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Q&A with Kit Foster: July 30, 2015

Q. This was the first car in the Town of Fabius, N.Y., just southeast of Syracuse. We know who the owner was, but we’re trying to learn the make and year of this car. Any educated guesses would be appreciated by the old car faction of the Fabius Historical Society.
— Ron Glasgow, Fabius, N.Y.

A. We can do better than an educated guess. The distinctive stance of this car, with the seat nearly over the rear axle and the high-mounted insect-like headlamps, identify it as a Model 20 Hupmobile, that maker’s first car. The Model 20 was built from 1909 to 1913 and proved quite popular. Its price undercut Ford’s Model T by $75. While it never rivaled Ford’s sales, by 1912 Hupmobile had risen to sixth place in the industry.


Q. I have read your response to the person with the Model A engine without the external oil line (Apr. 30). I think there is more information you could find on those engines. There were a limited number of A engines cast without the external oil lines. I read about them when preparing a Model A Ford engine for a Pietenpol homebuilt airplane. There are production records available telling about the engines and when and where they were produced.
— Ralph Hurlbert, Raymond, S.D.

A. Are you sure you’re not referring to the later Model B engines, which were nearly identical to Model A’s? I have several detailed books on Model A’s, and none mentions changing the external oil return tube prior to end of Model A engine manufacture in March 1932. Four-cylinder Model B engines, without the tube, continued in production through 1934. Model B engines did not require the return tube, as oil was pressure-fed to the camshaft and main bearings. In Model A engines, the oil was pumped up to the valve chamber, then trickled down to the bearings. The return tube allowed excess oil to drain down to the oil pan. Model B engine production seems to have been around 200,000 units. Interestingly, Ford offered a four-cylinder truck in 1941, but not with the Model B engine. Instead, it used the 119.7-cubic inch, 30-hp unit from the 9N Ford tractor. Not many were sold. I was not familiar with the Pietenpol airplane. With a little research I found the story of Bernard Pietenpol, a self-taught mechanic from Minnesota. His Pietenpol Air Camper was designed to be built by owner-hobbyists from spruce and plywood. The Model A engine was selected as a readily available powerplant, although later Pietenpol designs used Model T and other engines, up to and including the air-cooled Corvair. The Air Camper plans were originally published in 1932. Bernard’s grandson Andrew Pietenpol now operates the Pietenpol Aircraft Company ( in Cottage Grove, Minn., where you can purchase plans and kits for both the Air Camper and the lighter, single-seat Sky Scout.
Q. This nameplate is on the back of the front seat in my 1940 Buick four-door convertible, Model 81C. It says “Ranger II” and is very neatly installed. Does anyone know what it might be from and for what reason it might be installed on the car? The car came from southern California and was possibly used in a movie in the early 1960s or late ’50s.
— O.H. Hood, Tulare, Calif.

A. I don’t recognize it as an automotive nameplate. Ford did have a Ranger II concept truck in 1966, a very advanced design that never saw production, but this doesn’t seem related. Ranger II is also a handgun made by Bond Arms, but that seems even farther afield. Ranger II doesn’t come up as the title of a film on the Internet Movie Data Base. Perhaps it was the name given the car by a previous owner. Does anyone else have suggestions?




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