We recently got an email all the way from Australia with a surprise Christmas gift – a rare treasure trove of early Clymer information and pictures! Floyd Clymer and the things he did are well documented, as he was always out looking for publicity, but much history was lost when he suddenly died in 1970 and the company was sold by his widow.
The email we just received was from the family of a man who worked with Floyd from the 1950s. One project was the 1957 Volkswagen Complete Owner’s Handbook of Repair and Maintenance, one of the earliest Clymer repair manuals.
Here’s what the email had to say:
Hi guys, just wanted to write a quick email as we have found some interesting information regarding our family, the Elfrink family, and the Clymer family.
A quick background of us, our names are Richard and David Elfrink. We have a motorcycle repair shop (MTO Repairs) in Victoria Australia and use your manuals regularly.
We have been doing some family research and traveled to Java, Indonesia last year to trace our family’s history. They were Dutch, who ran sugar plantations in East Java 1910-1935.
Our great Uncle is Henry “Hank” Elfrink, his brother Paul is our grandfather. We have just gone through Hanks photos, and just clicked that he was friends with Floyd Clymer, and they both wrote and published repair manuals for VW, Porsche, Plymouth etc.
We even have Hanks books, and just realized the name Clymer is on them as well. As we currently use Clymer manuals, we thought it was very interesting.
In the old photos we have from Hank, we also have a couple with Floyd and Hank together. I will attach them to this email.
We may have more stuff from Hank as well, so if you’re interested in any history he may have, please keep in touch.
Hope you can make more sense of the photos than we can.
Thank you, we will have to come visit some time.
What can we say about these pictures? We know Floyd grew up in middle America and was a huge fan of the Indy 500. In one of the pictures, you can see the famous Indianapolis Speedway scoring tower “Pagoda” in the background. We can assume Floyd, Hank Elfrink, along with Oswalt and Willis were there to write the annual Clymer Indy 500 Yearbook.
The first Clymer Indy 500 book was a history, up to 1941, and came out in 1946. From 1949-1968 Floyd Clymer produced what was probably the most in depth reporting on that year’s race each year.
The first photo is taken in front of one of several different offices that Clymer had over the years. You can tell by the Clymer Motors lettering on the window that the second to last image is the same store front offices, and men can be seen assembling booklets. We may never know who all the people in the last image are, but we do know it was taken at Floyd’s home in 1950, likely at a Christmas party.
Two other interesting images were included. The first is the cover of the 1951 report on the Mobile Oil Fuel Economy Run. Before fuel economy was just an agreed upon number printed on the car’s window sticker, it was a USAC sanctioned contest from 1936-68. All the car manufacturers, big and small, would specially prepare “stock” cars and compete to see who could use the least fuel to travel a set course in the allotted time. It appears Floyd and his technical assistant Hank Elfrink drove a Studebaker to cover the 1951 run to the Grand Canyon.
The last picture is of the 15th annual banquet honoring trailblazers of the motorcycle world. Taken in 1956, it has Floyd Clymer prominently featured, but we’d love your help identifying other notable riders.