Wednesday, November 24, 2021

A Thanksgiving’s Automotive Dark or White Yarn’

As Don’t forget about the Brussel Sprouts and Cranberry Sauce. Uhm, did somebody say Sprinkles?


Unlike John Lennon’s So It’s Christmas Again song, for which Thars’ an ominous connection below to Ye Fab Four’. First we need to celebrate Turkey-Lurkey Day, or as Rick Mears famously notes: “To Finish First, First You Must Finish!”


Manson Madness

Originally “Watched,” Err listened to Motortrend TV’s Autobiography episode upon Charles Manson’s Automobile exploits, appropriately the night before Halloween, following the Briggs Cunningham Corvette’s episode. Arse-sumin’ it was being shown prior to Fright Night  for obvious reasons, cue the Count Dracula music…


And Don’t Fret Folks, I’m Not going Anywhere “Dark” Here, since I’ve Never been even remotely interested in Charles Manson’s Horrors! Although as I’ve previously scribbled here on No Fenders, I was unaware of the connection to The Beatles Helter Skelter song or what a Helter Skelter in Jolly ‘Ol England was. Which Y’all can investigate for yourselves, since U2 mentions it briefly in their cover version…


Instead I was curious what the TV Show would have to say Automobile-wise? For which I’ll try “loosely” recanting, since it’s All a ‘lil Fuzzy now…


Manson who’d finally made his way to California from Ohio, whith one of his many Illegal exploits being trying to Steal a Car out of the Prison-yard he was Incarcerated in! Reportedly made friends with a “Preacher” and his Daughter and eventually talked him out of his piano, which Manson then promptly traded for a VW Microbus, since they needed transportation so the Story goes.


Meanwhile Dennis Wilson of The Beach boys picked up two young women Hitchhiking on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles and took them back to his house on Sunset Boulevard. As the pair just so happened to know Charles Manson, who began Hanging out with Wilson who happened to own a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB.


While Manson reputedly was also “practicing” music with Dennis Wilson during the Summer of 1968 when Manson and his Entourage were living in Wilson’s house, and was also pursuing a Recording Contract with Dennis’s help.


It appears in truest Hollywood fashion, that Autobiography takes “license” with the next part of this Drama, since it seems to have insinuated that it was Manson who takes Dennis’s Ferrari out for a Joy ride before the vastly more powerful Ferrari is promptly Rolled! With the front engine V-12 “Saloon” having massive Body Damage done including Crushing it’s “Hindquarters” and Roof!


Yet the story Doesn’t end there, since naturally Dennis’s brother Brian Wilson, leader and Songwriter of The Beach Boys also owned a matching ’66 Ferrari 275 GTB which also the Manson “Gang” took out for a Spin and promptly got involved in another “Fender Bender!”


For which the Show also claims that a Mercedes Benz was allegedly wrecked during this period. That Manson Cost Dennis a Cool 100 Grand ($100,000) and ultimately Dennis was simply “spooked” out of his home by his “House Guests!”


Crusty ‘Ol Bonneville…

Another Autobiography TV episode I was able to catch recently was titled The Fear of Speed or something to that effect. And began by chronicling a few of the countless Speed Record attempts taken at Utah’s legendous’ Bonneville Salt Flats over the past decades.


Soon one of the two Hosts was Foaming Ah-Mighty’ over another vehicle I hadn’t heard of, simply known originally as the Duesenberg Special built in the early 1930’s by Ab Jenkins and began setting Land Speed Records  in 1935 Me Thinks.


As the original “One Off” Speed record Special was built on a Supercharged Duesenberg J rolling chassis with a highly tuned engine. In October, 1935 Ab Jenkins set a One Hour record of 153.97mph and 24 Hour record of 135.27mph at Bonneville.


Yet the car being slobbered over was it’s later incarnation as the Mormon Meteor, for which two versions were built. As the Mormon Meteor I had it’s original 12 cylinder Duesenberg lump’ replaced with a Curtis Conqueror V-12 Aircraft engine and promptly broke it’s existing speed records.


As the name comes from a Newspaper   contest to rename it after it’s Curtis transplant with the Duesenberg Special becoming the Meteor I, and it’s the Meteor III that’s probably the car being talked about today? Since the Meteor II was prone to Understeer at High Speed and thus a new chassis was built for it. With the Meteor III resetting more speed records including the 24 Hour Average to 157.27mph in 1937 with some Co-Driver named Louis Meyer,. Which it’s Funny since I first thought that’s gotta be the same Louis Meyer of Meyer & Drake Fame, Righto?


As Silly Me! Since Indianapolis 500 Diehards will know that Louis Meyer was the first ever Three-times Indy 500 winner and the first driver to ever drink Buttermilk in Victory lane…


They also noted that the Pontiac Bonneville automobile  is an extremely rare car, claiming only 630 examples were built. Which is Funny to Mwah, since I’ve long known about Pontiac naming a vehicle after the famous Bonneville Salt Flats. Although I had to look up what year this Uber low volume was produced? Can Y’all say the Debut 1957 Star Chief Bonneville Convertible?


The show noted how Sir Malcom Campbell was the first person to go 300mph! In a true Automobile before speeds kept increasing and suddenly were they really cars any more? As the record books claimed you needed to have four wheels to classify as a car, but where does the record books lines blur with the advent of Jet engine propulsion?


As they briefly touched upon Craig Breedlove and his many Jet engine Spirit of America’s vs. Art Arfon’s Green Monsters, also propelled by the then ubiquitous General electric J-79 Jet engine. As I thought they claimed that Arfons bought his Jet engine for $600 from a Junk yard?


As they briefly covered Breedlove v Arfons desires to be the Fastest Man Alive whilst eclipsing the 400, 500 and ultimately 600mph Absolute Land Speed record marks! Which Amazingly, both men walked away from some seriously nasty Accidents!


As I’ve chronicled some of those exploits in a previous No Fenders tome titled The 700 Clube…


But they quickly sped pass the current Land Speed Record Holder ThrustSSC’s accomplishment in 1997 on the Black Rock Desert and focused upon the Southern California Timing Association’s (SCTA) El Mirage Dry lake bed exploits instead, including the crazed Belly Tank racers of past and present.


Although the first idea came from the P-51 Mustang, it’s “Belly” tank was only 165 gallons, whilst the P-38 Lightning’s 350 gallons Drop tank was the perfect size! Hence being the preferred Drop Tank for aspiring Hot Rodders.


Some Dude named Alex  Xydias, founder of the original SoCal Speed Shop and builder of this legendous’ 1948 Belly Tank racer noted how He’d Shredded one of it’s Firestone racing slicks at 192mph!


As Xydias claims when he asked a “Flinstone” Rubber Company representative about his tyre failure, he was informed that said Firestone tire was only rated for 175mph, before Alex went 210mph the following year!


Naturally, Automotive Collector Bruce Meyer, who seems to be one of Autobiography’s “go To” Interviewees, and has featured in several episodes now just so happens to own thee Belly Tank racer in Question…


As the programme ends by the Autobiography co-Hosts noting that the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats appear to be Disapearing! Claiming that in the past forty years the Salt has gone from a depth of 18-inches to now only a miniscule two inches!


As Y’all can read about Bruce Meyer’s other cars, the Kremer K3 Porsche 935 and Ferrari 250 TRC Testa Rossa in the following No Fenders tome…