Over the years we’ve focused on handcrafted American postwar sports cars and we continue to both accumulate and share information about these cars in magazines, multimedia, tv, shows and more. Our interest stems from locating and researching the history on two of these postwar sports cars – the 1947 and 1948 Kurtis-Omohundro Comets.
I thought for today’s story I would share an article that first appeared in the UK based “Autocar” magazine on May 13, 1949. This is quite early for an American sports car in the postwar years, and our research we show this to be one of the first ten custom-built sports cars that were revealed to the American public. However, what makes today’s article even more interesting is this publication is based in the UK making it potentially the first postwar American sports car seen by an overseas audience.
Let’s check out the article and two photos that appear with it.
An American “Special” Roadster
Autocar (UK) Magazine: May 13, 1949
Although, compared with Europe, it is a much more expensive and often more difficult proposition for American enthusiasts to build their own special cars, nevertheless, the keen and the industrious continue to do so. Mr. Paul Omohundro of Clearwater, California has recently completed a particularly good example and is so pleased with it that he is hoping to put it on the market.
The car is a hybrid of Mercury and Cadillac parts. The engine is a 5.6 liter Cadillac V8, installed in a frame the wheelbase of which measures only 9 feet 6 inches, making the overall length (16 feet; 10 inches) height (4 feet; 3 inches) and width (6 feet; 1 inch). The idea in building this car was to obtain an outstanding performance and pleasant lines to the personal ideas of the constructor. Mr. Omohundro, ow that he has tried the car, confirms that is is light (below 3,100 lbs), powerful and “quite roadable.”
The photographs in this article show that a very attractive roadster-type body has been produced, unusually free – for American taste – of chromium decoration. To fabricate the many curved panels the owner had the great advantage of possessing a plant making aircraft and automobile patterns and dies.
The body is built up of aluminum over a framework of 1 inch T-section steel. There is a single bench seat upholstered in calf skin and steer hide. The seat cushions are formed of air foam rubber. Details of the frame construction are not available but, if subsequent models are produced, a frame of square steel tubing may be adopted. The Cadillac Hydramatic transmission is retained, but behind it the drive is taken by converted Mercury part.
To obtain a low, sleek look, ground clearance has been reduced to 6 inches. The body is, however, a practical one with luggage space accessible from behind the seat, where also is housed the spare wheel. It is intended have a removable coupe head made either of clear plexiglass or or metal. With its engine developing some 150 b.h.p. and the light overall weight, acceleration should be excellent.
We acquired this car a number of years ago and am pleased to say have started the restoration too. Rebuilding the car has been an exciting event for our Undiscovered Classics team because it allows us to turn back time and learn the construction techniques from an early American postwar special – and there are not many of these left to learn from gang. In fact what makes this car exceptionally rare is the few number of handcrafted postwar cars built – and the fewer number that survive today.
In the coming months, I’ll share more stories about the history of this car and other other publications and shows it appeared in. For now…..
Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember…
The adventure continues here at Undiscovered Classics.