As you’ll see, we’ve been busy during the quarantine – all our teams have been quite busy. And everything came together nicely on May 23, 2021 at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. I think this may have been our largest gathering of Undiscovered Classic folks at a concours – 28 people came together across 3 cars and all I can say is that everyone had a great time and the cars showed magnificently. Me…..I was a bit tired *wink* but thankful all went well.
Our Midwest Maverick Contingent
My partner, restorer and great friend Tom Chandler was in charge of our Maverick team. Tom and his crew herald from Elkader, Iowa and was smarter than me. He, his group and the Maverick would arrive days before the concours would begin and stay at Amelia Island. Sometimes the fact that we are relatively close to the concours (5 hours away) makes it more stressful for us since we’re in Tampa – someday I have to plan like Tom – arrive early. But then again it would cancel out my catch-phrase which is “if it wasn’t for the last minute….nothing would ever get done.”
Onward and upward: Our Tampa Team
As usual, there was lots going on here. We scheduled an 8am departure time from Tampa with many people arriving at my house to be assigned to one of 3 car. Two of these were towing our show vehicles and one piloted by our new author, photographer, all-around car guy friend Don Keefe.
Working with the activities, transport, hotels, and airplane schedules and meshing them into a timeline is not one of my favorite activities. Basically I count backwards from the departure time in 24 hour intervals and at 100 hours to go we start counting by twos. The countdown ends at Saturday 8am and much to my pleasant surprise 8am arrived and we were off. That was a first!
We’re always a bit of a spectacle on the road – especially if we have two cars in tow on our open trailers as you can see below. But all went well and both cars arrived safely around 2pm for unloading at Amelia.
We always stop in Hawthorne, Florida on 301 on our way to Amelia to take a quick break. We do make other quick stops along the way, too, to check the load. Gotta love the “Love’s Truck Stops.”
Getting the Cars to the Amelia Show Field
Both videos taken below are from Art Flores – thanks for your videography Art! The first shows Jack Farr’s Wildfire coming off the trailer. The next video shows our Undiscovered Classics Convoy heading from the airport to the Ritz Carlton field. Rob Hernandez is in the lead driving our 1947 Frazer Custom followed by Tom Chandler with the 1953 Maverick Sportster and finally Jack Farr and Art Flores driving the car from the 1954 movie Johnny Dark – the black Woodill Wildfire.
So let’s have a closer look of the cars on the field.
1953 Maverick Sportster: Owners – Tom Chandler and Geoff Hacker
Here’s the information that appears on the card in front of the Maverick:
“The Maverick Sportster is a Land-Bound Pegasus with airborne power and cloud-like riding quality”(Maverick Sportster brochure, 1953)
The Maverick Sportster was designed by Sterling “Smoke” Gladwin Jr., of Mountain View, California who was a retired aeronautical engineer having worked for Boeing and Lockheed during and after World War II. Fascinated with the elegance of pre-war automobile design, Gladwin built a postwar boulevard sports car with modern power and classic lines – the result was the Maverick Sportster.
He built the first Maverick for himself using a 1940 LaSalle chassis and a flathead Cadillac V8 motor. His company, Maverick Motors, then built the remaining 6 cars for customers using postwar Cadillac chassis’ with 331 cubic inch OHV Cadillac motors. This Maverick was originally owned by Smoke and Myrtle Gladwin. He retained this and another Maverick his entire life.The Maverick is known as America’s last boattail speedster and is often regarded as America’s Postwar Duesenberg.
1953 Woodill Wildfire from Johnny Dark Movie: Owner – Jack Farr, Motorsport Ranch
Here’s the information that appears on the card in front of the Woodill Wildfire:
The Woodill Wildfire is one of the first postwar American sports cars. Available in late 1952, the Wildfire was originally proposed as a prototype sports car for the Willys motor car company by B.R. “Woody” Woodill. After the Willys Corporation was purchased by Kaiser in late 1952, the Kaiser Darrin was chosen as their sports car and B.R. Woodill moved forward and created his own independent sports car company.
The Wildfire quickly became one of the best known sports car companies in America and was featured in popular movies of the time such as “Johnny Dark”, “Written on the Wind” and “Knock on Wood.” 100 examples – bodies and sports cars – were built over approximately 5 years. The Woodill Wildfire on display is one of two Wildfires that appeared in the movie “Johnny Dark” and was driven by actor Tony Curtis. Fewer than 10 restored examples of the Wildfire exist today.
Two New Books Released by Undiscovered Classics – Free to Read Online
We also released two books as part of the restoration of this car and its debut at Amelia Island. The first book focuses on the history of the Johnny Dark 1954 Movie. The second book is about the restoration of the Black Johnny Dark Wildfire. Both books are shown below and links to view/read each book are below each book cover image. Hope you enjoy 🙂
1954 Frazer Custom: Owner – Geoff Hacker
Here’s the information that appears on the card in front of the Frazer Custom:
This one-off custom show car was built by Walter Omelenchuk who started building it in 1954 and finished it in 1955. Starting with a 1947 Frazer, Walter designed and fabricated custom steel body panels as well as used available automobile production parts in creative ways.
Design inspiration came from two areas: Detroit “Show Cars” being shown across the country and a nautical or “boat” theme which can be seen in the rear styling of the car. It was designed to attract attention from the start and it succeeded in every way.
After many years of use, the Frazer Custom (also nicknamed the “Orca Special” based on its coloring and nautical theme) was retired and thought lost. Found in a barn in the late 1990s by car hunter Mike Barker, the car was returned to running state and preserved for future displays and restoration plans.
Who Doesn’t Like a Flag?
On Sunday morning we sprang into action and planted our flag at Amelia – that is…attached our Undiscovered Classics flag to the back of our Frazer Custom. Who can’t like a car that has its own flag? While we knew that it wouldn’t win us the People’s Choice Award, we thought it might bring some smiles to a few faces out there in the audience. And….if Bill Warner is reading this, we’d be happy to showcase the Amelia flag next time on the lawn. Perhaps we’ll have the car fully restored by then. It might surprise you how it will look 🙂
Polo Shirts and More
This year we expanded the embroidered polo shirts we have for our teams and our crews to include:
- Undiscovered Classics
- Forgotten Fiberglass
- 1953 Maverick Sportster
- 1953 Woodill Wildfire – Johnny Dark Movie Cars (2 shirts)
- 1953 Grantham Stardust
All of these were represented on the field of Amelia. These designs are shown below.
Wait ’till you see next years Amelia shirts – we may have a new record of cars appearing which means that’s a lot of new shirts to plan for gang!
Amelia Photo Shoot: Maverick and Wildfire
At the end of each Amelia we bring cars together and shoot them to see how each complements the other. Our cars were rare enough back in the day that we never find vintage photos of Undiscovered Classic cars together and that’s what makes this special – check out the photos below of the Maverick and Wildfire together on the lawn of Amelia.
Pre-Amelia Publicity on our Cars
We were honored to have two pre-Amelia announcements on our cars. One was a press release directly from Amelia Island about our Maverick Sportster. The other was a very nice piece that our friend Ben Branch posted in his Silodrome website about our Johnny Dark Wildfire. Let’s look at the Amelia announcement first.
Ben Branch of Silodrome also posted an excellent piece that celebrated the planned debut of our Johnny Dark Woodill Wildfire at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Here’s how the piece first appeared on his website:Click Here To View The Full Announcement on Silodrome about the debut of our Wildfire
and the release of the Johnny Dark Movie Book
It’s Not Over ‘Till It’s Over
So we made it through Amelia – a wonderful experience each year for everyone involved. It usually takes me a week to recover but….time worth spent 🙂 All cars made it back to the airfield to their assigned trailer, and it was time to rest. Or so I thought.
We stopped for dinner not far away from Amelia and…much to my surprise we were surrounded again – this time by Disney characters. And while we took advantage of the photo opportunity with our cars, I made a mental note to myself that our trips from Tampa to Amelia would now “bypass” the Disney / Orlando area completely. Or another way of saying this is “that you actually CAN have too much fun in one day.” Check out the photos below.
Great thanks to all those at Amelia who make the concours each year the special event that it is – not just for the folks who participate but especially for the charity causes that they support. There are only “winners” for all of us at Amelia each year and beyond. Plan on joining us at Amelia in coming years – I guarantee you’ll enjoy every minute.
Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember…
The adventure continues here at Undiscovered Classics.