What is it?
About a month ago my best friend, and mentor showed me some blurry pictures of a car in a garage. He told me an intriguing story that invoked more questions than answers. After a little banter back and forth, I figured this was just another cool car in a garage that someone was going to keep forever and the car and story might not ever be fully known to anyone again.
Then to my surprise, my friend approached me again last week and said the owners of that strange car were ready to sell, and they wanted to sell it right now. Everyone knows what that means….. and you guessed it. We made the arrangements to buy that car very quickly.
I had to drive a couple hours to where the car was located, and I was as nervous as a teenager on his first date. I really didn’t know what to expect.
I arrived at the predetermined time and parked next to the garage. I walked toward the couple whom I assumed were the owners of the car, and after some quick introductions, they pointed behind me. I turned around, and there it was. In the front corner of their garage sat a quaint little three wheeled car.
“What is it?”, I asked, as I began taking pictures and asking more questions. I was having a hard time wrapping my mind around this strange situation. As I have admired and studied vehicles my whole life, there are a lot of times when I don’t know the exact year or model of a vehicle. Yet, at the same time, they are all familiar because we just know from their shape or style what era the were built in or what major manufacturer made them. But here I stood looking at a car, at least I think it’s a car. From far away I hear the owners telling me what they know, which isn’t a lot. I’m just confused. I’m standing there looking at a very eclectic mix of actual car parts, blended with hand crafted parts, to make a complete, two seat, three wheeled car.
Suddenly I snapped out of my trance. I knew I had to pay for this thing, (whatever it was) then get it on the trailer and get out of there before anyone changed their mind. I took care of all the formalities, strapped that baby down and backed out of that driveway as quick as I could. I had a couple hours of driving ahead of me to think about what I had just found.
What is it? I honestly don’t know. So here’s the story as I was told. The car came to the previous owners by way of someone in Minnesota in 1979. They put it in the garage in 1980, where it has been sitting until last week when I picked it up. They really know nothing about the cars’ origin, or history except that at some point before the car was in Minnesota there was a period of time when it was on an Air Force base. This is easily verified by the parking permit that still resides in the corner of the windshield. As for the origin of this car, the owners went on to say that they were told this car was built for a movie in the late 1950’s. That’s it, and now you know exactly what I know. The question remains, What is it?
This is a neat little car. The builder used very simple methods on some parts, yet was very creative and detail orientated in other areas. Parts have obviously been used from different cars of the time, and some people have suggested that there might even be some tractor parts on there.
The construction began with a tubular main frame to support the drivetrain. Then there is an angle iron frame built around that to support the body. It has a six cylinder Continental motor that faces to the back. The manual transmission comes out just between the seats and runs a drive shaft forward to a V-drive unit mounted on the firewall. From there another driveshaft takes power back to the rear end. The fuel tank is in the front, along with a lot of heavy metal that makes up the steering unit. Some of the body panels have been formed and then smoothed with lead, while other seams just have tiny screws holding them together. The dash just contains a speedometer, and it looks like it even had a radio at some point. The more we look at it, the more details we find. This is just cool.
Whatever the case may be, Whatever this is. I am going to enjoy having it in the shop for a while, and better yet, I can’t wait to see where the stories lead us.