Dieselpunks

Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Lord K's Garage - #30. American Retro

Dieselpunk was born long before anyone bothered to invent a name for it. Born in the most inappropriate year: 1963.

First manned space flights; Caribbean crisis; JFK killed in Dallas; nuclear warheads threaten to eliminate our civilization... And Brooks Stevens presents a retro-car design, heavily based on the famous Mercedes-Benz SSK. The body was fitted on a Studebaker Lark Daytona chassis and used a supercharged 289 cu in. (4,750 cc) 290 hp power unit. Brooks Stevens recalled: "They moved the engine back by about 29 inches, which put the driver almost in the back seat of the Lark Coupe, so we also had to move the steering and pedals back and modify the suspension geometry and spring and damper rates at the same time." The new automobile had hardly left Milwaukee for New York when Studebaker changed their plans..."I received a phone call from the Director of Public Relations three days before the Show's opening" remembered Brooks Stevens. "He said to me: 'I am really sorry but we can't display the car'. [...] It's too risky to show the public a one-of exhibit that's never going to be mass-produced...it'll jeopardize our finances'.
So Brooks Stevens and his sons decided to produce the retro-car at their own premises - one car per week. By mid 1966 the company had built 56 automobiles and introduced two more models: an elaborated Roadster with longer mudguards and running boards, and a convertible four-seater known as the Phaeton. Excalibur built exactly 90 cars during 1966 and production didn't reach 100 units in a year until 1969 - the same year that SI production was stopped.
Later models were produced until 1986 or 1987. Excalibur, made famous by its numerous celebrity ownres, proved to be the most stable of all retro-cars.
In the 1966, another grand master of car design, Virgil Exner (of the Chrysler 300 fame), tried to revive the Duesenberg, mixing old and new:

1966 Duesenberg Prototype


But his design ended as Stutz, and it's a completely different story. Excaliburs were going strong through three decades. Here are some of them:

1966 Excalibur SS



1974 Excalibur Series II Phaeton




1986 Excalibur Series V by rocketdogphoto @ Flickr


Another ambitious project, started by Clenet Coachworks of Santa Barbara, CA, was not as successful as the Excalibur. The cars were technologically advanced, nicely trimmed and terribly expensive. Maybe too expensive even for those who already owned a Bentley. Besides, later models looked rather kitsch-y:

1977 Clenet Continental

 

1977 Clenet Series I



1983 Clenet (Photo by Jon Delorey @ Flickr)


Short-lived Sceptre, initiated by Alfred DiMora - the main driving force behind the Clenet:

1979 Sceptre 6.6 by rocketdogphoto @ Flickr

Zimmer
, another ultra-luxurious Dieselpunk car:

1981 Zimmer Golden Spirit

1983 Zimmer Convertible

 

1985 Zimmer Sedan

With a quite modern companion car, also built on the Ford T-bird platform:



1987 Zimmer Classic & QuickSilver


There were some others:

1979 DiNapoli Coupe


1979 Sparks Turbo Phaeton


1981 Blakely Bernardi


1982 Baroque Royale Limousine


1985 Paragon Sedan - an attempt to revive Packard using Toyota chassis


 

1993 Spartan II


Text used: Camelot Cars. Special thanks to aldenjewell @ Flickr for the fascinating images.


More photos in the album. Enjoy the slideshow:

Find more photos like this on Tarrantry

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Comment by john on January 11, 2016 at 3:27pm

I AM THE OWNER OF A SPARKS TURBO PHAETON ROADSTER AND IT IS IN EXCELLENT CONDITION. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PURCHASING IT PLEASE EMAIL ME AT johnbi2000@gmail.com OR CALL ME AT (310) 534-5252. THANK YOU.

Comment by Larry on March 27, 2010 at 11:03am
I forgot to mention the Excalibur Series III Roadster also. Very nice.
Comment by Larry on March 26, 2010 at 7:57pm
Excellent! The two I liked most were the 1974 Excalibur Series II Phaeton and the 1966 Excalibur SS. Of course the extra standing with the 1977 Clenet added a specially nice touch. ;)
Comment by Jon Delorey on March 26, 2010 at 6:34pm
Thank You!
Comment by lord_k on March 26, 2010 at 5:33pm
Fixed. Thank you, Jon.
Comment by Jon Delorey on March 26, 2010 at 5:01pm
Note that proper links to the original photos are always appreciated by the photographers. Thousand Oaks Car Show

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