37 Cord Mystery Custom

 

37 CORD MYSTERY CUSTOM

 

This Custom 1937 Cord was bought by the previous owner in 1956 and he kept it till 2007. But so far there is no info on who Customized it prior to 1956. We need your help.



In the Summer of 2018 Bill Kile bought the 1937 Cord Custom you can see in this article. He had been very interested in if when he found out it was for sale and had been looking at it for some time and tried to come up with some history on the car to help him decide if he wanted to buy it or now. Even though he was unable to find any history, all the evidence he had seen indicated that the Custom Restyling on the car must date back to at least the early 1950’s and more likely even earlier than that. So in the end he decided to acquire the car and plant to restore it, over time, to how it looked as an original custom, or at least as close as possible, since so far there have not been found any photos of how the car originally looked like.

And here we have one of the reasons why we wanted to do an article on this Cord Custom… To see if we can help Bill find more info, and hopefully some old photos of this unique Custom. Back in the day most Customs were based on the more cheaper production cars, so a Custom Cord is a bit of a rarity. There were done more, and some even made it into the magazines. But with the rather high price on the Cords, they were not just for everybody a good base. If it turns out that the car has been Restyled in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s then most likely the owner who had the work done might have had some good money to spend on it. From what can be seen on the car the workmanship used in Restyling the car was very well.

The vents on the nose of the hood were a Cord dealer installed option to provide additional air flow to the radiator. Most likely these vents were installed when the car was first purchased.
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The 1937 Cord phaeton has been “mildly and tastefully” customized. The top of the doors have been cut down and beautifully reshaped with a “Darrin dip” to help with the roadster look. The cut-down doors are all metal, and there is no evidence of a large amount of fiberglass or lead. The rear seat has been covered by a hand made deck/cover to make the car a two seat roadster. The cover is made over a wood frame. The edge of the metal is nailed to the frame as was the case in many cars in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. The deck lid is attached to the hinges that originally supported the lid that covered the convertible top. The car has no convertible top at this time. The door handles are removed. The license plate is frenched into the trunk.

At one point a two piece custom fiberglass top was made to fit the car. The front portion that mounts to the windshield and that covers the front seat area is still with the car, the rear portion is missing. It looks like it was in two pieces that were hinged together. The missing piece contained the rear window. Possibly the top was designed to fold and fit in the space under the rear deck. The back top corner of the roll up side windows have a large radius, that must have been modified to fit the new top. All the photos of Cords that I have show a square corner.


The license plates currently on the car are California plates with 2007 stickers, indicates that the car still might have seen some road time about a decade ago.
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The side view makes me wonder if the Custom, when originally restyled might have had white wall tires, and perhaps had a padded top that was later replaced with a more practical two piece fiberglass top. This photo shows how the cut down doors help with the streamline and flow of the Cord.
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A friend of the Bill, who has been in the car restoration business for 40+ years looked at the car. The custom work on the doors and the rear deck is very good. He is of the opinion that this work was done in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s. The doors appear to have been reskinned when the “Darrin” dip was added. And most likely the door handles and convertible top hardware were shaved in the early 1950’s. The frenched in license plate was most likely done at that time. One can see the sheet metal patches that were fastened to the underside of the door skin metal to cover the door handle holes. If the handles had been removed when the doors were originally customized, the door handle holes would most likely not been made when the doors were reskinned.

Along with the car came some documentation that shows the car was purchased by a previous owner in 1956 in Burbank, California. Most likely the that the custom work was completed prior to 1956. The car was owned by the same gentleman from 1956 to 2016. Bill has corresponded with the gentleman’s son. He reported that the car was always garaged and mechanically maintained. He believes that all of the custom work had been done prior to his father’s purchase of the car in 1956.

The shaved door handles, custom made seat cover and set-in license-plate make the Cord look very streamlined and smooth.
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The seats may be the original seats from the Cord with new upholstery. The door upholstery is just as the seats not original. At this point Bill thinks the upholstery was done in the 1950’s.
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A closer look at the “Darrin dip” and the front of the custom back seat cover and its wooden frame.
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The banjo steering wheel is probably from a late 1930’s or early 1940’s Studebaker. The large hole in the dash is for the clock which came with the car. The smaller set of holes on the right is for the radio. The small crank on the lower right of the dash is for opening the right head light. There is an identical crank on the left side of the dashboard for raising the left head light. (Stock Cord)
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The engine is the original engine manufactured by Lycoming. 289 cu.in. The engine was originally fitted with a supercharger. The supercharger was removed and the engine is fitted with the non-supercharger intake manifold. The receipts that Bill has lead him to believe the engine was rebuilt in the late 1950’s.
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1937 Cord Model 812 Car serial number and body number indicate that the car was originally a phaeton with a back seat. The engine number stamped on the engine matches the engine number stamped on the car name plate. The engine number indicates that the engine was originally fitted with a supercharger. The supercharger was removed, most likely prior to 1956. Bill heard that the superchargers were problematic and that it was not uncommon to remove the supercharger.

The engine runs and Bill was able to drive the car on to the trailer to haul it home. He is rebuilding the brakes at the moment and will check out the drive train next. The body has some dents, but is in relatively good condition for an eighty year old car. The paint is in poor shape with many chips and scratches. The current plans are to put it back in good operating condition and drive it to local shows. A new paint job is planned after the mechanicals and electrical are sorted out. The good thing is that Bill does not plan to restore the car to original Cord condition. He will maintain the car in its current configuration and represent it for what it is, a Customized Cord.

The front fiberglass top section temporarily stored behind the seats.
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Sunken license plate, and the back portion of the back seat cover.
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The history of the car prior to 1956 remains a mystery. Bill has researched the Antique Automobile Club (AACA) library’s files on Cords and on coach builders in the Los Angeles area. He has found no pictures of customized Cords with the Darrin dip in the doors. Bill believe there were at least four coach shops in the LA area that were doing this kind of custom work in the late 1930’s. He has contacted the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum and they had no information on this particular car.

So, Bill is out of ideas for researching this car’s history, and hopes that perhaps one of the Custom Car Chronicle readers might know more on his Custom Cord’s history. I have checked in all my files, but have not find anything either. Lets hope somebody knows more, if you do, please sens us an email, and we make sure Bill will hear and or see all about it.



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1948 Paris Salon Car Show

 

1948 PARIS SALON

 

The 1948 Salon de Automobile has been captured in beautiful color slides by Jale Youle of Life Magazine. It gives us an amazing look at how stylish these Early Car Shows were. Lets be Inspired…



The Life Magazine Photo archives are an amazing treasure of unique photos. There are some really wonderful photos of a day at the Barris Shop in their archives, which we covered in and CCC-Article some time ago.  They also have a really great set of photos of some Coachcraft cars from the late 1940’s and many other really beautiful images. Several years ago when I was browsing the Life Magazine online Collection I also came across a series of really amazing color photos taken at the 1948 Paris Salón de l’Automóvil. The photos were breathtaking and showed a collection of beautiful teardrop style coachbuilt cars as well as some production cars in the beautiful Salon at the Grand Palais in Paris France.

Grand Palais in Paris France, where this amazing 1948 show was held.
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It was not only the beautiful cars that caught my eye in these pictures. It was also the way these cars were displayed in a pure and elegant way. It was all about the car, not about amazing displays, or wild show cards, and trophies ans sponsored signs. It was the way the whole building was one with the show, the ceiling hanging banners were all uniform, just one color (white) with dark red hand painted letter. And the vendor booth were were discrete, like we have seen in early US Hot Rods shows as well. These wonderful images made me think about the modern day Hot Rod and Custom Car Shows… and made me wonder how it would be if we could organize a Custom Car (and Hot Rod) show today, as if it was done around 1950.


Overview of the factory car section.
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Thinking about this took me back to the GNRS of 2011 in Building No. 9 where the Customs Then & Now exhibit was held. For this show the team had created a large number of hand made ceiling hanging banners, styled after the early 1950’s Oakland Roadster shows. It brought a really great vintage feel with it. The displays of the cars was mostly kept very traditional as well. But the vendors in the room were using all their modern ways of attracting people. Which, in my eyes, took away from the overall effect of the amazing Customs Then & Now show. It is of course very understandable that these vendors want to draw as much attention to their product if possible.

But how would it be if these vendors were invited to a special show that does allow only period style advertising. Hand painted signs, logo’s cut from colored paper, pinned to velvet like curtains behind the booth. Vendors, car owners and other officials in vintage period clothing. Authentic music playing in the building. All very much like the Then & Now show, but then taken to the max, and perhaps even find a venue that was already standing back in 1950 as well. It would be the ultimate Vintage Car show experience. I know things like this are being done on a small scale, like in just one booth, or a special car display. But doing it in a full building and taking it all the way would be such an wonderful event…. oh well I can dream.


1948 floor plan for the Salon.
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Getting back to the Salon in 1948, this show was held at the top of the teardrop Coachbuilt car era. This show had all the very best cars that were available at the time. Coachbuilders as Franay, Figoni et Falaschi and Saoutchik had several of their beautiful cars at this event, just 3 years after WWII. These Life magazine photos show how these one off beautiful created cars were displayed, how people were invited to take a look inside these car, and how the shops had set up the display with some office furniture where the sales man could talk to possible future clients.

Lets take a close look at this 1948 Show and all those beautiful cars on display. Lets get inspired by the simple yet gorgeous displays at this early show, let look at the way these show signs were done, all uniform, very much like the early US Custom Car Shows were in house sign painters created the show signs at set up day. Lets get inspired to create future Custom Car Shows inspired by these early Car Shows, lets create a travel back in time Car Show…


Coachbuilder Saoutchik displayed several of their beautiful cars in Paris. The green one on the left is built on a Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport chassis. The white car next it, with the landau half top, was built an a Delahaye 175 chassis. The white car, in front of them both was built on a Talbot T26 Record. The wonderful red car is quite likely a Cadillac, with a coachbuilt body but with the Cadillac front kept. The dark convertible seem to be based on a Bentley and built in the same manner as the Cadillac. In this way Saoutchik showed that they could perform their skills on British and American luxury cars as well as the native french cars. (Info from Per Webb)
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The grey car in the lower section of the photo is a Citroën 11 with body built by A.C.B. The rest of the cars in the photo are from Saoutchik. (Per Webb info)
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Jaques Saoutchik and his employees built the body of this Talbot-Lago after being inspired by the Buick Sedanette. The car was painted light pastel green and brown. Today the car is still around and painted two tone blue. (Per Webb info)
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Fantastic overview of the Saoutchik  display.
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Delahaye Sedanca de ville created by Figoni & Falaschi.
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Besides the Coachbuilders the car of course also housed all the major factory brands from the time. This is the display of the France Ford Veddette.
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White Jaguar with wide whites on white wheels and dark red interior with a beautiful France lady…
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Panhard Dynavia prototype.
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Panhard Dynavia front view.
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Another photo of the “regular” car section of the show. Notice the displays, the Persian rug and comfortable office furniture and those hand painted ceiling hanging signs.
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Special thanks to Life Magazine, Jale Youle for his fantastic photos, and Per Webb for his amazing knowledge.










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Neferteri Part Two

 

NEFERTERI part Two

 

Larry Pointer, our Forrest Gump of the Conquistadors Car Club, marvels at Europe’s Golden Age of the coach built automobile, and influences that would ripple across the Atlantic Pond. From carrossieres to customizers, the distance is not so very far.



Larry Pointer found himself a survivor of Y2K, retired, a widower, and a more or less empty nester.  He needed a project.  In this series, he shares his passion for all things “Streamline Moderne”, and how it all turned into a 13-year labor of love, to create “Neferteri“, his custom Diamond T truck.

By Larry Pointer with Rik Hoving

Streamline Moderne. In looking at Jack Juratovic‘s paintings titled Road & Track, November 1935, those images of the Milwaukee’s Hiawatha racing with the best of motor cars just define “streamline moderne“.  Motion by design.  Progress.  And yes, Hope.

Hope for better times. America in 1935 was a nation half a decade into the Great Depression. Cities of soup kitchens and “Hey, Buddy, have you got a dime?”

CCC-neferteri-part-two-Great-DepressionThe Great Depression, is search of better times.
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In the Grapes of Wrath bread basket turned Dust Bowl, bitter fruits indeed. Streams of jalopies looking nothing like streamline moderne were streaming out across the forbidding desert, laden with children and precious possessions salvaged from foreclosures, following the sunset to California, the land of milk and honey Promise.

Lucky were the youth signed up with FDR’s public works programs; the Civilian Conservation Corps, repairing and re-building America, its infrastructure, its National Parks. Sending money earned with sinew and sweat back home, in promise of better times, “a chicken in every pot”.

CCC-neferteri-part-two-Jack-Juratovic-The-Race“Road & Track, November 1935, a painting by Jack Juratovic.
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In looking at Jack Juratovic’s paintings, and especially the one with the coach built Packard, we can’t but be impressed with just how Exotic it looks. A motor car like no other. Custom built. As in the exclusive shops of the European Continent. The pioneer coach builders, the “carrossieres”.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Today, we still can see the best of those one-off customs for the rich and famous, restored to their former grace and beauty or better, at Concours d’Elegance gatherings. At Pebble Beach each August. My own “Forrest Gump” connection to that ascot world would be much more humble, a bucket list visit to the Pebble Beach resort and golf course. Not in August when the classics rolled over the grass, but There, just to stroll around and imagine what I’d seen in after-the-fact magazines.

My wife Dotti began to chuckle. “What?” I asked, coming out of my reverie of ecstasies missed. “Here I am,” she beamed, “walking over Pebble Beach lawns in my Walmart shoes.”

CCC-neferteri-part-two-baker-Reinhart-dansJosephine Baker, Django Reinhart, the Lindy Hop and the Charleston.
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Sifting through images of the exquisite streamline moderne coach-built motor cars, it is a wonder so many have survived. Untold numbers were destroyed in the blitzkrieg of WWII. Others were sacrificed to the scrap drives to supply the War efforts. What comes through is that those of the privileged class, traveling in style on the Continent, were not stricken so much by the Great Depression that dragged America down. The night life flourished in Paris. Those who would drive up, or be driven up, to the cabaret night clubs and dance halls, could celebrate in lavish style, entertained by the exotic dancer Josephine Baker, or to dance the light fantastic to the Gypsy Swing of Django Reinhart.

But it would be those custom made automobiles, custom made to individual taste by the exclusive coach builders, “carrossieres”, that would live to be celebrated long after those who “owned” them would slip away in the mists of time.

That swoopy Packard in Jack Juratovic’s painting mirrors the best of the carrossieres of Europe, deep into the decade of the Thirties. I could find a Delage, built by Letourneur and Marchand that had very similar lines. Figoni and Falaschi coachbuilt a 1937 Talbot Lago in that style. And a variety of Bugatti’s of the 57 base model from the same era compare well.

CCC-neferteri-part-two-letourneur-et-marchand-delageLetourneur et Marchand Delage.
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CCC-neferteri-part-two-cars-of-the-Jazz-Age-02A few more xamples of manufacturer cars of the Jazz Age.
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Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It is fun to pick out the similarities among the European coach built cars of that Jazz Age. They were found with a variety of badges, chassis from such makes as Alpha Romeo, Bugatti, Delage, Delahaye, Hispano-Suiza, Talbot Lago, even marque’s of American manufacturers, especially Duesenberg. The demands of high roller customers who wanted not just to “keep up with the Joneses”, but to out-Jones the Joneses, could explain repeating shapes and forms.

CCC-neferteri-part-two-westergard-mercHarry Westergard created this 1940 Mercury for Butler Rugard in the early 1940’s.
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Back in America, we can look at the 1940 Mercury built by Harry Westergard and see in its styling, especially in the shape of the hood nose, definite echoes of those very European styling cues. This car was invited to be shown at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concourse, among the few “seminal” customs of the traditional era deemed significant enough for such an unprecedented inclusion amongst the recognized classics.

CCC-neferteri-part-two-similar-noseSimilar style nosed as on the Westergard Merc can be found on these Coachbuilt cars.
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CCC-neferteri-part-two-saoutchikSaoutchik created this 1948 Cadillac in black and purple, and the brilliant blue 1949 Delahaye 175 S.
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In studying the works of individual coach builders, there are recognizable distinctive signature shapes that can be identified. Saoutchik, especially, stands out, whether the base car was a Delahaye, or a later model Cadillac.

CCC-neferteri-part-two-vanvooren-BugattiAchille Van Vooren Bugatti for the Shah of Iran.
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But when the nation of France chose to honor the future Shah of Iran in 1939 on the occasion of his pending wedding, the Bugatti that was chosen first was delivered not to one of the most well remembered builders, but to Achille Van Vooren. The design executed by the Van Vooren coach builders, was based on that of Figoni and Falaschi, and originally meant for a Delahaye chassis. This car, today can be seen in the Peterson Museum, after narrowly escaping being scrapped in the aftermath of the collapse of the Shah’s regime. It has been considered among the very best examples extant of the coach built motor cars of the Continent.

Who were those guys, the carrossieres, or in Italy the carrozzerias? Coachbuild.com offers The Chachbuilders Encyclopedia, a biographical list of 104 coach builders. Ettore and son Jean Bugatti were designers in their own right. Others came up through the trade guilds that were rooted in the carriage and coach building industry of hay burning horsepower. Horsepower, and motor car racing, came to be a huge attraction and, with wins at Le Mans or the Mille Miglia, unequalled marketing power for the competing auto manufacturers. It was common practice, though, for construction of the car bodies to be contracted out to those in the coach building guilds.

CCC-Barris-Europe-Snapshot-08George Barris made this photo at one of the several coachbuilt shops he visited on his european trip in 1951. The photo shows a wooden buck that was used to shape the new bodies
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The basic body shapes were formed of hardwood, such as ash. Metal skins were hand formed. From the aircraft industry came pneumatic planishing tools, and the “English wheel”. Metal for fenders and various compound curves shapes also were hand formed over wooden bucks, to assure the three-dimensional results held true to the designer’s vision. Today, such masters as Marcel Delay and sons Luc and Marc carry on coach building, with time-honored practices and tooling that has stood the tests of time. Ron Covell not only offers enlightening magazine articles, but he and several other craftsmen put on workshops where those skills can be learned and developed.



CCC-neferteri-part-two-figoni-1938-delahayeFigoni and Falaschi  1938 Delahaye.
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CCC-neferteri-part-two-figoni-1939-DelahayeFigoni and Falaschi  1939 Delahaye.
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One of the most influential…and perhaps my own favorite…of those early master craftsmen, is Guiseppi Figoni, the designing force behind the Figoni and Falaschi coachwork. Figoni’s fascination with aircraft design following WWI led to aerodynamic elliptical shapes and “enclosed tear drop shaped fenders, which he called ‘enveloppantes.’” Those pontoon fenders, or in today’s street rodder speak, “fat fenders”, directly derive from the “wheel pants” of the streamline moderne airplanes. Out of the Figoni and Falaschi stable came Bugattis, Delages, Delahayes; “chassis-coachwork ensembles” in nitrocellulose lacquers a mile deep. These were long, low, swoopy cars with raked back windshields, flush frenched headlights, skirted fenders and “fluid grace and inherent motion”. Their “windswept designs” could blow your hair back, just standing still.

CCC-neferteri-part-two-Letourneur-and-Marchand1932 Duesenberg by Letourneur and Marchand.
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CCC-neferteri-part-two-Kellner-32-Bugatti1932 Kellner bodied Bugatti
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My own inspiration followed the “I want to see it all” view. Earlier models from the end of the Roaring Twenties and into the Thirties also caught my eye. A Duesenberg by Letourneur and Marchand in the greater Paris area especially stood out. This was before fenders were skirted, or car trunks were integrated into the car body. But it was long and low, and just oozed of power. A Kellner bodied Bugatti of that early period also got my heart racing, as did the model 46 offered by Bugatti from 1929-1933.

CCC-neferteri-part-two-46-bugatti-29-33Kellner bodied Bugatti model 46 from 1929 – 1933.
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CCC-neferteri-part-two-saoutchik-bucciali1932 Bucciali with body by Saoutchik.
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The one to stop the heart of any “chop and channel” enthusiast of the hot rod fraternity has to be the 1932 Bucciali with body by Saoutchik.
Out of Molsheim in the German Alsace a 1932 Maybach Zeppelin bodied by Hermann Spohn runs a close second in my album of dream cars of that era. No flammable dirigible there, and no lead Zeppelin, either.

CCC-neferteri-part-two-32-Spohn-Maybach1932 Maybach Zeppelin bodied by Hermann Spohn
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Then came the street rod to end all street rods. The Mercedes 540. A streamline dream.

Designs that flowed out in body lines and curved contours.

CCC-neferteri-part-two-Mercedes-37-540The Mercedes 540
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More recently, in 1952 Touring created a body sheath for a wine red Alpha Romero 6C roadster. Those Alpha Romeo roadsters put any hot rod into their rear view.

CCC-neferteri-part-two-38-alpha-romeo-6CAlpha Romero 6C roadster
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CCC-neferteri-part-two-Duesenberg-Graber1934 Duesenberg Model J re-bodied around 1937 by Graber with an wonderful convertible body. These photos show the car with its new black and dark blue colors.
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But to close this Streamline Moderne page in my memory book, I have to share images of a Duesenberg bodied by Herman Graber in Switzerland. This American icon, coach-built by Graber, and painted THE color combination, wine and red orange, would inspire my drawing of Neferteri, my own streamline moderne dream.

CCC-neferteri-part-two-neferteri-sketchOriginally the Graber Duesenberg J was painted wine and orange-red. My Diamond T Neferteri was based on the cars design, and colors.
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Next time, from Duesenbergs on the Continent to Duesenbergs back on home ground, and automotive design inspirations this side of the Pond. We’ll pack our bags with Howard “Dutch” Darrin and Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, and see what lay in store for me to closer to home (and my beer budget).

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