Is there a definition of what the difference is between a speedster and raceabout?
I may be wrong but I think the Speedster is the dirt track race car from the era, and the raceabout is the paved track race car. Please anyone feel free to correct me if I mispoke.
Glenn, like Tim, I welcome any correction, but here is what I've gathered. A speedster is a re-bodied street car, where a racer is a single-seat car re-bodied or stripped to be lightweight. Speedsters and raceabouts I think are like mountain lions, pumas, panthers, and cougars; the same animal but called by different names depending on where it is seen, what color, and who is telling the story (they're panthers here and they're black, not pink!)
Personally, I think the terms are subjective. I think the titles were coined in the era, possibly for the purpose of selling, and the real meaning of the names are blurred in time. Here are 2 Ames products, and it's interesting how what we call a speedster, they called a Racer, while what would generally be referred to as a roadster they called a Speedster.
"Raceabout" was the name for Mercer's car built to compete with the Stutz Bearcat. It may have become a generic term today. But back in the day a Raceabout was a Mercer and nothing else.
A speedster is anything you want it to be. There is no definition or hard and fast rules except to have fun.
Some early T Speedsters were a poor man's Mercer Raceabout, like this 1912. I think this one is Gooding's. There are only about 75 in existence. Leno has one also, of course.
There were early ads for kits, which would have gone out of fashion not long after the brass era, no doubt.
I agree, Royce. I forgot about the Mercer. Interesting how the aftermarket bodies of the era are almost identical to the Mercer and Stutz, and many of the other "sporty" cars of the era.
Funny too how, as years pass, terms coined by one manufacturer's marketing become generic. Ned Nickle's 1945 design for a "hardtop-convertible" led to the Buick "Riviera" hardtop body style designation in 49 (due in part to Ed Ragsdale's wife's vanity over her hair!), but now anything without a post separating the side glasses is a "hardtop". Buick marketing responded by changing the body style designation to "sport coupe" in the early 60's. I would be willing to bet that "speedster" was coined by one of the manufacturers as well, only to become yet another generic term much like Vaseline. My comment about the cars and cats makes me as guilty as the rest.
Makes me wonder, where did the terms coupe, roadster, touring, runabout, etc. originate? Were they once a term used by a lone manufacturer, but adopted by the public to refer to anything on the road that looked like the original manufacturer's car?
Many automobile related terms pre-date the automobile and originate with carriages/buggies. This includes automobile bodies.
For example, the commonly known term "doctor's coupe" is actually a type of horse buggy. A variation of this is "physician's coupe."
A runabout is another type of horse buggy.
A "Dos-a-Dos" (the term used in square dancing) was a common electric automobile body (the passengers in the rear seat face the back of the automobile - in other words, the driver and front passenger sit back to back with the rear passengers). Again, "Dos-a-Dos" is a type of horse buggy.
Etc., etc., etc....
I've seen an official list of car body names from a pre-war source. Seems like it was CCCA. Does the Classic Car Club of America even exist anymore? I never hear anything about it, not that a T would qualify...
I got this photo at the swap meet in Wichita last weekend, the more I look at it I would say it's not a T but still looks good.
Look at the shadow of the photographer. He is holding the camera down at his waist. One of those cameras with the little lid that lifted exposing a little screen with the subject displayed. I remember the family had one when I was a kid. Had big old disposable flash bulbs.
But notice the quality of the picture that this box camera took. In high school we used Yashica cameras like this and they took splendid black and white shots.... As to the names, I would agree with Royce in that "raceabout" was generally regarded as the Mercer creation. Other companies made similar looking cars. For instance the 1914 Overland speedster looks a lot like the Mercer, with the right hand drive, open air concept. (alas, only 50 cars were ever made). One could think that "raceabout" is a term to be used for a factory designed car of speed whereas "speedster" could refer to cars that were either made by factory OR handmade/custom-made by an individual?.... In the 20's era, a common term term for hopped up Model T Fords was "Bug". (see Jarvis, I do pay attention!)
Thanks for posting that Jerome, and you're right...it ain't a T, but it's still cool. Look very similar to the body I am copying, right down to the little vent on the cowl.
Can't make out the hubcap, but the lettering on the frame says "Minot & Minot Oil Products, Tulsa". Interesting how the finish on the body is bad. Makes me wonder if it was an "old" car at the time the picture was taken or just very abused. Same with the dents down the frame rails. Maybe an old racer with a history? Looks like birds have roosted above the cowl directly behind the hood too.
Great picture, Jerome!
Why didn't the guy turn the camera horizontal to get more of the car? Our old Brownie box camera had a viewfinder lens on the side, too.
The hubnut insert maybe could say Houk.
I'm willing to bet that was not a box camera. Most box cameras at the time didn't take that clean a picture due to the fixed lens. The folding cameras of the era took much better photos and had notches in the bellows slides for various focal lengths. The viewfinders on these cameras typically required you to hold the camera at waste level and were mounted so that a simple twist allowed you to hold the camera in either a verical (tall) or horizontal (wide) position. They typically were better viewfinders than on the box cameras. Box cameras were cheaper than folding cameras. A good Kodak or Ansco folding camera cost about $15.00 - $20.00 (about 3-4 weeks pay) in the early teens while a box camera probably ran you about $1.25 to $3.00.
I don't believe the reflex type of cameras you guys were mentioning came out that early. My dad had one of those (a Kodak Brownie) with the big flash attachment, a popular camera in the 1950's.
I have no knowledge of cameras, but I want to think that picture is nowhere near as old as the car. it's evident that car's finish is either showing a lot of age and/or weathering. I'd guess the picture is from the 40's, maybe even as late as the early 50's given the ladies were posing in period (grandmas?) clothes? Not disagreeing with any point you make Warren, just general discussion
One of the ladies in Jerome's picture looks an awful lot like the lady in this picture:
I wonder if that non - Ford racer picture is an artificially aged picture taken last week?
You're making fun of me, aren't you Royce? :-)