We have Frank Cornell’s eagle eyes to thank for this fiber-gem that we can share today.
Those of you who are Clive Cussler fans may know that many years ago he bought a Meteor SR-1 – a beautiful example which now resides in his automotive museum in Arvada, Colorado. Several years ago I asked Dick Jones, the creator of the Meteor body, if he knew the history of the car. Here’s what he shared with me:
“Geoff…I built body in Denver for young guy who lived with his grandmother. He had the frame built by a California aftermarket custom frame outfit, and installed a Desoto engine. He hauled it to my house and I put the body on frame for him. This was probably in 1956.”
Years later the Meteor found its way to the Cussler museum where it’s proudly on display today. But the story doesn’t end here. Cussler often includes the cars in his museum in adventures that he writes in novels, and that’s the “hook” for today’s story.
For it was Frank Cornell’s keen eyes that caught two passages in Cussler’s 2003 novel, “Trojan Odyseey.” Here are those passages courtesy of Frank Cornell:
Beginning of Chapter 17:
“Dirk and Summer drove to St. Julien’s residence in Georgetown with the top down on Dirk’s 1952 Meteor, a California custom-built fiberglass-bodied hot rod with a DeSoto FireDome V-8 that was souped up from the stock one hundred and sixty horsepower to two hundred and seventy. The body was painted in American racing colors, white with a blue stripe running down the middle. Actually, the car never had a top. When it rained, Dirk merely pulled a piece of plastic from under one seat and spread it over the cockpit with a hole for his head to poke through.”
Apart from the year of the Meteor (the first year of the Meteor was 1953), Cussler did a great job at putting the Meteor in the center of the story. And he’s right…most Meteor’s did not have tops – even though he described this car at first with “the top down.”
The second mention of the Meteor in “Trojan Odyssey” occurs early in Chapter 41 when he lists a number of vehicles owned by the principle character in the novel: Dirk Pitt.
Those of you who may be in the Denver, Colorado area may want to visit the Cussler Museum. Clive has excellent taste in cars and I’m sure it would be great fun to visit – and you might see his Meteor too. Click here for more information about the Clive Cussler Auto Museum.
And thanks again to Frank Cornell for sharing today’ story with us. Much appreciated!
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…
The tail lights on the Cussler Meteor are identical to the lights Brooks Stevens (David) installed on his modified fiberglass 1956 Deutsch-Bonnet HBR-5. racer. They could be trailer lights or hotrod lights ordered from 50’s go-fast catalog.
the tail lights are from a Pontiac (1953) Very popular with special builders and hot rodders.
I was in Arvada Colorado last year and visited the Cussler Museum. It’s one of the most impressive museums that I have ever viewed. I have seen many museums and I’ll stop at this one every time I’m in the Denver area. Please stop when you’re in the area, you won’t be disappointed.
This car left an odd paper trail as it got to Clive’s collection. It turned up un Boulder in the hands of a shady collector car dealer. At the time there was an unfinished C3 Cunningham chassis advertized in the Denver Post for about $3,000. This “dealer” did not know what he had so he called it a Cunningham. When Jim Sitz was building the Cunningham production Registry he had a short list of unknown cars – called a ‘bastered list’ This car was on it and the guy in Boulder would not talk about its past.
It showed up at a Thunderbird ‘Polar Bear’ swap meet for something like $8,000as a Cunningham
Having been a Cunningham follower since my teens and even toured the Cunningham Factory in 1954, I knew the sales posters on it were pure Bull! Noone was by it to answer questions. Clive bought is as advertised and soon found out the presented history was made up. He would have likely resold it as a ‘kit car’ had Dick Jones not lived near the museum in Arvada. Dick told Clive’s staff what it was and the reatoration began.
The museum is open to car club groups – makes a great club tour day.
~ The second time in as many days I have been referred to Clive Cussler’s cars.
. Bucket list; Must make a pilgrimage to Arvada.