How does a car go from one of the most beautiful cars in the world, to JUNK,
— and then, somehow rise phoenix-like
from the desert?
This is the fascinating story of the 1948 Buick Streamliner,
………….. otherwise known as the ” Norman Timbs Special ” .
This is one of those rare auto stories that will either drive the car nut in you to distraction, or just plain crazy.
SO, you may ask….
How does a car go from one of the most beautiful cars in the world, to JUNK, and somehow rise phoenix-like from the desert?
Well, here’s the story.
In 1948, a mechanical engineer named Norman E. Timbs decided to build a car without all the style extravagances of the time.
You know the kinds of elements I mean.. like bulky fenders, huge bumpers, and sweeping tail fins.
He was looking for something a little more… well, streamlined.
Tibbs had worked on the Blue Crown Specials for the Indy 500…
… he knew the value of lighter weight, more aerodynamically rounded shapes.
The car he came up with — the Buick Streamliner —
……… is more a work of ‘art-o-motive’ than automotive —-
— and it is certainly an amazing piece of engineering.
It was on the cover of Motor Trend that year, and had several features written about it in Popular Mechanics, Motor Life, etc.
The body alone cost around $8000- and was created by metal-worker Emil Diedt by hand-hammering aluminum around a wooden frame.
The main chassis utilized five inch steel tubes, with a modified 1947 Ford leaf-spring suspension.
The Streamliner’s Buick Inline “Super-8” engine developed about 200 horsepower, and could get the car up to around 120 miles per hour.
One thing you probably noticed from the picture right away — no doors.
The entire back part of the body swung up on hydraulic lifts for access to the rear mounted engine.
When it was finished in about 18 months, it had cost Timbs about $10,000 to build, and he toured it on the show circuit for the next several years.
Now, here is where the pathos in our story comes in.
In 1952, the car was sold to a Jim Davis of Manhattan Beach, California… who would tool around in it for the next several years… even getting a photo spread for it in Motor Life.
After that, history lost track of the car completely.
Well, that is, until it was discovered in a California junk yard out in the desert.
In 2002, the Streamliner was sold at auction to Gary Cerveny, who had the car meticulously restored by Custom Auto of Colorado.
It was difficult, and complicated…. not to mention expensive.
But when it was done, the Streamliner looked like her old self.
Timb’s Buick Streamliner lovingly restored —
………… then went on to win the Trophy for Best Open Car at the 2010 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance !
And what a sight to see, it is.
What lines, what curves !!
Poetry in motion .