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bob horgan

1942-Was it a great year?

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Some cars were made, mostly for war effort. However, there were a few made & sold to the public. One of our regions members has a 42 Ford.

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It was a great but short year for De Soto: the 1942 De Soto featured new "Air-foil Headlights: Out of Sight, Except at Night!"

1942 model civilian cars were generally low in numbers compared with their '41 counterparts, and the '42s were face-lifted '41s. Some of the very last 1942 cars were known as "black-out models" - the chrome and stainless brightwork was replaced by painted trim.

Sticking with De Soto, according to the "Standard Catalog of Chrysler, 1914-2000" (copyright 2000, Krause Publications), total De Soto production for 1941 is listed as 99,999 units; for 1942, it was a mere 24,771 units, one-fourth of the previous year's production.

A shame for the De Soto enthusiast, as this was one of their most distinctive and attractive cars. Of course the rarest of the'42 De Sotos is the convertible-coupe: just 79 Deluxes and 489 Customs were made in rag-top form.

I would expect that you would find the most examples of 1942 cars still existing in the bread & butter lines of Chevy, Ford, Dodge & Plymouth.

Frank McMullen

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Frank, I've always thought the hidden headlight treatment of the '42 DeSoto was interesting, and it's unfortunate that the feature did not return after the war to further differentiate the DeSoto from the other Chrysler products.

I have never been fortunate enough to see a '42 DeSoto at a car show, but spotted one that had been converted into a pickup truck driving down the streets of Lima, Peru in 1986.

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Hi Bob:

Impossible to convey how different things were then. Even as a child at that time, I can tell you...was a far different world we lived in, in those days....

As for cars, the federal govt. halted manufacture of cars for the general public in Feb. or March of '42. Many auto manufacturing plants (and their suppliers) re-tooled and re-equipped their plants for military products, so just about all automobile production essentially ceased. I have heard stories that some Fords and Chevrolets were produced for the military, but I do not know how they did this, probably assembled from inventory. Trucks continued to be manufactured in small numbers for the civilian market, but you had to have "pull" and be on some kind of "list" to get one.

It was not a pleasant time - I recall (my parents were ethnic Germans, so we lived in a German section of Long Island) we could see burning allied shipping from the hill behind our neighborhood, and some of our neighbors thought it was great fun to tune all their short-wave radios into Radio Berlin, so we could hear what was going to happen to us if they won.

Someone in govnenment got the idea they could sell more war bonds, if the public was to "feel" the pinch of war. Of course we had plenty of food and gasoline, but, we had rationing of these and many other items. My dad was an "essential war worker", so we had a "B" sticker, but most people had to get by with about three gallons of gas a week. Getting new tires (even if you qualfied for them) was another tedious drawn out "paper-work" ordeal.

I recall coming across Arizona in early '45, when the National Speed Limit was still in effect. Yes...a NATIONAL SPEED LIMIT...of 35 mph. Supposedly, the speed limit was to save BOTH gas and tires. By that era, people were used to driving MUCH faster...driving that slow, especially on long trips....was a real "pain" for my dad - he bought a used "ordinary man" Packard...a "120"..and he liked to drive the hell out of it. He was REALLY mad at that federal speed limit....especially, when some hi powered govt. offical would come blasting by at two or three times that, with his fancy license plate.

My parents couldnt get me a Lionel train set for Christmas....Lionel was making various "essential war goods"...not toys.

In '44, my uncle came back on leave..I remember him saying how sick he was of the jungle...and fighting in south east asia...he was going to buy the first new Cadillac convertible that came off the assembly-line (there was such a pent-up demand for new cars, it was late '48 before he finally got his hands on one....!). Oh...as a side note....my uncle..south-east asia...he was with the CBI Command... helping out these funny slant-eyed people....he marveled at what tough and dedicated fighters they were against the Japanese invasion...let's see...I think he called them "Vietnamese"....who were assisting us in fighting the japs...in a far away place called Indo China.......

Pete Hartmann

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Now that German section of Long Island wasn't by chance Lindenhurst, was it?

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And those funny slant eyed people under the redoubtable Ho Chi Min wanted the US to help keep the French from coming back after the Japanese were defeated but politics is politics and when the US didn't help they kicked them out by themselves.

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Buick built it's last car on Feb 16, 1942 and it was a "blackout" model. It is pictured in "Buick's First 50 Years" and my 1971 Article on the Buick straight 8 in ANTIQUE AUTOMOBILE. 1942 was not a warmed over 1941 model for Buick, but the first of the 1946-1949 design, which bore a strong resemblance to the 1938 Buick Y-Job experimental car designed by Harley Earl. 1942 was also the year of Corrigador and the Bataan Death March, but before the end of the year, I think, we were able to celebrate (in history) the turning point at the Battle of Midway.

My Dad had an essential job as well, and was able to get enough gas for his '39 Buick, but tires were another thing. I remember them smashing cans to return them for the War effort. A friend of mine has a grille emblem from a Hispano Suiza touring car that he and his buddies cut up as teenagers, for the "War Drive", getting $125 for the steele in the car. I remember the blackout warden walking the street, as my dad listened to "Gabriel Heater" on the radio with a blanket over his head so the radio light couldn't be seen, and I remember the black blackout window shades on our house. My 1944 Christmas present was a wooden wagon and even the wheels were made of wood. My granddad worked at the torpedo plant in Alexandria, VA, and I have some little torpedos today that he brought home. Before that, as a carpenter, he worked on building the Pentagon. I can remember going there one time to see or pick him up from work. My grandmom worked in the Navy Civilian Volunteer Service and I have her pins. We rented two bedrooms in our house to 4 "government girls" throughout the war, and their boyfriends would come by in uniform when on leave and I remember anti-aircraft gun emplacements on the DC side of the Key Bridge. I remember the day that natural gas returned, replacing synthetic gas, and new tires replacing syntetic tires. Living just outside of DC made the War an exciting time to the 4-7 year old boy that I was, but for the older folks these were hard, scary times. Could we do today what our parents did then? I think we could if we had to.

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Concerning cars and trucks sold during the War. After a certain date, the government either provided storage or made dealers store whatever new cars were still unsold to the public. I don't remember the accronym for the Agency, but they had to approve the sale of these vehicles. Doctors, some other essential people and the government/military could call out these cars and trucks from storage. I don't believe any cars were built after the shutdown but I'm unsure about non-military trucks. In any case, this is how the occasional new 1942 vehicle might be seen on the streets after February, 1942. I know a man with a 1942 Ford pickup that is titled in VA as a 1945 model. Another interesting point, there were some few people who smelled the war in 1941 and bought two or three, and in one case seven that I've heard of, new 1941-42 cars. There was a man in NC who actually had several brand new 1941 NOS Buicks that his father had bought, at least until several years ago. I think he was the one who had seven new ones to start with...he must have expected a LONG War. My Dad paid $700 for his '39 Buick with 14K miles on it in September, 1941. Following the War, cars were so hard to get he was offered $900 for the same car. He said he couldn't sell it because he couldn't get another car. A late friend of mine, who lived near Baltimore returned from the Navy in 1946 and had to buy a Maxwell to get a car to drive.

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At the recent Buick Centennial, a separate exhibit was set up at the Flint (Michigan) airport to recognize Buick's production of war goods during WWII. Photo below shows a 1941 Buick with a Buick Hellcat Tank Destroyer. During the meet, we were often treated to the sight and sound of a B-24 Liberator bomber making low passes over the show field at the Flint Cultural Center. Buick built engines for the Liberators. 41%20&%20Hellcat%203.jpg

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I can't believe that noone's posted the official dates of production cessation as yet on this thread! Car production for 1942 models was officially stopped on Feb. 10, 1942. Civilian truck production officially ceased on Mar. 3, 1942. Some individual manufacturer's dates may vary slightly from the "official" dates. The vehicles built between Jan. 1 and those dates were "blackout" models, with chrome use limited stricly to bumpers only.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> ....people under the redoubtable Ho Chi Min wanted the US to help keep the French from coming back after the Japanese were defeated but politics is politics and when the US didn't help they kicked them out by themselves. </div></div>

Actually Ho's appeals to the U.S. to remove French rule were decades old by WWII. In 1918 a teenage Ho Chi Min presented Woodrow Wilson at the League of Nations summit with a petition to (diplomatically) remove French rule.

And some thought he was a born communist.

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this 42 roadmaster convertibles is only 1 of 2 known to exist. i first saw it in Richmond BCA national in 2000.

you can tell a 42 by the double horz. trim down the doors.

they are very hard to find. this car was at Meadowbrook, but not in flint....

I started a 42 group, some day I get one!

MD-3.jpg

1942 buick group

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I think you mean one of only two convertible Roadmaster's known to exist don't you? I owned a two-tone green 1942 Super sedan that is now in a NC Museum and my uncle owned a 1942 Special sedanette all during the War and up to about 1953.

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you are right, 1 of 2 convertibles.....

also, Paul Meyer, our new BCA VP, ownes this 42 truck which was made at the buick factory custom for the general manager of buick... so the story goes. He also, has an unrestored 1942 super... which I'm on the "list" to buy some day!

1942-truck.jpg

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I to saw this 42 convertible back in 2000 and it is absolutely beautiful! I have been keeping a eye out for it since and have always wondered what happened to it. I thought for sure it would surface at Amelia Island in 2001?

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I saw the 42 Buick "truck" at the home of Ken Rodenhouse in Grand Rapids, Michigan (I think it was Grand Rapids....anyway not far from Lake Michigan) many years ago before it was restored. That was either 1971 or 1972. It was stored outside behind his huge garage full of 1958 Buicks. At the time he said it was a flower car and didn't tell me anything about it having been built for Mr. Ragsdale. Maybe he didn't know that fact. Of course Mr. Ragsdale wasn't General Manager until 1956 if I remember correctly. I'm getting too old to remember all of the exact details when I'm here in Florida away from my books up in Virginia haha

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Hi Bob, it`s me.... Don`t get these old geezers started. Yes there were cars built during the war. A few years ago there was an absolutley splended Hudson woodie wagon of the 1943 vintage at Meadowbrook. The story behind this car borders on total fiction, how ever it`s all true. Feel free to call @ 365-1893..........GREAT STORY!!!! CORDially Jerry

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