Time Magazine coverage of the 1937 Automobile Show

  • silverghost
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10 Dec 2011 01:08 #21601 by silverghost
silverghost replied the topic:
Just Curious~

Who's initials. or name, appears on the engineering/design drawings in question ?

As a Professional Licensed Engineer I always sign, or at the very least initial, all MY design plans & drawings.

Perhapps our friend, & fellow ACD forum member, Randy Ema can answer that question if he has these original supercarged Cord drawings.

Does Alex's name, or initials, appear anywhere on these supercharged Cord design drawings ?

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. BRAD HUNTER Huntingdon Valley Pa/Ocean City NJ 215 947 4676 Engineer & RE Developer Brass & Classic Auto, Antique Boat, Mechanical Automatic Music Machine, & Jukebox Collector

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10 Dec 2011 02:44 #21602 by mdsbob
mdsbob replied the topic:

silverghost wrote: Just Curious~

Who's initials. or name, appears on the engineering/design drawings in question ?

As a Professional Licenced Engineer I always sign, or at the very least initial, all MY design plans & drawings.

Perhapps our friend, & fellow ACD forum member, Randy Ema can answer that question if he has these original supercarged Cord drawings.

Does Alex's name, or initials, appear anywhere on these supercharged Cord design drawings ?

Just Curious~
What state are you licensed in?

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10 Dec 2011 16:41 #21605 by memaerobilia
memaerobilia replied the topic:
This is one of my favorite threads. I spend most of my days, reading in my (mostly) aviation library of 42 years, (containing numerous Original archives of major and minor aircraft & a few sections from auto companies, and designers and mfrs) with some rare Auto history in the files, as well.(Original large Company concept dwgs, color artwork, for various models of the early 1950s Curtiss Wright Air-cushion passenger automobiles) I constantly have to refer back to information I read about, years ago, and fit new pieces of info, into long-lost history puzzles and contradicitions. I am glad to see i am not alone...Thanks, so much, to all the contributors of this thread and discussion. FASCINATING :DFrom this discussion, I have drawn a few "impressions" but I shall keep an open mind as to "conclusions" until more definitive evidence is shared or revealed, dealing with all these various highly talented and visionary personalities. Rumors, legends, egos, history, fictions, facts. Great stuff!

Joe G.
hundreds of our early photos or planes, racecars, customs classics @ www.memaerobilia.com

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13 Dec 2011 01:51 #21619 by RandyEma
RandyEma replied the topic:
Before I start on this thread I must point out that I absolutely love Alex I have spent untold hours listening to his stories and looking at his files and drawings he was a very accomplished artist doing more in his life time than I will ever do in mine. Alex was above all else an artist with everything he did and created and his stories were a part of his creation, and talent. I never felt that Alexs stories were meant to make him look better or more accomplished and in fact in many he down played his roll.Well I love him and long may his memory stay with me as fondly as it is now.All that being said the first S.C. exhaust manifold drawing done by Auburn Auto co not Lycoming is dated 10/19/36 drawn by E.C.A the lower fuel pump drawing is done by Auburn on 10/30/36.It is up to the reader to decide what the facts are. Randy

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15 Dec 2011 00:32 #21631 by streamliner
streamliner replied the topic:
Thank you, Randy, for digging through the files and providing those wonderful comments.

It seems there are a couple issues at play here with no simple black and white answers. I?m no authority on anything Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg, but I can provide some insight on Alex Tremulis and what may or may not turn up with his name on it. So here?s a little more background on the young Tremulis and a few snapshots in time before ACD closed up shop.

First, you won?t find many purely technical engineering drawings from Alex Tremulis. Although he was fully capable of doing engineering drawings and there are some out there, it?s not where his true talents lay. Instead, he had the rare ability to draw a perfectly scaled two dimensional image of what his brain was seeing in three dimensions. The few three-plane views he did produce were more to help him redefine his 3D visions or to render the side view (typically). For instance, in 1935 (just 21 years old) he did a design proposal for a Boyd Convertible/Sedan that was dimensioned to scale so that he could fit the body skin around the occupants. Even on this very rare blueprint you can see where he was headed with the shading to make it appear three dimensional:

More typical of his output was his Tremulis Airflow. Even having just turned 19, his aerodynamic swoops and curves could rival Saoutchik.

For the 1933 Chicago Auto Show, the 19 year-old built a model of a custom body to sit on a Duesenberg-chassis. He called his creation the Black Arrow, most probably in honor of Tommy Milton?s dual-engined Duesenberg record-setter. I haven?t yet found any photos or sketches, but it would have been done about the same time as his Airflow and most probably had similar lines.

At 20 years old, he produced a drawing for Chicago?s sales manager, Donn Hogan, that was made into the 1934 Duesenberg Model J LaGrande Coupe/Convertible by Walker. Of the three examples of this car, J530, J531 and J534, the last one sold at RM Auctions a few years ago for $2.75 million, even without Alex?s external exhausts. RM described these three as having some of the most attractive bodies of any Duesenberg ever produced. No doubt there are other Tremulis-Walker Duesenbergs out there waiting to be discovered, but you probably won?t find his signature on any of the technical drawings for any of these, either. You can?t just view these as the work of a 20 year old. Rather, they?re the work of someone who had been studying and drawing cars for over 14 years.

At 21, Alex illustrated this Auburn drawing that was to later surface at a yard sale in Auburn. This still hangs on a wall in Auburn. Take a look at its hood ornament that very closely resembles the one(s) from the Lost Connerville Photos. But again, you probably won?t be finding a hood ornament drawing with Tremulis? name on it either, although it seems to be widely accepted that it was also Alex?s work.

At 21 years old, he joined up with two ex-Duesenberg designers Herb Newport and Phil Derham in their attempts to build their own Weymann-bodied (fabric skinned) Ford V8 called the ?Aeronaut?. Alex helped out with the repeated doping of the body to get the skin so tight you couldn?t tell it apart from metal. It?s also where he learned the chassis designs for the 1934 and 1935 Fords. He said ?I think I was being paid $35 a week, but the experience was fabulous.?

The first car he owned was a 1935 Ford Roadster. Since essentially everything he had done was hot rodding custom cars, his own personal car was not exempt from the same fate. He was able to get a twin-intake manifold from one of the failed Ford-Miller 1935 Indianapolis 500 race cars and he installed it in his daily driver. As he described it, he couldn?t afford a Duesenberg, so instead he modified the hood and fenders to accept the Duesenberg?s exposed exhaust pipes. This was most probably done between June of 1935 and May of 1936, as it appears Henry Ford was disgusted with the Ford?s 1935 performance where none of the 10 Miller-Fords finished the race. Since Alex didn?t say he used the Cord?s S/C pipes, these were probably done before there was any notion of a supercharged Cord. You won?t find any engineering drawings for this one either, I?m sure, but these identical pipes were added to quite a few of his designs over the next five decades, making the exposed exhausts, as well as the scoops, vents, and fins synonymous with his name. He still had this car after ACD closed its doors, so there may be other photos of it in Connersville. So although it?s not a Cord S/C, it?s pretty close: A Ford S/C perhaps???

By 1936 (just 22 years old) his creativity was just exploding. His bubble-topped, rear-engined design strongly foreshadowed and influenced his Tucker design that was to come over a decade later.

It's pretty clear that before his 23rd birthday, he was well-versed at drawing, designing and building his own models and cars, many with the Duesenberg sidepipes. Specifically in reference to the supercharged Cord?s first pipes, he wrote:

?Without drawings or plans, little more than an idea of what the final product was to look like, the shops went to work under the guidance of Duesenberg and Tremulis.?

In any case, Alex wouldn?t have been the one to either design or draw the supercharger or any engine part for that matter, rather he would have provided to Augie Duesenberg?s experimental studio a rendering of what the final product would look like, most probably as a ? view from the front of the car. That?s the drawing to look for. But again, even these now-legendary illustrations would have a 50/50 chance of being dated.

Throughout most all of Alex?s designs, he was not the one doing the engineering drawings. Instead, he provided the vision of the job through his airbrushed renderings, or alternatively he would work and rework the clay into its final form. The feel from his fingertips over the curves was every bit as important as the view he saw through his eyes.

As Randy so eloquently put it, Alex was an artist in everything he did. Alex was consistent for every recantation spanning at least the last three decades of his life, and probably all the way back to the end of 1936. And he always gave credit to Augie Duesenberg as well as Ab Jenkins for the inspiration and creation of those sidepipes. Those guys were a team, still making the best of the dire situation, much like the band on the Titanic still making beautiful music together even while the ocean floor is calling. To quote Alex: ?But hell, if Gordon had only stayed around long enough, he would have no doubt done the same thing.? At the ACD meets he attended, he was often requested to ?tell the one about?? and just like Jimmy Page playing Stairway to Heaven, each time it?s done, the notes may change a little but the song remains the same.

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  • Josh Malks
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15 Dec 2011 07:48 #21633 by Josh Malks
Josh Malks replied the topic:
Wonderful contribution, Steve. The 1936 bubbletop is especially striking, and does clearly presage the Tucker.

Nearly always, the truth lies somewhere between the poles of opinion. In the case of the pipes, we have Alex's stories on the one hand and Gordon's negation on the other. Historians seek accuracy and evidence, but it's often not attainable. So we make the best guesses we can. In the case of this particular story, some inconsistencies and later revisions by its author rendered it suspect.

But wait -- just one change in Alex's story and the basic history may very well hang together. Here's how.

Alex may indeed have worked with Augie to create the be-piped Cord. (As Steve points out, Alex worked in renderings, not in engineering drawings.) And the car(s) may indeed have been driven to the auto show. E.L. Cord and opera singer Richard Bonelli may well have seen the car displayed for the first time at the show. But -- the venue was most likely the Chicago show, not New York. Points:
- The Chicago show opened on November 16, 1936, five days after the New York show.
- A Cord could be driven from Connersville to Chicago in those days in about 6 hours.
- The offices of the Cord Corporation were in Chicago.
- Richard Bonelli performed with the Chicago Opera Company.
- We have a photograph, shown below, of at least one Cord sedan with pipes on display at the Chicago Auto Show. Obviously put together hurriedly -- it's a re-numbered 810 armchair Beverly.

So maybe Alex switched cities. And embellished some, as he was wont to do. New York was more glamorous and a last-second rush to get there more exciting. Certainly there were inconsistencies in the story-telling over the decades. It isn't likely that no-one in Connersville knew about these cars except Augie and Alex. And who knows what was really said at the show by the parties involved. But it's still a great story and at its core there may well be a signal accomplishment.

Josh B. Malks
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