In 1952, Prof. Willy Messerschmitt needed a project to keep his RSM division busy, and a timely visit by his former employee Fritz Fend with a concept for a tandem two-seat vehicle resulted in a deal being struck.
By the summer of 1952 a prototype was ready. Called Fend Kabinenroller FK-150, it included all the elements of the first production Messerschmitts except for the plexi dome made up of several pieces, and the 150cc motor.
Production began in February 1953, but early feedback indicated that the car was far from perfect: the suspension was very hard, it was noisy and rattled, and the hand clutch didn’t come off well in practice.
By June of 1953 some 70 modifications had been made.
These early examples are very rare, and this is one, with its complicated rear suspension, hand clutch, open chain and narrow rear seat
Unveiled at the General Motors Highways and Horizons pavilion at the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York, the Pontiac ‘Ghost Car’ was buit on the chassis of a 1939 Pontiac Deluxe Six.
In collaboration with Rohm & Haas, a chemical company that had recently developed Plexiglass, the concept for a transparent car was conceived and it was the first one ever built in America.
“This is the only one known to exist,” said Alain Squindo, a car specialist for RM Auctions, which held the auction for the Ghost Car and other speciality vehicles in Plymouth, Michigan. “It’s a very original car.”
It toured a number of dealerships and then was at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. for a number of years.
It has been owned by the same family since the 1980s. “They were rather sad to see their beloved car go,” Squindo said. He could not disclose the name of the buyer.
The car has 86 miles on it, picked up by being driven in and out of dealerships for displays.
It was a collaboration between GM and Rohm & Haas chemical company, which made the Plexiglas. Structural metal underneath was given a copper wash, and all hardware, including the dashboard, was chrome-plated.
Prototype No. 1 is the only survivor of three test Holden sedans built by hand in 1946 by American and Australian engineers at the General Motors workshop in Detroit.
Earlier that year, General Motors-Holden’s chief Laurence Hartnett had submitted to his American bosses an experimental car design with integrated fenders and straight side panels.
Reluctant about the Australian venture from the beginning, General Motors executives unceremoniously rejected Hartnett’s proposal in favour of a more conservative and curvaceous design with a striking chrome grille.
Known as the ‘Australian Car’, prototype no. 1 became the definitive model for millions of Holden vehicles.
After months of durability and performance tests at the General Motors Milford proving ground, prototype no. 1 was shipped to Australia along with two other prototypes. Legend has it that the three cars were then driven under cover of darkness to the Fishermen’s Bend factory in Melbourne.
Registered as JP-480, prototype no.1 underwent further testing on a circuit east of Melbourne, specifically designed to replicate Australian driving conditions.
Technicians continued to make minor technical modifications to the car, while General Motors-Holden’s executives searched for a name for the new car.
After much deliberation, they finally decided upon the ‘Holden’, in honour of Sir Edward Holden, the company’s first chairman. Other names considered were GeM, Austral, Melba, Woomerah, Boomerang, and Emu.
The car narrowly avoided the name ‘Canbra’, a phonetic spelling of Canberra.
The first Holden rolled off the assembly line at Fishermen’s Bend on 29 November 1948.
Many saw the event as evidence of national maturity, proof that Australia had escaped its pastoral beginnings and embraced the modern industrial age.
The Holden 48-215 (commonly known as the FX) was a robust and economical family sedan, designed for the Australian environment. Combining local production with American styling and technical simplicity, the car captivated many Australians.
Public reaction to the prospect of an Australian-built car had been extraordinary, with around 18,000 people signing up for a Holden without knowing a single detail about the car.
Holdens soon dominated the roads.
By 1958 sales accounted for over 40 per cent of total car sales in Australia. A million had been sold by 1960 and, despite market competition from the Ford Falcon, another million were sold over the next six years.
11. Don Woolman, Austin Wasp, The Flash bought his first car for 100 pounds in 1951 by asking the previous owner whether he wanted to sell it when it was parked out the front of the Old Guv in King William Road. Originally it was red but he rolled it at Murry Bridge and painted it a two tone blue. After four years he sold it to Des Woods, a jobbing comp, for 90 pounds.
12. Cyril Barson, EH Holden, Cyril couldn’t park for nuts. So comp apprentices did it for him. Car may still be running and owned by Cyril’s grandson Paul.
13. John Buckby, (OPC’s) Other Peoples Cars, Got a regular lift in with Paul Raby except when Paul got a flat tyre Bucko would go home with anyonewho was handy leaving Raby in the shit.
14. Nick Penn (again), The God Mobile, came to work with three “born again” Printers. Singing along in the car with his holy brothers to the sounds of their recorded Revivalist Meetings.
14. Rod (Sam) Lawn, Morris Minor, drove his poor little Noddy car for years, years and years.
15. Peter Humby, The Humble Pushbike, his first million dollars was made collecting cans and bottles on his way to work.
16. Alex Riley, Jaguar X Type, This horrible bastard always went out of his way to make his workmates feel inferior by dragging them off at the traffic lights in his father’s X Type Jag. The picture above shows The Toff and car in the driveway of Government House, Adelaide.
Original article written by the late Warren Pietsch