From a collection of 300 awesome vehicles at last Sunday’s EyesOn Design Automotive Design Exhibition, here are five special cars we’ve selected for a closer look.
The annual EyesOn Design Exhibition at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House each Father’s Day is a fantastic show, but it’s a little like drinking from the proverbial fire hose. There’s almost too much to absorb at one time. The show features approximately 300 vehicles, and we were able to include 32 of them in our original feature coverage of the event. Now we’re circling back for a closer look at five more noteworthy cars.
The Templar automobile was manufactured in modest numbers in the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood, Ohio from 1917 to 1924. Named in honor of the medieval Knights Templar, the lightweight but premium-quality cars featured Maltese Cross badging throughout and a novel OHV four-cylinder engine of the company’s own design. Unfortunately, a factory fire and a series of bankruptcies eventually put the company out of business. Shown here is Lloyd Young’s 1923 Templar Sportelle, a racy touring model.
In Kaiser-Frazer company lore, it’s said the 1949-1953 Traveler (and its stablemate, the Vagabond) was the invention of Henry J. Kaiser himself. With no station wagon body style in the automaker’s model lineup, the idea was hatched to craft a wagon hybrid on the sedan body shell with a clamshell tailgate, and the hatchback was born, sort of. This beautiful metallic green 1951 Deluxe Traveler with color-coordinated period luggage was displayed by Richard Anderson.
The 1923 Jordan Playboy is surely best known today for the advertising campaign crafted for it by company president Ned Jordan, a former sportswriter and Nash ad man who knew how to spin a yarn. In his “Somewhere West of Laramie” ad that first ran in the Saturday Evening Post in June of 1923, Jordan’s copy did not describe the car at all, but the kind of person who might own and drive one: “a broncho-busting, steer-roping girl who knows what I’m talking about.” The world of auto advertising would never be the same. This sporty Playboy roadster was displayed by David A. Jordan.
The 1970 Torino King Cobra, a homologation special based on the production Fairlane/Torino, was intended to be Ford’s answer to Chrysler’s aerodynamic NASCAR specials, the Charger Daytona and the Plymouth Superbird. Alas, the chisel-nosed design was found to be unbalanced and ineffective at racing speeds and the project was cancelled. This road version of the never-raced Ford aero warrior resides in the collection of Steve Honnell.
First shown at the 1954 Chicago Auto Show, the Mercury XM-800 (above and below) is one of the more striking Ford Motor Co. idea cars of the 1950s. When its career on the show car circuit was over, the fiberglass dreamboat was donated to the University of Michigan’s engineering lab, then transferred to private owners and was eventually offered for sale on eBay in 2008. Originally built as a show glider with dummy running gear, the XM-800 received a fully functional drivetrain along with a painstaking restoration and is now part of the Richard Driehaus Collection.