The Tom Story Sports Car / Sports Custom: Road & Track, January 1951

Hi Gang…

Today’s story is a result of an e-mail I received from Don Anderson (click here to learn more the Sportstar built by Don’s father) and a posting on “Bring A Trailer” as to a “mystery car” needing a history to match.  Click here to review the “mystery” at “Bring a Trailer.”

The sports car called the “Story,” was built by Tom Story in Oregon and was the precursor to the finely designed and hand-crafted specials built across America at the time.  But Tom had it tough – he did his in metal.

In less than one year fiberglass bodies such as the Glasspar, Lancer, and Skorpion would become available, but chance favors the brave and Tom built and designed his car – much to the enjoyment of an appreciating public who fawned over his creation – here on the cover of Road & Track Magazine in January ’51.

Let’s see what Road & Track had to say:

The Story Sports Car:
Road and Track, January 1951
By Bob Hegge

Tom Story, bodyshop foreman at Francis-Hopkins Mercury dealers in Portland, Oregon, was facing a problem common to many of today’s young men.  He wanted to own a sleek sports car.  The elegant cars from the foreign lands were very nice but in 1944 the world was thinking of matters other than attractive motor cars.

The first set of plans was drawn in 1944.  By ’49 many changes had been made, the last set being drawn just six weeks before construction began.  Tom’s car has a wheelbase of 97 inches with a tread of 54.  The windshield is 46 inches from the ground while five inches separate the engine and the street.  Total weight is only 2080 pounds.

The engine is a modified Ford V8 60 which stables 113 fast horses.  With Offenhauser heads, the compression ratio is 10.5 to 1.  Twin carburetors are used on a dual manifold.  The powerplant is mounted sixteen inches back from the front of the frame to insure proper balance and good traction on the rear wheels.

Front suspension is independent by Willys, as are the rear axle and spring units.  The rear springs are mounted outboard, adding to the stability.  Large airplane-type shock absorbers are mounted front and rear to prevent that “Jello roll” which all sports car drivers dislike.

The front of the body is built from Mercury panels, while the front fenders are 1949 Chevrolet.  A great deal of work was necessary before the body was smooth and free of “waves.”  The hood, cowl, and doors were built from scratch, the hood being the most difficult. 

Tom says no more flat hoods from now on.  His new models will have a slight curve (news of the new “Story Custom Cars” will come later!).

The frame is built from ten gauge chrome-moly channel steel with units of the floor and body being welded in box-like construction.  This makes for great strength and keeps the weight low.  Kick-ups at both end of the frame lower the seat and floor line.

The drive shaft tunnel is used as a central armrest.  For high speed work a built-in grab-bar is provided the passenger.  Sound deadening material has been sprayed onto the bottom and interior of the body.  To reduce rattles the hood has also been sprayed.

The steering gear is Mercury but has been modified to give two and one half turns from lock to lock, thus providing faster steering for high speed driving.  The gear shift has been mounted on the floor, where it belongs, sports car style.  Better speed shifting is the result.

The upholstery has been done in dark yellow leather and is trimmed in white.  A dark blue carpet is used in good harmony with the blue finish.  The spare tire is carried in the rear where there is also room for a small amount of luggage.  If more space is desired, rom may be found at the rear of the seat.

Wrap-around type bumpers, both front and rear, provide good protection against the well-known American “bumper-bump” type of driver.  Styling follows the Italian school with the low flat hood and high fender line.  The top, roadster style, is somewhat high but has enough headroom for a six-footer.  It is white and may be lowered or removed completely and stored.

The top speed is about 105 mph at 6500 rpm.  In tests, the engine has wound to 7400 rpm.  Safety at high speed was a major consideration in design…a right angle street corner may be taken at 55 mph without undue skidding.  Tom sold this car and is now building a new four-seater on a 102 inch wheelbase.

Springing on future Story Custom Cars will be torsion bar front and rear.  Owners may have a choice of the larger engines such as Mercury, Oldsmobile, or Cadillac.  Price will be “about” $3500 in Portland, Oregon, and the line forms to the right.  Excuse me, I wish to be near the front.

Cover Photo:  The author, seated in the beautiful Story Sports Car.

Summary:

So far, the research I’ve done revealed only one Story sports car – but the article talks about another one in development.  Hmmmmm… I have a lead on Tom Story’s family in Oregon.  I wonder what they have in the garage?

The adventures of research in the making 🙂

Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…

Glass on gang…

Geoff


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Comments

The Tom Story Sports Car / Sports Custom: Road & Track, January 1951 — 9 Comments

  1. Most Excellent Geoff, I knew that they would not stump you with that one.
    What a handsome car. Still looks great today. Too bad there were not more of them.
    Let me know if your going to Oregon…

  2. I admire the guys that wanted to build there own car and actually finished it…Even more so being done in metal .Did he have plans to guild them in fiberglass ?? This is one great design would look good even today.The hardest part of building your own design is to find bumpers and trim and windshields etc..The Story car is a great exmple of a finished design.

    Mel

  3. Great feature! Super cool story and looks on this car. I think it looks better than the first Vettes and many of the specials, and ’51 was early!

  4. We have a story car here at Kennedy Tank. The Kennedy Tank Special was raced in the late 40’s. Do you know how I could get hold of Michael Story, Tom’s son. A phone number or address maybe?

    • Mike Story is my Father.
      I’m sure he would like to speak to you.
      If you are still interested send me an message Nathan.story29@gmail
      I will put you in touch.

      • Hi Nathan,

        I worked with your father, Mike when he worked at American Blimp Corp. Quite the character. How is Mike doing?

        I have been fascinated by this car since I found out about it. I visited Mike a few years ago (I live on Minter Bridge Road). One day I stopped by while riding my motorcycle and checked out the car. What kind of condition is it in? It deserves to be restored.

        Best regards,

        Lance Nordby
        Car lover

  5. I was visiting with my 88 year old dad today and he mentioned when he worked for a Chevrolet Dealer (I can’t remember the dealership name) in Portland that a customer had wrecked the front of his 49 Chev and was in a hurry and wanted it fixed quickly and told them to replace the fenders with new and my dad said Tom Story who was head bodyman for Francis Hopkins Mercury wanted those fenders. My dad Bill Conachan grew up in Linton and later moved to St Johns. Graduated from Rosevelt HS in 1946. Had a 28 Model A Roadster with 41 Ford or Mercury V8 and hot rodded around Portland till 1950 when he married my mom (they are still married). Is the Story car still around?

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