Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Picture us in 1934 on the streets of St.Louis, Missouri. The most noticeable automobiles are works of art with massive pointy grills and huge engine compartments. The headlights are mounted between the radiator grille and the sweeping fenders. The most advanced design seems to be the 1934 Ford with a 60hp V8.

Suddenly we spot a bold breakthrough in design. It is our local McQuay Norris auto parts sales representative standing by the company's new teardrop streamliner.This streamlined vehicle was not created in an attempt to break any land-speed records, instead it was intended as a rolling test bed and promotional vehicle for the McQuay-Norris Company of St. Louis, which manufactured replacement pistons, rings, bearings and other automotive bits and pieces that one might need in order to rebuild an automobile engine or chassis. This is the main reason why the interior was fixed with many dials and instruments to observe performance and engine condition.

Six vehicles were built. Streamlining was effective in enabling the installation of fifteen instruments used in testing. These included a blow-by meter, which measured the gas which escaped to the auto's crankcase having passed by the pistons and piston rings. Another instrument employed was an exhaust gas analyser. This gauge measured the combustion efficiency of the engine. A viscometer was used to test the body thickness of crankcase oil.

The McQuay-Norris Streamliner’s chassis and running gear were based on a unmodified 1932-33 Ford V8-60, and the aerodynamic bodywork was made from steel sheet metal attached to wood framing, with the exception of the doors, which were aluminum. The windows were made from Plexiglas.

In January 1936, McQuay-Norris produced a fleet of six cars called aluminum eggs for their strange appearance. The cars were released in New York and in other locations in the United States.

Each auto was a part of testing of pistons, piston rings, and other engine parts manufactured by McQuay Norris.

Besides being the company test bed, they also became part of a brilliant marketing campaign and created a buzz with the automotive news media.

They were driven all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico, in different climates and highway conditions.

Unlike vehicles with giant termites on the top, or the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, the McQuay Norris Eggs were valid engineering testbeds for the company's products. They were also thrilling to see on the road and today would be called dieselpunk.

Proven in Service

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Comment by Larry on November 22, 2011 at 2:41pm

Very interesting stuff. Great photos.

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