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Sleigh Ride: 1940

Sleigh Ride: 1940

February 1940. Automobile transport carrying new Buicks in Chillicothe, Ohio. 35mm nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein for the FSA. View full size.


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Buicks came from Flint, FJ Boutell hauled them well into the late 20th century. The trailer pivots beneath the car directly behind the cab.


Exactly right, and that's what seems wrong. Unless that car can bend around corners from the middle, I see problems!

[The solution to this riddle has already been submitted by a loyal reader below - Ken]

A lot of cars were made in

A lot of cars were made in Cleveland, Ohio too, maybe they came from there.

Buick Bumpers

When automobile production was resumed after WWII, there was a series of strikes. The last union to settle was either the bumper manufacturers or the installers. The cars were shipped with 2X4 block of wood on the front and rear of the autos. If you saw a car with these wooden bumpers attached, you knew it was a new one and not some well kept 1941 model.So I guess that sometime after 1936 they were shipping new cars with the bumpers attached.


The two front cars are loaded on the "tractor" portion of the vehicle. If you look under the second car you can see the tongue of the trailer hauling the rear two cars.

Merry Christmas to all!

Can It

Beautiful cars, but the carrier puzzles me. How can the tractor and trailer pivot? Doesn't look like they can. Or should.


So, it looks like I'm not the only one who noticed that these Buicks were missing their bumpers. I'm 61, but I guess that's not old enough to remember a time when cars were not delivered to dealers with the bumpers attached.





Maybe the people of 1940 were more honest than those of the 1960s & 1970s and didn't steal hubcaps off new cars, even Buicks.

How far away from the Buick plant would you say that truck is?

[I think Buicks back then came from Flint, Michigan. - Dave]

Missing Bumpers

I'd noticed the same thing and can imagine that the bumpers were prone to pre-delivery damage when being loaded and unloaded from these driveaway haulers. Plus it would be cheaper to have a dealership mechanic bolt them on as opposed to a unionized assembly line worker. But it's surprising to me that the hubcaps are installed making them easy targets for theft.

I remember in the 60s and 70s that nearly any brand of car you saw on a transport truck would never have the hubcaps installed. I say nearly because if you saw a hauler full of new Cadillacs they would invariably have their wheelcovers in place. Cadillac was concerned enough with their image that they were willing to absorb some theft losses. And no doubt they didn't want their cars to be possibly mistaken for a more "ordinary" Oldsmobile or Chrysler, even when being hauled on a trailer or rail car.

[Back in those days bumper guards were a popular dealer-installed accessory. That may have had something to do with it. - Dave]


Interesting that these long-ago cars looked quite elegant when they were new.


At first, I didn't notice the missing bumpers. Must have left them off save space on the truck. You can see the holes in the front where they'd be installed. Bumpers must have been put on by the dealer at the destination.

They managed to cram only 3 (possibly 4?) cars on the truck. Is there a 4th car under the last one? Hard to tell. The tire mounted on the side must have been the truck spare.

[Four cars. - Dave]

Buick heaven

Ooooh God, give me one of those Buicks!

Too exciting.

That's my hometown! I love that you have a photo from there; the city is full of history, being it was the 1st capital of Ohio. Please post more Chillicothe photos!

Chillicothe Buicks

Man, tell that guy to stop by my place and I'll give him 3X the sticker price on any one of those beauties.

[OK. Looks like you have to put the bumpers on yourself. - Dave]

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