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When I was a kid in the 50's I used to love to get a haircut. Once a month I would walk to a certain barbershop in my neighborhood on a Saturday that had a huge stack of old Mechanix Illustrated magazines, where I would sit for hours reading Tom McCahill road tests of cars. I think that in a large way he sparked both my interest in cars and in language. He was, without a doubt, the master of the simile and one of the most colorfull writers of his day.

It seems to me that someone, somewhere, must have re-published a collection of McCahill articles. Has anyone ever seen such a collection? I would love to get my hands on a copy.

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I was curious what happened to Tom. A year or two ago I did some research and learned he is no longer with us (of course), and I also believe Automobile Quarterly did a biography of him. I used to read those road tests too. He was never afraid to tell it how it was, in colorful dialogue. smile.gif

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"Collectible Automobile" magazine has done a "Personality Profile" of Tom McCahill within the last two or three years. I will see if I can locate the issue. The article included a full page of some of his most famous similes.

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McCahill did one article on the Keller automobile which was made in Huntsville, Alabama. They only made 18 as prototypes before they lost their funding (Mr. Keller died) and never made it to production. Uncharacteristically Tom was fairly complimentary of the car even though he did not get a chance to drive one. I've got a copy someplace and will have to dig it up sometime. Good idea about some sort of collection of his articles in one book.

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McCahill wrote in Mechanix Illustrated monthly from something like 1947 up into the mid 1960's at least. Let's see... that must be about 200 road test articles. The vendio site has 19 of them apparently for about $2 a pop.

Here are a few free McCahill quotes that I picked up somewhere. Wish I had the entire collection, and if anyone ever puts together a book, let me know.

On the 1955 Ford V8:

"The '55 Ford has digaway boff by the treeload."

On the 1962 Plymouth:

" It was raining like tears in a onion cannery when I did my test.......I don't know of a car in its class that can top Plymouth.  It offers the best roadability in its class, and this, tied up with good brakes makes it just about the safest.  .........the slightly teutonic looks of the Valiant, stand out like a hip flask in a bikini."

On early 30's Classic Imperials:

"These long-hooded brutes had more sex-appeal than a boatload of starlets anchored off Alcatraz."

On the Jeep CJ3:

"The standard seats are rumored to be made of foam rubber. For my dough, some stew blew the foam from a short beer between some plastic -- and that was that. Aside from their lack of comfort, they are cut so that with a well-planned wheel spin you could toss Gramp right over a vegetable cart, and into a saloon on one bounce."

On the 1960 Dodge Dart Phoenix:

"When equipped with the optional D-500 engine, displacing 383 cubic inches with 2  four barrel carburetors, it should be able to chew around a race course with enough stuff to turn the humidity into steam.......... (and) make a helluva ridge-runner for the moonshine boys."

On the 1959 Dodge:

"The front end is as new as next February's cold."

On the 1959 Plymouth:

"Plymouth for 1959 is the best car of the low priced three in our bald-headed opinion, and we've tested all of them."

On the 1959 Imperial:

"This doll was as loaded as an opium peddler during a tong war. Swivel seats make it as easy to get into as a floating crap game with fresh money. On the 31 degree banked turns the big Imp hung in there like oil going through a hose."

On the 1966 Dodge Coronet Hemi:

"WThis family sized rig has all the belt of a 2 mile swim in a whiskey vat. When you put your foot through the firewall make sure your teeth are well anchored. It is as furry as a mink farm and as snarly as a bengal tiger in a butcher shop."

On the 1965 Aston Martin DB5:

"Built to do 150 mph, (the DB5's) are real beasts and about as gentle around town as galloping hiccups at a prayer meeting. This Aston is as docile as a puppy with a full tummy in traffic but a snarler when you give it a whip."

On the 1957 Imperial:

"It will get down the pike like a vaselined arrow, and with no more effort than skipping off a cliff."

On a 1963 Mercury 427:

"It has more hair on its chest than a middle-aged yak"

On the 1962 Chrysler 300:

"I had the car for over a month, and had as many adventures with it as a Siberian trapper would have in Miami Beach. The new 300 is the old Windsor, sexed up  and poured into a sport suit. When you slide behind the wheel you get the feeling that this is a big compact, and not an oversized barge as awkward to handle as wearing moose antlers in a telephone booth. A functional car that gives top performance with lots of room for beaucoup stuff, which might include wine, weazels or women."

On the 1959 Chevy Impala:

"The rear deck treatment is pure Louis Armstrong: gone, man, gone!"

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  • 15 years later...

A bit more to brighten your day:


Editorial: In Praise of . . . Tom McCahill

By Jim Sutherland on July 7, 2009



There are many great reasons to be happy to be a Baby Boomer. We may be getting old but we misspent our youth in some great decades. We had the iconic cars and lots of drive-ins for a custom fit with an increasingly relaxed moral code. We only had AM radio, but it played some of the best music ever heard in a car. But mostly we (or at least I) had Tom McCahill.

Tom McCahill was a god to me; the guy who made me glad that I’d learned how to read. Tom appeared in my home every month as a feature writer and test pilot for Mechanix Illustrated. He drove every car like he just stole Don Corleone’s personal ride. Very little was off limits to Uncle Tom. He put test cars through a hellacious torture sessions, proving the engineering mettle of over 600 vehicles, over the course of several decades. And he lived to talk about it.

A lot of his test vehicles were only a few decades removed from Model T technology. A Tom McCahill hell-drive put these dinosaurs at the very edge of extinction. Or, in some Uncle Tom tests, over the abyss.

One of the funnier McCahill tests involved a 1966 Dodge Coronet 426 Hemi convertible. Uncle Tom coaxed the beast to 144 mph on an oval track. He pinned the car despite a promise to keep his foot out of the test. At the “pedal meets floorboard” pinnacle of his test flight, the Dodge’s fabric roof looked like a pup tent during prime time Katrina. McCahill’s only regret: the roof kept him from achieving even more insane speeds. The man had brass and balls in no particular order.

McCahill’s prose sparkled. In fact, he never met a metaphor or simile he didn’t like. The AC Cobra was “hairier than a Borneo gorilla in a raccoon suit.” The 1957 Pontiac’s ride quality was as “smooth as a prom queen’s thighs.” The ’59 Chrysler Imperial was “as loaded as an opium peddler during a tong war.” The ’57 Buicks handled “like a fat matron trying to get out of a slippery bathtub.” His writing style made him famous, but testing cars made him a decent living, and McCahill liked to live large.

One of my favorite McCahillisms: “idiot lights.” He used the term for Detroit’s cheap-ass replacement for gauges to show high water temperature and low oil pressure. A lot of them had plenty of both problems, and idiot lights usually came on shortly before the patient died.

The zero to sixty sprint was the most famous Tom McCahill automobile test feature. Some of the dogs he tested (not including his beloved Labrador) required an hourglass. We still measure performance by the McCahill meter.

Tom wrote during an era of big cars which became even bigger cars. I always liked his measurements for roominess, which included sticking his large hunting dogs or his trusty photographer in the trunk for a photo shoot.

His November 1959 MI preview of the 1960 cars illustrated his belief in the big boys, despite the birth of Big Three compacts in that model year. Uncle Tom felt that “America is basically a big car country with big car needs.” His personal favorites included a series of late 50s and early 60s Chrysler Imperials which presumably provided a few acres of room for Uncle Tom and the mutts.

Uncle Tom had an obvious affinity for Mopar, particularly in the torsion bar period, where Chrysler’s legendary letter cars moved muscle and mass with surprising agility for the era.

As a journalist, McCahill was a force to be reckoned with. After testing the first post-war Oldsmobile (the 1948 Futuramic 98), Uncle Tom said that hitting the gas pedal “was like stepping on a wet sponge.” Olds dealers were livid. History has it that McCahill’s review “inspired” Olds to fit the 88 with the legendary Rocket V-8 .

Eventually every Mechanix Illustrated came equipped with an added feature called “Mail for McCahill.” It was an information Q and A hosted by the always quotable Uncle Tom. Every now and then some bozo would poke the lion with a sharp stick with a cheap shot. The net result was always the same: Tom would take the guy apart, immortalizing his antagonist as another idiot run over by a fast moving McCahill one-liner.

As a car guy, Tom McCahill will always be my favorite non-related Uncle Tom. Detroit didn’t really love the guy, but they had to listen to him when he complained about handling and performance issues. Why? Because the man preached from a very big pulpit in car world. And we loved the sermons.

[Note: TTAC is now the only car site with both father and son writers (Paul and Edward Niedermeyer) and identical twin writers (Jim and Jerry Sutherland). For more of the latter’s work please visit mystarcollectorcar.com.]

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More McCahill:



MI Tests the ’54 Cadillac (Aug, 1954)



MI Tests the ’54 Cadillac

Uncle Tom takes a gander at America’s favorite prestige automobile and discovers that for real economy, believe it or not, Cadillac is tops.

By Tom McCahill

“Gee Dad, look at the new Wurlitzer console organ, de luxe style!”

“No, Son, that’s one of them sightseeing trains.”

Obviously they are both wrong: the object they are looking at is a new Cadillac. For though the 1954 Caddie was not designed to look like a B-36 in flight, that long tail makes it possible to back over a guy for twenty minutes before the wheels touch him.

As any professional writer will tell you, it’s sheer suicide to criticize a product that is held in high esteem by the general public, especially when thousands of readers might consider owning the product to be life’s highest achievement. So it’s been nice knowing you, friends, but here goes.

Cadillac through the years has had the pleasure of building cars that for some unexplained reason have become symbols of success. For many years they had what might be called a “money look.” This look, in the writer’s opinion, was the result of a carefully-planned, conservative design set off by rich but conservative colors. Like a well-tailored $250 dark blue suit, the Cadillac until recently had that expensive appearance that was hard to analyze. Now, as the barest barefooted economist knows, in the last decade more citizens of our republic have hit the jackpot than at any previous time in the country’s history. Naturally, many of these gents with bulging pockets immediately set out to fulfill their depression-stymied desires by latching onto the worldly goods of their dreams. Cadillac, since World War II, has done well in the “ensuing prosperity and at times has run more than a year behind the salesmen taking orders.

As a result, Cadillac has become the true economy car of the nation. *Only third-grade delinquents labor under the misapprehension that big gas mileage is the measure of top economy. Economy in an automobile is made up of many factors. Strangely enough, the big Cadillac is the best car by far in gas economy in its price class, due to its excellently designed power plant, and you get better gas mileage with a Caddie than you get with most of the lowest-priced cars. But this is only a small part of the economy figure with Cadillac.

What has made Cadillac the nation’s number one economy car and best automotive investment up until now is its amazing resale or trade-in value. This abnormal situation was caused by Cadillac’s smaller by-comparison production. Roughly 100,-000 units a year (give or take a few thousand one way or the other) was just about half what the Cadillac division of General Motors could have sold each year since 1945 if it had built all the cars it had orders for. In many cases second-hand Cadillacs sold on used car lots for more than their original cost. Hard-used cars brought almost new prices, regardless of condition.

For example, I bought a new Cadillac (full price) in 1950 through New York Cadillac. I racked up about 30,000 very hard miles on it before deciding to dump it and buy a Jag. The paint was faded, the tires were bare and as far as I was concerned my proud beauty had seen much better days. In order to make a quick deal (I was due to hit the road for several months in a day or two) I called a car wholesaler and told him the whole unvarnished truth. I told him the paint was faded and the car needed all new tires and a lot of clean-up work. This wholesaler didn’t know me from Adam but right there on the phone he offered me just $200 less than I paid for the car new more than a year before! We made a deal and he picked up the car within twenty minutes. If I had time to shop around I could have undoubtedly gotten all my original pur-chase-price back.

These facts are what has, in the past, made Cadillac the best automobile investment in the world. In the last year or two this pay-anything-for-a-Caddie situation has eased considerably. They hold value better than any other car but not as they once did. Even today there are a lot of fresh money boys who haven’t bought their first Cadillac yet but the crop is getting thinner by the hour. In a matter of not too many months, I believe Cadillac will have to start fighting the competition on its merits and I for one don’t feel it’s overloaded in this department.

In 1954 Caddie stretched the wheelbase on all models and they now have more overhang in the rear than the old Sheepshead Bay Hook and Ladder wagon. This body overhang doesn’t do a thing for the car’s roadability or ease of handling in a tight spot. One big dealer I know, who took one to the top of Pike’s Peak and back, said he was scared to death the way Old Big Tail whipped around on the tight corners. As for his wife, she wanted to get out and walk. In a nutshell, it boils down to this. Either all the designers who build cars for Le Mans and the Monte Carlo Rally are wrong, or the boys who build Cadillacs are wrong. Extreme overhang and good safe cornering and road holding rarely go together. I can sum up my feeling about the new Caddie styling in one word—Ugh!

When I first got behind the wheel and looked back, I felt as though I was all alone in an Old Town canoe, paddling it from the bow with the stern way out of water. That rear deck really kills me. What a place for drying out a Kodiak bear skin! Forgetting what’s behind you and looking straight ahead as you take to the highway, it’s not unpleasant. In straight-line turnpike travel, this is a nice-handling, rock-yourself-to-sleep-barge. But on hard corners it sure isn’t a Ferrari.

The car I tested belonged to Joe Little-john and was the car that won the 1954 MI acceleration trophy, one mile from a standstill. It’s no ball of fire and a little sluggish in the low ranges but once under way it unravels nicely. Zero to 30 was a comparatively slow 4.8 seconds. Zero to 60 is better but not record-breaking at 12.2 seconds. Zero to 80 is a fast 20 seconds flat. After that it really gets going. Both the big Chrysler and Buick Century can out- m drag it to 60. But over the mile range, the Caddie was unbeatable. After a mile the Chrysler starts to pull up again. Top speed of the model 62 coupe averages between 112 and 115 depending on road surface.

Of course, the car I tested was tuned to the teeth. It not only won the MI one-mile runs but also proved to be the fastest Caddie in the flying mile. It has a wagonload of power but under average driving conditions it’s not sensational. Cadillac accessories have always been tops. The self-tuning radio, heater and all other units are the best of their kind. The finish of the cheapest 62 coupe was not startlingly lush by any measure, inside or out, and where lines and proportion are concerned, I don’t think they compare with my 1950 Model 61 coupe, which at least looked like it belonged in this world.

No doubt Caddie has a lot of prime factors, including its excellent 230-horse-power V-8 engine, that can’t be discounted. Here are a few additional pertinent facts. With that increased length, a Cadillac has just enough ground clearance to slip three flapjacks underneath. Depending on model, the ground clearance ranges all the way from just under 6 inches to 6.2 inches. A fast trip over a high-crowned gravel country road would sound like a Swiss bell-ringers’ convention at break-up time. The smallest 1954 Cad has a turning radius of 45 feet and the big 149-inch wheelbase 75 Fleetwood takes 52 feet, 7 inches to turn around. As all the ’54 jobs are 80 inches fat, maneuvering them through a tight space or backing them out of a small garage might prove similar to the feat of docking the Queen Mary without tugs. All 1954 Caddies have power steering which, considering the car’s dimensions, is understandable.

You don’t have to have a sheephide from M.I.T. to realize that extreme overhang will increase side-slipping leverage at the rear wheels. As I will freely hate all people who do not buy my new book on modern sports cars, regardless of race, color or creed, I suggest if you are interested in good road design that you buy a copy from your local book-keeper. Besides, I need the dough.

Buick engineers bobbed the Century’s tail without losing any trunk space and this departure from what the writer considers a bad trend helps to make the Century one of the best road cars in the country today. If size and size alone is what future de- signers are going to depend on for prestige cars, then I for one will happily go back to the horse and buggy period.- As this goes to press, I have just heard the rumor that Lincoln may be much longer in ’55. I hope not. But if it’s true, I am one customer they have just lost.

In the past, the more expensive cars became the prestige offerings of the day through real ability and outstanding quality. These old-time expensive hacks were the engineering leaders and featured such mundane things as lasting quality and road performance for the less expensive to copy as best they could. Today this “prestige” just seems to mean that somebody-or-other “endorsed” the product.

The greatest single feat ever accomplished by Cadillac was in 1950 when Briggs Cunningham’s stock-Cadillac 61 coupe finished tenth at Le Mans. This short-wheelbase Caddie with export shocks and synchromesh transmission was a real automobile, a credit to the great name of Cadillac. But almost immediately, Cadillac discontinued this 122-inch wheelbase model and started the ever bigger trend it still follows. If a Cadillac of today finished in tenth place at Le Mans it would be similar in accomplishment to single-handedly building the Taj Mahal in your backyard during your two weeks’ vacation.

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And more Tom:


TOM McCAHILL SAYS: “We Can Stop the Highway Slaughter!” (Nov, 1954)


TOM McCAHILL SAYS: “We Can Stop the Highway Slaughter!”

MI’s famed automotive authority proposes a gutsy, double-barreled safety program which would make a lot of people mad—but also save a lot of lives.

SPEED, illegal speed, is the Number One cause of highway deaths, according to the majority of the high-tinkling brass in the safety business. To this I say, “Phooey.” Speed is a cause of highway deaths—but then, so is slow-driving. As I see it, there are four primary causes of our annual roadway slaughter: obsolete highways, Stone Age police practices, bad drivers and unsafe automobiles.

MI Tests the 1951 Kaiser Special (May, 1950)


MI Tests the 1951 Kaiser Special

“Good looks, real performance and lots of new ideas” should enable the new medium-priced Kaiser to give competitors a run for their money, says Tom McCahill.

THE 1951 Supersonic six-cylinder Kaiser Special—one of three all-new lines produced this year by Kaiser-Frazer —is quite an automobile. It has good looks, real performance and a lot of brand new little ideas which should cause competitors to take inventory of their own merchandise.

MI Tests the Willys Jeepster and Station Wagon (Jan, 1950)


MI Tests the Willys Jeepster and Station Wagon

“This wagon could almost climb the side of a building!” says Tom McCahill after testing the Jeep’s newest descendant.

HEWING to the line that nothing succeeds like success, Little Willie Jeep, the bottom-busting toughie of war fame, has spread himself out four ways, all heading in the same general direction.

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SPEED WEEKS ’56 (May, 1956)



Tough competition and attempted skulduggery were features of the 1956 NASCAR Daytona Beach trials.

By Tom McCahill

THE 1956 Daytona Beach Speed Trials will go down in the history books as the most razzle-dazzle hunk of competition since Rip Van Winkle switched to an electric razor. NASCAR sanctioned Speed Weeks (plural) this year, which was intended to mean two weeks of Speed Trials. But Old Herman Weather decided differently. Consequently, the huge program spaced to cover two weeks’ running was jammed into the fastest 48 hours of activity ever to assault the Atlantic Coast.

MI Tests the Morris Minor Station Wagon (Nov, 1954)

Was it a bet in the office? Did he get free drinks every time he mentioned a Chinaman in a review? This is getting so ridiculous I’ve added a McCahill Chinamen tag. Also, why would you bring an embalmed Chinaman to a firemen’s clambake?

“…the rear passenger seat unhinges and folds forward, providing enough level cargo room to haul an embalmed Chinaman and a stiff bull Elk to a firemen’s clambake.”


MI Tests the Morris Minor Station Wagon

Although it has the smallest engine of any production car built in England, this cute bucket corners like a baby Ferrari, says Tom.

By Tom McCahill

ON seeing a Morris Minor going down the road, an Irish friend of mine once said to me, “If any one ever hit me with one of them things and I found it out, I’d turn both the roller skate and the driver over me knee.”




MI’s auto expert, Tom McCahill, went to the car manufacturers and got the straight dope on what you can expect in the coming decade.

SLEEK, beetle-high cars with retractable wings and power plants capable of jetlike acceleration, even when climbing Pike’s Peak, are some of the things many Americans have been led to believe were a matter of months away. We have dreamed or thought of the day when our American cars would resemble Buck Rogers creations and perform accordingly. As the war drew to a close, we heard rumors of super streamlined beauties in the works which would make anything we knew of automobiles in the past seem antiquated.

McCAHILL’S 3-IN-1 Dream Car (Jan, 1954)

Good old Tom, he makes it all the way to the last sentence without talking about Chinese men and opium.


McCAHILL’S 3-IN-1 Dream Car

Have you ever said to yourself, “Boy, if this car only had a you-know-what and a gilhoolie, I sure could go for it.” Well, here’s the car.

EXACTLY five years ago the January 1949 issue of MI brought you my idea of a Dream Car. Since then, a lot of things, including the Korean War have taken place and new cars such as the V-8 Chrysler, the V-8 Studebaker, the Continental Studebaker and Mexican-type Lincolns have been built. Crosley has gone out of business, the King of England died, and Polly Adler became an author. America regained supremacy of the trans-Atlantic record with the liner United States, Jaguar automobiles won the Le Mans race twice, and King Farouk was forcibly moved across the Mediterranean.

Tom McCahill Looks Over The 1956 Cars (Nov, 1955)


Tom McCahill Looks Over The 1956 Cars

MI’s famed car critic presents a preview of the first batch of new cars released for publication. Don’t miss the December Ml for a look at more makes and models.

Chrysler Corporation.

FROM the glamorized Plymouth right on up to the Imperial, the 1955 Chrysler line was entirely different. The overall change was miraculous. Chryslers have always been good cars but many a moon had slipped over the mountain since they could be considered great. The 1955 offerings were close to great. In every division they had the hottest offerings in two decades and they could have stood pat with these until well into 1956. However, getting the taste of blood for the first time in years, the young, new Chrysler quarterbacks elected to stop right in the middle of success and whip out a brand-new line for ’56, long before the football season had progressed to maturity. Let’s take a look at them:

MI Tests the VW Station Wagon (Sep, 1954)


MI Tests the VW Station Wagon

Call it a Kombi, a van or a bus, it’s actually the greatest thing of its kind, says Uncle Tom.

By Tom McCahill

THE greatest in the world would be one way of describing the Volkswagen station wagon—if there was anything around to compare it with. Actually, it’s strictly a one-of-a-kind deal, like striped hair or a six-legged horse. It is the only station wagon I have ever seen that has enough up-and-down room and forward-and-aft space to take the station with you —if you want to.

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When I bought the ‘53 Roadmaster, it came with a book of documentation and articles. One was a Popular Science review by Wilbur Shaw (not as colourful a writer as T.M.), another from Science and Mechanics magazine (author unknown), and finally McCahill’s from Mechanix Illustrated. 

Tom’s love of metaphor sometimes was a writing trap, as he had to reach pretty far for some of them, and others were a bit senseless - but it’s all fun reading. His style was like Walter Winchell’s machine-gun cadence of wiseguy phrasing; Damon Runyon meets a garage mechanic. 

I’d be interested in knowing what car(s) he owned and drove personally. At one point in this article he talks about “his car”which is a Mark VII Jag. 

For the 1953 Roadmaster, some of what he said:


” The top news at Buick is the power plant. This big 322 cubic-inch egg beater develops 188 horsepower and is as smooth as a bucket of warm Vaseline.”


”This job unravels like a junior hydrogen bomb”


”This, kiddies, is a fact, so get a good grip on your seats. The new Buick Roadmaster I tested on the GM proving ground averaged, over a two-way run, 103.4 miles an hour.”


”By now I can feel the real automotive reader seething and saying to himself, “Come on, Baldy, tell us how the Roadmaster handles and does it have power steering?”

“If you are a Buick man I say, “Here’s your dish, the best Buick built since the war.”


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I've been a McCahill fan since I was a kid and have read practically all the MI tests and Mail for McCahill columns.  Still have a stack of old MIs around.

"I’d be interested in knowing what car(s) he owned and drove personally. At one point in this article he talks about “his car”which is a Mark VII Jag. "

JBP that is a tall order as he bought a new car about once a year.

Just covering the postwar years when he was writing for MI-

He bought one of the first Fords delivered after the war, this would be a 1946 sedan

Followed by a 1947 Mercury sedan

1949 Ford sedan

1950 Ford sedan. This became the famous MI Ford hopped up by the Granatelli Brothers in Chicago. Uncle Tom said it brought more attention and mail than any articles he ever did, and he received letters and questions about it for years after the series ran

1950 Cadillac Model 61 hardtop with synchromesh transmission. Smallest of the Cadillac line, and the last year for the model. Only 4 were special ordered with manual transmission, McCahill's and 3 bought by Briggs Cunningham, two of them competed at LeMans.

1951 Jaguar Mark VII

1952 MG Mark II

1953 Lincoln Capri hardtop, which he called his Mexican Road Race Lincoln. Special ordered with solid lifter cam and heavy duty "export" suspension.

1954 Jeep CJ

1955 Thunderbird, first Thunderbird sold to a retail customer. McCahill had it hopped up and set speed records at Daytona Beach.

1956 Dodge Sierra station wagon

1957 Chrysler Imperial. McCahill thought highly of the Imperial and had a new one every year until 1966.

1958, 59, 60 etc Imperials

Somewhere in here he bought a Land Rover

After 1966 he bought a Rolls Royce which he kept for several years.

1969 Lincoln Continental Mark III.

I don't know what other  cars he had after that, if any. He passed away in 1975.


He mentioned a number of cars he owned before the war,  I could name a few of those if anyone was interested.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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Thanks for the list, Rusty! Quite a range of autos. 


I think the best thing about reading T.M.’s articles today is the strong and clear sense of enjoyment he had for his job. He comes across as a guy you’d like to have a meal with and just have him reel off stories for hours. 

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One I remember the most was this one and started my desire for one even before I had a driver's license. Guess today it would be a resato-mod.

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10 hours ago, padgett said:

One I remember the most was this one and started my desire for one even before I had a driver's license. Guess today it would be a resato-mod.


I think just a custom, a resto mod would need something modern for the drive train. When that was built it was from new components from different new cars, now it just an old classic car, a resto-mod would be that same Studebaker with 1019 Cadillac drivetrain 

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Somewhere I have a copy of "The Modern Sports Car" by Uncle Tom 1954. A great book.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/13/2020 at 2:38 PM, padgett said:

Somewhere I have a copy of "The Modern Sports Car" by Uncle Tom 1954. A great book.

That rang a bell for me too.  Sure enough, there it was among an accumulation of the great old 75 cent Fawcett books of the '50's which I hadn't perused in decades.  It was a good read, but I noted that for some reason Uncle Tom left Porsche out of his Top 10 Sports Car article,  which imo included one or more that now-a-days would be considered relatively inferior.  


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He knew what he was talking about, the omission of Porsche isn't a mistake. He was a man of the era who understood cars far better than 99.9 % of his readers.

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I've got the same book, dated 1951. I'm not sure Porsches were sold in the US at that time. He did think highly of the VW beetle and reviewed it in MI about that time or a little earlier.

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Might have been because Unca Tom was an east coaster, mostly NYC and Palm Beach and there probably more Ferraris on the East Coast than Porsches until Brumos came along (1959). That said, one of the cars pictured/discussed in "The Modern Sports Car" (1954) was a bathtub Porsche "convertible". His main dislike was the $4k price.

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One quote I remember from Tom McCahill was when a Packard Executive said, "We don't like you, but we respect you!' McCahill said that that was the nicest compliment he ever had.

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71.14 mph on a corrected speedo.


Minor difugldy: was raining and Chrysler had vacuum wipers.

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If I remember correctly Uncle Tom said of the post war Oldsmobile that "stepping on the accelerator is like stepping on a wet sponge, the goes squish instead of swish." Based on that criticism Olds engineers developed the Rocket V8.

He also believed that the original 55 T-Bird used many of the ideas that he proposed for his 3 in one dream car. He wasn't mad about that, just happy that Detroit was listening to him.

His test of the 1948 Tucker is certainly an interesting read. One suspect piece of information was Tom's estimate that the factory had 200 cars in various stages of manufacture on the assembly line. That estimate seems a little high considering that only 48 cars were actually built.

One last thing. If you want to see Tom do tire testing there is a video on Youtube with Tom testing General tires on a 1957 Lincoln.


Lew Bachman

1957 T-Bird


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