Monday, December 31, 2012

In the Shop: Wills Sainte Claire Part 2

by Willy Vinton
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

When the temperature dropped to 40 below this month, we decided it was a good time to get the 1922 Wills Saint Claire Model A-68 sedan back in the shop. It has had some issues in the past and was in need of  more attention.

As you can see from the second photo, the pinion gear had suffered a shock load at one time in its life and lost a couple of teeth. It would have been fine for a hockey player, but not for a vintage auto.

So, we shipped off the ring and pinion gear to have a new one machined. After a couple of times of having it shipped from one to another to have it done, we finally got the new one in. One of our volunteers, Bob Apalsch, riveted the ring gear back on the carrier and had it ready for us to start putting things back in place.

Rod Benson, another of our docents, took great care to clean and keep things in order for the assembly of the rear differential.

Rod also took the time to show and explain the problems and repairs being done to another one of our volunteers, Jeff Creamer. Jeff co-owns the 1910 Chalmers-Detroit we have on display in our Alaska gallery.


The driveline and miscellaneous parts also required some attention. For example, the retaining nut on the u-joint to the driveline was cracked and needed repair.

Here is the Wills sitting on jack stands awaiting completion of the repairs. Today it is an astounding 70 degrees (F) warmer outside than it was when we started this last round of repairs. If the temperature stays around 30° F, you may see us out running around Wedgewood Resort in this beautiful car soon.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Even Little Boys Can Drive It!

by Nancy DeWitt
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

I was reviewing comments from visitors on TripAdvisor the other day, and had a chuckle over this one: "The Brush Runabout purchased in New York and driven to Oklahoma City by the Abernathy brothers, (Temple 9 and Louis 6 years old!), may be worth the price of admission alone." This was a reference to an exhibit sign located near our 1908 Brush Runabout that tells one of my favorite stories in the museum.

Louis "Bud" and Temple Abernathy were two brave and tough little boys from Frederick, Oklahoma.Their adventuresome ways no doubt came from their father "Catch-'em-Alive" Jack Abernathy, a U.S. Marshal and cowboy. Determined to carry out their father's instructions to "toughen up," in 1909 the boys completed a 1,300 mile, round-trip ride on horseback by themselves between Oklahoma and New Mexico. Bud was nine years old and Temple was only five!

The following year Bud and Temple set out alone on horseback for New York to meet former President Taft, a family friend. During the trip, the boys became fascinated with automobiles and purchased a two-seat Brush while in New York City. After spending one afternoon on the city streets learning how to drive, they set off for home. Six-year-old Temple was so small he had to perch on the edge of the seat and lean against the steering wheel to reach the pedals. How that little dude was able to crank start the car is beyond me.

The Abernathy boys' drive was a public relations coup for the Brush Automobile Company. Everywhere the brothers stopped along the route, they assured any adult who asked that if little boys could drive a car, anyone could. Did they complete the trip? Stop by the museum to find out, and to see our 1908 Brush. It was once owned by silent film star Gilda Gray and is very similar to the one Bob Coghill brought to Fairbanks in 1910.

We now have the delightful book Bud & Me: The True Adventures of the Abernathy Boys available in our gift shop. I highly recommend it!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Toledo - "An Automobile of Quality"

by Nancy DeWitt
1907 Pope-Hartford
William Evans Collection
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

I have written several blog posts about the Pope-Toledo automobile, but none about its predecessor, the Toledo. Pope-Toledo was the star of Colonel Albert Pope's empire, which also included Pope-Robinson, Pope-Hartford, Pope-Tribune and Pope-Waverly automobiles. Colonel Pope was the world's largest bicycle manufacturer in the late 1800s, and it was only natural that he diversified into automobile production when bicycle sales plummeted.

1904 Pope-Toledo Twin Tonneau
The Pope-Toledo name arose following the reorganization of the International Motor Car Company, which produced steam and internal-combustion automobiles under the Toledo name. On May 27, 1903, the agency was renamed the Pope Motor Car Company, and all subsequent cars produced were known as Pope-Toledos. The steam car line was dropped in 1904. The early 1904 Pope-Toledos bore a striking resemblance to the 1903 Toledo shown below.

Although a number of Toledo steam cars are still around, to our knowledge we have the sole-surviving Toledo gasoline car. We purchased this 1903 Toledo rear-entry tonneau from the estate of Carl J. Schmitt in 2008. Mr. Schmitt acquired the Toledo in 2000 and had Allan Schmidt of Escondido, CA perform a complete frame-off restoration on it in 2003. According to Allan, the car had its original body and was fairly easy to restore because it was so complete. He built a new copper radiator and water tank, as well as a windshield and top. In 2004, the Toledo won the Antique (1 & 2-cylinder) Award at the 2004 Kirkland Concours d'Elegance.

The wicker side baskets shown here are original to the car. These could be used to hold tools, spare parts and picnic baskets. The Toledo also has an interesting hill brake--essentially a pole that swings down from the chassis and digs into the ground--that could be lowered when climbing steep hills. It was also one of the first automobiles to have an electric speedometer.
Museum Manager Willy Vinton has driven the Toledo several times. "It takes a lot of time to get her prepped," he says, " but it starts very easily if you follow the instructions, taking about 15 minutes to warm up. It runs very well, but shifting is a little different from other early cars." Unlike the two-speed planetary transmissions found in most automobiles of the time, the 12-horsepower Toledo has a three-speed, sequentially shifted sliding-gear transmission.

The Toledo is very striking in appearance and has an unusually long bonnet for a two-cylinder car. This accommodated the large radiator tank that sits in front of the engine. In 1903 a Toledo cost $2,000, which included a large brass headlight, two side lamps, a signal horn, tools, a tire repair kit and a removable extra seat for the tonneau. Advertised as "An Automobile of Quality," sales literature further boasted that its "perfect appointments and superb finish appeals to the refined taste and good judgement of purchasers." It certainly is a fine car and a nice addition to the museum.

The Toledo is featured in our museum book and can be seen in this short video.

Friday, December 7, 2012

French Couture in Fairbanks

by Nancy DeWitt
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

Temperatures dipped to -40 F in Fairbanks this week, but historic fashion curator Barbara Cerny has been busy heating up the museum with some hot new acquisitions. She recently found some amazing pieces to add to our collection, including another Fortuny gown, a Molyneaux flapper dress and a Gallenga tabard.

Our European couture selection also includes this lovely Callot Soeurs dress (ca. 1898-1904), which Barb put on display this fall. Sisters Marie Callot Gerber, Marthe Callot Bertrand, Régine Callot Tennyson-Chantrelle and Joséphine Callot Crimont launched their fashion careers with a shop that sold antique laces, ribbons and lingerie. In 1895 they established a couture house on Rue Taitbout in Paris. By the turn of the century they employed 600 workers and soon attracted clients from throughout Europe and America.

Marie was the chief designer and by the 1920s was called "the backbone of the fashion world of Europe." The sisters were renown for their extraordinary technique that combined exquisite fabrics like silk, satin, brocade and gold lamé with antique lace, lavish beading and intricate embroidery. More examples of their dresses and gowns can be seen here.

This trained evening gown has an underskirt made from taffeta-like silk overlain with a delicate layer of silk gauze and lace-adorned tulle. The laces forming the chain-like pattern and the skirt's border are made up of exquisite floral designs. Other delicate laces adorn the bodice and sleeves. You really need to see this gown in person to appreciate its detail and craftsmanship.

Madeline Vionnet, one of the 20th century's great designers, apprenticed at the House of Callot Soeurs. She later said. "Without the example of the Callot Soeurs, I would have continued to make Fords. It is because of them that I have been able to make Rolls-Royces."

We will be offering a series of curator's tours of our fashion collection this winter, starting with an introductory tour titled "Fashion Through the Decades" on Sunday, December 9. Museum historian Nancy DeWitt will showcase how fashions changed dramatically from the 1880s through the 1930s. The tour starts at 1 and is free with museum admission. Beginning in January, we will offer more in-depth tours that focus on specific fashion eras and the techniques and materials of individual garments in our collection.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide

Museum logo ball caps: $14.50
All t-shirts: $25.95
Are you looking for a holiday gift for the old car enthusiast or fashionista in your life? Then you should check out the nice selection of items in our museum gift shop. We can ship these anywhere within the United States. Call us at 907-450-2100 for details, and by December 16 if you want something shipped in time for Christmas. Otherwise, stop by the museum on Sundays between noon and 6 PM (yes, we will be open Dec. 23 and 30).

One of our most popular gifts is a season pass, which is $35 for an individual or $50 for a family. These can be purchased at the museum on Sundays, or any time at the Wedgewood Resort reception desk. T-shirts and ball caps with our embroidered Auburn logo are also popular, as is the humorous t-shirt pictured above right and the onesie below.

Harlow necklace: $60
Our museum book, Alaska's Fountainhead Collection: Vintage Treads and Threads is a wonderful gift at only $19.95. We also have a selection of fashion history books and the #1 reference for collectible automobiles, The Standard Catalog of American Cars: 1805-1942 ($75).

Michael Vincent Michaud cast glass necklaces: $54-$90

Other items in the gift shop include die-cast cars, ornaments, magnets, mugs, Edwardian hats, beaded purses, scarves, bookmarks, coasters, smoked salmon and a wide selection of vintage-inspired jewelry. The latter includes some lovely pieces from Jewelry by Harlow, My Mother's Buttons and Lauren-Spencer Austrian crystal.

We hope you'll stop by and support the museum this holiday season!

Fashion books: $14.95 - $19.95
Infant onesie in blue, pink or white: $16.50

My Mother's Buttons rings ($38) and bracelet ($36)

Edwardian hats: $72 - $85

Austrian crystal brooch: $13.95
Harlow bracelets: $54 - $61

Die-cast cars & trucks: $11.95

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Pope Returns to Alaska

by Nancy DeWitt
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

Photo courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Library
Alaska's location on the Great Circle Route has several advantages, notably that numerous cargo planes stop here to refuel on their flights between North America and Asia. Occasionally a VIP emerges from an airplane during a refueling stop, and in 1984 Fairbanks was treated to a double bonanza when President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II coordinated their layovers here. It was the first time a Pope and U.S. president had met outside of the Vatican or White House.

This wasn't the first time a Pope had made it to Fairbanks, however. Back in May I wrote about Pope-Toledos in Alaska and the Yukon, one of which was the first automobile to arrive in Fairbanks back in 1908. These cars were named for Colonel Albert Pope, who founded a bicycle and automobile production empire that spanned several states. His automobiles included the Columbia, Pope-Waverly, Pope-Tribune, Pope-Hartford, and the pinnacle of his marques, Pope-Toledo.

One of the Dawson Pope-Toledos
Photo courtesy of Candy Waugaman
In 1907, two Pope-Toledos were imported to Dawson City in the Yukon Territory. One was brought in by Captain J.B. Hubrick, a roadhouse owner and Dawson's cable ferry operator. It was "...fitted with extra large tires and accompanied by large quantities of repair parts and supplies, including wood alcohol and glycerine to mix with the cooling water to prevent freezing." Hubrick planned to establish a motor stage line between Dawson and Granville. Newspapers and automotive journals reported that the man who would drive Hubrick's auto "over the northernmost stage line in the world" would be Carl Lilliesterna, also known as the Swedish Auto Tramp.

Robert Sheldon at the wheel of his Pope-Toledo
Photo courtesy of Frances Erickson
"There was a tremendous scramble for rides on the first day," reported The New York Times, and "the Red Devil" was kept busy all summer. At some point, perhaps around 1910, the big touring car was barged to Fairbanks by Jack Sale, a jeweler who had moved from Dawson to Fairbanks in 1906. Robert Sheldon purchased it for $500 and later noted "it was out-of-time and otherwise in bad shape and not in running condition." After repairing it Sheldon used the Pope-Toledo as a taxi for two years. He then sold it to the Tanana Valley Railroad, which had Fred Lewis convert it to run on the tracks.

The Fountainhead Auto Museum's new Pope-Toledo
Photo courtesy of Al Murray
We know of only 10 or so surviving Pope-Toledos, and just a mere handful of those match the models that made it to Fairbanks over 100 years ago. The most attractive of those was the Type XII with the Roi de Belges body that Hubrick and Sheldon owned. Its upswept sides resembled a tulip--and the curving lines of the cowl and radiator added to its appeal. After years of searching, we have finally acquired an identical car for our museum. Our 1906 Pope-Toledo Type XII 7-passenger touring car is now at Murray Motor Car in Monroe, WA for a general freshening before a possible appearance at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in August of 2013. We will ship it north at the end of summer and then plan to have a Pope-Toledo homecoming celebration! It won't be as exciting as a papal visit, but we're sure you will be impressed with our new Popemobile.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Old Dodge Rumbles to Life

by Willy Vinton
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

The year was probably around 1926 when the 10-year-old Dodge touring car's engine gave up. It probably wasn't worth the cost to rebuild it, so I'm guessing owner Tom Gibson decided to park it and use its parts to keep his other cars operating.

When the car came to the museum on loan from David Stone and Don and Ray Cameron, it was minus its engine and transmission and was pretty well stripped down. It looked rather homely compared to the museum's finely restored cars, but it had character as well as provenance. This car was quite likely the first Dodge in Fairbanks, and it hauled many passengers between Fairbanks and Valdez as part of Gibson's Auto Line.

It sat on display for some time before I convinced Steve Cary, a former heavy equipment mechanic, to get involved with us and work on the old Dodge. I think it took him awhile to realize what a challenge it was going to be, and by then it was too late, we had him hooked. Despite having no experience with this "old stuff," Steve set off at a rapid snail's pace to get the car running again. There were times I could tell he was getting frustrated seeing no visible results, but with continued encouragement he persevered.

I cannot say enough good things about the crew of volunteers that come in to help with projects like this, and the amount of hours that Steve put in to make this all come together. We hauled in boxes and boxes of parts, and Steve spent a lot of painstaking time just sorting and inspecting each one for use. All of the running gear was either rebuilt or serviced to make sure the Dodge could be driven.

On November 7 the Dodge was ready for its first run since 1926. It was below 0 F, and I must admit that the old car weathered the conditions better than the occupants! Still, we couldn't let the subzero temperatures deter us, as the Dodge had a parade date approaching. On November 12, the long-awaited new Veterans Memorial Bridge over the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks was due to open, and a small group of antique cars carrying local veterans had been invited to inaugurate it. The Dodge would follow the Creamer family's 1910 Chalmers-Detroit, which had also opened the Cushman and Wendell Streets bridges decades ago.

It was around -5 F and breezy when we chugged over the bridge and through downtown that day. The old Dodge ran flawlessly in the cold, probably reminiscent of the old days of travel on the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail. It was a great feeling to drive it across the bridge and bring another bit of Fairbanks history back to life.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Baby Austin, Indeed!

by Nancy DeWitt
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

We don't often have two of the museum automobiles out on the road at the same time, but Willy made a special effort this summer to get our shortest and longest cars out for a photo session. He claims he was driving our 1932 Cadillac V16 Imperial Limousine when it backfired, and voilà--a "mini me" appeared!

That's our 1934 American Austin Series 475 coupe back there. An Americanized version of the British Austin Seven, these whimsical cars were also known as Baby Austins. Very fitting.

The Cadillac sits on a 149" wheelbase and carries a 165 hp, 16-cylinder engine displacing 452 cubic inches. The American Austin's wheelbase is a mere 75" and its little 15 hp, 4-cylinder engine displaces only 45.6 cubic inches. Weights are 5,905 and 1,130 lbs, respectively. Can you guess which car has a fuel economy of 40 miles per gallon and which one gets around 8.5 mpg?

At this angle the size difference isn't so obvious, but it sure is when you sit in the front seats. We practically had to grease up Willy to fit him behind the Austin's wheel. The difference in the original purchase prices was also extreme -- $345 for the Austin in 1934 and $5,445 for the Cadillac in 1932. That would be approximately $5,908 versus $91,205 in today's dollars! These cars are a wonderful contrast and well worth seeing up close.

The Cadillac will be making a special winter drive on November 12 when several antique cars will roll across the new Veterans Memorial Bridge at 1 PM in downtown Fairbanks.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Vintage Treads and Threads

by Nancy DeWitt
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

Not a week goes by that I don't encounter a recent museum visitor or read a review that expresses shock at the extent of our collections. It's not surprising that many expect to find no more than a few Model Ts and other old Fords in a Fairbanks car museum, and we are thoroughly entertained by the stunned looks on visitors' faces when they walk through the door and see a huge gallery full of ~60 spectacular automobiles.

I am even more delighted by the women who tell me they didn't want to come to our facility, but then enthusiastically admit that the cars and clothing blew them away. In the past year our historic fashion collection has grown to rival our assemblage of automobiles. In fact, we now have over 100 costumes on display, making ours the largest permanent clothing exhibit in Alaska, if not on the West Coast.
Our historic fashion curator, Barb Cerny, has assembled a fabulous array of gowns, suits, dresses, coats, hats and accessories spanning 150 years. While the focus is on the same time periods represented by our cars, several garments date back to the 1880s. From custom gowns to ready-to-wear day dresses, there are even a few treasures by well-known designers such as Mariano Fortuny, Jean Patou and Callot Soeurs on display. Some pieces are from Alaska pioneers, showing that the women who arrived here during Fairbanks' rough frontier days were just as interested in fashion as their contemporaries to the south.

A walk through the museum vividly illustrates how fashion changed from the Victorian's tightly corseted, restrictive clothing to the looser sophistication of the Roaring 20s and glamorous 1930s--just as automobiles evolved from boxy carriage shapes to sleek, stylized designs. My favorite pieces are from the Belle Époche and Art Deco periods, especially the Titanic Era gowns and beaded flapper dresses. Which are your favorites?

This winter we will be offering monthly curator talks that will include behind-the-scenes looks at the fashion collection and several "Under the Hood" tours of the automobiles. Watch our Facebook page for details. And if you need more convincing that you should visit our museum, check out some of our TripAdvisor comments (and please add yours if you have already visited).

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Roots of Hollywood and Auto Racing

 Guest post by Kevin Triplett
Originally posted on on 27 September 2012
© Kevin Triplett 2012

Motion pictures and auto racing grew up together - the earliest Hollywood movies about auto racing were short, 9-minute silent films. One of the earliest, 1913’s The Speed Kings, starred three real-life race drivers in leading roles- Teddy Tetzlaff, Earl Cooper and Barney Oldfield.

This film should not be confused with similarly named films of the era; the documentary of the 1916 Corona Road Race, entitled The Speed King, in which Cooper and Oldfield also appeared, or the 1915 comedy short, Speed Kings, that starred Oliver Hardy (prior to teaming with Stan Laurel.) The plot of The Speed Kings is a variation of what has become a Hollywood standby; a daughter, played by Mabel Normand, is in love with Tetzlaff’s character, but her father played by Ford Sterling, considers Cooper’s character as the better match for his daughter. Oldfield plays another racer, while Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, in the early stages of his career is a featured performer playing a track official.
At the time of the release of The Speed Kings in 1913, only Tetzlaff had raced in the Indianapolis ‘500’ but all three drivers had national reputations. Tetzlaff’s reputation was of being hard on his equipment, (his nickname was “Terrible Teddy”) although he had  scored a second place finish in the 1912 ‘500.’ Tetzlaff and Barney Oldfield were great friends, and after he had retired from driving in 1914 to work in Hollywood as a technical advisor, Teddy helped Oldfield to appear in nine more short films. Tetzlaff’s son, Ted, later forged his own career in Hollywood as a cinematographer and director, with the highlight being his acclaimed work as the director of cinematography on Hitchcock's 1946 classic Notorious. Earl Cooper won the AAA national championship in 1913 and 1915 and made seven starts at the Speedway between 1914 and 1926. Earl won the pole position for the ‘500’ in 1926, and recorded two top five ‘500’ finishes, fourth in 1915 and second in 1924 after he blew a tire while leading at lap 176. 

Wallace Reid
In 1919, Hollywood heartthrob Wallace Reid, known at the “screen’s most perfect lover” starred as “Toodles” Walden in the first of several auto racing films, The Roaring Road, based on a Byron Morgan Saturday Evening Post short story. Reid’s character salvages parts from three wrecked race cars from his boss, combines them into one rebuilt racer and wins the big race, all the while successfully winning the hand of the boss’ daughter played by Ann Little. This 58-minute film features footage from the 1919 Santa Monica Road race, supplemented by specific scenes filmed on the Santa Monica course. Wallace Reid did his own driving in his movies at speeds approaching 100 MPH, and his interest in automobiles went beyond the movies – by his own description he was a ‘car guy.’ He owned a fleet of expensive automobiles that included a Marmon coupe, a Stutz convertible, a Duesenberg, and a 1919 McFarlan Type 25 4-passenger Sport Touring. 

Long forgotten, McFarlan automobiles were a very expensive custom-built luxury car manufactured in Connersville, Indiana from 1909 through 1928. Patriarch John McFarlan started as a carriage builder in 1856, and developed a first of its kind industrial park setting surrounded by his suppliers, one of which included the Ansted Spring & Axle Company, which evolved into an auto parts manufacturing giant. Company owner William Ansted Junior entered a series of Ansted Rotary Engineering Specials at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway through the 1950s and was a co-owner of AJ Foyt’s 1964 Indy 500 winning car. The nearby Teetor Company built engines for McFarlan, and the Teetor Company evolved into the Perfect Circle Piston Ring Company, sponsor of the 1926 ‘500’ winner, and sponsor of the nationwide Mutual Broadcasting coverage of the Indy 500 from 1946 to 1951. McFarlan had its own limited racing pedigree, as their race cars participated in the September 1910 races at the Speedway, with a third and fifth finishes in the 200-mile feature, and third place finisher Winfield Barndollar completed the distance without a pit stop. McFarlan was one of 24 automobile makes that competed in the inaugural Indianapolis ‘500.’ Driver Melvon Marquette, who had participated in the June 1910 air show at the Speedway in his self-built airplane, and riding mechanic Al Adams, started 20th and finished 25th with 142 laps completed.
1912 McFarlan Indy Racer after the crash
Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Marquette and the McFarlan racer returned to the Speedway with riding mechanic Lay Fowler in 1912; the pair finished 19th after they crashed in turn four and sheared off both right side wheels. 

The McFarlan 572 CI 6-cylinder engine
The exclusive McFarlan automobiles, equipped with twin valve 6-cylinder 572-cubic inch 120-horsepower engines, which measured nearly six feet in length and featured three spark plugs per cylinder, were regarded as the “American Rolls Royce” by the elite citizens in major US cities. Besides Wallace Reid, other notable owners of McFarlan automobiles included noted director William Desmond Taylor, gangster Al Capone (who owned two) and boxer Jack Dempsey. The Warner Brothers film studio fleet included two McFarlan limousines.

In late 1919, Wallace Reid sustained serious injuries in a train accident while filming The Valley of Giants. In the silent era, movies were filmed and distributed rapidly; in order to maintain the busy shooting schedule, the studio chiefs found doctors to prescribe morphine to their star to mask the pain of his injuries, and before long, Reid became addicted. In 1920, Reid who earned $1,750 a week appeared in three more auto-racing movies, Double Speed, What’s Your Hurry, and the sequel to The Roaring Road entitled Excuse My Dust, which also featured the film debut of his 3-year old son. These three films also featured real-life drivers Eddie Hearne, 1922 ‘500’ winner Jimmy Murphy, Joe Thomas and Eddie Miller, again filmed on portions of the Santa Monica road course. The Reid racing films proved very popular at the box office, as they attracted female fans to see the handsome Reid, and male fans to see the racing stars and exciting action scenes. In 1921, Wallace made only one racing themed film, entitled Too Much Speed, but attended the Indianapolis ‘500’, and watched the race from the pit of his friend Roscoe Sarles, known as “the clown of the races,” who finished second in a Duesenberg after leading a lap early in the race.

In early 1922, the American Automobile Association (AAA) issued Reid competition license # 145, and the Paramount studio released what would prove to be Reid’s last auto racing film, Across the Continent. Reid also ordered a second McFarlan automobile, an enormous 1923 model 154 ‘Knickerbocker’ cabriolet at the cost of $9,000 ($125,000 in 2012), and in March, over the objections of producer Jesse Lasky, Wallace Reid filed an entry to drive the previous year’s fourth place finisher, a Duesenberg, in the 1922 Indianapolis “500-mile Classic.” However, by this time, Reid’s morphine addiction was in an advanced stage, and his wife eventually persuaded Wallace to withdraw his entry after the Speedway opened. In September 1922, at the inaugural AAA 300-mile race at the short-lived 1-1/4 mile board track in Kansas City Missouri, Reid’s friend Roscoe Sarles filling in for Cliff Durant, crashed into Peter Depaolo’s wrecked car on lap 114. Sarles’ Miller hurtled the guardrail at the top of the banking, crashed to the ground 25 feet below and Sarles burned to death trapped in the wreckage. A month later, Reid’s morphine addiction became intolerable and he entered a series of sanitariums for treatment, and finally wound up at the up-scale Banksia Place Sanitarium. Addiction treatment was in its infancy and Reid suffered horrible withdrawal symptoms before he succumbed to pneumonia in January 1923, only 31 years old, never having had the chance to drive his new deep red McFarlan cabriolet.
His widow sold the new McFarlan to ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle following Reid’s death; the massive Reid/Arbuckle car is currently a part of the fantastic Nethercutt Collection in Sylmar California (at right).

The Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum
McFarlan before restoration
Reid’s 1919 McFarlan, chassis number 19133, which had several special features that included bumpers, a tonneau windshield, windshield wings, and drum headlights, passed through several owners before it was purchased by the Harrah Museum in Reno Nevada, (which owned three other McFarlans) and was displayed for years in unrestored condition. In 2007, the Fountainhead Automobile Museum in Fairbanks, Alaska purchased the machine and recently restored the car to its original condition, as owned by Wallace Reid. The Museum unveiled the Model 25 Sport Touring at the recent Pebble Beach Concours where it won two awards- First in Class A-2 (Antique) and the Ansel Adams Award for Most Desirable Touring Car of Its Era.

The Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum McFarlan
at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
In the years after his death, Reid’s widow, Dorothy Davenport, an actress before their marriage, continued to work in Hollywood as a writer, director, and producer and as an advocate of the dangers of narcotics. Reid’s son, Wallace Junior, also worked in Hollywood, and starred in his own racing film at the age of 15, The Racing Strain, in 1932, a story written by his mother which tells the story of a driver who triumphs in his comeback from alcoholism which features authentic footage from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The author is indebted to Nancy DeWitt of the Fountainhead Automobile Museum for her invaluable research assistance on Wallace Reid and to Al Murray for the photo of the Reid McFarlan car on the lawn at Pebble Beach.