Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Tri-County People & Events
Chemung County NY
1933 Rockne Celebrates 70th Birthday 
Article - 1933 Rockne has Party
Year: 2003 
Article by Joan NASH O'Dell 
Retyped by Elaine Frey
Photo by Walt Samson
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70th Auto Birthday Party

 On August 2, 2003 an unusual birthday party was held in Horseheads, NY.  It was a party for a car --- a 1933 ROCKNE.  About 40 people attended including a 1941 Buick owned by a friend.
 This Rockne is the only one of its kind and year in the Twin Tiers and perhaps an even wider range.
 It has always been owned by residents of Chemung County,  and Joan O’Dell of Horseheads is the third owner.  She has had the car for 23 years and has done much research on the brief life of the Rockne Motor Co.  Actually very little work has ever been needed on the car.  It was painted in 1969 by the 2nd owner.
 The Rockne Motor Co. was founded in 1931 after the Studebaker Erskine had failed.  Two engineers from Studebaker broke away and formed their own company naming it after the famous football coach at Notre Dame.
 The first car rolled off the assembly in late 1931 (’32 Model) in Detroit and flourished the first year of production.  The cost was about $575.00 which was a bit more than the Fords or Chevrolets.
 With the depression deepening in January 1933, sales were down and in a struggle to survive, the company moved to South Bend, Ind. and finally ceased manufacturing the car July 1, 1933.  Joan’s car was produced in late April 1933 in South Bend.
 Several models were made including a coupe, a convertible and a panel delivery truck.  There were a few changes made between years.
 The engine is a peppy flat head 6 cylinder.  The dash is designed like a football.  The emblem is known as the “Flying R”.
 A Rockne automobile appeared in the movie, “The Gipper” starring Ronald Regan in 1940.  When a memorial affair was held in South Bend in the late 1980’s for Knute Rockne and the issuing of the Knute Rockne postage stamp by the US Postal Service Mr. Reagan appeared in a Rockne auto.  Joan’s car was considered for this appearance but one from southern Indiana was used because of distance.
 Much hope is in store for this nice, old car for at least 70 more years.

      Joan NASH O’Dell 2003

Chemung County NY
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Published On Tri-Counties Site On 10/10/2003
By Joyce M. Tice