In December of 1987, Randy started Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts to market the new 6-volt alternator. He designed a sales brochure, began sending out new product press releases, and started placing ads in automotive and farm magazines. During this time, Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts also introduced a 12-volt alternator that would be able to recharge the battery at idle, speeds as low as 400 rpms. This was in contrast to modern alternators, which provide little or no output below 1200 engine rpms.

With the alternators selling well locally, it was time to gain some national exposure. Randy began talking with a number of the teams entered in the Great American Race, a vintage car race in which pre 1940 cars are driven 4500 miles across the United States in just 14 days. He worked out a deal to install one of his 6-volt alternators at no charge on a 1936 Cord owned by Bud Melby of Seattle Washington. In exchange, Randy would receive advertising rights and an endorsement if the alternator proved successful.


Antique 1939 AutomobileThe 6-volt alternator worked perfectly and solved a number of electrical problems on the 1936 Cord. Cord automobiles are unique in that they have an electric shift selector on the steering column that is used to electrically shift the gears in the transmission. Prior to, the 6-volt alternator being installed, a pause was required in between shifts to allow the shifting solenoids time to work properly.


The new 6-volt alternator allowed all of the original 6-volt electrical system to remain in place, while providing a 60% greater output. In addition, the new 6-volt alternator would be able to recharge the battery at idle and low engine rpms, just like a modern day 12-volt charging system. That would put an end to the trademark hard starting dead batteries and dim headlights associated with the 6-volt electrical systems.


In addition, the car was equipped with an electric solenoid controlled overdrive transmission that had a tendency to become "stuck" in the "high" side. These transmission problems were all a result of low voltage. The original generator charging system was not able to deliver enough, electrical current at low engine rpms to make the transmission shift properly. After Randy's new 6-volt alternator was installed the transmission shifted immediately without hesitation, and no longer required a pause in between shifts. In addition, the overdrive could now be shifted between the low and high range at any speed. Best of all the worry of dead batteries and dim headlights was eliminated. The Cord was made to be much more reliable and the team went on to finish in fifth place out of 100 entrants in the 1989 race.

With the success of the new 6-volt alternator proven in the 1989 Great American Race, it was time to go knock on a few more doors. Randy decided that if he could get a few more Great Racers to use his alternator, it would be easier to sell the alternators to the average antique vehicle owner.


Randy, with a little help from Bud Melby (now a very satisfied Cord owner) convinced Howard Sharp of Fairport New York to install one of the 6-volt alternators on his 1929 Dodge Sport Coupe entered in the 1989 Great American Race. Howard also experienced first hand the positive benefits of the new 6-volt alternator, including easier starting and brighter headlights. As a result of the his car being more reliable Howard finished in the top five the next two years, and became very determined to win the Great Race.


The Great RaceHoward Sharp won the sportsman’s class of the Great Race in 1993, becoming thirty thousand dollars richer and was handed the keys to a new 1993 Buick Roadmaster! The original 6-volt alternator installed in 1990 had accumulated over 20,000 Great Race miles, and was still going strong.


Randy was quickly establishing a reputation as the antique vehicle electrical system expert. Great Race entrants from across the country began calling to order his 6-volt alternator and seek his advice. Randy's involvement in the Great Race was beginning to pay dividends. Not only were the Great Race teams buying his alternator, but retail sales of the alternator were also very strong.


In 1994 the first group of Great Race entrants came back to Randy and said "you did such a good job with our electrical systems, how about working on our cooling and fuel problems"?


Randy accepted the challenge and developed a number of specialized products for the Great Race teams, among them high output 6/12 volt electric radiator cooling fans and specially engineered electric fuel pumps. All of Fifth Avenue's products have increased not only the reliability of the Great Racecars, but the reliability of the average antique vehicle, making them more reliable and fun to drive.

Fifth Avenue Facts

Even when cars were new back in the 1940’s and 1950’s the vacuum wipers always needed a little help. Because many people smoked during those days, pouch tobacco (like the Bull Durham Brand) was common. During those days it was common practice to rub the tobacco pouch across the outside of the windshield. The "juice" in the tobacco acted as a lubricant that made the job the vacuum powered windshield motor had to do a little easier. The "juice" also made it easier to get the bugs off of the windshield. This is the job that products like "Rain-X" do today.