Non production production cars


#1

Do any of you guys remember regular production vehicles that were altered to meet a specific need? When I was a kid Lambert Field Airport in STL had Olds Toronados with 6 doors for transportation to and from hotels. Now they use Ford E series cutaways with people mover boxes. STL city police had Harley trikes with a large fiberglass box on the back they called Unicars. Or how about the pickups that had a special covered box on the back that the newspaper delivery would use? One guy sat in back and rolled the papers and put them in a machine that tied them closed and another standing on the bumper holding on with one hand and throwing papers to the left and right while bouncing down the road.



Do you guys remember any old vehicles from the past like these?


#2

Those Harley trikes were called Servi-Cars, I think:
http://www.thehawgpen.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/harley-davidson-1704821904082209730.jpg

Lots of companies made modified vehicles. Hearses/ambulances/limos were favorite combinations for a company to make.


#3

True, I know of a Pontiac (67?)Catalina ambulance in pretty decent shape wasting away in Streator IL and a Cadillac Eldo ambul in Richwoods MO. Pieces of history that cannot tell their story.


#4

Many manufacturers supplied just the chassis or the chassis and front clip and then different bodies were mounted on the chassis by different independent body companies. The Henney Company and Superior were two companies that built ambulance bodies that were put on chassis of different car makers. Back in the 1950s, I remember seeing the bodies on Cadillac, Packard and even Chevrolet auto chassis. These companies also built hearse bodies which were most often on Cadillac chassis. I don’t know if this is done with the unibody construction of cars today.
With school buses, major truck manufacturers supplied the chassis and then there were bodies made by Superior, Carpenter, Hicks, Wayne and probably others back in the 1940s and 1950s. Many of the owner/operators in rural schools also farmed. When the bus was no longer acceptable for service, the body would be removed, a cab would be placed on the body and and grain bed installed. Thus, a grain truck was built. Often, the body that was removed was stripped of the seats and used for a chicken coop. Nothing was wasted.


#5

Trucks and busses are still manufactured this way. I don’t know if chicken coops still are.

If you visit auto museums you’ll often find cars from the early 20th century with aftermarket wood bodys and/or beds. Rust was a problem in the early days, and if body parts rusted out they were commmonly replaced with bodys or parts made by the local cabinetmaker.


#6

Yes–I forgot about that. Brewster and Fleetwood were highly respected auto body builders.


#7

That is how Harley Earl (spelling?) got started. He drew custom bodies for a body builder before becoming one of the most famous auto designers.


#8

I know the local harness racing track has always had a modified Cadillac of some sort to tow the starting gate around the track (harness races start “at speed”). In addition to a mount for the gate, it had a raised roof where somebody could look backwards to observe the start.