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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • STAY ONE JUMP AHEAD OF TROUBLE, 1945

Minnesota Merc: 1954

Minnesota Merc: 1954

My brother's friend Jerry returns from a "pedal to the metal" test drive of my brother's new Mercury. Minneapolis, 1954. View full size.

Mystery solved

The photobombing feline is "Fraidy Cat", which belonged to our neighbors but spent much of her time at our house. What is she about to pounce on? The curb feeler -- which is probably vibrating slightly.

Failed expectations

This particular Merc didn't live up to my brother's expectations. Perhaps because the engine was a new design, he claimed it never ran right. Within a year he had sold it and replaced it with a '51 Nash. (!)
In the background are the Soo Line yards between 47th and 49th Avenues North in north Minneapolis.

Those boxcars

indicate he may be near the Soo Line.

First year

For Ford's new overhead valve engines, replacing that venerable hotrodders' favorite, the flathead. For Mercury, the new motor displaced 256 cubic inches and made 162 HP, 37 more than last year. V8-equipped Fords got the 239 cubic inch version making 130 HP. Any young man would be eager to give it the full-throttle test.

Detroit, please bring them back!

Curb feelers AND wind wings! (And doesn't the cat look modern?!)

Photobomb

I remember curb feelers in the '80s, certainly the last time they made an appearance outside of a vintage car show. By that time, they were only found on "old people" cars, along with continental kits, wire wheel covers, vinyl tops, etc.

I admire Jerry's care in picking a flannel shirt to match the pumpkin color of your brother's car. I'm also loving the wood-sided Soo Line boxcars, which must have been nearing the end of their run.

But most of all, props to the photobombing feline!

Oh no! - Is that a "Curb Feeler"

I see fixed to that front bumper?

Brings back memories of the days when cars had REAL STEEL bumpers that did the job -- without requiring expensive repair.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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