Last Call: Something Borrowed Edition

1940 Graham-02
The Graham Hollywood and similar Hupmobile Skylark share a fascinating and sad history of one failed brand dominoing into another. The two models are also a rare instance where one brand’s body was re-purposed for another, and where a formerly FWD design became RWD.
The Hollywood and Skylark were the result of an agreement between Graham-Paige and Humobile to co-produce cars. Hupmobile had purchased the dies for the 810/812 from the defunct Cord corporation, and these were used on an existing chassis, but with a new longer nose – designed by legendary designer Tom Tjaarda – to accommodate the more forward engine placement required of the RWD chassis. Much of the rest of Gordon Buehrig’s Cord design remained, just with a less interesting nose.
The Hollywood/Skylark were introduced in 1939 and produced until September of 1940 when their factories were turned over to wartime production. After the war, the two companies became part of Kaiser-Frazier, which of course eventually became part of American Motors, which traded hands until being absorbed by Chrysler, which is today owned by Fiat. And that’s the Cord-Cinquecento connection.
Last Call indicates the end of Hooniverse’s broadcast day. It’s meant to be an open forum for anyone and anything. Thread jacking is not only accepted, it’s encouraged. 
Image: OldCarBrochures

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  1. Kris_01 Avatar

    Kaiser-Frazer, not Frazier.

  2. dead_elvis Avatar

    Not mine, nor am I in any way affiliated, or in the right geographic/financial locale for this to be a consideration… but damn, this sounds like some serious fun. Losing the priapic hood would be a step in the right direction if it would still accommodate the Hennessey mods, and smoked lenses don’t usually float my boat, but this seems like a case of a bunch of wrongs making a very appealing right.

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      The performance mods seem to be headers and a tune. The dyno numbers at the rear wheels translate to a crankshaft rating about 30HP above stock, a little more than 5% improvement. You would be better off buying one closer to stock and modifying it to your taste, instead of undoing whatever Bieber’s customizer thinks looks good.

  3. ptschett Avatar

    An engineering rant (since it seems like there are several engineers around these parts): why can it sometimes seem like carefully-defined geometric tolerances and basic dimensions become just so many Scary Box Dimensions once the drawing gets beyond the design and inspection communities? (Doubly so for zero positional tolerance at maximum material condition on an internal feature of size…)

    1. theskitter Avatar

      I’m trying to train our new hires to (1) plan ahead and pick a few dimensions they really care about (2) tolerance them accordingly (3) ordinate for very sensitive stuff (4) engineer other aspects so they don’t matter and (5) make those reference dimensions. That said, my rep around the shop is for (a) tight tolerances (b) parts that click together like legos (c) working in tandem with machinists when I’ve engineerd(TM) us into a complex corner.

  4. Marto Avatar

    I came across this on Speedhunters – a very cool site. Anyway, this is the most chaotic race start I’ve ever seen. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?

    1. Marto Avatar

      One of these ends up racing with the pack but in reverse for some distance. So that’s sorta fwd to rwd.

    2. Sjalabais Avatar

      Not sure if I just watched a race start or the inner life of a pinball table. But it is also another beautiful illustration of the fact that whatever has wheels can be raced.

    3. Vairship Avatar

      When the wheelbase is approximately equal to the track, the car doesn’t really see much difference between going forward or going sideways, especially when locked wheels are thrown into the mix…

    1. Eric Rucker Avatar

      Mazda did the other way around with the Luce:
      Began as RWD with a piston engine, then went FWD with a wankel.
      The Chevrolet S10 also went that way – RWD/4WD with a piston engine, FWD with an electric motor.
      The Ford Transit has had FWD and RWD versions simultaneously for quite a while now, with the same bodywork until recently, and looks like the Mercedes-Benz Vito has a FWD and a RWD/AWD version:

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        Yes but the Transits and the Vito were designed from the outset as FWD/RWD/4WD.The Mazda and the Chevrolet were similar to the British offerings in being engineered along the lines of ‘we haven’t got much money, how can we make this work using these parts we already have’. As was the Cord/Graham. 🙂

        1. Eric Rucker Avatar

          Of course, I forgot two of the greatest FWD->RWD conversions.
          Renault 5, longitudinal front-mid-engine FWD:

          Renault 5 Turbo, longitudinal mid-engine RWD:

          And then, by the same company…
          Renault Clio II, transverse front-engine FWD:

          Renault Clio V6 Renault Sport, transverse mid-engine RWD:

  5. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    Rover 75 4cyl and V6 FWD, Rover 75 V8 RWD with Mustang OHC V8 and gearbox
    75 V6
    Rover 75 V8

  6. Sjalabais Avatar

    Grahams show up on BaT from time to time. They still look splendid today!
    Something I wanted to post with the news, but forgot, and just remembered: Due to the cheap Rubel, the Lada Kalina has been repriced in Germany and is available for 6950€/7633$. That makes it one of the cheapest cars overall, and the cheapest wagon in Germany. It comes with an 8 valve (!) 87hp 1.6 litre engine. Now if that isn’t tempting…×800-65733a47e79f1315.jpg×800-e7bb48b07422f266.jpg×800-80c4f51a5de1e6d3.jpg×800-07163635cd5ba4a1.jpg

    1. mzszsm Avatar

      I find it actually plausible that the engine cover is trying to mislead displacement into 4 valves per cylinder.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Whoo. Indeed.

      2. Tiller188 Avatar

        …and is that the Volvo font?