gpcox – When Making a Car Was Illegal

This is the latest Guest Post from gpcox all about the vehicles in service during World War II and a little about what the American Family had to sacrifice back home.

When Making a Car Was Illegal

After Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt ordered all car manufacturers to cease the production of private automobiles and convert the factories to produce military

Utility Truck

Utility Truck

vehicles, weaponry, airplane engines, parts, etc.  But, this would not put an end to man’s love affair with the automobile.  A car manual became priceless to a private owner and a truck manual was an absolute necessity for a farmer or businessman.  With the rationing of gasoline in the U.S., the “National Victory Speed” was 35 mph and driving clubs were encouraged. (Our modern day car-pools).

Automobiles were produced in massive quantities before the Great Depression and this brought the price down considerably.  Then, the stock market crashed and many people were unable to afford the fuel for the cars they already owned.  There were some that removed the engines from their vehicles and had a horse pull them.  These were nicknamed “Bennett Buggies” in some areas.

FDR gave a long-winded speech on 28 April 1942 called the “Call for Sacrifice,” where he stated, “…Not all of us have the privilege of fighting our enemies in distant parts of the world.  Not all of us can have the privilege of working in a munitions factory or a shipyard, or on the farms or in oil fields or mines…  There is one front where everyone is in action and that is right here at home and that is the privilege of denial.”  (Can any of us even imagine what would eventuate from a statement like that today?)  It was not until June that civilian truck production ceased, except some tightly government controlled heavy trucks produced during 1944 by GMC.

A quote from the Random Memories of Cedric Duryee Guion  (posted  Feb. 1, 2013) – “We had a 1927 Packard Touring car. I guess this was when Lad was working at Well’s Garage and he was making a little money there. He saw a 1929 Packard Touring car – it was a beauty – and he asked my Dad if he could trade in the old Packard and my Dad told him “OK”. We didn’t like that because then it was Lad’s car. I think that’s the Packard with the hidden compartment that Lad found while cleaning it out. We figured it must have belonged to some rum-runners”



Packard was known as a “company of premier luxury cars.”  In 1937, they introduced their first 6-cylinder engine since 1928 – right in time for the ’29 Depression, so they designed the “110” model in 1940-41 to serve as taxi cabs.  With the onset of war, air plane engines, such as the Merlin that powered the P-51 Mustang fighter were produced.  Many American and British PT boats were equipped with the Packard 1350-, 1400-, and 1500 horsepower V-12 marine engines.  During this era, the company also produced ambulances and other military vehicles.  All in all, 60,000 combined engines were built by Packard.

GMC had produced nearly 584,000 multi-drive vehicles for use in WWII, the first of which was the amphibious 6×6 “Ducks.”  These were sent to the Army for island landings

1943 "Duck"

1943 “Duck”

and river crossings.  Over 21,000 of these unique vehicles were produced.  GMC also built the first 2 ½ ton 6×6 trucks powered by a 270 cid engine which became the famous “workhorse” of the Army.

The Ford Corporation during 1942-45 built approximately 8,600 of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers.  They also produced aircraft engines, M-4 tanks, spare parts

WWII Jeep Ambulance

WWII Jeep Ambulance

and the ever-famous Jeep.  In England, the Dagenham plant built the Ford military trucks, Bren-gun carriers and more than 30,000 super-charged V-12 engines for the Mosquito and Lancaster bombers.

The transportation department of the U.S. Army performed monumental feats during WWII.  They moved tons of food, weapons, equipment and men despite gasoline, oil and lubricants being in short supply.  If one delves deeper into this research, we find that Congress was not always willing to loosen the government’s purse strings.  As I have mentioned previously on my site,, Europe received the majority of the supplies since their slogan at the time was, “Europe First.” (But, even the ETO had shortages.)  I have two specific reports stating that my father’s unit, the 11th Airborne Division while fighting in the Pacific, could not reach the city of Manila before the Sixth Army due to the lack of trucks.  (We once again see why the Technical Forces were so important to the Ground Forces.)( See Guest Post – gpcox –   Technical and Ground Force Coordination, published here Feb. 12, 2013)

Since the first automobile sputtered down the street and caught up to a horse, men have defined themselves by their vehicles, showing their cars off with pride and affection.  They wash them, wax them and individualize them.  It becomes an extension of himself – whereas a woman does the same routine for her home.

The ever-reliable car manual during the WWII era was a lifeline keeping farmers connected to markets, businessmen to their offices and factory workers to their jobs.  What you had, you were forced to maintain or learn to do without.  Just try to picture it – a world without rent-a-cars or gas stations at every intersection, no leasing contracts for new cars, no power windows or GPS or Blue Tooth… What do you see?

Judy and I enjoy these guest posts and want to hear how this situation affected your family or give us suggestions for future articles.

Research & Photo Resources:

Military History Online

Internet History Sourcebooks

Ford Corp./history

History of Packard

From the Great Depression to WWII


Classic Car History

Fine Art America

Lopez Transport 1941

Surrey Vintage Vehicle Society

GMC Trucks

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think of these Guest Posts. Do you want more of them?

Judy Guion


34 thoughts on “gpcox – When Making a Car Was Illegal

  1. Such an interesting piece of history! Thanks for sharing :)

    • jaggh53163 says:

      Through My Eyes – gpcox will be sharing another Guest Post this coming Tuesday, April 9, 2013, continuing the theme of transportation i8n the 1940’s. You’re welcome to pass on this information.

  2. Mustang.Koji says:

    This was chock full of information! We have a number of restored Packards at out local car shows… They still purr… Wonderful to my eardrums. I cannot imagine how silky smooth they ran when brand new and warmed up… Drool.

    As for men pampering their cars more than their wives, let’s remember daughters look up to us DADS (I.e., MEN), to wash their little girl’s car whenever they come to visit…and leave without tipping. :-)

    • Judy Guion says:

      Thank you for the re-blog Koji. I read the stories of my father and uncles in their Packards and can’t imagine how it must have felt to them… even if they were 10 years old. It didn’t matter, my Daddy could make any car purrrr.

  3. Mustang.Koji says:

    Reblogged this on Masako and Spam Musubi and commented:
    Notsofancynancy, you may particularly enjoy reading this guest blog…unless you have already!

  4. Mrs. P says:

    Hello, Old Mainer! What you described was pretty much what my aunt told me about rations during the war. Not only did they collect cans but any metals and they collected string. I don’t know what that was used for, though. And, like many families they had Victory Gardens. She also mentioned that there were no cars built during that time.

    My grandmother worked at the Torpedo Factory and later worked for the Weather Bureau making hand drawn dopplar maps. My grandfather, through his work at The Maritime Commission was in charge of retrofitting ships for military use.

    • Judy Guion says:

      Mrs. P. – Thank you for sharing a piece of your family story. Every little bit helps round out the experience of every member of the world society at that point.

  5. Mrs. P says:

    Reblogged this on Destination Unknown and commented:
    One of the most fascinating things about doing a family history is seeing the changes that major events playing in the daily activities of life. Today’s reblog shows some of the changed that occurred for American families during WWII. Don’t forget to read the comments were readers supplied additional details.

    As we grow older, documenting events that have occurred during our lifetime will be just as important. I reflect on some of my own experiences such as seeing a man on the moon, Kennedy assassinations, Vietnam, 911, MLK and Barrack Obama. These are historic markers of which we hold the details of our experience. I encourage others to write down how events like these affected their lives…so that others in the future can understand them more clearly.

    • Judy Guion says:

      Mrs. P. – Thank you for the re-blog. I agree wholeheartedly with what you say and can only encourage others to write down their family stories and traditions for future generations. My relatives who are the same age as my children, are getting such a charge out of reading these letters because either they never met the person or they were very old when they did meet. This helps them relate to older generations. Sharing the memories will also help the older generation connect on a personal level with younger generations, only making the family stronger. That is my wish for this blog and my books.

  6. A.L. Sowards says:

    I enjoy the guest posts (and your family letters), so please keep them coming!

  7. Patty B says:

    That was very interesting.

    • jaggh53163 says:

      Patty B – I’m glad you liked it. I enjoy them too because all of the posts by gpcox go beyond the scope of information that I have. It adds another dimension to the world at that time.

  8. EmilyAnn Frances says:

    I’d love to see more guest posts. First, it increases my interests in both of your blogs. Second, it deepens the historic side of Judy’s blog. A nice mix of the personal and the national scene arises.

    As for my family, my Mom’s side were all Italian immigrants living along 60-65 th Streets in Brooklyn, near 13th Avenue in Dyker Heights. They couldn’t afford cars in the 1920s, 30s or 40s. That didn’t stop them from getting places. They were blessed to live near “THE Avenue” as 13th Avenue was called and several trolley car lines were available.

    Travel by mass transit was very, very safe. My Mom told me that at 12 years old (this was 1943) she and her friends would take the trolley all the way to Coney Island. Some of the cousins who went along were 14 or 16 but it wasn’t necessary for the adults to go along.

    There was also a good system of bus routes so an auto was not necessary. Still, the possession of a car caused great admiration and drew the conclusion that the family owning one was very well off.

    • Judy Guion says:

      EmilyAnn, Thank you for your comments. They add another dimension to this post. I believe sharing stories between generations helps hold families together and encourage you to record family stories or traditions if you can’t record an original source. No one in my family knew these letters existed until after my father died, and now I’m sharing them with he world. The experiences my family had, especially during the war, were not that different from the feelings and emotions felt by families around the world.

    • gpcox says:

      Being from Broad Channel, Queens, BY; my father did not have a car either – for him it was the train, bus or feet.

  9. Mom says:

    Gp and Judy are like a dynamic duo of truly interesting stuff to read…haven’t seen a dull post written yet by either of them…if you don’t follow them both, you are really missing out!
    Kassie aka “Mom”

    • Judy Guion says:

      Kassie aka “Mom” – Thank you for your comments and compliments. gpcox and I started posting about the same time last fall and found each other very quickly. It’s a fascinating journey because I’m learning so much about the combat side of the war. I truly enjoy sharing.

  10. oldmainer says:

    I was born in 39. Some of my earliest memories were of my dad working at the Ford plant building tanks. I remember the blackout curtains and flattening tin cans and saving them until the bag was full, then turning them in. Butter rationing and that terrible oleo with the red button that you squeezed to mix and food tokens.. Compared to then, today looks pretty good. Enjoy these mental meanderings. Hope to see more.

    • Judy Guion says:

      Come back and visit anytime. I post new stories and letters daily.

    • Judy Guion says:

      oldmainer – Thank you for your comments – yet another set of memories to add to the “whole” story. Did you read gpcox’s Guest Post on Jan 7, 2013? It’s title is “American Family Life in the 40’s”. You might really enjoy it.

  11. Very interesting and Lovin’ your new look.

    • Judy Guion says:

      playfulmeanderings – Thank you for noticing the new look. I’m still trying to improve it, but I’m happier with it now.
      Glad you stopped in for a visit. Come back anytime.

  12. Thanks for this interesting post. It is a great background for my current project. My Dad was a WWII mechanic and worked on these vehicles which will be detailed from his perspective. It’s also interesting how the GI’s creatively adapted machinery and vehicles for unique situations.

    • Judy Guion says:

      warturoadam77p – You might enjoy Guest Post – gpcox – Technical and Ground Force Coordination, posted on Feb 12, 2013. Thanks for the comments and stop back anytime. I love visitors.

  13. Pierre Lagacé says:

    A reblogué ceci sur Lest We Forget and commented:
    About trucks and cars… and much more

  14. gpcox says:

    Reblogged this on pacificparatrooper and commented:
    Judy was kind enough to invite me back for my fourth guest post. She did a wonderful job of displaying what information I gave her and added some of her own. I hope you will all enjoy the article and take a moment to tell us what you think of it or even add your own thoughts on the subject. Thank you for coming.

    • Judy Guion says:

      gpcox – Thanks for the reblog and helping expand my audience. We’re getting quite a few comments and they are all very positive. Thanks for the article.

  15. gpcox says:

    This is my fourth guest post and I have to thank you for the ideas and incentive for doing them. With each one, my research spread and I enjoyed each one. I hope your readers agree.

    • Judy Guion says:

      gpcox – Tell you what – I’ll keep coming up with ideas if you’ll keep doing the fantastic research. Getting quite a few new visitors, thanks to you and Pierre.

      • gpcox says:

        It has been my pleasure all along. I live for research, love your blog and Pierre is the greatest fan to us both. His site Lest We Forget is fantastic.

  16. Gallivanta says:

    Thanks for your post. A great insight to those times and what one did without.

    • Judy Guion says:

      Gallivanta – I really enjoy having gpcox Guest Post on my site because it combines two different world views. PacificParatroopers shares the combat side of the war in the Pacific and I share the war as it affected those at home. We all get a larger perspective on that Slice of Life.

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