About a year ago, I met David Disney. That name may not be familiar to you now, but it will be in the future. David’s father was one of the key owners and promoters of the Indianapolis Custom Auto Show which began in 1950 and lasted until the late 1950s.
“Indianapolis?” you say….”what’s so special about that?”
Well…sports, custom, and hot rod car shows were the rock concerts of the postwar automobile movement with the first having started in 1948 in southern California and others in limited form branching out from there. By 1950 Indianapolis began one of their own, and from research I’ve been working on for the past 5 years, it was the king of the Midwest – all other Midwest shows compared themselves to this this show – The Indianapolis Custom Auto Show – in the 1950 to 1957 year range.
So the best of the best appeared there, and many custom, sports, and hot rod cars from all parts of the country made the annual pilgrimage to Indianapolis. And…wait until you see what I have to share with you over time – you’ll soon agree why I’m excited about this when you see the cars that were there and the excitement they must have generated.
So that’s why you’ll learn to appreciate what I now call “The David Disney Collection” – hundreds of hi-res photos from the 1950 to 1957 range showing the cars that appeared in the show – not seen in clean, crisp photos for many a decade – like the “Lampo Special” featured here today.
The Bakersfield Californian
Auto News: Saturday July 23, 1955
When I first saw the photo of the car as it appeared at the Indianapolis Custom Auto Show, I could make out the word “Lampo” on the front grille area – but I never heard of it before. So I naturally turned to one of the best historians and researchers I know – Bob Cunningham. Bob and his wife Cathy had indeed heard of the car, and forwarded me the following letter:
I don’t have a whole lot of information about the Lampo. The magazine photo you attached was one of a series published in June 1955, and printed in several national newspapers thereafter. The car was built by Arthur J. Brow, Jr., of Grand Rapids, Michigan. His Lampo was based on a 1949 Lincoln chassis. Brow shortened and lowered the chassis to a ground clearance of less than 6 inches.
It was originally powered by a hopped-up Mercury engine which developed 185 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and could hit 60 mph in 8.3 seconds. If I’ve done my research correctly, Brow was an up-and-coming sports car racer — often drove an MG — and was active with the Sports Car Club of America. His wife, Virginia, grew up in Lakewood, Ohio, and graduated high school there in 1951. That’s about all I’ve got.
Here’s one of the articles that Bob found showing the photo of the car with Arthur Brow polishing his car ever so gently. You can click on the article below to make it appear larger on your screen.
Caption From Above: Homemade: Above, Arthur J. Brow Jr., of Grand Rapids, Michigan, polishes up the sports car he made from a 1949 Lincoln. The chassis was shortened and lowered, leaving a ground clearance of about 5 and 1/2 inches. It is powered by a speed-equipped Mercury engine which develops 185 horsepower at 5,000 rpm on pump gas. Brow saw he timed the car’s acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds.
And then, not surprising, Bob Cunningham followed up with this letter:
Not sure which source published the photos (AP, UPI, etc.), but the photo in your magazine is slightly different than those that appeared in the newspapers. Both were taken at the same time, but the owner is in a slightly different position polishing his car. The newspaper photo was distributed by one of the syndicates, so it appeared all over the country. For example:
* Albuquerque TribuneThursday, June 23, 1955, Albuquerque, New Mexico
* Daily Chronicle, TheSaturday, June 25, 1955, Centralia, Washington
* Altoona MirrorTuesday, July 12, 1955, Altoona, Pennsylvania
* Bakersfield Californian Saturday, July 23, 1955, Bakersfield, California
As for locating Mr. Brow, start with this video clip below. Good luck. I’m curious about how you found the story, and let me know what you find.
And here’s the video clip showing “Art Brow” discussing some of his racing experience in “Put-In-Bay” in the 50s and 60s:
DuPont Magazine: October, 1954
Bob mentioned a photo/article I had found after starting my initial research on this car. Here it is (below) and I’ve shared the caption of the photo as well:
Caption From Above: Lampo, built by Arthur Brow, Jr., Grand Rapids, has modified ’49 Mercury engine, body parts from Hudson and Lincoln. finish is “Duco” Palm Green.
Good news gang….with the help of two individuals from the “Put-in-Bay” Road Race Heritage Society” – Jack Woehrle and Manley Ford (click here for more information) we are in the process of getting in touch with the family of Arthur Brow. Jack informed me that “Art” passed away a few years ago, but I’m hoping that we can document more of this history of this special car with the family – if willing.
More, no doubt, on the history of this special car in the future 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: Lampo Sports Custom