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Guest Post – When Making A Car Was Illegal – GPCox

I remember when I first wrote this – it took many readers by surprise! Hope you all enjoy it!

"Greatest Generation" Life Lessons

This is the latest Guest Post from gpcox all about the vehicles in service during World War II and a little about what the American Family had to sacrifice back home.

When Making a Car Was Illegal

After Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt ordered all car manufacturers to cease the production of private automobiles and convert the factories to produce military

Utility Truck Utility Truck

vehicles, weaponry, airplane engines, parts, etc.  But, this would not put an end to man’s love affair with the automobile.  A car manual became priceless to a private owner and a truck manual was an absolute necessity for a farmer or businessman.  With the rationing of gasoline in the U.S., the “National Victory Speed” was 35 mph and driving clubs were encouraged. (Our modern day car-pools).

Automobiles were produced in massive quantities before the Great Depression and this brought the price down considerably.  Then, the stock market crashed…

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When Making A Car Was Illegal

The last Packard, 1942

The last Packard, 1942

 

This was originally published as a Guest Post for Judy Hardy at Greatest Generation Lessons.

After Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt ordered all car manufacturers to cease the production of private automobiles and convert the factories to produce military vehicles, weaponry, airplane engines, parts, etc. But, this would not put an end to man’s love affair with the automobile. A car manual became priceless to a private owner and a truck manual was an absolute necessity for a farmer or businessman. With the rationing of gasoline in the U.S., the “National Victory Speed” was 35 mph and driving clubs were encouraged. (Our modern day car-pools).

The news spread around the world.

The news spread around the world.

Automobiles were produced in massive quantities before the Great Depression and this brought the price down considerably. Then, the stock market crashed and many people were unable to afford the fuel for the cars they already owned. There were some that removed the engines from their vehicles and had a horse pull them. These were nicknamed “Bennett Buggies” in some areas.

"Bennett Buggie"

“Bennett Buggie”

FDR gave a long-winded speech on 28 April 1942 called the “Call for Sacrifice,” where he stated, “…Not all of us have the privilege of fighting our enemies in distant parts of the world. Not all of us can have the privilege of working in a munitions factory or a shipyard, or on the farms or in oil fields or mines… There is one front where everyone is in action and that is right here at home and that is the privilege of denial.” (Can any of us even imagine what would eventuate from a statement like that today?) It was not until June that civilian truck production ceased, except some tightly government controlled heavy trucks produced during 1944 by GMC.

Packard was known as a “company of premier luxury cars.” In 1937, they introduced their first 6-cylinder engine since 1928 – right in time for the ’29 Depression, so they designed the “110” model in 1940-41 to serve as taxi cabs. With the onset of war, air plane engines, such as the Merlin that powered the P-51 Mustang fighter were produced. Many American and British PT boats were equipped with the Packard 1350-, 1400-, and 1500 horsepower V-12 marine engines. During this era, the company also produced ambulances and other military vehicles. All in all, 60,000 combined engines were built by Packard.

GMC had produced nearly 584,000 multi-drive vehicles for use in WWII, the first of which was the amphibious 6×6 “Ducks.” These were sent to the Army for island landings and river crossings. Over 21,000 of these unique vehicles were produced. GMC also built the first 2 ½ ton 6×6 trucks powered by a 270 cid engine which became the famous “workhorse” of the Army.

"Duck"

“Duck”

The Ford Corporation during 1942-45 built approximately 8,600 of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers. They also produced aircraft engines, M-4 tanks, spare parts and the ever-famous Jeep. In England, the Dagenham plant built the Ford military trucks, Bren-gun carriers and more than 30,000 super-charged V-12 engines for the Mosquito and Lancaster bombers.

The transportation department of the U.S. Army performed monumental feats during WWII. They moved tons of food, weapons, equipment and men despite gasoline, oil and lubricants being in short supply. If one delves deeper into this research, they find that Congress was not always willing to loosen the government’s purse strings. As I have mentioned previously on my site, Europe received the majority of the supplies, hence their slogan, “Europe First.” (But, even the ETO had shortages.) I have two specific reports stating that my father’s unit, the 11th Airborne Division while fighting in the Pacific, could not reach the city of Manila before the Sixth Army due to the lack of trucks. 

Since the first automobile sputtered down the street and caught up to a horse, men have defined themselves by their vehicles, showing their cars off with pride and affection. They wash them, wax them and individualize them. It becomes an extension of himself – whereas a woman does the same routine for her home.

The ever-reliable car manual during the WWII era was a lifeline keeping farmers connected to markets, businessmen to their offices and factory workers to their jobs. What you had, you were forced to maintain or learn to do without. Just try to picture it – a world without rent-a-cars or gas stations at every intersection, no leasing contracts for new cars, no power windows or GPS or Blue Tooth… What do you see?

Jeep ambulance from the David Dunham Collection

Jeep ambulance from the David Dunham Collection

 

Research & Photo Resources:

Military History Online; Internet History Sourcebooks; Ford Corp./history; History of Packard; From the Great Depression to WWII; Wikipedia; Classic Car History; Fine Art America; Lopez Transport 1941; Surrey Vintage Vehicle Society; GMC Trucks

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Deacon Cresswell – Boynton Bch, FL; US Air Force, Korea, 50th Troop Carrier Wing

Gordon Keats – Victoria, CAN; RC Navy, WWIIAmerican-Flag-Eagle2

Kirk Kerkorian – Fresno, CA; RAF Ferry Command, WWII, 33 Mosquitoes from Canada to U.K.

Donnell Nasseth – Valley City, ND; US Navy, WWII, Pharmacist Mate 1st Class

Mary Petrozzi – Wolfeboro, NH; US WAVE, WWII, nurse

Raymond Reitze – Scarborough, ME; US Army, WWII, POW

Bryan Smith – Beverton, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 457th Artillery Reg/11th Airborne

Earl Turner – Lancaster, CA; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

William VanMatre – Green River, WY; US Navy (Ret. 25 years), Master Chief

Alvin Wagner – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

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