The 1946 Edward Rotzell Special – A Very Early Sport Custom


Hi Gang…

It feels good to be back and sharing stories on our favorite Sport Custom cars out there.  And today’s story was completely new to me – and for good reason.  This car was built in late 1945 and debuted in early 1946.  Just to share with you how early that was, it would be nearly one and a half years later until the first postwar automotive magazine would make its appearance – Speed Age – in May, 1947.

This is one early car and nice looking sport custom at that – all handformed and customized in steel.  What makes this a challenging car to research is that to date I’ve found no articles about this car being built.  The only way I was able to learn about this car was by perusing eBay and being lucky to find three separate photos with captions that narrated part of the story.

No doubt there is a newspaper article or two on this car, but time will tell if we can locate it.  Perhaps our super sleuths Bob and Cathy Cunningham as well as Alden Jewell may be able to do their magic and find information about this car – what fun that would be!

So for now, let’s check out the three press release photos I found and their associated captions.

And away we go…

Preview of “Rotzell 46”
Press Release Photo 1: January 27th, 1946



Caption: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Built in three months at a cost of $357 from parts of five makes of motor cars, this automobile is almost finished.  The only problem confronting the mechanic who created it, Eddie Rotzell, is how to get it on the street.  The shop doors are too small.

Makes Own Car From Junk Parts
Press Release Photo 2: February 11th, 1946



Caption: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Edward P. Rotzell makes a final adjustment on the motor of the car he created from parts of a half a dozen models he picked up at various junk shops.  Before he could perform a road test of his creation, named the Rozell ’46, the mechanic had to have the plate glass window of his shop removed.

Creates Own Car From Junk Parts
Press Release Photo 3: February 11th, 1946




Caption: Before he could perform a road test of the Rotzell ’46, mechanic Edward P. Rotzell of Philadelphia had too have the plate glass window of his shop removed.  Here at the wheel of his low-slung sedan which he welded from parts of a half a dozen models he got from various junk dealers, Rotzell guides his creation to the street.


You have to put yourself in the times – the winter of 1946 – and World War II had just ended.  In fact, Rotzell had begun building the car immediately after the war’s end probably with the promise and enthusiasm of a return to good and better times.  And in 1946, new cars were just on the horizon of being available and affordable, but Edward Rotzell wanted a new car for his family – now.  Also, consider the styling of the car.  It’s low slung and has a slightly European flair to it.  And the paint scheme with the stripe is quite remarkable.  This car was designed to get attention and I bet it did wherever it went.  No doubt, we may have some folks in or from Philadelphia that remember the car.

And be sure to check out the photo above when Ed was driving it out of his shop.  His kids look like they were in the car – three of them.  What great fun to be with your dad driving your “new car” out of the shop for the first time .  And remember….they had to remove part of the shop windows and walls to get the car out.  I would remember an experience like that all of my life.

So where is this car now?  For that matter, where is the Edward Rotzell family?  His children?  Friends?  If we could locate the family, I bet we would find some great photos, excellent stories, and perhaps even find out what happened to the car.  What fun that would be to share!

I did find something out about another car the Ed Rotzell built, but that will have to wait for a future time here at Sport Custom.

Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…

Yours For Longer Hoods…



* Click on the following link to view all stories on:  One-Off Sport Customs


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The 1946 Edward Rotzell Special – A Very Early Sport Custom — 6 Comments

  1. Very English looking ,Paint and body work are fantastic looking, I hope this man continued to use his talents and build more cars. Great story

  2. Wow! You just reopened a couple ancient doors for me here. Paging through your older article introducing this site, from 2012,and referencing Paul Terhorst, I too made the acquaintance of Paul.

    Younger then and in thrall of all things automotive I had met Bob and Sheila Joynt in the Chicago area and viewed part of their wonderful collection. Through some machination or another, possibly the Classic Car Club of America, they introduced me to Paul, who, at some point dragged me over to his warehouse to view yet another collection of incredible machines; some his, some stored for people. It was there I saw an early Scarab. A total mess but certainly, for me, one of the defining moments in my life. I’ll never forget that sight.

    Thank you for resurrecting that memory.

  3. Hi my father told me about the rotzell 46 when I was 10 or so an I also may have a news paper article . I’ll get back to you when I know something Harvey edward Rotzell jr

  4. Hi this is Harvey found a relative tonight never talked to him before. He is a car guy to . He sold his house and a month a go found a pic of the 46 that he has not sean in 40 + years he was busy moving but we will keep in touch and we will try to find out about ed and his family . I’ll get back when I know more

  5. Hi Geoff,
    My son forwarded your article to me. I am one of Edmund Rotzell’s granddaughters, my mother Shirley Rotzell Fountain is pictured in the back seat of the car along with her younger sister Sydney Rotzell Davidson. My grandmother Betty Rotzell is in the front passenger seat. I’m sure my mother would be able to answer any questions that you might have concerning “Bepop” and his many cars.

  6. My Grandson, Clint Land, sent the info you posted about my Dad, Eddie Rotzell and the first car he made in 1946 in Phila., PA. I was 11 yrs. old at the time and in the back seat next to my sister, Sydney age 9 yrs. He made a few cars after this one all out of spare parts. After my Mother passed away he moved to New Jersey and married Virginia Ramshaw and they lived in Linwood NJ til they both passed on. He died 4 days after his 89th. Birthday. Email me and I’ll try to answer any questions you may have.

    Shirley Fountain

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