Frank Lloyd Wright Crash, Wisconsin, November 13, 1933

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02 Feb 2008 19:13 #9393 by clydester
clydester replied the topic:
Just finished reading "The Fellowship." It's a pretty good read and goes into much detail about Frank's life. I came away from it still convinced that Wright was a genius when it came to his work but the book went into great detail about what an a-hole he really was. His last wife was downright bizarre and got even stranger after his death.
Anyway, there's quite a few mentions of cars. Usually, though, it's only a brand name and no detail is provided on detail.
In the winter of 1935, a caravan was assembled to make the trek from Wisconsin to Arizona. Wright's Cord (no detail) created a late start due to needed repairs. There's mention of it also breaking down along the way. One couple drove a "red and gray Graham Paige convertible." Edgar Tafel drove his "freshly waxed and recently repaied Ford cabriolet. Another drove his family's Ford. "Wright's long gray Cord had been freshly painted for the occasion, adding a red square on the right side of the hood near the radiator that made it sing. A giant new red truck had been decorated with a very large red swastika not yet polluted by Hitler."
"Wright had decided that all the girls would travel in his station wagon."
In mid 1935, a female apprentice, had her father visit Taliesen in Wisconsin. "Heinrich Schneider got on famously with Wright. He had invented an automatic transmission back in Switzerland, and now the two agreed to design a new car together, body by Wright, engine by Schneider." There's no more mention of the effort.
In 1926, the Preident of Johnson Wax, Herbert Johnson, met with Wright about designin a new facility if Wisconsin. Afterwards, Johnson recalled, "He insulted me about everything and I insulted him but he did a better job." One of the things they could agree on was cars. "he had a Lincoln Zephyr and I had one."
Wright and Henry Ford had met in 1909 about a possible design for Ford's new home. They became mutual admirers. "In 1940, when Ford developed the exclusive Lincoln Continental Cabriolet V12, he had a rendering of the car sent to Wright. As a promotion, Ford had offered to give away a number of the new models to prominent Americans, including Wright. When the architect appeared at the Chicago showroom, he demanded two-one for each of his estates-and insisted they be delivered to Talisen repainted in his signature Cherokee red. Ford complied."
Fast forward to the mid 1950's. While working and temporarily living in New York, "In the hotel's basement garage, Wright kept a new Mercedes, a gift from his car dealer client, Max Hoffman."
Upon his death, Wright's body was taken back to Wisconsin in the back of a "Ford Ranchero Station Wagon." That's the one reference in the book that didn't make sense. I think 57 thru 59 Ranchero's were pickup trucks like an El Camino. Maybe it was an older one pre pickup or maybe it was just a regular old station wagon???
That's about it for car references in the book.

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03 Feb 2008 19:35 #9402 by Jonathan Richards
Jonathan Richards replied the topic: The Fate of Frank Lloyd Wright's L-29 Phaeton Sedan
ACD Club Members:
It has been some time since my initial posting to this interesting thread
on our club website. Since my posting there have been numerous contribu-
tors to this thread , most focusing on the vagaries of the life & architectural
work of Wright the architect. All of this is interesting , but I would like to once again focus on the question of the ID of the L-29 involved in the 1933
accident. Forum Contributor Clyde Cleinmark ( aka Clydester ) has made
reference to his reading of a work entitled "The Taliesin Fellowship" or some such title. In his most recent post Cleinmark quotes a section from
the book in which it is reported that a caravan of automobiles made a trip
from Wisconsin to Taliesin West in Arizona in the winter of 1935. It is said
that the trip was delayed because of mechanical problems with Wright's
Cord automobile and there is reference to mechanical breakdown of the
same Cord enroute to Arizona. There is a quote provided by Mr. Cleinmark
respecting "Mr. Wright's long gray Cord" indicating it had been repainted
prior to the trip in question. The black and white photographs of the car
at the 1933 accident scene, earlier posted to this thread , shows the car
to have been a light color, perhaps original. At least at the time of the
alleged 1935 repaint it was NOT done in red , Taliesin or whatever other
shade.I would like to refer interested students of this interesting thread to
a book entitled "Frank Lloyd Wright's Monona Terrace / The Enduring
Power of a Civic Vision" by David V. Mollenhoff and Mary Jane Hamilton
published in 1999 by The University of Wisconsin Press . The book is now
available through Amazon.com // ISBN 0-299-15500-5. At page 79 there
is shown Figure 2 . 40 entitled "Oh, Those Gorgeous Cords ! " . There are
two photographs of Cord automobiles. To the left upper is the red/orange
painted 1929 L-29 Cabriolet ( previous known ownership history FLW FDN ,
Jonathan Richards [IA], Homer Weiss/ Laurel Weiss Robinson [FL] , and ,
most recently , Richard Munz (WI). This vehicle is on display at the ACD
Automotive Museum at Auburn, Indiana. I discussed this vehicle in my
initial post to this thread, supra. To the upper right is a black and white
photo image of what is represented as a Cord Model 810 owned by Mr.
Wright. The photo is said to have been taken at Taliesin West in Arizona
during the winter of 1938-39. The vehicle shown is a non-supercharged
cabriolet (convertible coupe) sporting black walled tires and fog lamps.
The color of the car is difficult to discern. The gravel shields on the rear
fenders do not appear to have exposed attaching screw heads so this
may be a Model 810. This vehicle appears to have been another Cord
automobile actually owned by Frank Lloyd Wright . Do any of you Model
810/812 enthusiasts know anything about the ID and present whereabouts
of this vehicle?
In conclusion I suggest that the later cabriolet would not have been
referred to as Mr. Wright's long gray Cord. I am inclined to believe that
the L-29 Phaeton Sedan was repaired following the 1933 accident and was
still extant in the winter of 1935 when the caravan travelled from Taliesin ,
WI to Taliesin West , AZ. Comments, anyone? Sincerely, Jonathan (Jack)
Richards at Red Oak, Iowa , aka <a href="mailto:[email protected]][email protected][/url]
P.S.- Since production of the Cabriolet body style commenced in May 1935
FLW could have owned the pictured car in the winter of 1935, assuming
that this time frame is the final months of 1935 and not early months of
the year 1935. I wonder if perhaps the "caravan" was early in 1935 and
the old L-29 was wearing out and not driving too well after the accident
damage was repaired. Perhaps FLW traded the L-29 in on the Model 810
Cabriolet once the L-29 limped its way to Arizona. Food for thought. jr.

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03 Feb 2008 20:14 #9404 by clydester
clydester replied the topic:
You just might be correct in assuming the 33 and 35 Cords were the same car. The Wisconsin to Arizona trip was in early 1935 and in the dead of winter. Wright said that in the future, they should get an earlier start and avoid some of the winter travel problems. Too bad there isn't a compilation of any book references on cars and Wright. Each book (as I mentioned the Crosley armada in another book on Wright) seesm to have various car tales.
A couple anecdotal stories from "The Fellowship." Wes Peters was one of the apprentices that drifted in and out of Wright's life. He ended up marrying Wright's stepdaughter and returned to Taliesen. She was killed in a Jeep flipover on the property. After Wright's death, his widow resumed life at Taliesen, quite often thru questionable methods. Joe Stalin's daughter had fled to the US and had written a couple successful ($$$$$) books on life in the USSR under her father's regime. Wright's widow lured her to Taliesen with their common Russian background. She then fixed up the Russian with Wes Peters and pushed them into marriage so she could pick the girl's bank acccount apart.
Sex at Taliesen was almost communal. The apprentices were not supposed to be having romances with the local farmgilrs nor viisit a house of ill repute in nearby Spring Green. Many of the apprentices were gay so their "needs" were taken care of without leaving the grounds. Wrights wife tried to arrange relationships between the straight males and the gays. Basically, it was "Try it. You might like it." Wives who lived on the property were encouraged to "spread it around." Charles Laughton, the actor, was a friend of Wright's and gay. He especially enjoyed his trips to Taliesen. There was never any evidence that Wright himself was ever a switch hitter.
The apprentices in the Fellowship paid Yale like tuitions and were, for the most part, free labor. Most didn't see the inside of the drafting room for a couple years, IF they stayed that long. Typically, they took care of livestock, cooked or worked on the buildings.
Hate to get off the car track but it's quite a story on an American icon.

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03 Feb 2008 20:51 #9405 by Chris Summers
Chris Summers replied the topic:
Always good to hear your research, Jack. It's been too long since we've heard from you.

I've seen (and I'm sure 99% of the people reading this have seen) classic cars in much worse condition than the wrecked Wright L-29 get restored. I'm sure in 1933 there would have been the parts available, from a scrapyard or otherwise, to put the car back together in time for the 1935 caravan.

If the 1935 car was the 1933 car, it would be interesting to know what happened to it afterwards. I wonder if it was sold by Wes Peters at about the same time he had the red L-29 and Duesenberg for sale.

Chris Summers
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Chandler-Cleveland Motor Club
CCCA

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

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03 Feb 2008 21:44 #9406 by Jonathan Richards
Jonathan Richards replied the topic: Frank Lloyd Wright L-29 Phaeton Sedan
Club Members:
I misspoke in my post to this thread earlier this afternoon. Production
of the Cabriolet { Sportsman ] body style in the Cord Model 810 began in
May of 1936, NOT 1935. Therefore the Cord which made the caravan from
Wisconsin to Arizona in the "dead of winter" in early 1935 could Not have
been the Model 810. I am sure the "long gray Cord" which made the trip
was the L-29 Phaeton Sedan shown in the accident photos , after it had
been "repaired" in the course of which it was also repainted.
Chris Summers wonders whether the L-29 Phaeton Sedan was located
at Taliesin, WI when my father purchased the Florida Orange cabriolet
in the fall of 1961. I rather doubt it. I think my father would have made
some mention of another L-29 had one been present or he was told by
Wes Peters about the car. Wes did tell my father about the Duesenberg
Brunn Riviera Phaeton J-521 (now J-440) / 2550 which Dad failed to buy
when it was offered at $10,000. Hindsight is always 20/20 vision. The J
Duesenberg was at that time (1961) stored at Taliesin West in Arizona.
I look forward to more input from members on this interesting post.
Sincerely, Jonathan (Jack) Richards at Red Oak, Iowa aka <a href="mailto:[email protected]][email protected][/url]

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18 Feb 2008 20:45 #9541 by clydester
clydester replied the topic:
I just finished another book with the topic being Tom Monaghans (sp?) corporate headquarters up in rural Michigan. the building was patterned after an unbuilt Wright project. In it is a museum of the mission/Wright furniture that's been bought over the years. Included is Wright's Lincoln Continental (one of the two he got from Henry Ford??), painted red with custom design by Wright. I don't know how or why anyone would want to drive that car. The ENTIRE back window was closed over and the rear side window's shapes were converted to half circles. Maybe Wright should have stayed away from car design afterall.

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