Back in June of this year, The Rodder’s Journal worked with Ken Gross to announce the cars that would appear in the Sport Custom Class at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2012. And there are some beautiful, rarely seen cars that are going to be at Pebble – all of them for the very first time. Let’s see what The Rodder’s Journal and Ken Gross had to say about the debut of this special class of cars:
Sport Customs Another Scrapbook
The Rodder’s Journal: E-mail Sent June 9, 2012
As is often the case in this hot rod/custom/old car hobby we all enjoy, that when one question gets answered another pops up. Which is exactly what happened with one of our “Scrapbook Update” e-mails (and yes, the Scrapbook is done, printed and on its way to us now!)
In an outtake photo (shown above) from the Scrapbook we made mention that the details surrounding the Bubbletop Custom were uncertain. Was it the first-ever Bubbletop Custom? Well, leave it to our pal and frequent contributor Ken Gross to come up with the answer.
“That Bubbletop you pictured in a recent ‘Scrapbook Update’ was built by Vince Gardner in the early ’50s,” Ken informed us. “It was based on a 1947 Studebaker. Fran Roxas, who normally restores Duesenbergs and one-off classics like the 1954 Dodge Firearrow III Coupe Concept Car, restored this one, too.
Fran brought it back to life with spectacular results.” Okay, question answered. But then Ken went on to tell us that the Bubbletop Custom will be featured in the new Sport Custom class this year at Pebble Beach! It’s one of eight or nine cars that will be spotlighted.
The Pebble Beach Hot Rod Class started in 1997, and has featured roadsters, coupes and pre-war customs. This year, doing something totally different, it will be the Sport Customs, one-offs like that Vince Gardner Bubbletop Studebaker. Sport Customs, as they would come to be called, were an everyman’s answer to the high-priced European sports cars.
Dan Post’s, The Blue Book Of Custom Restyling, published in the late-1940s, featured many of them. And while there certainly have been some less than successful attempts at building a Sport Custom, when this genre was put into the hands and minds of talented craftsman with an eye for style the result was quite simply gorgeous
It should be quite a show out on the lawn at Pebble Beach this August. But not leaving it there, with information on just that one car, Ken, who never does anything half way, sent along some photos of a few of the other Sport Customs scheduled for Pebble Beach 2012. Of course we’ll share them here and you’ll see what we mean when we said, done correctly, these cars are pretty spectacular.
The Norman Timbs Fantasy Custom
We’ve already featured this one in TRJ #48. Long, low and narrow, it was built in 1948 by Norman Timbs who would go on to become chief engineer at Halibrand Engineering. The Timbs Fantasy Custom was just that, its two-piece aluminum body, by Emil Diedt, lifts off to reveal a straight-eight Buick engine, rear-mounted.
The Rochester Sports Car
Steve Moal recently restored this car, originally built in 1950 by Emil Diedt for Eddie Anderson, better known as “Rochester van Jones” in the popular and long-running Jack Benny TV and radio shows. And while Jack might have had his Maxwell, off the set this sporty and Indy-inspired roadster with its OHV Cadillac power was “Rochester’s” ride.
The Templeton-Saturn Mercury Special
Lloyd Templeton built this one back in the ’50s, beginning with a 1948 Mercury sedan and using body panels and fenders from a ’49 Chevy, a ’36 Ford and a 1936 Chrysler, to name a few of the donor cars. A multi-time show winner in its day, Bob Hope regularly drove it around Southern California, supposedly scheduling its appearance in a movie.
The Kurtis-Omohundro Special
This one was designed by none other than Frank Kurtis, he of racecar fame, and built by Paul Omohundro in 1946. The car features a Kurtis chassis with a Ford V8 engine and driveline. Kurtis even approached Ford Motor Company about the possibility of supplying engines to produce a limited run of these specials. Ford declined so only two cars were built. Our good friend, Geoff Hacker of Florida now owns this one.
Here’s another Sport Custom that was planned for limited production, a dream that never materialized. Only four or five of these Maverick Specials were ever built.
The Coachcraft Special
Also known as the “Yankee Doodle Car,” this Sport Custom was built by Coachcraft for Seward Allan, a young and well-heeled teenage enthusiast who kept the project secret from his parents. Powered with a Mercury V8, it’s based on a 1940 Mercury chassis with bodywork by German-born Rudy Stoessel.
Built in the early ’50s by Arthur Bentas of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, this Sport Custom started with a 1939 Dodge chassis coupled with a handmade cowl. Modified fenders, the hood and doors from a 1954 Kaiser were added, a LaSalle tire cover went on and the list continues. In 1959 The Raven won “Best Custom” award at the NHRA National Championship Custom Car Show in Detroit.
The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August should be a pretty good show, don’t you think? We sure don’t want to miss it. Thanks again to Ken Gross for bringing all these great Sport Customs to our attention. Can’t wait to see them in person!
Your friends at The Rodder’s Journal
What a great introduction from Ken Gross and the staff at The Rodder’s Journal concerning the Sport Custom Class that will hit the lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on August 19, 2012.
Stay tuned gang….more to come as we get closer to that date.
And as always…
Yours For Longer Hoods…