Allard and Crosleys at auction

Yes, I know this is supposed to be another post about the Great Willys Picnic, but that will come after this one.¬† be patient, please ūüôā

My friends Bobby, Mike, George and I went out to dinner and then to a local auction this evening.  Our big interest was seeing the 1949 Allard that was up for sale.  Despite all of the cars looking rather decrepit we were still drawn to see what they went for.  There was an Allard, a 1964? Mercedes, and three Crosleys.

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While the Allard was covered in surface rust, the steel was complete without any rust through.  Over all much of the car was present amongst the parts piled beside it.  It originally came with a Ford flathead V8, but was outfitted at some point with a Cadillac V8.  The lines of the car are quite striking and it must have been beautiful when new.  The Allard sold for around $18,000.  Next up was a 1964(?) Mercedes.

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This car probably ran when it was stored.  It was the second time for the auctioneer selling this very car.  He sold it to the owner of the estate back in 1984.  Doors shut with a satisfying clunk, the interior wood was in great shape, and the car was complete.  It sold for a very reasonable price of $8,000.  I assume this was because they did not start it.  Finally came the Crosleys, led by a 1949 Hotshot.

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This was quite an eclectic collection all coming from one estate.¬† The Hotshot was complete, and not in too bad shape for a barn find.¬† This would not be a hard restoration though I think it sold a little too high at around $1,700.¬† If it had been running and in this shape I could have seen that price.¬† These cars actually became popular in racing circles in the 1950’s.¬† They were designed so that windshield, bumpers¬†and lights could be stripped down easily for racing.¬† Even after Crosley’s demise in 1952 these cars were outfitted with a wide variety of engines to play on the race circuits.¬† I would like to play with one of these someday.¬† Finally there were a 1947 pickup and convertible.

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If I had spare time of any sort and any money whatsoever I would have bid on the pickup.  It needed ALOT of work but would be a cute little parts runner.  It went for $650.00 which seems quite fair.

Okay, stay tuned for more of the Great Willys Picnic next time!!

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The road to hell is paved with good intentions: Bobbi-Kar part 1

If you have seen my main website you can tell that I enjoy the the story behind each automobile, motorcycle, or engine that I work on.  I have a 1952 Crosley Super sedan which I will restore soon, and because of that I ventured into researching the small cars of its era (1939-1952).

A year or two ago Christian Sturgis (of Sturgis Antiques http://www.sturgisantiques.com/ )  asked me to research a file that a customer dropped off.  The file was the original 1946 press release for a small auto company called Bobbi-Kar.  I delved further and further into the story of this odd little car and eventually purchased the file.  I also amassed a collection of OLD car magazines with articles on this little oddity.

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With limited availability of new cars after WW2, many aspects of rationing still in effect, and a whole bunch of GI’s coming home wanting new cars¬†several small companies popped up hoping to cash in.¬† Some wanted to cash in by producing small, inexpensive, gas sipping cars for the market.¬† Some just wanted to scam possible investors and run off with what money they could.¬† Sadly the Bobbi-Kar was the brainchild of an engineer, John Liefield, who was introduced to scam artist S.A. Williams.

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Liefield was a young man who had worked for Chrysler, and then Convair during WW2.  Liefield had an idea for a small car that he hoped would secure a good living for him in the post WW2 workplace.  Williams just saw a chance to make a buck.  The photos here show the first Bobbi-Kar prototype which was built in San Diego.  Williams was the one who arranged for the newsreel studios to take footage to promote the new car.  You can see a camera towards the rear of the photo above.

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The concept was simple.  The car used many available mechanical parts.  The engine was a Hercules XB which was readily available.  The drivetrain was designed to be removable as a unit.  This would allow for the unit to be swapped quickly so that the Bobbi-Kar owner could keep driving while his drivetrain was in for repair.

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As Liefield was designing and perfecting the prototype Williams built up his scam.¬† He managed to lease the now empty Convair plant from the War Assets Administration.¬† Liefield and his small operation moved into this huge plant and Bobbi-Kar signs were installed outside.¬† Williams began marketing franchises and sold around 800.¬† The key clause in the franchise agreement was that franchisees would be able to sell the car “if and when it was produced.”¬† Soon Williams was being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Comission.

There were several other startup car companies which fell under investigation by the SEC as well.  The Playboy (and yes, the magazine was named after the car), the Davis, and the most famous of all, the Tucker.  Luckily while Williams was scamming and being investigated a new person appeared on the scene.  That person was former Studebaker VP George Keller.  Mr. Keller was interested in the small car, and wanted to see the little company make a go in the market for real.Image

Next:  Bobbi-Kar becomes the Keller car.