1963 Chrysler Turbine

The Chrysler Turbine Car is an experimental two-door hardtop coupe powered by a turbine engine and manufactured by Chrysler from 1963–1964. The bodywork was constructed by Italian design studio Carrozzeria Ghia and Chrysler completed the final assembly in Detroit. A total of 55 cars were manufactured: five prototypes and 50 cars for a public user program. The car, styled by Elwood Engel and the Chrysler studios, featured power brakes, power steering, and a TorqueFlite transmission. It sports a metallic paint called “turbine bronze”

The Chrysler turbine engine program that produced the Turbine Car began during the late 1930s and created multiple prototypes that successfully completed numerous long-distance trips in the 1950s and early 1960s. The A-831 engines that powered the Ghia-designed Turbine Car could operate on many different fuels, required less maintenance, and lasted longer than conventional piston engines, although they were much more expensive to produce.

Chrysler conducted a user program from October 1963 to January 1966 that involved 203 individual drivers in 133 different cities across the US cumulatively driving more than one million miles. The program helped Chrysler determine a variety of problems, notably their complicated starting procedure, unimpressive acceleration, and sub-par fuel economy and noise level. The experience also revealed key advantages of the turbine engines, including their remarkable durability, smooth operation, and relatively modest maintenance requirements.

After the user program ended in 1966, Chrysler reclaimed the cars and destroyed all but nine: Chrysler kept two cars, six are displayed at museums in the United States, one is owned by Jay Leno, and one has made its home at Stahl’s

Chrysler’s turbine engine program ended in 1979, largely due to the failure of the engines to meet government emissions regulations, poor fuel economy, and as a prerequisite of receiving a government loan in 1979.


1905 Columbia Mark XXXV Electric

Columbia was a pioneer in the electric automobile field, introducing an electric Wagonette as early as 1900. The Hartford, Connecticut based company produced electrics as well as gasoline cars from the late 1890s through 1914. They were one of the more successful early electric manufacturers, although the company’s fate was sealed when, in 1910, it was swallowed up by US Motors, only for the parent company to collapse three years later.

This 1905 Columbia Mark XXXV features formal open-drive Brougham coachwork that clearly shows its horse-drawn carriage roots with its lofty chauffeur’s position and fully enclosed passenger compartment. It is a large an imposing machine, with massive artillery wheels and solid rubber tires of 38- and 42-inches in diameter. Unlike similar electrics that used a single motor to drive a shaft or chain to the rear axle, the Mark XXXV features an unusual dual-motor layout, with the two huge electric motors directly driving ring gears affixed to the inside of each rear wheel.

This car was discovered tucked away in a New York City livery stable in 1948 by the famed collector and historian Henry Austin Clark, Jr. The Columbia was displayed in his world-famous Long Island Automotive Museum for many years, until it joined another prominent collection in 1982. It is believed that the opulent leather interior is original to the car.


1935 Chrysler Airflow C1

Chrysler’s revolutionary Airflow is arguably one of the most important cars of the pre-war era.  Designed by Carl Breer, Fred Zeder, and Owen Skelton, the talented young engineers enlisted the help of Orville Wright with their aerodynamic tests.  The Airflow had its debut at the New York Auto Show in 1934.  It featured radical, streamlined styling that was a dramatic departure from the norm, with its integral fenders and headlamps and art-deco inspired detailing. Beyond the styling, the Airflow featured unique beam and truss construction that was a precursor to the modern Unibody.  The Airflow was lighter and stronger than a traditional wooden-framed body atop a steel chassis, while the aerodynamic styling and robust 8-cylinder engine allowed for excellent performance.

Despite all of its benefits, the Airflow’s groundbreaking style was perhaps a decade ahead of its time and buyers did not warm to the unconventional looks.  Problems with the new style of construction also caused quality control issues, which didn’t help the Airflow’s reputation.  With the hindsight of over 80 years however, we now appreciate how important the Airflow was in advancing automotive styling, aerodynamics, and construction techniques.

1939 Ford Midget Racer

It seems that in motorsport, just like in life, having robust financial backing can be beneficial to success. Of course, money may not make you an automatic shoe in for success but it certainly doesn’t hurt your chances. In the mid-1930s, a certain 14 year old kid from Michigan named William Clay Ford didn’t have too much to worry about. After all, his grandfather Henry was one of the greatest industrialists in all of history and his father Edsel was a brilliant designer and talented marketer. When it came time for William’s 14th birthday, a suitable gift was needed… and what better gift is there for the grandson of the world’s biggest motoring mogul than a miniature racing car of his own. Of course, no off-the-shelf item would do, so the might of America’s most famous industrial powerhouse was utilized to build a young boy a very small racing car.

Ford employees set to work, starting with a custom fabricated chassis. To this chassis is affixed an I-beam front end, with running gear from what is believed to be a British Ford Model C. Of course, the engine was thoroughly warmed over by engineers to include a lightened flywheel and custom outside exhaust. Power went to the rear end via a three speed gearbox and the suspension featured friction dampers, with mechanical brakes on the rear axle only. The chassis was then clothed in a tiny, yet beautiful and expertly proportioned body that, particularly from the front, bore more than a passing resemblance to a Miller Indy car. The result surely must have thrilled the young William Clay Ford to no end. While little is known about actual competition history, we like to imagine the looks on other kid’s faces if young William Clay showed up at a race in a car that was custom built by the best and brightest at the Ford Motor Company!

1937 Ford Eifel

Since the earliest days of the Model T, Ford Motor Company has had a global presence. Over 15 million Model Ts were built at factories around the world from Canada to Argentina, across Europe, and as far away as Australia and Japan. The T was not only the first mass-produced automobile, it was the first “world car”. By the time the Model A had replaced the T, many overseas Ford operations began to take on their own identities. Customer needs varied depending on the market, and Ford’s branches in Dagenham, England and Cologne, Germany were among the most progressive,  demanding cars that suited the needs of their particular market, rather than simply offering locally made versions of American cars. Model A sales in Europe were lagging behind so a new, smaller car was designed to better suit smaller European roads. The Model Y was unveiled in 1932 and proved a huge success in England. From 1933 through 1936, it was sold in Germany as the Ford Koln. As the Model Y became less popular in England, the Koln was replaced by the stylish little Eifel in 1935. The Eifel was initially built alongside the Koln, but soon replaced it altogether thanks to its superior performance. Ford continued to refine the car, separating it from its British cousins and offering body styles that better suited German buyers. The Eifel was facelifted in 1937, with a new laid-back radiator shell that echoed that of the American Ford V8, and new stamped steel wheels replacing wires.  No fewer than fifteen different coachbuilders were contracted to supply a variety of bodies that ranged from a commercial van to stylish roadster. All told, over 61,000 Eifel’s were built, putting Ford back in serious competition with Opel for the entry level market.

This rare Ford Eifel roadster is one of the finest examples of its kind, believed to be one of just 10 like it and likely the only one in the US.  The story of this little Ford begins in 1937 when it was purchased by a Jewish doctor in Germany. As the Nazis tore through Europe, the doctor hid the car on his father’s farm under a haystack. Fearful of being caught with the car and imprisoned, he gave the car to a US serviceman, who subsequently sold it to fellow soldier Sgt. John Trimble. Sgt. Trimble then sold the car to a Sgt. DeVente who shipped the car to the USA in 1958. Trimble’s brother Bob owned the car for some time who then sold it to Mr. Feijoo, who performed the careful and well-researched restoration in the 1990s.

1928 Bentley 4 1/2-Litre

Immediately from its conception in 1927, the Bentley – with a 4.5 litre engine – was racing in a variety of events, winning the 1927 and 1928 Le Mans and various other prestigious races. O. W. Bentley was convinced a racing program was crucial to selling cars and he provide it to be right!  He sought out any event that would highlight the Marquis’ reputation for reliability and high speed, giving the Bentley an unbeatable sports pedigree appealing to customers looking for power and performance.

This is a numbers matching 1928 Bentley that didn’t leave England for 85 years. Car number PM3258 was first sold in 1928 to Edward Forsyth of Southampton Row in London. It was fitted with a four seat Tourer body by Harrison and “D” gear box – the most desirable for a 4.5 litre.  The gear box number is 7095 as per the build sheet making it a truly numbers matching car. In the early 1970’s, the Harrison body was in poor state and then owner asked James Pearce of Sussex, a very well-known Bentley restorer to build a new body to the specifications in the style of Vanden Plas. Before leaving the UK for its trip here, it was repainted and the upholstery replaced with new leather by Bentley’s specialist DBE Limited.

1926 REO Speedwagon Model F Bus

Ransom Eli Olds is one of the founding fathers of the American automobile industry. His Curved Dash Oldsmobile was America’s first mass-produced low-priced automobile and the first to be produced on an assembly line (not to be confused with Henry Ford’s moving assembly line). In 1904, following a falling out with management, Olds left the company that bore his name, and founded the R. E. Olds Motor Car Company, which he quickly changed to REO Motor Car Co. to avoid legal action.

The new REO company continued building relatively affordable small cars of high quality. Along with car production, the company expanded into building trucks which proved very profitable. Despite offering beautiful and advanced cars such as the Royale and Flying Cloud, the company quit car production after 1936 to concentrate on trucks and buses. Following a merger with Diamond T trucks, they would become Diamond-Reo in 1967, which survived until 1975.

This 1926 Model FB Speed Wagon wears a special, handcrafted trolley-style bus body. The body is built from wood and features beautiful brass and decorative glass trimmings. A powerful six-cylinder engine helps this beautiful bus live up to its name.

This example is one of 12 Model F REO Speedwagons made in 1926.

 

1919 “Fatty” Arbuckle Pierce-Arrow

In 1919, few cars could touch the Pierce-Arrow Model 66 for its sheer power and road presence. For years, Pierce-Arrow were fervent supporters of the inline six-cylinder engine. They felt the layout provided the best balance of power and refinement, even as competitors like Packard and Cadillac experimented with V12 and V8 engines, respectively. Choosing to stick with what they knew, Pierce developed increasingly larger and more potent versions of their T-Head six, culminating with the Model 66 of 1910. Initially named for its power output, the Model 66 was the flagship of the range, and one of the biggest and most powerful cars of the era. The ultimate version of the series was the 66 A-4.  Particularly in the era of the Model 66, very few Pierce-Arrows received coachwork from outside firms. The quality and style of the firm’s cast aluminum bodies were such that most buyers found it unnecessary to look elsewhere. However, in 1919, one notable Pierce-Arrow customer would go against convention to create one of the most memorable, spectacular motorcars of the early twentieth century.

Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle, best known by the moniker “Fatty”, was one of the most famous silent film stars of the period. He was a gifted physical comedian, actor, and singer, as well as a director, screenwriter, and mentor to the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Bob Hope. Arbuckle was a true superstar of his time, and in 1920, he signed a 3-year contract with Paramount Pictures for $1,000,000 per year, making him the highest paid actor in Hollywood in his day. As a man of exceptional means, Fatty Arbuckle indulged in a series of increasingly spectacular custom-bodied automobiles. Of course, no movie star would be content with an off-the-floor model, and Arbuckle developed a relationship with J.W. Earl Automobile Works in downtown Los Angeles, who supplied him with a series of tailored motorcars. In early 1919, Southern California Cadillac distributor Don Lee acquired J.W. Earl to create Don Lee Coachbuilders. Along with the coachbuilding shop came the firm’s greatest asset, a gifted young designer named Harley Earl. Harley Earl designed cars for the likes of Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Tom Mix, and other Hollywood elites. Within the next decade, he would go on to become the first head of General Motors’ Art and Color Department, and today he is considered to be America’s most influential automobile designer. Before GM, however, he was free to hone his craft.

In 1919, after owning custom-bodied Renaults and Cadillacs, Fatty Arbuckle ordered the largest, most powerful automobile he could buy: The massive Pierce-Arrow Model 66-A-4. As with his other cars, Arbuckle handed the chassis over to Harley Earl to design the flamboyant coachwork, and the resulting “Arbuckle Pierce” is perhaps Earl’s most significant early work. The spectacular Pierce-Arrow was completed early in 1920, and on May 2 of that year, the Los Angeles Times reported that upwards of 10,000 people filed through Don Lee’s L.A. showroom to get a glimpse of the car that cost $30,000 – more than ten times what an average American made in a year. Arbuckle clearly enjoyed his Pierce-Arrow, as seen in numerous period photos of him posing with his pride and joy.

Unfortunately, a scandal and ensuing tabloid frenzy derailed his career, and soon Fatty was charged with manslaughter and tried three times. Despite an acquittal and a public apology by the jury, the damage had been done, and Arbuckle was forced to sell the Pierce 66 to cover legal bills. It was purchased by his friend and movie mogul Joseph Schenck, then chairman of 20th Century Fox studios. Years later, it became a part of Jim Brucker’s Movie World Collection, the Rick Carroll Collection, as well as the Blackhawk Collection.

1914 Woods Mobilette

In the early years of the 20th century, automobiles were predominantly large, luxurious vehicles built and equipped for wealthy, adventurous early-adopters. A few imaginative souls, however, conceived of the automobile as mobility for the masses. The best known is Henry Ford, but he was challenged for a few years by inventors like Francis A. Woods who appreciated mobility in a more urban setting where roads were better and size was subordinated to efficiency. Woods’ Mobilette was one of the more imaginative creations. Powered by a diminutive 4-cylinder inline engine rated 12 horsepower with advanced features like a 2-speed transaxle, the Woods Mobilette was built in series from 1913 until 1916. In addition to its advanced drive train, the Woods Mobilette featured a narrow track, modest ground clearance and compact two-seat bodywork, ideal for a couple in congested urban environments. Woods at one time claimed monthly production of 1,000 vehicles, but survival rates fail to substantiate the claim.

1912 Hudson Model 33 Doctor’s Coupe

Coachbuilders James Young & Co LTD was best remembered for their exceptionally elegant work on Rolls Royce and Bentley chassis.  James Young outfitted six Model 33 chassis with this body known as the Doctor’s Coupe.  One of the six examples was delivered to the Duke of Westminster.  The earliest known ownership of this Hudson was in Dingwall, south of London near Croydon, where an owner dubbed it the “Dingwall Dandy.”