I think the “Chicagoan” wins. That is, the number of different names the same car is known by. It debuted as the “Chicagoan.” It morphed into the “Lightning.” The company that sponsored the car was called “Triplex” and it was also known by some as the “Triplex” sports car. And the company that sold it was “Ketcham’s” and the car was known as the “Ketcham” sports car too. That’s a whole lotta names gang!
So if you find a “Chicagoan…” you actually get four cars for the price of one. Pretty good deal, if I say so myself 😉
Frank Hinger owned Triplex Industries in Chicago Illinois, and worked with his team feverishly in late 1953 to debut the Chicagoan sports car at the 1954 Chicago auto show to the “oohs” and “ahhs” of those who attended. And it was worth the effort expended. The “Chicagoan” appeared alongside some of the most famous show cars of the day at the 1954 show including:
- Ford Atmos
- DeSoto Shia
- Hudson Italia
- Cadillac Le Espada
- Plymouth Belmont
- Corvette hardtop
- Dodge Firearrow
- Oldsmobile F88
- Mercury XM899
- Packard Panther Daytona
- Pontiac Bonneville Special
Frank Hinger had hit the “big-time” with a local born and bred sports car – “The Chicagoan.” Throughout 1954, ads appeared in major automotive magazines promoting the car. Interested parties could buy a completed car or a kit. Frank was as forward thinking as anyone on the west coast, and designed his own 100” wheelbase frame too – the “Triplex Safety Frame.” More about that in a future story here at Forgotten Fiberglass.
The Chicagoan was one well thought out sports car – and there was copious amounts of advertising, brochures, and literature available to promote it.
So, let’s look at one of these brochures from 1954. Off we go…
1954 Chicagoan Brochure: Tri-Fold
The Chicagoan Sports Car was available for about a year. Frank Hinger had other plans for his company, but this was the first – and last – sports car that Triplex Industries and Frank Hinger would ever build.
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…
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Being from Blue Island, I was in Ketchams many times. It was bought from them by someone whose name I”ve forgotten. Than bought by Joe Bush who ran a drag race rear engined Chrysler fuel roadster.
Dave….great to hear from you.
The Ketcham’s would have been selling the cars in 1954 – perhaps early 1955 at the latest. I’ve been trying to find the family (Ketcham’s) on and off for 5 years now with no luck. Maybe they’ll see this story and contact our group. That would be great fun for me 🙂
Thanks for your note and keep the comments coming 🙂
In 1961 I bought parts from Ketchams when I was putting speed equipment on my 1956 Corvette. It was a small place but the guy was very helpful. I don’t remember anything about a car he was selling.