Research Begins:

December 14-16:
 

 

I have sent several emails out to various websites and people who know a fair amount about sports cars, one-offs, home built and of course the Kaiser-Frazer line of cars.

We will see who replies and where that information takes us as we build our plans to contact current and past owners of this car, anyone who may have worked at the factory, etc. etc.

December 16, 2008
 

 

I am contacting the owner of a website that has a vast amount of information on the Henry J cars. This family, as of now, has owned 13 Henry Js over the years. Below is the email I sent, as I’ve found various and misleading information on which engine was used in the Kaisers and the Henry Js in particular. Below is my email and the reply I received back.

———

Hello,
I found your Henry J web pages and wanted to drop you an email and ask a question about the engines.

Is the Supersonic (flat head six) engine a Continental or a Willy’s engine?

I may have a few more questions as I begin to work on my project car, but wanted to start there.

Thanks.

———

 

Hi,
There seems to be much confusion regarding “Kaiser Supersonic” engines.

The engines used in the Kaiser and Frazer cars were originally made by Continental Engines. It was a 226 CID flathead which was originally designed for machinery (tractors, forklifts) and was always criticized as being under-powered for passenger cars.

The Henry J, on the other hand, used Willys built engines. They too said “Kaiser Supersonic” on the top but the six cylinder was a 161 CID and the four cylinder a 134 CID.

A lot of Kaiser-Frazer aficionados erroneously state that the Henry J used Continental engines but they’re wrong. The November 2004 issue of Hemming’s Classic Car featured an article on the Henry J (and they used my dad’s car in the article) and they erroneously stated that Continental engines were used the Henry J.

The truth is out there. In a 1950 issue of Kaiser-Frazer Dealer’s News, it clearly states that Willys engines will be used in the Henry J. Also, the back of the 1953-54 Henry J owner’s manual lists “Engine by Willys…”

The big difference between the Willys 161 and the Continental 226 is, the 161 has the manifolds on the driver’s side whereas the 226 has the manifolds on the passenger side. The 161 has the distributor mounted through the right side of the engine. On the Continental 226, the distributor comes through the top of the cylinder head. There are many other differences but those are the most noticeable. The 226 was prone to vapor lock and overheating whereas the 161 Willys was about as trouble-free as an engine could be.

Lowell

———

 

This information was found to be very helpful, and looking at the photos of my car I have determined that it is indeed the Willys based flathead 161 engine.

December 17, 2008
 

 

I received several replies today with thoughts and opinions on our mystery. Here are the emails I received.

——

It’s been on eBay several times.
It’s someone’s homemade special from the mid 1950’s – based on design. The paperwork shown in the auction is intriguing but comparing this design to the Kaiser Darrin – it doesn’t stand up as a classic design.

Neat for a home built though – or someone’s home built proposal for Kaiser – maybe an enthusiastic employee at the time.

Best..

——

 

December 23, 2008
 

 

Today I called a K-F employee who worked, as a photographer, with the company from 1948 through 1979. Now 82, Mr. Spalding is enjoying life in Colorado and still works with his photographs, is a member of the Kaiser Club and still owns a 1954 Kaiser Darrin which he purchased from the company. Our talk was very informative and amazing as we spoke of the Darrin cars, time at the factory and travelling on company business, and his interactions with Howard “Dutch” Darrin and the Kaiser family. Based on my descriptions, Mr. Spalding wasn’t familiar with the car I have, but I am mailing copies of the photographs and documentation that came with the car. I await for his reply.

 

I also received another email reply today from an eBay seller that I contacted the other day. They were offering the book: Prototype Cars That Never Were. from 1981.

My question was to see if the book contained any photos, drawings, etc. of cars that looked similar to mine and/or had a Henry J chassis. Below is the reply.

——

Good Afternoon Colleague: Many THANKS for looking at my auto books on eBay. I just went through both the Kaiser and the Henry J
sections in this book and unfortunately your car is not there, or anything that is even close, The only thing I saw are 2 and 4 door
coupes and sedans. By the way, I like you car!! HAPPY MOTORING,
——

 

December 24, 2008
 

 

I’ve been searching for information on Edwin F. Hasley, the original owner.

A public records search for Detroit shows that he owned the same house/address that is listed on the 1954 title until 1986. After much research, I found an obituary for him and purchased it from the News Library Archives http://www.newslibrary.com

——

Detroit Free Press (MI)

HASLEY, EDWIN F., August 25, 1999. Age 82, Suddenly. Dear uncle of Gary Hasley, Bruce Gabel, Grant Gabel, and Arlene Cox. Also leaves several great nieces and nephews. Visitation Friday 6-9 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Funeral Service at Thayer-Rock Funeral Home, 33603 Grand River Ave., Farmington (1 blk west of Farmington Rd.). Memorials may be made to the Heart Association.
——

It appears that he had no wife or children at the time of his passing and it appears that our trip will soon take us down the road to finding the niece and nephews to see if they know of the car.

December 27, 2008
 

I sent out emails to several kit car websites today to see anyone from these sites may have ideas of information on the car… I await responses.

GTSCA.kitcar.club

Replicarclub

I’m also trying to find an email address or contact information  for Richard Langworth who wrote The Last Onslaught On Detroit as well as several other wonderful books. The Last Onslaught book is about the Kaiser-Frazer company and is a wonderful read if you can find a copy. It took me almost two years to locate an affordable copy and I can say that it was money well spent.

December 18, 2008

 

  

 

I called a nearby PPG dealer today to see if I could find out what the windshield with this car was meant for.

The numbers on the sticker cross reference to a 1955-1957 Ford Thunderbird.

Based on color (green tint), glass thickness, and the sticker, I am guessing this windshield was made in the mid to late 1950s. – Hmmm… Another mystery to solve. Why is this with the car?

 

December 30, 2008

I contacted the Kaiser Club (KFOCI) historian today via email to see if he has any information on the car.

December 31, 2008
 

I’ve received a reply from the club historian and he has seen the car show up online several times. Here is some of the information he was able to provide.

——

Hi,
You are either the 4th or 5th owner of this mish-mosh since I first heard about it in August 2008. The first owner I came in contact with had it for sale on eBay at a buy it now price of $400,000 claiming it was the factory prototype for the Kaiser Darrin sports car. I (and others in the club) e-mailed him to advise that it was not a Darrin of any type, and that the documentation he had was suspect at the very least. The ad was pulled, only for the car to appear under another seller’s name as the prototype 1946 Darrin convertible (how it came to be on a 1951 HJ chassis was not explained in the description). Again, the seller (who said he was selling the car for a friend) said that the information presented in the listing was given to him by the owner (there was a 1946 prototype that Howard Darrin built; I have pictures…it is the side and general appearance of what a 1947 Frazer would look like in 2-door convertible form, with a custom made frame and tilt front cowl. The car was in the possession of Howard Darrin when it was destroyed during a flood that washed through the Darrin property in CA during 1961). Again the ad was pulled

The third person to contact me said he bought it from someone who bought it from someone who said they bought it from the original owner. He was told by the seller it MIGHT be a Kaiser-Frazer factory prototype. I assured him that this is not the case, so far as is presently known. This brings us to the present.

It probably would have been better if the buyer of the 1951 HJ had left the car as built, for it would have been perhaps the earliest known example of the Henry J automobile today. As it is, it appears the body was one of the many different kinds of do-it-yourself sports car body kits that were offered for sale in the 1950’s by various companies, or it was a do-it-yourself idea that someone had and made themselves. In any event, you would probably get it titled as a 1951 Henry J in most states (based on the chassis/running gear). It would turn a few heads at a KFOCI function, but to this point anyway, nobody can connect it to any kind of factory project.

The Kaiser-Darrin sports car began as a K-F project in 1952, off a one-of prototype Howard Darrin built on a 1951 HU chassis he requisitioned for his shop in Santa Monica CA. I’ve attached a photo of the car for comparison purposes…the hardtop on this car drops into a storage area where the trunk on the production car is found. There were no other sports car projects worked up at the factory according to various sources including former employees that are still alive.

PS: The By-Products invoices had to have hand-written items countersigned by the appropriate company manager in order to get it past plant security at the gate…normally all items on the invoice were typewritten. As there is no countersignature on the copy of the By-Products invoice sent to me, I have a problem believing the hand written items covering the body and related components is legit.
 

——

January 1, 2009
 

Based on emails. internet searches, and contact with the seller I purchased the car from I’ve found the contact information for one of the sellers… not owners. I believe it to the person who posted the car on eBay for a client in September 2008. We will be exploring that road soon.

January 2, 2009
 

I made contact today with Bruce (77), one of the nephews listed in the obituary. Our conversation was very short, as he “hadn’t spoken with Edwin for about 10 years” and he “doesn’t know anything about Edwin or his cars.” Hopefully one of the other nephews, or the niece, may now something. Our search continues.

January 3, 2009
 

I called Jerry today, a friend and collector several hours north of me, who owns a number of Kaiser cars. He is a very knowledgeable and wonderful man who also puts on a great gathering each fall. I told him a little about my mystery car and what I know to this point. When asked what his thoughts were on it and where I might go next in my research, he suggested a couple of people. One of whom I have already contacted, and another whom he says is very knowledgeable on the kit and custom car bodies that were made available for the Henry J chassis. Since he didn’t have the email address or phone number handy for the second person, I contacted another friend to get the information.

I called Ted and explained my situation and tried to describe this unique car. We only spoke for few minutes and agreed that emailing photos and the information I have as of now might be the best way. I emailed him the information this afternoon and will wait for a reply.

January 5, 2009
 

Today while researching I came across a website for a company that is now building Henry J bodies out of fiberglass. Intrigued by this, and knowing that I will need a complete floor and firewall (as there is only partial of both now) and that these would be fiberglass as well, I emailed the owner to see if he sells just the floor and firewall, as well as how he builds support/substructure into the body. – While this won’t solve our mystery, the source may be helpful and save design and build time later on.

http://www.scottrodscustom.com/

January 6, 2009
 

I received a reply from Scott of Scott Rods LLC. Below is a small sample of his reply.

——

That’s and awesome body, and no I have never seen one, but with the
Kaiser Darrin bodies that were fiberglass we know that Kaiser was into
the glass. Are there any manufacturers tags in the body on the
underside of it that might tell us who made the body?

Yes our floors and trunk area are made separate from the body and glued
in later.

——

January 10, 2009
 

I dropped an email to Kaiser Bill today to see if he has ever heard of or seen anything like this.

January 12, 2009
 

I emailed Fred Roth today. Fred has a tremendous amount of experience with unique, rare, and sometimes “odd” sports cars and I spoke with him a little over a year ago about one of the Kaiser Darrin cars that he owns. Check out his site sometime. website is http://www.americansportscars.com

During my research tonight I stumbled onto a new website that had a recent posting with a Kaiser Darrin for sale. While I am not in the market for one now that I have this mystery to solve, I emailed the seller to get more information as I know several people interested in obtaining a Darrin. This particular Darrin is red, but the original engine and transmission have been changed out for a small Chevy V8. There also appears to be some body modifications around the wheel wells. Only 50 Darrins were built in Sail Red, so it will be interesting to see if the VIN number indicates that this is one of them, or one that was repainted.

January 13, 2009
 

I received a reply from the Darrin owner today and will be passing it on. Hopefully this will lead to a happy seller and new owner. On a side note, it is one of the 50 Sail Red Darrins.

January 15, 2009
 

I spoke with Jack Miller, curator of the Ypsilanti Heritage Museum today. For those who don’t know, it is The World’s Last Hudson Dealership.

Ypsilanti has a great deal of automotive and air history as well.

·
Ford built planes there during WWII.

 

·
Kaiser-Frazer then used the plant as their factory until they sold it to GM in 1954.

 

·
The Tucker as has a lot of heritage and history in the same town, and this mysterious car/body came from that same plant.

Anyway, I had a good talk with Jack and learned that he has seen this car or photos of it and was intrigued by it. He will look and see what information he may have on it and get back with me. Check out the museum website: http://www.ypsiautoheritage.org/

I also received a call this evening telling me that the house where my mystery car is stored caught fire today. See the NEXT STOP: Hot Spots page for more information. The garage there is detached, but only about 15 feet from the house.

January 19, 2009
 

I’ve finally made contact with the eBay seller who posted the car in September 2008 for the owner. This is the auction in which the car was reported to be the 1946 Darrin (not Kaiser Darrin) and was later withdrawn from eBay. He wasn’t able to provide a lot of detail as he was hired as a selling agent, but provided me with some basic information. I’ll have to dig deep, but hope to identify the owner and contact them.

January 21, 2009
 

Earlier this month I became aware that one of the owners of this car had approached RM Auctions about selling it. I have called them and spoken with the person who checked out the car. They tell me their impression is the car body appears to be have been built by someone who had experience with fiberglass. They also said that after looking over the car and documentation, they politely declined to represent it at that time. It appears that we have followed this road to its end as of now, so we will get back on the main road and explore some more roads. Keep your buckles tight as roll on.

January 24, 2009
 

I went north today to check out the fire damage, garage and car. – Words simply do not convey the impact of seeing the end result. As for the car, it is indeed safe, but frozen in time (literally). If you haven’t, check out the Next Stop: Hot Spots page for the story.

January 26, 2009
 

I emailed the Brooks Stevens family/company today as my research has identified various designers from the area and era. Brooks Stevens and his studio designed a variety of cars as well as household items and continue to do so today. During the 50s, Brooks submitted several designs to the Kaiser Company for the Henry J, a sports car, and other cars. His sports car design was turned down by Henry J Kaiser, but Brooks went on to build several examples of that car on Henry J chassis’ and race them, very successfully I might add, as the Excaliber line. He continued to build these for a number of years with other chassis, and was responsible for a number of other well known cars and SUVs. The AMX/Javlin, the Jeep Wagoneer, and the Oscar Meyer mobile to name a couple. I believe I read that he was involved in designing some of the Studebaker Hawk line as well.

Anyway, Kip, one of Brooks sons, sent back a quick reply. I certainly want to thank him for taking the time to reply to my inquiry.

——

This car is not familiar to me and I do not believe my father was involved.
He built his own sports car in 1952 based on the Henry J which was very
different.
Sorry I am not able to shed any light on this.
Good luck,
Kipp
——

 

January 31, 2009
 

Ted called me today and said that he hasn’t forgotten about my car and that he has been doing some research and digging and cannot find anything that looks like my car from the standpoint of kit based cars. He found it intriguing that the body is as unfinished as it is, since most reputable kit companies would have put more into it, such as a gel coat and some form of mounting structure, interior tub or instructions to go with it. – More than the simple drawing that I have.

I also spoke with one of the former owners today. His name is Jay and he tells me that he owned the car for about a year and bought it from a man in Armada, MI. During our conversation he told me that he traded a Mustang for it and was going to hot rod the car, but had too many projects so it sat there until he sold it to a fellow named Boomer this fall. – I know of Boomer, as my research early on pointed me to a car/bike show in which Boomer runs and Jason, who sold the car to me, had helped to sponsor through his real estate company. Anyway, Jay tells me that there is a penny embedded in the fiberglass of this car and he was told (by whom??) that this was Bill Tritts signature. I’m familiar with Bill Tritt, as he started Glasspar (boats) and was responsible for the G2, initial Woodill Wildfire bodies, Disney Autopia cars and a Volvo to name a few. This is a road that we certainly will have to explore. Jay thinks the man in Armada is John and he live(s/d) on North Ave. Another road we will need to explore. He also said that he was told a story about the original owner, upon purchase of the car from the factory, was told that he had to keep it stored away and out of site for 20 years since it was a prototype car. He indicated that he thinks “John” bought it from the original owner.

I’ve sent out several emails to Glasspar G2 owners as well as calling a friend of mine who owns a G2. He wasn’t aware of a penny in his cars body, but said he has never really checked for one and will have to check it out sometime. I’ll wait for replies from emails and continue to research this.

February 1, 2009
 

Today I did some searching for information on Aramada. The town has between 1500 and 1800 people and I believe I’ve found “John”. I’ve been unsuccessful in contacting him to see if he is indeed the correct “John”, but I will keep trying.

February 10, 2009
 

Ted replied today on my “penny” in the body email. I won’t be able to verify this until the weather is warm enough for me to make the drive and extricate the car from the garage.

——

That’s interesting about Bill Tritt (Glasspar cars) because that’s what they used to do with sailing ship masts and Glasspar was a boat builder besides cars.
Thanks for the scoop.

——

 

February 14, 2009
 

Odd happenstance today. As my wife and I were leaving Bob Evans I noticed a man with a Woodward Ave. shirt on. It wasn’t like most of the Woodward shirts that I have seen, so I asked him about it and if he was into cars. He was and we got to talking about cars and such. He worked in Detroit until this fall when a number of companies laid people off. Anyway he was interested in knowing more about my unique car and says that he knows a number of people in Detroit, Aramda, and the areas around there and would see if he could drum up anything for me. – I’ve emailed him the details and he quickly replied with this.

——

It truly is unique… looking through the documents, you do have a lot, just no confirmation as to the design origin.
The drawing is not a “working drawing”, but appears to be a reference drawing, as there isn’t enough detail to actually create the body from… so more may exist, or was maybe destroyed…

I wish we had met several months ago, as my father in law passed away this past summer, and he was a pretty good resource… he worked at Willow Run during WW2 when they made bombers, and was familiar with the Henry J’s. He worked at Chevy, and then Ford as an engineer and had lots of resources… he also had a few antique cars…

I believe you have a lot of clues, and with the passing of those directly involved, you may never get 100% of the story.

I would suggest that you put together what you have, and send it to a few places that may be able to reach people with info.

First, I would try to get this put into the local newspapers around Willow Run. Next, the local TV stations. I don’t have my video gear in town, but I’m sure you could find someone to help put together a video and perhaps interview you, or add a narration of what you have, asking for help confirming the ancestry of this car.

Then, I would also send the info to Hemmings Motor News, Antique Car Magazine, Cruis’news (in Michigan), and any other classic car mags you could think of. Some may put in a whole article; some may just put a picture or two in the reader’s mail section asking for help.

Any of those could net you some info.

Keep in mind that lots of Michiganoids turn into show birds, and the people who know something may be in Florida or Arizona…. Or???

I will forward your info to a few of my friends, and see if they have any other suggestions…

Good Luck!

——

 

February 16, 2009
 

I found a blog site today called Chrome and Suede. The author of the site attends a number of car shows, builds and drives custom cars and rods. I dropped him an email about the photo of the Kaiser Darrin he took at an Indianapolis indoor show. Kirby replied to my email and has posted the information on the mystery car on his blog and on his Hub Garage site. For all you car nuts who haven’t heard of Hub Garage, check it out.

His blog and hub garage sites are:

www.suedeandchrome.blogspot.com

http://www.hubgarage.com/mygarage/scruffy50chevy

Thanks Kirby.

February 21, 2009
 

Today I sent out a couple of emails again to several kit car based websites, magazines and clubs.

February 22, 2009
 

I called and spoke with the president of a Chicagoland Replicar club today. Ken and his wife own a 1952 MG TD and he has been president of the club for the past 15 years. We had a very nice talk and he had several really good ideas and suggestions for my research to move forward.

The club website is: http://chicagolandreplicar.tripod.com

I also sent out emails to Old Car Weekly and Cars and Parts magazine today, asking if they might be able to help me locate Bill Tritt or his family and/or put a short blurb in their publications to see if anyone can assist me in locating more information, owners, etc. on the mystery car.

I am still trying to contact two nephews of the original owner. Attempts to contact the niece indicate the phone number is no longer in service.

Attempts to contact “John of Armada” also have been unsuccessful.

February 23, 2009
 

I received a reply from Old Car Weekly today. I’ll have to put something together and get a better photo of the car and send it in to them. I sure hope spring arrives soon.

——

If you can boil down your inquiry to around 100 words and one
photo of the car in question, we can first run it in “Q&A” to see if any Old
Cars Weekly readers have first-hand info on the car. With as many readers as
OCW has, someone will have reliable info that will help you.
Just address your shortened inquiry to “Q&A” in care of me, and I’ll
forward it on to the appropriate channel.
Best regards,
 


——I’m also trying to find contact information for Harold Pace. Mr. Pace has published a number of articles and several books on sports, kit, and other automobiles. His name has come up several times in my research and conversations with people as a source that may be able to assist me in finding out whom or how to contact certain people or companies. I’ve also learned from several of online sites, and a couple of articles he has written, that he is restoring/building a never completed Devin SS. WOW!!! What a cool ride.

I tried to contact the owner of the Glasspar G2 registry tonight to see if he is aware of the “penny in the body” story. He wasn’t there when I called, but I left a message and he is supposed to call back.

February 24, 2009
 

Late this evening I sent an email to Jim Youngs who started Kit Car Builder magazine asking if he would help me contact Mr. Pace. I’m hopeful that Mr. Pace can help me contact the Tritt family (about the penny thing) and/or help identify what this car body is.

February 25, 2009
 

Mr. Youngs has replied to my email and forwarded my request to Mr. Pace.

——

I’ve forwarded your note to Harold Pace. If anyone can identify this
car it would be him. He did a story for me at another magazine years
ago on Bill Tritt and his cars. Good luck.
——

I received an email from Mr. Pace today as well.

——

Jim Youngs kindly forwarded your letter to me. You have a very neat car that I have not heard anything about. I have forwarded your letter to the top expert on these cars, Geoff Hacker in Florida. He is very knowledgeable and always willing to help. I can also tell you that Bill Tritt is still among us, but very aged and not in good health. But what a great guy! Best of luck in finding out more about your car. Feel free to email me directly at any time.
Harold Pace
——

And from Geoff Hacker.

——

I’ve seen your car on eBay off and on, and I think it last sold for $3000 – you must be the new owner. Congratulations….it’s a neat car and you should be proud of your acquisition.
I’ve been researching the 1950’s fiberglass cars for about 3 years and am working on a book about these rare and one-off type cars.
I’ve shown pix to several historian friends of mine who specialize in cars such as these and would be glad to share my thoughts. Please feel free to call me at your convenience. My contact info is below.
Best regards..
Sincerely,
Geoff Hacker

——

I called Geoff this evening and we spoke for about an hour. While he doesn’t know exactly what my car is, we talked about the research process, ideas on how to get more information, contacting people, etc. etc. He reinforced the idea that I still need to find the remaining two nephews to see what they may know of this car, as they could hold the keys to several questions about it. He also said that finding the past owners is also important to learn what, if anything, they did with the car, or what research and information they were able to come up with that may not have been passed on with the car.

Geoff is very involved in a website called Fiberglass Sports Cars – The Forgotten Era, 1950 – 1965. Check it out and you will learn a lot about some seldom seen and often forgotten cars that helped form the passion of sports cars and racing here in the United States. http://fiberglasssportscars.com/index.htm

***** Create Page for Geoffs articles and links to them ******

***** Create Page for Aluminum bodied car with Kaiser running gear.******

I also want to thank Geoff for taking the time to speak with me tonight, providing some new insight and focus, as well as confirming that my general process of researching this car is heading in the right direction.

I’m sure that I’ll have further conversations with him in the future, but for now I’m going to continue to try and rack down the remaining two nephews, “John of Armada”, and at some point Bill Tritt and his family.

February 28, 2009
 

I emailed Bill Tritts sons today and will wait for a reply.

March 1, 2009
 

I located Grant (74), one of Edwins nephews, today in California. I called and had a nice conversation with him about the car. He knew very little about it as he was in the military when Edwin bought it. After his return, he wasn’t in/around Edwins’ shop very much. He suggested that I contact his cousin, Gary, as he spent more time around the shop and helped care for Edwin in his later years.

March 3, 2009
 

I spoke with Gary (61) today. Gary is familiar with the car to some degree and had a fair amount to tell me about it. Since he was six when Edwin bought it, he doesn’t know everything about it, but this is what he was able to tell me about Edwin and about the car.

During WWII, Edwin was in the air corp. and flew B24s out of the Ypsilanti plant and down to Florida. After the war, Edwin and his brother, Gary’s father, opened a tool and die shop in Detroit. That would have been in 1946. They ran the shop together until the early 1960s when Gary’s dad left the business. Edwin continue to run the shop until he passed in 1999. Gary says that during the last few years, Edwin wasn’t able to due a lot in the shop due to sight and some health issues.

Gary was always told that Edwin purchased the car from the Development Labs at Kaiser in 1954 and the car was new and was made for Edwin.. He also tells me that Edwin and his father did tool and die work for all of the car companies in the area at various times. In relation to the car, he recalls it sitting in the back of the tool and die shop from the time Edwin bought it until his passing and nothing ever being done with it He wasn’t sure what the circumstances were there, or the nature of the drawing that was with the paperwork, but says that Edwin always had a project or two in the works and some were never completed.

He seems to recall selling the car to someone who owned or worked at a Hot Rod/Custom shop on the eastern side of Detroit when he was settling the estate.

We also spoke of Edwin and his family. Edwin had a brother, Garys’ father, and a sister, Evelyn. Evelyn was the mother of Bruce, Grant and Arlene. I’ve spoken with Bruce and Grant, and Arlene has passed. Gary mentioned that Edwin was married for a short time and never had children. He also described Edwin to be a handy/tinkering type of guy.

March 12, 2009
 

I sent Gary an email this evening after scanning the documentation that I have on the car and included some information on my research. Gary is interested to see what, if any, changes have taken place with the car since he sold it in 1999.

March 13, 2009
 

Gary has sent an email back.

——

have gone to your website and blog and looked through the pictures and discussion you have posted regarding the history of the car. I may be able to shed some further light on one aspect of the mystery. When I sold the vehicle in 1999 I included with it all the parts that seemed to relate. These were stored on various shelves in my uncles shop where the vehicle was also stored. You must realize that my uncle was, to put it politely, a “saver”. In cleaning up after his death, it was obvious he never discarded much of anything. That brings us to your questions regarding the windshield. It is most likely that the windshield had nothing to do with the vehicle at all but was saved by my uncle from something else. I even have some recollection of my uncle having a Thunderbird of the mid fifties era. I was trying to clean out his shop building so I thought the windshield was probably a part for the car and included it with the sale. I am not sure that all of the various parts you show were included in the sale although I do believe the the chrome windshield pillars were there. I did not personally go through all the boxes of parts though and just put them with the car if a box did seem like it was parts for the car. I do not recognize the names on the gate passes that you have but I know my dad and uncle started the shop in 1946. This is the year shown on those passes. Perhaps is was someone working for my dad and uncle trying to drum up tool and die business for their fledging shop.
Somewhere I have a picture from my uncle of the Kaiser plant from the air that must have been taken during the war. Remember, I told you my uncle was a pilot and flew B-24 bombers that were built in the plant to Florida during the war. If I can locate the picture, I would be happy to send it to you.

——

March 15, 2009

Since Kaiser used various designers, I am going to try and research some of them and see if I can contact them or family members.  As noted above, I’ve spoken via email with the family of Brooks Stevens and sent an email to Bill Tritts family.  Other notable designers include Howard “Dutch” Darrin and Alex Tremulis.  

Alex was responsible for the Tucker Toredo design as well as the Cord 812, the Subaru Brat, worked for Ford for a number of years as well as having numerous other automotive, railroad and aviation designs… The space shuttle is based off of his design work as well.

Howard “Dutch” Darrin also had an extensive resume of design work, both in Europe and here.  His “signature” is on many Kaiser products as well as the Kaiser Darrin being of his pen.  In addition, he designed for Packard and built or modified a number of cars for rich and famous clients in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, California. – After his stint with Kaiser, he worked briefly with Flintridge who used a DKW engine and chassis here in the U.S. – I’ve never seen one or a photo of one though.

March 16, 2009

I made contact with the brother of Alex Tremulis tonight.  We had a really nice conversation.  Alex was 15 years his senior, but got him a job as a clay modeller on the Tucker project.  He also shared how, when Alex worked for Cord-Duesenburg, he would bring home a car at times and how Alex would give him rides in them.  He says they were so well built that you had to open the windows a little to keep your ears from popping.

Anyway, Alexs’ brother never went into the automotive design field, but did, and still does, design resturants.  He pointed me to two other Tremulis family members.

I spoke with Peter later in the evening and then emailed him some information which he is going to pass to another relative, who tends to the documents and history of Alex.

March 17, 2009

I’ve been in contact with both Peter and Steven now via email and phone.  Both have been really great to speak with and email. 

Peter sent an email on to Peter Brock to see if Carroll Shelby may have had anything to do with the design.  Mr. Brock replied that he does not believe that Carroll Shelby was involved…. sorry.

During my conversation with Steven, he mentioned that Alex had designed a sports car for Kaiser, on a 105 inch wheel base, but it didn’t look like my car.  He also mentioned a speech or presentation that Alex gave to the Society of Automotive Engineers in 1952 on the future art of automotive design.  In that article he gives credit to several Kaiser designers and references several cars/designs of similar nature.  None are my car as far as he can tell.

Some of the designer names are:  Buzz Grisinger and Herb Weissman.

 

Arnott “Buzz” Grisinger taught at the Boing  School of Aeronautics then worked with Chrysler.  During WWII he worked on the Manhatten Project developing the Atom bomb.  After WWII he designed for Kaiser-Frazer until 1952 when he and Rhys Miller, another Kaiser-Frazer and former Chrysler designer, started their own firm.  Buzz and Rhys later joined Ford.  Buzz desgined the ’56 T-Bird continental kit and Rhys gave the T-bird a new look for ’57.  Buzz went on to great things at Ford/Lincoln/Mercury.  Buzz passed away in 2002.

I have been unable to find much on Rhys Miller but will continue to search.

Herb Weissman also has been difficult to find information on at this point.

March 18, 2009

I’ve attempted to contact several people whom I believe may be Herb Weissman or relatives of.  Several were not, and several calls were unanswered. – The search continues.

March 19, 2009

I contacted the Miller family this evening and learned that he passed earlier this year.  I’m told that he was 93 and healthy right to the end. 

While reseaching these designers I’ve also been looking through the US Patent databases… These aren’t easy to search, but have provided some interesting information on Kaiser-Frazer and other designers of the era.   One patent in particular is interesting in that it is a roadster body and has a tunnel through it, similar to mine.

That patent was granted to William F. Pierson and assignor was Alken Corp. in California.  In the reference section, the April 1957 Motor Trend , page 40, Darrin Mark II DKW and the May 1957 Motor Trend, page 49, Frua Convertible are listed.

– I’m going to try and locate both of these magazines.

 

March 20, 2009

I was able to locate the family of William F. Pierson tonight.  He has passed and the famliy member didn’t wish to talk about the car or him.

March 24, 2009

I’ve been in contact with the family of another Kaiser-Frazer collector.  He passed away in the 1980s but was a great contributor to the hobby as he was always helping others obtain parts or making them for them.  He himself had over 100 cars in various states, but loved his ’53 Dragon and restored a 55 sedan, several Henry Js, and a ’51 Traveller.

He was not involved in my car, and the family isn’t sure what it is, other than it is interesting and offered several avenues to research.

March 26, 2009

I sent an email to the Antique Automotive Club of America library tonight.

March 27, 2009

I’ve been in contact with several DKW groups and have now seen a photo of the Flintridge Darrin Mark II DKW.  The photo of the one posted is in sad shape.  I also have located and have coming a copy of the April 1957 Motor Trend magazine.

March 28, 2009

I’ve made contact with Richard M. Langworth, author of The Last Onslaught On Detroit.  I’ll be sending him information/details on my car and search soon to see if he ever ran across anything like my car during his research.

—— The search continues.

Published in: on January 2, 2009 at 6:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Arrived:

On Saturday, December, 20, we heading off towards Michigan around 6 am to get the car.  The up trip went very well and we arrived mid afternoon.  After a brief discussion with the current owner, we set about loading up the car and securing it.  The car is light enough that the three of us were able to push the chassis onto the trailer and then pick the body up and put it on the chassis.  Once everything was tied down we set out to drop it off for winter storage and return home.

The return trip was going well until we hit the east/south-eastern edge of Lake Michigan where we ran into light snow, which turned to rain and then back to snow as we came around the southern edge.  None of this was a surprise to us as we had received a phone call earlier indicating that we would be driving into snow and possibly white-out conditions.  Once we were on I-80, heading west we were good with a light fluffy snow until we get west of I-55.  There, the snow stopped and we met a good wind and blowing ground snow.  Still, the roads were good and we continued on at a slower pace (50-55).  We arrived at our storage location around 11:30 pm and after several attempts to back the trailer in, we decided to unload at the street and push the car into storage.  By this time the temps were down near zero with a strong wind, but again, three of us worked quickly and removed the tie-downs, carried the body back first then pushed the car off the trailer and back into storage where we put the body back on.

Leaving around midnight we headed the 90 miles back home.  With the wind and snow still blowing, mostly as a tail wind now, we kept a steady pace and arrived around 1:45 am.  Almost 20 hours and 900 miles later, I was spent, as was my driving partner who had a few more miles to roll back to his house.

The car will remain in storage until spring when I can move it to its new home until I start the build and restoration process.  But first, I must find out what this car really is.

Published in: on January 2, 2009 at 6:18 am  Comments (1)