Tom Brydges

Henry Austin Clark

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Now that’s a strange question. I knew him, but never had the subject come up.

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One of the prints from the Museum has something Sherlockian in the background, I'm wondering who chose that.  Figured it might be HAC, or possibly the artist.

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Henry lived in my town and was a true gentleman! I was invited to his house twice for cocktail's after local car shows, but didn't see anything related to Sherlock Holmes. 

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You can try pm-ing Walt G. He spent a lot of time working with Austin, and doing research in Austin's extensive library at his Glen Cove house.

 

Paul

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“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?' 

'To the curious incident of Henry Austin Clark talking about Sherlock Holmes.' 

'But Henry Austin Clark didn't talk about Sherlock Holmes.'

'That was the curious incident,' remarked Sherlock Holmes.” 
 Arthur Conan Doyle, Silver Blaze  (kinda)

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HAC had a law degree but apparently he never actually had to work for a living. I remember when he used to hold court at Hershey each year. If you can find the earliest collection of articles from Old Cars Weekly it contains quite a few of the columns he wrote. Interesting stuff. There was a car at Hershey within the last 3 years that Henry details resurrecting using various unrelated bits and pieces he had around the shop. He started with just a frame and engine. Everything else came from unrelated vehicles.

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23 minutes ago, Restorer32 said:

 There was a car at Hershey within the last 3 years that Henry details resurrecting using various unrelated bits and pieces he had around the shop. He started with just a frame and engine. Everything else came from unrelated vehicles.

 

There are lots of brass cars that have been assembled this way, many  more than most people realize. 

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1 minute ago, edinmass said:

 

There are lots of brass cars that have been assembled this way, many  more than most people realize. 

 

I am sure they are. Some years ago I was in a museum in Ohio. In their warehouse awaiting restoration was a Cad V16 Landaulet that I remembered from the early 1970's when it was created. Originally a V8 it certainly looked better on a cut, stretched and welded chassis with a V16 engine installed. Haven't seen the car since. It would be spectacular if restored.

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Austin Clark lived about 15 miles north of me, and you never called him Henry! 😄 He would always introduce himself and want to be called Austin. He would cringe at that if you called him Henry. I first met him when I was about 17 years old and went to his house in Meadow Spring , Glen Cove , long island . I had a photo of a Mercedes race car o the sands at Ormond Beach, Fla. he wanted to copy and I didn't know who the driver was - he saw it and immediately shouted "that s Willy K.!" (William K. Vanderbilt) We became friends because of my interest ( even then ) of automotive history and that friendship continued until he passed away some decades later. When I wasn't reaching art I worked for him in his library/archives full time cataloging, filing, and looking up information for people that inquired and had questions and sent or called them into the Long Island Automotive Museum that he owned. He also did research on automotive topics for corporate accounts who wanted to document when certain phases of events took place that affected their business.

He never expressed any huge interest in the works of Arthur Conan Doyle or the character Sherlock Holmes in the entire time I knew him. ( oddly enough SH is my favorite character in literature, and I have visited many sites in England associated with Holmes) Austin's library of automotive material was donated to the Henry Ford Museum while he was still alive and it took a tractor trailer that was loaded to capacity  to get it out to Michigan. In the early 1950s's he rescued the glass plate negative files of Mack truck that were located in Brooklyn , NY ( that was where Mack started) that were to be thrown away. Those glass plate negatives filled 30+ four drawer steel filing cabinets in his basement and are now back with Mack in Allentown, Pa. . Austin was a huge enthusiast of commercial vehicles - trucks, and he and George Norton used to run the Truck Seminar at the AACA annual meeting in Philadelphia at the Bellview-Stratford Hotel. They would give the talk and I would run the slide projector ( that kind of dates when this was done, no computer generated images /equipment!) There were sections of the image presentation that were x rated and it was a standing room only presentation!

I always was interested in automotive history, especially due to my art background , the body and coach builders. Austin introduced me to Rudy Creteur of the Rollston Company and the three of us used to go out to lunch together on a regular basis for years. Austin's library and collection inspired me to build my own library ( on coachwork and custom built cars of the WWI to WWII era) as I could see what he had that was in the subject area I was interested in and then try to find examples for my own collection . Austin would add to his collection of material on a regular basis when there would be auctions of material and several times I represented him at the auctions when he was not in town, or if I was in England in vacation he told me" if you see something you know I don't have and think the material is important and price good just get it ! use your own discretion, if you need more $ call me and I will wire it to you". Austin had a great sense of humor , and yes he had spaces at Hershey every year ( he rented a motor home to bring down so he could have a place to see friends in in case of inclement weather , also offer friends some high octane liquid refreshment if they wanted) in the Blue Field ( where the roller coasters now are) .

He was a great and loyal friend  and we shared many adventures bringing in cars to his collection, going to visit Peter Helck at his house in Boston Corners. He was my inspiration to share the automotive material that I have collected via storys etc , he did this  on a much larger scale, and always felt that  automotive history was important and needed to be seen and thus appreciated by as many people as possible. It is why he started his auto museum and library. The enthusiasm for the vehicles themselves but also for the storys they had.

I have a lot more memories and storys but this is going on way to long and a bit off topic already.

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2 hours ago, Restorer32 said:

 

I am sure they are. Some years ago I was in a museum in Ohio. In their warehouse awaiting restoration was a Cad V16 Landaulet that I remembered from the early 1970's when it was created. Originally a V8 it certainly looked better on a cut, stretched and welded chassis with a V16 engine installed. Haven't seen the car since. It would be spectacular if restored.

 

Intresting how now all the “great” cars that bring big dollars now need proven provenance with photos, or they fall flat on their face at the auction. Also, which auction a car is in tells volumes about its background without having to print a single word.

 

I apologize if I am off topic, but it seems this is the one site where things twist and turn and no one gets upset about it. I think it’s what makes this the best car blog on the net.👍

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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18 minutes ago, Walt G said:

He never expressed any huge interest in the works of Arthur Conan Doyle or the character Sherlock Holmes in the entire time I knew him.

 

That definitively answers the original question.

 

However, other insights about Austin Clark would be

welcome, since he did so much to promote and preserve

our hobby.

 

One of our region's late members, Sterling Walsh, told me of

going to Mr. Clark's car auctions twice, around the late 1950's.

Evidently, Mr. Clark had more cars than he could restore,

so he was selling off some of the excess inventory.

The selection was excellent, our member said, and the

competition wasn't all that stiff.  "He had really good stuff."

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30 minutes ago, Walt G said:

I have a lot more memories and storys but this is going on way to long and a bit off topic already.

 

Walt. Thank you for that. I had the pleasure of sitting next to him at dinner just once, and having him ride in the back of my brother's 1942 Packard Rollston town car. It was a treasure to be able to share time with him. Regarding his name, my dad knew him quite well, too, but always referred to him as "Austie."

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1 hour ago, edinmass said:

 

There are lots of brass cars that have been assembled this way, many  more than most people realize. 

A huge number of brass cars are assembled that way (one of my best friends did a large brass car a year for 14 years - all under the wire and those cars trade hands today without anyone knowing) - and a fair amount of history now lost so gets more and more each year.

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West, a lot of people referred to Austin Clark as Austie, in particular, Beverly Rae Kimes who was at his library often doing research , especially when they were working on the book they authored together as a joint venture. He never referred to himself as Austie but did mind not being called that, I think the name Austin seemed a bit formal to most people and the Austie name seemed a bit more down to earth for them .

He was a character and a wonderful person , yes he did attend Harvard University for law, and Jack Kennedy was his classmate ( although Austin politically was a Republican) . Austin loved pre WWII jazz music as much as he loved old cars  , another thing we had in common ( I am of a generation who should be into the Beach Boys , but I like Paul Whiteman much better) . Austin and I would go into Manhattan at night to Jimmy Ryan's jazz club on West 54th Street to listen to live jazz, and Roy Eldridge was the regular featured "man on the horn" (trumpet). We even gave Roy Eldridge a ride home one night as Roy E. lived just south of where I do  on long island. There were a few occasions where we drove in and back to Manhattan to listen to jazz in Austin's 1929 Lincoln Locke bodied dual cowl phaeton , parked it in front of the jazz club with no issue . There was a guy on the section of West 54th street between 6th and 7th avenues called "the Bishop" and he kind of controlled that block, so far as activity went, he would always make sure we had a good parking spot. To many stories.

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I met Austie Clark in 1982 at The Madison Avenue Sports Car Driving and Chowder Society luncheons at Sardi's. I was invited to become a member in 1983 or 84? I was SCCA racing and a Board member of the NYRSCCA at the time. He was a wonderful man and his stories and cars were also wonderful. He is greatly missed, and as usual a toast to the original members including Austie was done at last weeks 61st Anniversary Chowder Xmas party. Great memories!

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I bought a 1907 ?? ( wasn't sure on the year but that's what I was told.) UNIC from his stuff. It was pretty tough shape but the price was right. Its down state NY and I understand its being restored.

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Becoming an old car fan during the summer of 1959 I remember Henry Austin Clark from his writing. It was so refreshing to have an American involved in car when so much published information was British. The standby books were two from Wheatley and Morgan, "Vintage" was a Brit term. Motor car was foreign to me. Scrantoms was the local bookstore and British titles filled the car section. I knew about Hemmings Motor News for 10 to 15 years before I found out it was American, "Motors" in the title tricked me.

 

So I can figure where there could be an assumption of Sherlock Holmes connected with of car stuff in a stretch.

 

Henry Austin Clark and Floyd Clymer, American car guys. Ken Purdy was writing for adult men's magazines, but neither Ed or John Connors, who ran the magazine shop, would let me go to that part of the rack.

 

Some memories just stick with you.

 

Bernie

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Austin liked to see people happy, and i will leave you with one of his comments he used most often. When we were about to start an adventure he would look at me and say "I hope we don't get seriously killed doing this. Then he would chuckle , smile and we would do what the plan was for the next few hours. Same words were said before he took me for a near 100 mph ride in his type 35 Mercer raceabout up and down the North Sea Road that went from Sag Harbor to Southampton, or later the same day when we used his 2 cyl Autocar bus ( ca. 1920) with solid rubber tires to go to lunch in out in Southampton , loaded in the back with about 15-20 other old car guys,  as we pulled into a main intersection through a red light to make a turn he also commented " hold your hand  up , they  will stop" he was referring to the weekend tourists who were rushing in their modern sports boy racer cars to the local country club and were fast approaching the Autocar which was flat out at about 15 mph. Happy times from decades ago.

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The Autocar bus was a great vehicle, I got to ride in it when Wally McCarthy was the caretaker.  Friends of Ancient Road Transportation Society neatly lettered on the sides. It didn't have wheels under it when originally built. Bob 

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We all have keepsakes from people we admired, I've got a years worth of Hemmings Motor News that were once Austie's along with the copy of the note to E.R. Hemmings. Early when it was mimeographed on pink paper and six pages thick.  Bob 

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After moving to Connecticut in about 1990, I immediately "imported" my 1912 T (seen in my avatar) from California and went on a New England Brass and Gas tour. At 24 years old, I believe I was the youngest person on the tour with a car. I was immediately welcomed by Austin Clark, Wally McCarthy and Warren Kraft.

 

Often during a longer drive, they would need to pull over for "adjustments" and flagged me down for "help". Well, roadside "adjustments" meant opening the cooler and making a rather heavy duty adult beverage. I was honored to be invited into such an esteemed group of collectors-especially since I was driving a Model T and they were all driving masterpieces from the Simplex Motor Car Company.

 

These were gentleman, hobbyist and motorist of the finest caliber.

 

I recently was able to help Wally McCarthy's former 1909 chain-drive, Model I Locomobile demi-tonneau find a new home. Hopefully I will get to take it for a test drive soon. It's a beautiful, beast.

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This has brought back a flood of memories of getting into the old car hobby, back when I lived on Long Island and worked with Walt G in the exhibits department at  Nassau County Museum system..

 

1981 Glidden tour, rainy day, wife and I are having lunch and a glass of wine while sitting in our 33 Austin saloon. We had the windshield open to use the cowl as a table. As Austin walked by I called out to him and invited him to get in out of the rain and join us for a glass of wine. Without missing a step he replied, "No thanks, I'm on booze."  

 

Loved hearing his stories as he "held court", sitting at the head of the table at John Duck's restaurant during iron range day lunches that Walt G would bring me along.   

 

Still have a bit of fear of open bucket seats after a ride in Wally's Locomobile bouncing over Warren Kraft's lawn at speed. I think my finger nail marks may still be visible in the seat edges.

 

Great times. 

 

Paul

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I met Austin once, when I rode along with Don Peterson in his boat tail on the 1978 Glidden Tour in the Poconos. I'll never forget Austin breaking out his portable bar at one of the rest stops, whereupon he mixed me a libation that gave me a noticeable buzz.

He also brought along an early automaker's turn-of-the-century scrapbook he'd recently found and excitedly showed it around, explaining its historical significance and rarity. 

The impression was that Austin was one of those eternally happy people who was always laughing and smiling.

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