The Jet Age was about more than just planes. Jet-inspired styling was all over cars of the era. Different companies even teased jet-powered cars. But none of those companies moved the needle more than Chrysler did with their Turbine Car.
The body was designed by Ghia, and the car was meant to be a public-road test program to study, I guess, the real-world viability of this whacky concept. Kind of like how autonomous Volvos are running over people in Arizona in today’s world.
Power is from a Chrysler-designed turbine engine that weighed 410 pounds and made 130 horsepower at 36,000 rpm (!) and 425 lb-ft of torque. The car could do 120 mph – and it could run on just about any fuel aside from leaded gasoline, including diesel and cooking oil.
They built 55 of these between 1963 and 1964. 50 of those were lent to the general public on three-month leases that wrapped up in 1966. Much like GM did with their EV1, Chrysler had 45 of the cars destroyed at the end of the program. Nine cars ended up being saved, all of which still exist. Only two are in private hands, with this being one of them.
These are cars that don’t change hands often. This one went from Chrysler to the Harrah collection, stopped at Tom Monaghan’s collection, and then to the current collection in the 1980s. It is operational but hasn’t been used much. This is a rare chance to get a car that is impossible. Impossible that it was built. Impossible that it works. And impossible to find. Click here for more info.
Well here’s a car I never thought I’d get to feature. Bruce Mohs had his hand in a lot of various ventures, including his namesake seaplane company (though it is unclear if he ever made a seaplane). In 1967, he introduced a wild thing of a car called the Ostentatienne Opera Sedan. It was based on an International truck and was crazy expensive. Only a prototype was built (and it survives).
In 1972, he introduced the Safarikar. It was also based on an International, using a Travelall frame, aluminum panels, and an exterior covered in padded Naugahyde. The radiator surround is cartoonish, and the car features a retractable multi-piece hardtop. The doors just slide straight out (so the people in the car could hunt while moving, thus the safari part of the name). Seating is from three abreast buckets up front and a rear bench that folds into a bed. Power is from a 6.4-liter V8.
Three of these were built, and two are known to survive. The story of this car is that it was found in a parking lot in Georgia. It was later restored over a period of four years. It’s now for sale in St. Louis. The price? Well, it’s less than $350,000 if you were worried about being able to afford it. Click here for more info.
When you bought a Model J Duesenberg, what you were buying from the company was a chassis, engine, firewall, and front grille. The rest of the car, more or less, would come from a coachbuilder of your choosing.
But someone had designed that front grille – so what if that guy designed the entire package? Well that someone was Gordon Buehrig, and he designed the Victoria Coupe for Judkins, who applied the bodywork to two separate short-wheelbase Model J chassis. This is one of them.
It’s powered by a 6.9-liter straight-eight putting out 265 horsepower. This car has known ownership history back to new and was restored in the early 1990s, with a more recent freshening. It’s been in the Hyman Ltd collection for four years and is now for sale for just a smidge under $2 million. Click here for more info.
This might be the most exciting classic commercial vehicle to be offered for public sale in years. You will never see another one. Especially not in this condition. Little Giant was the name under which a line of commercial vehicles from the Chicago Pneumatic Tool Company were sold.
They were only actually offered between 1911 and 1917 – a very short time and were sold on a 1-ton chassis powered by a flat-twin engine and 2-speed gearbox. A few “factory” body styles were offered, including this bus (which appears to function more like a paddywagon).
Only 10 examples from this marque are thought to still exist, and as I said, you won’t find another in this condition. This one was found in 2009 and restored to “better than new condition” – which is a serious understatement. Even calling it a Concours restoration seems like you’re slighting the work put in. It really is amazing, and you can go buy it in St. Louis today. The price isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it. Click here for more info.
1935 Duesenberg Model J Special Berline by Judkins
For Sale at Hyman Ltd. | St. Louis, Missouri
Photo – Hyman Ltd.
I was recently at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, Indiana, and I was talking to someone who worked there who described the Model J Duesenberg to me as a “clean sheet, ground-up, no expense spared design to rival the best Europe had to offer.” Well the designers really over-delivered and the result was essentially the best car in the world.
Three different wheelbases would ultimately be offered, with this car sporting the optional “long” wheelbase, which is the preferred length for cars with opulent, closed bodywork. After 1932, a bare chassis (which included the 265 horsepower, 6.9-liter straight-eight engine) would run you $9,500. A majority of the Model J engine and chassis were built in 1929 and 1930 but the economy didn’t produce as many buyers as boss man E.L. Cord might’ve liked and Duesenberg continued to sell chassis up through 1937.
This car was purchased in 1935 and sent to Judkins in Massachusetts to be fitted with this “Special” sedan body. It’s been fully restored to as-new condition and has already won awards. It’s now for sale in St. Louis for just over $1 million. Click here for more info.
Packard, which stands as one of America’s greatest automobile manufacturers of all time, was also quite the commercial vehicle manufacturer in their day. This behemoth was one of many such trucks built by the company between 1905 and 1923.
It’s powered by a four-cylinder engine and has a 3-ton capacity. The truck is fabulously restored and has been painted with the name of a grocer in Pennsylvania who found the truck and had it restored. The grocer had their own fleet of similar trucks in the 1920s.
Commercial vehicles tend to cease to exist after 30 years or so, so to find one that is almost 100 years old is incredible. It was restored to perfection about 25 years ago but it still looks amazing. If you own a grocery store, this is the vehicle for you. It is for sale in St. Louis for between $70,000 and $80,000. Click here for more info.
The sports cars built by the tiny Construzione Automobili Intermeccanica company in Turin looked fairly similar over the years. They started with the leftover Griffith, which was the same as the Apollo before it – a car Intermeccanica designed. Their version was the Omega. Next came the Torino, which was later renamed Italia. You can easily see the influence of earlier cars from the company in this design (not to mention the Ferrari 365).
It has a 5.8-liter Ford Cleveland V-8 under the hood making 310 horsepower. When new, it cost a few bucks less than $8,000 and is for sale today – but you’ll have to ask Hyman Ltd. about the exact price.
Around 600 Italias were built between 1967 and 1973, most of them convertibles. Only 56 coupes were constructed. Convertibles can run as high as $150,000, but coupes tend to cost less, even if they are rarer. You can check out more here.
Riley was founded in 1890 in Coventry, England, to build bicycles. Their first car came in 1898, making them one of England’s oldest car manufacturers. Motorcycles came first, so the Tricar was a natural step between two and four-wheeled vehicles.
The first Tricar was sold in 1900 and four-wheelers didn’t come along until 1905. This Tricar uses a steering wheel instead of a tiller, which was common on early cars. The engine is a V-Twin. The restoration is described as “older” but it looks fantastic.
The final Riley cars were built in 1969. BMW currently owns the marque and hasn’t revived it. This interesting car is currently for sale in St. Louis for somewhere near $100,000. Click here for more info.
Cyklon Maschinenfabrik GmbH of Berlin introduced their first vehicle in 1902. It was this strange but wonderful little “Cyklonette.” Cyklon would later built more conventional cars before going out of business in 1929, but the Cyklonette is what they are known for.
If you’re thinking “gee, that looks awfully complex there at the front” – you’re right. It’s an unusual bicycle-themed design where the engine is attached above the front wheel – which is the driven wheel. The vertical 1.3-liter two-cylinder engine makes 6 horsepower. Some of these cars actually had four-cylinders! It has tiller steering and a wicker body. It’s like the spiritual ancestor of the tuk-tuk.
If you want more information on the bewildering drivetrain setup, I encourage you to go to Hyman Ltd’s site and read more here. Cyklon built the Cyklonette through 1923 and this early example is said to be largely original, however it has had some cosmetic upkeep over the years. It looks incredible. A fair number of these were built, but you rarely see them. It’s priced between $80,000-$85,000.
The American Motor Car Company of Indianapolis, Indiana built some of the coolest pre-WWI cars in America. The Underslung model line – which was new for 1909 – featured a, well, low-slung chassis that make the cars look incredible sporty.
The Scout was the two-passenger roadster. Larger cars were also offered. The Model 22 was offered for 1912 and 1913 only and 1914 was the final model year for the American Underslung. It uses a 4.1-liter straight-four making about 25 horsepower.
This car was restored in the 1980s and has been used heavily since. The listing on Hyman Ltd’s website says it better than I can, so read more about it there. In summary, it says that this car has more character than just about anything else you could drive – and they’re right. It’s an amazing old car that can be used and driven. You could have a lot of fun in this car. It is priced right too, for what it is (in the $100,000 range). Check out more cars for sale by them here.