A TRIBUTE TO RICK D’LOUHY:
FORGOTTEN FIBERGLASS RACONTEUR,
CAR SHOW CREATOR, HISTORIAN, BEST FRIEND AND MORE
In The Beginning
Who doesn’t like a car adventure – and boy have I had one over the last 40 or so years. But my car adventure was even better – it led to a great friendship. One that continues to impact me each and every day. And my car adventure started with someone who would become my best friend – Rick D’Louhy.
I was a senior in high school and was 17 years old when my family moved to Florida in 1979. Already a strong-willed car guy, I had purchased a 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood when I was just 14 years old (with the approval of my mom, of course) and had finished restoring it by the time we moved to Florida. Soon after settling in, I found my first fiberglass special – a 1962 Shark Roadster
After buying the Shark in August of 1980, Rick reached out to the original seller and asked if he could contact the new owner. He wanted to share a Road & Track magazine article about the Shark that would help the new owner establish the history of the car – which it did. It was also a harbinger of what was going to follow decades later.
Rick’s kind gesture toward me would be the start of our lifelong friendship.
Fast forward to the mid 1980s. I had graduated from high school and college and Rick and his family (Rick was about 14 years older than me) moved to Ormond Beach, Florida in 1985. Despite the differences in distance (remember these were pre-internet days), we always kept in touch. And then everything changed in 2005 when I found the 1961 Covington Tiburon Coupe.
Grantham Stardust Meets Lancer Meets Shark
Finding the Tiburon coupe was exciting and one of the first people I called about it was Rick. It may have taken from 1980 to 2005 (25 years) to find one of the six lost Tiburon Coupes, but Rick and I had started the quest to find it together in 1980 and I wanted him to know. But it didn’t end there.
By the time I shipped the Tiburon to Tampa, Florida I had also retrieved my other two convertible Sharks from a local museum. They had been “gifted” years before but they had not moved forward with the restoration. When I contacted them and expressed interest in acquiring them again, they returned home to me. Now I had three Sharks and there was lots to do.
Rick and I had been talking back and forth about the Sharks in early 2006 and learning more about early ‘glass cars. In doing so, we each had found “mystery” fiberglass cars with little history. I had found a 1953 Grantham Stardust on a website called LaDawri.com run by another person who would become a good friend – Jon Greuel. Rick had found an 1953 Irwin Lancer through one of his car show contacts. It was languishing in a junkyard.
Little was known about each of these cars so we moved forward in our usual fashion and started to gather data. We eventually found the families that had produced both of these cars and were fired up with enthusiasm for learning more. Within a very short period of time, we had acquired additional rare fiberglass “specials” and were honored to participate in the March, 2007 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance with our 1957 LaDawri Conquest.
The Cars Are Out There…
Rick and I traveled the country saving cars – some of which we had no idea what they were. From 2008 until 2016 you could find us across the country near and far. Hemmings Motor News reported on some of our trips and cars while we posted others on our fledgling website “Forgotten Fiberglass.”
Raiders of the Lost Cars
As Rick and I continued to work to save cars, research their histories and show them across the country, we started having fun and referring to the work we did as similar to the character “Indiana Jones” in the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Others recognized this in the public and the press and referred to this theme as well when they wrote about us. Rick and I always found ways to have fun with what we did and who we worked with.
One of our favorite quotes about our work and what we do is the following:
“In attempting to capture the significance and passion inherent in Undiscovered Classics, I can’t seem to shake the graphic allusion to Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark on the former’s website. Although I would aspire to be more original, that theme absolutely nails the essence of their journey and the value of their achievements.
Geoff Hacker and Rick D’Louhy are indeed scholars who embark on perilous adventures to obtain rare artifacts. Literally. I’ve seen them in action. They’re obsessive and not afraid to get dirty digging. And, by making the liberated treasures universally accessible on the web, it’s like they have given anyone who’s interested a virtual key and detailed map to the implausibly giant warehouse where the Ark of the Covenant was stored.”
Daytona Beach Dream Cruise
At the same time Rick and I were researching and writing about lost handcrafted cars, Rick was busy building his own event near his home in Ormond Beach, Florida – the Daytona Beach Dream Cruise. I remember how focused he was creating a vintage looking logo with just the right shape and just the right colors – every part of the schedule and the entertainment and the vendors and the participants….Rick was right in the middle of it.
From 2008 until 2016 the Daytona Beach Dream Cruise gained in scope and size and was something he, his friends and family were proud to participate in. After his passing, the Dream Cruise continued and in the next year the event was dedicated in Rick’s name and a great poster of commemorating his cars and the event was commissioned – see below.
From 2007 through 2016, Rick and I were honored to appear with our cars at some of the best concours d’elegance events in America. These included highly recognized shows such as the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance as well as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. We also participated in exhibits at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California and the LeMay Automobile Museum in Washington State.
One of Our Favorite Stories
The Leo Lyons Custom Mercury
The restoration of the Leo Lyons Custom Mercury was the challenge of a lifetime. By the time we kicked the restoration into high gear, we had less than a year to finish the car and get in on the lawn at Pebble. Autoweek Magazine was with us at every step of the way which resulted in the most stories ever written by a magazine on the “run-up” of a car in restoration and preparation for a concours d’elegance event.
Another of our Favorite Stories:
Beware of Canada (or at least Americans Going to Canada)
Our last significant cross-country trip together resulted in one of the funniest stories that ever happened to us. We went to Michigan to retrieve one of our cars and then decided to go to Canada to pick up another. What ensued resulted in two of our friends being detained at the Canadian border while Rick and I panicked on the American side – safely having lunch at a local restaurant. You can read the rest via the link below.
Our Most Exciting Time
In 2015, Ray Evernham’s AmeriCarna TV show debuted an episode titled “Forgotten Fiberglass.” This show was broadcast on the Velocity TV network and focused on all the things that Rick and I did concerning saving, researching, restoring and showing lost American sports cars. The video was shot in 2014 and the episode debuted in April, 2015 just after a class of “Forgotten Fiberglass” sports cars appeared at the 2015 Ameila Island Concours d’Elegance.
This was nearly 10 years after we began our “Forgotten Fiberglass” project and we were greatly honored to have Ray Evernham’s interest and attention in sharing this lost American sports car story with his viewers worldwide.
Saving The Best For Last – Our Final Amelia Concours Together
As my friendship began with Rick and a “Shark”, it came to a close with another “Shark”. I didn’t know it at the time, but the 2016 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance would be my last show with Rick, and on reflection it was a perfect tribute. The Covington Tiburon (Shark) Coupe and the Leo Lyons Custom Mercury appeared together in a very special class we created called “Concepts Beyond Detroit.”
It was one of the rare times we participated with two cars on the concours field – our 1950 Leo Lyons Ultra Modern Mercury and my 1961 Covington Tiburon “Shark” coupe. The class of cars we had worked hard with Amelia Island to create was called “Concepts Beyond Detroit.” This class helped strengthen the idea that creating a car on your own or in a small company was possible and should be celebrated – just as we celebrate the same kind of cars that large manufacturers create and build.
It was one of our proudest moments to stand on the field with those that joined us in that class and those who attended and celebrate the cars and honor the designers. That’s what Rick and I did best – share the achievements of others and help them, their families and their cars be welcomed into the history books with other achievers too. We could ask for no higher honor than to be allowed to do what we did and do this together.
Rick passed away on November 30th, 2016. You can read some of the stories written about him by family, friends and the media below.
As for me, my car adventures continue – but are different. They are still fun. They are still exciting. They are still surprising. Rick would have loved every one of them. But they are different without my buddy Rick.
I know that Rick is along for every new adventure and that he’s having fun watching us, seeing old friends, watching new friends and probably laughing at our “Forgotten Fiberglass” and newly minted “Undiscovered Classics” gang at every step of the way.
We miss you Rick – but you made the world a better place to be in for everyone you met.
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More About Rick D’Louhy
Click The Link Above To See Rick D’Louhy in Action
Hemmings Motor News
Announcement of Rick’s Passing
Announcement of Rick’s Passing
Motor City Barn Finds
Book – 2017
By Friend Tom Cotter
Announcement of Rick’s Passing
Facebook Announcement of Rick’s Passing
Posted on Facebook on December 3rd, 2016
Click Here For Link To Information Below
I am so sad to share this with those in the car community and countless others who knew him as a close friend and enthusiastic person in life.
Rick D’Louhy, my friend and partner in “Forgotten Fiberglass” passed away unexpectedly earlier this week. He has been a friend of mine for nearly 40 years and those who knew him in most corners of the country would have called him “friend” too.
Rick was one of the happiest and most joyful person I have known. Not just about cars but about life. From riding a bicycle in his neighborhood to driving on the road with me across America….we stopped at museums, parks and many homes to share his exuberance with not just cars but for life itself. My life and many others were better for having Rick in it.
Rick was my best friend – but it would be safe to say that many people could make that statement. Behind the scenes and unknown to most, he dedicated himself to those in need and who often had no one left to ask for help. Rick was quietly and consistently there for those people and did this out of sight. It was inspirational to see his dedication in this area of his life.
The world was a more joyful, playful and happy place with him in it. And I know that the way he touched so many lives will continue in a positive way for so many of us who knew him best – and we will remember him for the rest of our lives. Such a positive influence in the world does not leave quietly – it continues to touch our lives forever.
December 3rd, 2016
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