Interview: Ed Monegan (original team member)

Interview:  Ed  Monegan
Original  Team  Member  (Team  1)

Marvin Horton (L) Ed Monegan (R) Circa 1958

Back in early 2006, I did a series of interviews with Ed Monegan – the last remaining member of the 3-man team that created the molds for cars built by Team 1.  Ed shared with me that while he never built a car, he helped friend and other teammate – Marvin Horton – attempted to build at least two LeMans Coupes before he (Marvin) passed away.  These interviews were conducted on December 21, 2006, December 22, 2006 and January 6, 2007.  The comments below are the highlights of these interviews.

  • Ed shared that if we ever found Marvin’s LeMans Coupe, it would have been built using a network of 1 inch square tubes to support the body.
  • Windshield used was a 1955 or 1956 (most likely it was 1955) GMC truck which had to be cut in the center (take out V shaped trunk), and a post put in to anchor and stabilize it. You’ll have to fiberglass in a lip on the inside so that the glass can rest on the lip and use silicone.  I’ll need a good glass cutter because there is plastic in between 2 layers of glass.  Find something nice to be a center post, a “T” shape, that would hold glass in place.
  • Had a different mold for front end of car, but rest of car was one piece. Had
  • ¼ inch plexiglass was used for side and back windows. I’ll have to use pizza oven to bend plexiglass for back windows.  It needs 300 degrees and plexiglass will lay down flat.  Side windows will be slightly curved because there is curve in the door.
  • Correct spelling: Carl and Rae Schoonhoven. Wife: Rae.  Carl Schoonhoven from Chatsworth, California built one of the cars in the early 1960’s. Carl was married but unknown if he had kids.  Not sure of his wife’s name.   Carl widened entire car body to fit onto XK 120 chassis.  Carl’s doors may have been fiberglass with window parts to make roll up and down.  Carl made bucket seats out of aluminum
  • Ed worked with Carl from 1962 to about 1965 at Whittaker Controls, Whittaker Controls 12838 Saticoy Street, North Hollywood, CA 91605, USA.
  • Marvin and Ed worked at Marquardt Corporation at Van Nuys California. Ed started around 1957 and shortly after Ed met Marvin, and they soon began in 1958 working on the buck for the mold.  The first car was made around 1958, and first one went to Alton Johnson.  It could have been 1957.  Second car went to someone back east and not sure who this was.  There were 3 or 4 more cars and one of these was Carl’s car.  Ed went to Whittiker Controls after Marquardt.
  • I’m the first person (Geoff Hacker) to contact Ed about the car since 1960.
  • Riverside raceway – Ed remembers the test on the track and the tufts. Took place one day only.
  • Ed was there only there for first 2 cars (Alton’s car and Marvin’s first car).  Marvin drew the LeMans Coupe at full size, lofted it (drawing full size) to make sure there were no errors. Created frames out wood to form the buck and used plaster to create first mold.  Ed’s step dad was an aircraft loftsman, so they had the skill on their team.
  • Ed Monegan was an Art Center Student.  Marvin was not an art center student, but was from South Dakota, and was more technical/electronics guy.  Marvin put up the money for the materials – Ed did the work for free and lunches/dinner.  Marvin did not think the cars would sell, and Ed tried to convince him to sell these bodies.
  • Marvin placed an ad for the bodies in Road and Track (fairly sure), and this brought a few sales. Ed thinks this was about the same time that the car appeared in Road and Track.  There was no picture – words only.  Ed thinks the ad appeared in 1958 or 1959 – because Ed remembers Marvin was selling car bodies before the Alton Johnson Road and Track article.
  • Strother once told Ed that of all the cars he designed, only the Lemans Coupe was faithful to his original design. Strother designed a car in 1934 for GM and it looked like a Cord – Gordon Bueghig created the Cord.
  • Alton claimed his LeMans Coupe was a Victress on his own (reference to the 1960 Hot Rod Magazine article).  It was not sanctioned by Marvin or Ed.
  • Inside the car was hot – no way to open window. Carl Schoonhoven was able to install vent and roll down window in his LeMans Coupe.  A normal LeMans Coupe did not have windows that rolled down.
  • Windows where tight like an airplane for aerodynamic purposes. Windows did not roll down.
  • Ed last saw Alton’s car during tests at Riverside. He was aware of an excellent chassis with Chevy engine – I think this was destroyed  – check with Bill Quirk and Merrill Powell.
  • Marvin’s car was never finished. And Alton’s car was destroyed.  Perhaps that’s why it never featured.
  • Marvin was 34 when he came down with leukemia and he lived another 3-4 years. He never finished his car.  His car and molds went to Washington.  Marvin made his car chassis out of birdcage – 1 inch square 4130 (type of steel) chassis.   Alton’s car had similar chassis, and may have been 1 inch square tubing.
  • Last car Ed saw was about 1965 and that was Carl Schoonhoven.
  • As of 1/6/07, Ed Monegan is 77 years old
  • Ed remembers going to Gardena/Compton, California with Strother MacMinn, Marvin Horton, John Bond, and himself to see another LeMan’s coupe being built (Edward Tifft’s LeMans Coupe). John Bond decided during lunch that Marvin and Ed’s car would be featured in Road and Track.  The car they saw in Gardena/Compton, California was most likely Ed Tifft’s, and they did not comment on this during the visit.   After leaving the garage, they identified that it was a not a close match to the car in Road and Track, and that Marvin’s car would be featured.  They had not met Alton Johnson yet, and it was a few months later that they met Alton.  Alton knew fiberglass more than Ed and Marvin, and the 3 moved forward on their project.   Ed does not think that Alton was working on a “3rd” attempt at a LeMans coupe.
  • Ed not sure how Marvin and Alton met, but Marvin met Alton first.
  • Windshield was laid back at 66 degrees which is lowest you could go without distortion looking thru the glass – according to Strother MacMinn.
  • Strother also said that Ed and Marvin’s car was only time he ever saw one of his designs not changed on final body produced. He was very happy about that.
  • Ed and Strother kept in touch thru early 1970’s. Ed would stop by the Art Center before they moved to Pasadena and Strother would love to talk about the LeMans coupe.  Ed never saw Strother at the new school in Pasadena.
  • Ed only saw three cars: Alton’s car, Marvin’s car, Carl Schoenhoven’s   Ed remembers that 2-3 LeMans Coupe bodies were also shipped back east – different people in each case (not all 3 cars to same person).
  • Ed and Marvin visited Victress 2 or 3 times and he met Chuck Pelly. They visited Victress to learn how to make the fiberglass body.
  • Ed and Marvin used drawings printed in magazine (not originals) and scaled up car from magazine print. They drew it full size on paper.  Pretty remarkable.
  • Strother said that the Talbot Lago was the inspiration for designing the LeMan’s coupe. There was a Talbot Lago displayed in a Hollywood tv studio show window on Vine Street, and it was his original inspiration for making car.
  • Marvin had plans to race the car at Leman’s. He was even taking French lessons to learn French (I (Ed Monegan) would have taken driving lessons). His plans ceased when Lemans banned V8 engines or maybe banned displacement but could not use Chevy V8 engine.  At that point, Marvin’s plans ceased.  This was before he got sick.