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Greg_bigdaddy

Auto writer Ralph Stein

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I also wondered what happened to him. I still have his books going on 30 years or more now and if he's still around he must be 100 years old by now. I believe the photographer he used was Tom Burnside (one of the best) and he must have some treasure trove of photo's. I wonder if he also is still around? <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> ............................Steve

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I'm wondering if anyone knows of auto writer Ralph Stein? I've heard many other people comment on what a huge influence he was (including Jay Leno.) </div></div>

Ralph Stein changed my life forever, thanks to a Christmas gift of The Treasury of The Automobile from my Aunte Betty in 1961. NOBODY has written a better book that gives a total overview of the hobby. I believe Ralph is racing with the Angles, his Alfa 1750 was at a dealership a few years ago.

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If you want to know the answer you need to ask someone who was close to people who were close to him. He was close to Austin Clark and Ralph Buckley, and one of his books describes Ralph's work on his early Welsh. The person who was probably closest to Ralph andmoved in the same circles is Fred Hoch. You would have to ring him, and I have no doubt he could probably tell you.

Other way to check would be the Mormon Church genealogical internet site. They keep information on everyone imagimable, not just their own community.

The book that really inspire and informed me originally was a hardback copy of Ken Purdy's "Kings of the Road". One of the other students at boarding school had this and loaned it around the dormitory when I was about 10. Of course, I was interested in mechanisms long before that. There were trucks and buldozers of the timbermill, and lots of army tanks. I did a top rebuild of an R975 Wright Wirlwind radial when I was about 15, and it still survives in useable condition. Stein had more and better photos, but I reckon Purdy was the more memorable author.

Ivan Saxton

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Ken Prudy lived 2 1/2 miles down the road from me, just past his house the road curves and opens up to a mile long straightaway. For a car guy it is totally impossable to cover that mile at night and not pretend to be riding with Ken in a T head Mercer, Bugatti, or his last favorite a chain drive Fraiser-Nash. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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Many of the early 1950's SCCA Race Program covers featured his cartoons. Charles Adams creator of "The Adams Family" was a vintage car guy too.

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I'm pretty certain Ralph Stein is no longer with us, although I admit I was unable to Google up an obituary for him. I do seem to recall seeing the notices of his death some time in the past. If so, it was almost certainly noted in the AA. West, or someone at the library, can you confirm?

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In The American Automobile, I believe, Ralph Stein tells some great stories. Like someone focusing on getting a Mercer Raceabout, despite their rarity, and putting out the word he wanted one, then a Canadian farmer writes that he has one for sale. The extravagance of arranging for a private boxcar to ship it back east, and the warning that the shops who restore machines like that were now commanding $3.00 an hour were a great snapshot of how things were done back in the old days. I can' t remember if it was Ralph Stein, Ralph Buckley, or someone else who got the Mercer, but it had a great provenance.

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)

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Sounds like the Ken Purdy T Head MERCER story. I think the mechanicals were restored in Wilton, Ct were he lived, the paint could have been a Gus Reuter job, red chassis maroon body. The car is now in the Sandwich, Ma. collection redone in MERCER yellow. 

 

Bob

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I think the Mercer story was in Kings Of The Road by Ken Purdy. Just did a quick Google search and apparently the paperback 1961 edition is worth $850 to $971 while the hard cover is worth $11.90. Weird.

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I read Purdy in Jr. High from the public library.  Loved his stories.  Much later, I located a hardback which I still have and pull down to read on occasion.  

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Bright Wheels Rolling is another must have Ken Purdy book, the history of the James Melton collection. 

 

Bob 

DSCF3916.JPG

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Bob, you or Rusty may be right.  I looked at The American Automobile(written about 1971) and couldn't find it. Then I looked in 1957s Great American Automobiles, by John Bentley, unsuccessfully. The story I recall was about someone who put the word out nationwide...maybe a writer like Stein or a singer like Melton...and miraculously got a response from someone with the exact kind of car he was looking for. Wherever the story came from, it was in the Stone Age of antique car restoration when the top men in the field were only charging $3.00 an hour for restorations.

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Jeff, It would take a while to find my copy but I think that MERCER story is in "Kings of the Road". I remember the bit about the car arriving with a Model T windshield that they ripped off and left on the rail road tracks, a $200.00 item today. Bob 

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I believe that the original Ken Purdy Mercer article was in TRUE magazine in 1948 where he talked about Mercers being ..."the most sought after vintage sports car in the world". As a result of this article  he received a letter from the Canadian from whom he bought his 1912 35C raceabout. The saga of his car and the restoration done by Connie Lofink is written about extensively in Kings of the Road and other books written by Purdy. As Bob points out the car is now in the Heritage Museum in Sandwich and I understand that it is not on display since work is being done to get it running again. Perhaps someone has an update.  The Ralph Stein book Sports Cars of the World (copyright 1952) has a two page color spread after page 106 showing the Austin Clark 1911 35R raceabout. This car is presently in the John Rich collection in Pottsville, Pa. 

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Great backup of a vague story of mine you guys! I guess if any of us saw something like the Mercer in Bob's photo above in a used car lot we'd lay down 100 feet of skid marks trying to stop. I would, anyway. 

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The photo of the book cover with the yellow Mercer raceabout  - isn't that Austin Clark behind the wheel? Sure looks like him, and his raceabout was yellow too. Vague memory but didn't Ralph Stein also live in eastern Ct.?  I can testify to the fact that a type 35 Mercer raceabout can go 100mph - Austin Clark and I were clocked at that speed by the local law in the North Sea Rd. between Southampton and Sag Harbor. When we were pulled over Austin promised the policeman he wouldn't do that again , after the policeman left ( he seemed to be familiar with Austin) I looked at Austin and said " so you promised you wouldn't do that again - did you mean wouldn't do it again today?" Austin just laughed and then said it was time to put the Mercer away and then go to John Duck's restaurant in Southampton and have a glass of black & white scotch on the rocks. 

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Ralph Stein was a cartoonist. For many years he drew Popeye.

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Walt, I think I know the picture you are referencing but I don't recall seeing it on a book cover. Great story about being stopped going 100 MPH but I think the cop might have been engaged in a little bit of gamesmanship with  Austin.

 

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