Q. Some months ago, Thomas Kendall from St. John, Wash., asked about a Diana car. This piqued my interest because I am aware of such a car. I worked with Ted Lindenberg, the owner of this Diana, for many years. I am a professional model maker, and have put many of Ted’s designs into working hardware. I was at Ted’s house often, in his garage, and I helped him on some of the restoration on this car. I have my own machine shop and possess some skills and equipment that Ted didn’t. Ted worked hard on that car because the back was missing. The car had hardwood ash formers that had to be made over. We had to determine the form and cut them on a band saw, then sand them to shape. My brother-in-law had a business of upholstering antique cars. He did all the restoration of the interior and seats and also made the new top.
When Ted passed away I went to his house for the estate sale. His wife was selling all the tools and stuff, but she said the car was going to a museum, where it would be well taken care of. I sat in it and walked around it one last time, and thanked her for letting me do that. I am sending this to you because I feel you would enjoy the information about a car that today’s audience may never see or have even heard about.
My own grandfather worked for the Franklin car company in Syracuse, N.Y.
— Jim Dodsworth, Sorrento, Fla.
A. Thank you. We didn’t have a good photo of a Diana, so yours is particularly welcome, to better show our readers that they looked like. Old cars and old friends: they’re all precious and leave many good memories.
Q. This steering box that I have is big and heavy. It also has five buttons in the center of the wheel. I’m curious why. All my old car friends haven’t come up with an answer.
— Frank Scimemi, Groton, Mass.
A. It looks to me like the wheel from a late-teens Premier. The buttons are for what is often called the first pushbutton transmission. It was a Cutler-Hammer device that shifted the gears electromagnetically. They claimed it took “half the time” of a conventional shift. “Push a button, and the gears obey.” It was used from about 1916 to 1924.
Q. A while back a reader asked what was the newest car with an outside hood release. I don’t know for sure, but my 1996 Dodge Viper has one.
— Fred Kelly, Bedford, N.H.
A. Thanks. That’s the newest outside release reported to date. Fred Menger, of Maple Plain, Minn, says his 1976 Pontiac Trans Am has a through-the-grille release, while his 1982 Chevy Malibu Classic releases from inside. Robert Perry of Benton, Maine, wrote in to say that his 1952 Crosley had an inside release. He also mentioned Crosley’s use of Goodyear-Hawley disc brakes, which other readers have asked about recently, He says they were not successful because of dirt and salt contamination. If I’m not mistaken, they were an adaptation of aircraft units, which would not have been subject to the rigors of road use and abuse.
To submit questions to this column: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to: Q&A, c/o Angelo Van Bogart, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001.
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