JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Let It Slide: 1920

Let It Slide: 1920

San Francisco circa 1920. "Locomobile touring sedan." An expensive open car fortified against the elements with yet another variation on the so-called "California top." 5x7 inch glass negative by Christopher Helin. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Buster Keaton filmed The Navigator here

This home, 2505 Divisadero, portrayed the home of Buster Keaton's girlfriend in The Navigator (1924). Buster's character lived in the home of A.D. Moore, 2500 Divisadero, when that mansion took up the entire east side of the street.

You can read about this filming spot on my blog post

Not really lost in translation

Interesting. As a Mexican I never heard or thought of the Nova name in any negative connotation. That "No Va" story sounds more like something invented by an American who pretends to know how the primitive Mexicans think, and trust me, his interpretation is completely wrong.

No; the name had nothing, or very, very little to do with the car's failure in the Mexican market, and that "failure" is very relative, because the automotive market was very small and there was very little competition here at the time: we had only 3 other medium-sized cars, namely the Ford Maverick, the Chrysler / Dodge Aspen, and the local incarnation of the AMC Hornet.

The Nova didn't sell well here not because of the name, but due to other factors, build quality, gas consumption and odd design among them, not to mention the recessive Mexican economy in the 1970s.

Now, If we were going to find meanings to the name of things (which we normally do not), the word "Nova" has at least two other possibilities more relevant to us 1970s Mexicans than the "No Va" fairy tale:

1. Nova is a Latinization of Nuevo, which means New. So it could have been said that to us the Nova was the Chevrolet Nuevo (New).

2. Back then Nova was the brand name of the standard (80) octane gasoline sold in Mexico.

As for a car called Locomobile, it would hardly raise an eyebrow here; for the most part we don't give much of a thought for the name of things. But in very few occasions some memorable names become so familiar that they become synonimous to the whole kind of product they represent; for example a paper tissue will be called a "Kleenex" independently of the actual brand of the product. But those are very rare instances, so I doubt we would call "locomobiles" to all the cars on the streets.

Very pretty car

I have read that Locomobile prices ranged from $5,000 to $12000 in the 1920s, about as expensive as a new house at the time.

The Locomobile is also reported to be the car that inspired Walter Chrysler to start his own car company in 1925.

Lost in Translation

The brand Locomobile makes me think back to stories of how Chevrolet supposedly marketed the Nova to Mexican consumers without realizing that no va implies "doesn't go" in Spanish. I wonder what the same market would make of a "loco" mobile?

["Locomotive" in Spanish is "locomotora," so probably not much. - Dave]

[And Snopes pretty well debunks the Chevrolet "no va" business. - tterrace]

Syndicate content is a vintage photography site 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. Contact us | Privacy policy | Site © 2022 Shorpy Inc.