete with Mercedes Benz, Rolls Royce, Hispano-Suiza and Isotta Franschini. Cord had built a serious manufacturing empire including companies such as the aero engine builder Lycoming but even with his backing the company ultimately failed in 1937 but not before they had built some very beautiful and technically impressive cars. A few years earlier, Cord had also bought the Auburn manufacturing business from the Elkhart brothers, less expensive than the Duesenberg but still a hard sell in the depression years. Cord also wanted a more technically advanced and innovative car bearing his name and in 1935 the 810 Cord designed by Gordon Buehrig was launched at the NY Motor Show. Words don’t do the Cord justice so the pic on the right of the middle row will give those who haven’t seen them before some feeling for how advanced this car was for 1935. Unfortunately the clamour of orders which followed encouraged Cord to start deliveries before all the teething problems were sorted so it was all a bit of a disaster but that hasn’t stopped the Cord 810 being one of the most collectible cars ever produced in the US.
Dinner tonight was courtesy of Bob Evans, yes, the Bob Evans chain of family restaurants which means they don’t serve alcohol. Still we persevered signing a pledge of abstinence so we could enjoy their promotion of everything with bacon. Lorraine was about to tuck into a vegetarian salad until she spotted the liberal addition of bacon and I reluctantly turned down the opportunity to enjoy strawberries with bacon.