“Building and Operating Model Cars” was a book published in 1956. That means it was likely already 20 or so years old when I, as a boy, discovered it in some library somewhere.

Libraries were magical places to me growing up. My interests were so narrow however that I generally headed straight to the 500’s or 600’s looking for books on space, rockets, models, etc. School libraries, the public libraries my mom would take me to — I enjoyed them all.

From time to time as an adult, I re-discover an old book that I recognize as one I pored over as a boy. This book was one.

I confess however that I was easily drawn to the photos and illustrations in books (perhaps I still am) and often read little more than the caption beneath the photos. Perhaps for a lot of the books I was interested in this was just as well.


A streamlined radio-controlled space vehicle won a third prize in Ford Motor Company’s 1954 Industrial Arts Awards program for David Swinder of Warren, Ohio. Using the instruments on his control console, David demonstrates the operation of the six-foot vehicle to Al Esper, Ford’s chief test driver.
Description of a radio-controlled vehicle is included in this volume and will be found in chapter Eleven.
The Industrial Arts Awards Competition is not restricted to vehicles. Boats, machines, and other craft are eligible.

This photo of a model car for example fascinated me as a boy, and I think the text of the chapter was not directly related to it. I mean the text on this page describes “industrial arts” awards, where and what prizes are offered, where they are judged. No doubt the above was a design winner. But 12-year-old me would have wanted to learn more about “DaviT”, not about a corporate award program.

A lot going on just in the photo. Looks like a standard auto headlight. The body appears to be sheet-metal — the bullet shape shows its seams between the headlight and front wheel. Love that streamlined shape though. Skirt along the bottom hides the rear wheel(s)….

Antennae as well appear to be from an automobile. And look at that console behind the two men! I suspect the controller the younger man is holding is simply a remote, like a game controller, connected to that massive radio-desk.

It would be sort of fun to recreate the “space vehicle” with modern components. Of course, no need to make it as large as it is….