Monday, September 17, 2012

The Dayton Concours, September 16, 2012 -- A Pontiac Chieftain and a Cyclops

Hi folks -- yesterday was glorious!  Below are two contributions from Ed Garten. While I judged yesterday, I did not take photos of the event.  Judging was difficult, and I was part of a team of three doing American Classics, 1930-1942. While a 1941 Maroon Cadillac was the class winner, a few other vehicles stood out. There was a 1936 dark green Packard that had its original paint and interior, with 32,000 or so original miles!  And my favorite, from Centerville, was a 1935 Bentley 4 place roadster with a Ward Body, finished with a blue interior and steering wheel. The owner was incredibly knowledgeable about this car, and had purchased it from David Scott-Moncrief in 1965.  Originally owned by a lady living in Devon, England, all I could imagine last night was taking that car with the top down on the winding roads facing the sea in a world yet to be turned upside down by the winds of WWII.

A very nice Indian Head hood ornament on a early 50s Pontiac.  This was the exact color of one that one of my aunts owned.  When she would visit us she'd typically stay until dusk or dark and as she'd get ready to go, I'd beg her to turn the lights on so that I could see the Indian Head light up.  This one at the car show today is clearly a reproduction as the early ones, after a few years, would "crackle" and develop a nice patina.  Nonetheless, while there may have been other "light up" hood ornaments, I know of no others apart from the ones that Pontiac created.
While Pontiac is now an orphan marque, one wonders if the Indian Head would now be viewed as politically incorrect?

How does one judge a "Cyclops" (is this a real car?) as seen today at the Carillon Park Concours d'Elegance? See two attached photos I took today of this car owned by a couple from Beavercreek.
Not much available about the "vehicle" on Internet apart from the following:
How does Stan Mott and Robert Cumberford created the Cyclops II, an iconic car, in 1957. It was introduced in Road and Track's March 1957 issue in an article titled 'Beyond Belief.' The car was road tested in the September 1957 Road and Track issue and from there 22 more Cyclops articles were run over the last 53 years.

Glen and Matt Thomas built this Cyclops II from scratch in 2010. It was a father and son project, which started with the picture of Stan Mott in the original, a three view drawing of the Cyclops II and the road test article with the overall dimensions. Glenn developed a layout using a go-cart drive and steering type system. They built the car in their garage using simple tools such as circular saw, drill press, hand jigsaw and a 110 Mig welder. The rolled panels were accomplished using a homemade roller, which consisted of a pipe sitting on wood. The basic materials are 16-gauge steel and 3/4-inch plywood for the floor.

Cyclops II Wows Amelia Island Concours D'Elegance Biggest Crowd

The smell of overheated olive oil and scorched Cinzano filled the air as Cyclops enthusiasts of the rare Italian breed flocked to the 17th annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance last March to see, in person and up close one, of 2-1/2 surviving, running examples from the famed house of Automobili Cyclops SpA. The mighty V-1 engined Cyclops II is the latest of the noble Italian breed that has charmed and inspired, confused and bewildered American enthusiasts, car buyers and customs officials since 1957.

Cyclops won no cup, trophy or ribbon at the 17th annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance but it did draw the most attention on the Concours field strewn wîth significant competition machines and multi-million dollar collector cars. The 1957 Cyclops II is the rarest automobile ever displayed at The Amelia.

Created by Stan Mott and Robert Cumberford and manufactured by Italian automotive genius Piero Martini, the Cyclops II is minimalist transportation to the point of abject torture (fetal seating position). American Cyclops importers Trebor Crunchcog and T. Tom Meshingear were said to be present as current owner, Glenn Thomas of Beavercreek, Ohio, brought the lone surviving base model Cyclops II to Amelia, and parked it on the field amongst a heady collection of motoring giants. Mr. Thomas and Mr. Mott passed the reviewing stands in a tribute to the eight significant cars on Amelia's 'Field of Dreams'. It is rumored that the equally rare Cyclops 'Fantistico' is in private hands somewhere in Michigan.

This Cyclops' automotive hubris typifies the spirit of European auto manufacturing following WWII and before such niceties as wind tunnels, hand held calculators, CFD and the Arabic numerals. The Cyclops II is thought to be the only car built after the Franco-Prussian War that used only Roman numerals during the design stage. Hence the name, Cyclops II.

The Cyclops answered questions that no one dared ask about personal transportation and individual mobility. Its minimalist design and manufacturing philosophy created a car that shamed the efforts of Volkswagen, Renault, FIAT, Isetta and Hotpoint.

Making a mockery of the discipline of planned obsolescence, the Cyclops II was a car for the ages. The Cyclops' design is basic, simple, straightforward, inexpensive and easy to manufacture wîth basic hand tools. Marketing them in the 1950s to an America in love wîth fins, chrome, horsepower, style, ride, performance, comfort, reliability and value was the heady job tackled by American Cyclops Importers Crunchcog and Meshingear. However, Cyclops' extraordinary victories in competition over the years, as reported in the august journal Road & Track, winning LeMans in 1960, The East African Safari in 1964, The Targa Florio in 1965, the Indy 500 in 1968, the Nurburgring in 1969, the Japanese Grand Prix 1971 and the Great Wall of China Grand Prix in 1972 did help sales.

Some feel the Cyclops is not a car for automotive connoisseurs or, for that matter, anyone who'd actually driven a real car. It fits at Amelia exactly because it's one of those rare cars that allow us to answer that trite age old question 'Are we having fun yet?' wîth a hearty, 'Yes we are!' This fun was graphically captured in a genuine cartoon (above) wîth one of the most attractive ladies at the 2012 event expressing her appreciation of Cyclops charm.

In true concours spirit the Cyclops II was driven to and from the field by its owners and was last seen racing a Goggomobil and a 1906 17 liter Pomeraner once thought owned by the Duke of Hess-Pless-Heth through nearby Fernandina Beach at speeds approaching XCVI kilometers per hour

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