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NorCal Region--Classic Car Club of America

 

     Northern California Region


Locomobile.jpg (75598 bytes)

The current club newsletter features a photo of the circa-1925 Locomobile 48 that was taken in the Marina District of San Francisco about 1932 or 1933 by a first cousin of my Dad’s.  He must have had a very fine camera because the original photo was only about 2 x 3 inches.  Note 1929 Chevrolet Coupe (NC) across the street. 

The story goes that this car was first purchased at the San Francisco Auto Show (circa 1925 or 1926) and per Owen Hoyt may have been a Salon Model. My cousin obtained it from the original owner’s widow, who did not drive, as a replacement for their Marmon Wasp Speedster in order to accommodate the arrival of their first child in 1932.  The Marmon was a Model 34B (NC) which were built from 1922 to 1928 and had been a gift from my cousin’s father as a reward for his being admitted to Stanford.  I think that it was bought as a “pre-owned car,” a.k.a. “a second hand car” in those days.  It sure needed new clean tires as you can see in the small photo of his wife standing beside the car taken in Palo Alto about 1927 or 1928.  Sharp-eyed Jim Weston identified the town from the streetlights, which are clearly visible.  My dear friend, his widow, was apologetic about the then fashionable clothes she was wearing in the photo, but I am certain Lorraine Blackburn will appreciate them, if no one else!

 I remember seeing the Marmon once or twice at my great grandmother’s house, but the Locomobile I remember vividly.  Luckily for me, my cousin, his wife and baby son would sometimes drop in for a visit on a Sunday afternoon (as people did in those by-gone days) and take me for a ride out to the beach along the Great Highway.  My cousin was very proud of this car and I can clearly remember him raising the heavy hood to show me the gigantic 6-cylinder 525 cubic inch engine with the cylinders set in pairs and the shiny copper water jackets.  With this huge displacement horsepower was rated at a whopping 107! The Locomobile 48 was, as you may know, one of  America’s top luxury cars in the Rolls Royce range. It rode on a 142-inch wheelbase and most bodies were built by the Bridgeport Body Company in Connecticut.     

 One of the amusing anecdotes told to me not long ago by my cousin’s charming widow was that her husband once asked her how she managed to drive that behemoth as she was so small and slight of stature.  She told me that she replied, “Well, it’s the only car we have.” So she drove it, Mack truck steering and double clutching notwithstanding. I feel quite indebted to her for providing me with these photos when she found them.  I had been asking for a photo of the Locomobile for years and the Marmon speedster was a bonus. What is even more amazing and gratifying to me is that the widow, small (5 ft., 3” or 4”) and still slight, remains as delightful and sharp as ever traveling the world annually, taking either her son or daughter - in her mid-nineties - yet. Age is not discussed, but they were married in 1928 and both were college graduates! 

Joe Kohlbecher

Last modified: October 08, 2001