MUSEUM ACQUIRES ANTIQUE CAMERA CAR
The Museum has been searching for a vintage camera car for many months to add to our exhibit that explores filming technology as used in movies and of course, that supported an era of Western film making. A call from Museum supporter, Jack Minton, in mid-June informed me that a 1928 Lincoln camera car was going up for auction in a few weeks in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
A few calls and a little research with the Benson Ford Research Center at The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, helped clarify the cars provenance. Built on March 6, 1928, the car, production # 49706, with body type 10-1957 and noted as a 147A, (that designation indicates original car was a 4-door, Dietrich designed sedan. The original color was delivered in cobalt blue. The production car would have had an eight cylinder flat head engine. Somewhere along the 50’s the engine was replaced with a Cadillac 331 with a Carter Quad. The suspension was revised to carry the extra weight of rails, platforms and equipment that were mounted on the car and the universal replaced with a heavy duty International truck rear end. Note: Production records indicate 4204 Dietrich designed cars were sold in 20’s, 1023 in 1928 – the last year they were produced as noted from George H. Damman's book, 50 Years of Lincoln Mercury.
Many camera cars were used in filming from the 1930s - Similar cars were used along Movie Road in filming Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy and many other films shot in the Alabama Hills.
Once owned by Hollywood Studio, RKO, the 1928 Lincoln has been in the possession of collectors for many years, most recently being owned by Clifton Hill, who has been collecting cars for over 50 years, but has recently decided to liquidate his collection. The car has been used in many movies including the 1981 Orion Pictures film, Under the Rainbow and the 1988 Sony Tri-Star Film, Sunset with Bruce Willis and James Garner. Earlier the car was owned by Pat Hustis, stuntman and legendary camera car pioneer famous for his chase scene work on Steve McQueen's movie, Bullitt.
The Lincoln was in pretty good condition given it’s 88 years old. While there is rust, there are few areas rusted through! As noted, the original engine was replaced with the Cadillac 1953/1953 V-8 engine. We are told the car has not “run” in over 20 years. (Our engine guru, Richard Wren is going to see what he can do about getting it running again.)
Only the left rear stop light was missing. Cabin/dash is missing wood but gauges look pretty good. The door windows both work remarkably well on both sides, and if you look close you will see they are chain driven. The back window is missing. Original wire wheels are in very good shape and as noted, new tires will be installed. The metal rails that hold camera mounts and accessories are also in good shape. Two have words, one "Shepherd" and the other "Hollywood Scene Dock." We are told that both companies have been out of business for many years. Gas tanks are located on both sides.
Through generous donations of our membership and friends and financial support of the Museum Board, we were able to raise the funds to acquire the car and to transport it from Shawnee. Preliminary work in Lone Pine with the assistance of Jeff Ray, Tony Chavez and Richard Wren prepared the car for a modest restoration. David Mull, NAPA, helped in acquiring new tires. Doug Brown, Browns Salvage in Bishop, had his team sandblast the years of rust and paint off. Tib Wilkinson, Inyo Mono Body’s team has painted the car black. We will soon have the RKO emblem, painted on the doors to pay tribute to the cars original heritage.
After the Festival we will work on the interior and local Lone Piners will take a shot at getting the 1953/1954 Cadillac 331 V-8 back in service.
The Museum is fortunate to have a few large reflectors, lights and other standard accessories that were typical for camera cars. We are in talks with a few collectors to add some additional features, hopefully adding a few Mitchell cameras, typical of the era, to complete the exhibit.
Dietrich Inc. was an American coachbuilder founded in 1925 by Raymond H. Dietrich (1894-1980), co-founder of LeBaron Incorporated in New York. He was a close friend to Edsel Ford who supported him by talking Fred Murray, owner of the Murray Body Corporation into partly financing the venture. Murray was itself a vendor of standard bodies to the Ford Motor Company, and hoped for an in-house source for designing and building custom bodies for luxury cars. Dietrich himself held 50% of the stock.
Dietrich, Inc. did substantial styling work for standard bodies for Packard, Franklin, and Erskine, a corporate make of Studebaker. Further, Dietrich, Inc. built custom bodies to single orders, and proposed semi-customs (similarly built as full customs, but in small lots of usually 5-10 units) for the catalogues of Lincoln (then headed by Edsel Ford) or Packard. Raymond Dietrich further was a design consultant with Packard.
By September 1930, Dietrich was out of his company. Dietrich, Inc. was closed in 1936; Raymond Dietrich became in 1932 the first head of design of Chrysler (until 1938).
Afterwards, he freelanced as Raymond H. Dietrich and finally Ray Dietrich Inc. One of his primary clients was the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company, (renamed Checker Motors Corporation in 1958) in Kalamazoo, MI. while at Checker he partnered with Auburn engineer Herb Snow and developed the ill-fated front wheel drive, transverse engine Model "D" Checker prototype. Dietrich was also instrumental in designing the Checker Model A2 introduced in the fall of 1947. Dietrich's office at Checker remained untouched years after his death.
Dietrich retired to Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1960 at the age of 66. At the time, Kalamazoo was the home of Gibson Guitars. In 1962, Gibson boss Ted McCarty, convinced Dietrich to come out of retirement to design a new solid body electric guitar that would not be limited by the traditional ways of designing and engineering an electric guitar. The result was the classic, 'reverse' Gibson Firebird, released in 1963, one of the most iconic and recognizable electric guitar designs ever.
June 21, 2016
Examples of Studio Camera Car Pictures Courtesy of Marc Wanamaker
Pick up July 5, 2016 Shawnee, Oklahoma Delivered Lone Pine - July 11th..............................
Orignal 1928 Lincoln Model 147-A 4 Passenger Sedan
WORK IN PROGRESS
August 6-7 Remove rails, knuckles, & lights
UPDATE: August 25
Car went to Bishop last weekend for Sandblasting @ Brown Salvage (Thanks Doug Brown) Started today - Here are a few videos. They will finish by Monday then goes to Inyo Mono Body Shop (Thanks Tib) for primer and final Black coat!
NOTE: CLICK ON 4 arrows icon right of "HD" to go full screen
BEFORE & AFTER PICS - Roll cursor over pics
Thank you to the following friends who made financial donations (over $6000 raised) and/or provided services towards acquiring and restoration work on the Lincoln. To the Museum Board for further financial support and to Browns Salvage in Bishop for sandblasting and Inyo Mono Body Shop in Bishop for paint job.
|Jack & Nancy||Reed|