400 Parkway Circle, Montevallo, Alabama 35115
After reading the very interesting article on the Shaw
Manufacturing History by David Beattie in the August ’97 issue
of GEM, I began to look back about 65 years. I don’t recall any
article on Shaw ever before, mentioning a vehicle.
I owned a Shaw built vehicle, but whether it was a Shaw mobile
or a Speedster I don’t know. I was 12 or 13 years old then, and
am almost 78 now, so everything I say must now be qualified with,
‘as I remember.’
The steering was conventional. The clutch was hand-lever
operated. The Shaw used four 20′ bicycle type wheels and tires.
There were no springs, but the frame/floor being composed of a
number of 1’x4′ boards with a gap between them, afforded
some degree of cushion effect. The two bucket-type seats were made
of sheet metal and low to the floor, such that your legs protruded
The air-cooled Briggs & Stratton engine was protected by a
hood. One side was raised to wrap the pull cord to start the
engine. The front of the hood was supported by a radiator shroud
which was covered by wire mesh or hardware cloth, and the rear by
The engine and clutch were mounted on an angle to avoid the need
of universal joints. They were also lowered so that the open drive
shaft could disappear beneath the floor before entering the
passenger area or shortly thereafter.
The vehicle did not have a true differential, as only one wheel
had power. It did have an aluminum oil-filled housing that enclosed
the angle gears.
The axles were open shafts of perhaps ?’ diameter. The outer
rear wheel bearings were 4-inch pieces of 2′ x 4′,
oil-soaked wood with holes for the axles.
With the purchase of the Shaw, my popularity increased
immensely. The engine had been disposed of, but I had no problem
securing adequate, free help to push the vehicle several miles
across town to its new home.
My mother took me in our Model ‘T’ Ford to purchase the
original engine from a different owner and bring it home.
We installed the engine, but found that the clutch would not
work. My thanks go to a kind neighbor, a Mr. Pennington, who, being
a machinist, made the necessary part and fixed the clutch. Sounds
familiar, doesn’t it?
How did I fund this project? I had no money, credit, or regular
The desire of young people to have a set of ‘wheels’ was
as prevalent back then as it is today.
Near our home was an old trash dump that was now covered with
trees. It harbored many old discarded metal objects, and much high
quality topsoil. My brother and I had a goat and wagon that we used
to haul scrap iron and other items. We sold top soil to the
neighborhood flower gardeners by the wagon load. The iron had to be
hauled several miles to a scrap dealer. This brought 10 cents per
hundred pounds. If we found a metal item too heavy for the two of
us, we formed a joint venture with other boys we knew.
Every family usually has a benevolent uncle or aunt, and also
some that are less benevolent and more frugal. The latter, already
feeling a little guilty for not helping, make good sales
The GRIT newspaper, white Cloverene salve, and several flower
and garden seed companies have introduced many a young entrepreneur
to the real world of economics.
There was a time frame on the Shaw sale first party with the
cash was the new owner. By using all the various methods I’ve
listed to make money, I was finally able to claim the Shaw.
Like the first pop or cough of a newly restored engine, you know
then that it was worth all the effort.
I appreciate my parents allowing me to ‘try my wings’
for encouraging me, but not doing it for me and not buying it for
I’ve enjoyed looking back in time and I hope you have,