Dick Jones Meteor SR-100: Color Photos Emerge From The Robert McJones Collection

Hi Gang…

I like stories like these…

Back in September 2011, I received the following e-mail:

Dear Geoff,

I’m in the process of scanning 35mm slides taken by my father, Robert W. McJones, in the 1950s.  I came across some that he labeled “Dick Jones Custom Car”. Via Google I came across your article https://www.undiscoveredclassics.com/?p=13370 and learned that the car in the picture is the Meteor SR-100.

I thought you might enjoy these pictures, which I suspect were taken somewhere in Los Angeles.

Paul McJones

The pictures were stunning, and I’ve reproduced them in our story today with the permission and great thanks to Robert’s son – Paul McJones.  I asked Paul to share a bit more about his father who turns out had a fascinating career at a very exciting time in America’s history.

Here’s what I learned:

Robert McJones:  Service and Career

Robert was born in ’22 and went into the US Army Air Corps in 1943 at age 21.  During the war, he was a B-24 First Pilot / Airplane Commander.  In this capacity, he flew 41 combat missions in the SW Pacific before leaving the service at the end of the war in ’45.

He obtained a Masters Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from CalTech in 1948. From ’48 to ’50 he worked for Douglas Aircraft at their El Segundo Plant as an Aerodynamicist.  From ’50 to ’53 he worked for Marquardt Corporation as their Chief Preliminary Design Analyst and was responsible for all analytical studies relating to supersonic ramjet engines and accessories.

From ’53 to ’55 he worked for American Helicopter Company as their Chief Powerplant Engineer and afterward he was a free-lance consulting engineer in the field of aerodynamics with clients in many of the largest aerospace plants in Southern California.

Robert had an amazing career at a very important time in our country, and I salute him for his contributions in service and in the public sector.

Thank-you Robert 🙂

Robert’s Interest In Cars

I asked Paul for a bit more information concerning his father’s interest in cars.

He shared with me that although his father never built a car from scratch, that didn’t keep him from “re-engineering” a few of the family cars to make them more of a hot rod, and to bring up that power.  When Paul was growing up, he remembers that there was an interesting used car dealer who lived across the street from their home.   This person brought back sports and foreign cars that attracted his father’s constant attention – some of the neatest sports cars of the era.

No doubt sports cars and tinkering with cars was certainly an interest and great fun for Robert McJones in the ‘50s.

Let’s check out those pictures.  And remember…use your mouse to click on each of the photos below to make them appear larger on your screen.

Thoughts on the Photos:

During interviews with Dick Jones, he shared with me that he and Jim Byers nearly finished the first Meteor SR-100 for the November ’53 Petersen Motorama.  It appeared in the show, but  wasn’t running and there was no interior.  This was one of the reasons they used a tonneau cover – to hide the absence of an interior during the show.

So the pictures above were most likely taken in ’54 after Dick had finished his Meteor but before moving to Colorado.  This would place the most likely location of these pictures at the American Helicopter Company in ’54.  We’ll have to find some folks who worked for the company to visually confirm the location.

Robert McJones is the dedicated photographer here, so he is not shown in any of the photos.  However, Dick Jones is clearly in two of them – he’s the one in the light blue slacks and white short sleeve shirt – wearing sunglasses.  It’s unknown who the other folks in the photographs are, but most likely employees of the location where these pictures were taken.

Check out that windshield gang.  In ’53, the wrap around windshield from the Corvette, ’53 Eldorado, and other GM products were not yet readily available.  Dick actually fiberglassed a channel into the body for the glass that was used to fit the car in these pictures.

Pretty amazing work here gang.  Dick later shared with me that when he was towing his Meteor SR-100 to his new home in Colorado, the windshield flew off.  Dick was certainly glad when the ’53 wrap around glass became more readily available in the mid to late ‘50s for purchase.  After all, he needed a new one to replace the one that went missing 🙂

These are some of the nicest color pictures we’ve been able to obtain of Dick’s first Meteor SR-100.  Click here to checkout the black and white versions used in the April ’55 story about Dick Jones and his Meteor SR-100 that appeared in Road & Track Magazine.

Summary:

Thanks again to Paul McJones and his father, Robert McJones, for making these photos available to us and giving permission for us to share their story here at Forgotten Fiberglass 🙂

Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…

Glass on gang…

Geoff

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Comments

Dick Jones Meteor SR-100: Color Photos Emerge From The Robert McJones Collection — 8 Comments

  1. If you look closely at the photo with Dick pointing at the dash and the women you can see a Plymouth behing the white 1950 Ford. I think it is a 1953 and seem to be the newest car shown. 1954 sounds like a good date for the photo. Also not the Plymouth rear window – looks like the Jones windshield. That glass was in 1953 and 54 Plymouth and Dodge sedans. I think he had 1949 or 50 Dodge hubcaps on his Meteor. Nice photos.

  2. Is Jim Byers one of the guys in the photos? The front end is exactly like my Byers bodied Kurtis and (I’m biased) and is really beautiful. Jim changed the look from the firewall back. Did they remain friends after they split? Anyone know?

  3. Hi John…

    Jim Byers is not in the photo. I have the full history on Jim and will be happy to share over more stories here at Forgotten Fiberglass.

    Stay Tuned 🙂

    Geoff

  4. This is so wonderful, Geoff!

    It makes me wish Dad would have “bragged” on himself when we were kids. I merely remember the smell of fiberglass and sitting in the car when we lived in Westminster in the mid-50’s – it seemed pretty unfinished inside. I was probably 7 or 8. I also remember Dad rented an old garage on Federal Blvd, north of 80th where he built Meteor bodies. He spent a lot of time there.

    I recall the fabric rolls of white fiberglass, the strong smell of the liquid he dipped the fabric in, and watching him wearing long rubber gloves, smooth the wet fabric on the body forms and diligently work out the air bubbles. But I don’t recall seeing complete Meteor bodies coming off his “production line”, so these articles showing the beautiful red Meteor are really exciting. Mom did tell me it “sure was fun to drive”. She was a beautiful young woman in the mid-50’s and I recall that she had a broad-rimmed hat that tied under her chin that she wore when she rode w/Dad or drove the car herself.

    Mom and Dad had the three of us kids within 3 years, so Mom was very busy raising us while Dad spent endless hours at the garage building car bodies.

    Looking forward to seeing you this year so the Meteor gets to where it is truly understood and appreciated!

    Sincerely,

    Kathryn Isenberger
    (daughter of Dick Jones)

  5. Great story.Great pictures..
    Did the doors really open look at that close gap ??You don’t see that good of a fit even today..

    Mel

    • ~ yes- interesting. there seems to be strong group support, competition history. . a car i’ve never seen. any of them in the states? (US)

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