Story of the Week

Posted: 05.02.2011
One of Kind –Automobile History
By: Bob Tate
TRW is known for supplying the automotive industry worldwide with a broad line of engine, steering, chassis, and general components – from valves and steering gears, to seat belts and ignitions parts- for original equipment and replacement markets. In 1983, TRW was noticed for their one of a kind calendar production which highlighted a great collection of rare automobiles and unique personality prints illustrated by artist James B. Deneen.

1911 Reeves Octoauto

The first automobile featured on the calendar was designed by Milton Reeves of Reeves Pulley Company, who designed several unparalleled automobiles including the eight-wheeled 1911 Reeves Octoauto. Mr. Reeves modified a standard four door Overland adding an extra axle at both ends of the vehicle. The forward pair of rear wheels was the driving wheels while the steering mechanism geared the front pair of wheels to turn at slightly greater angle. The automobile was shown at the inaugural Indianapolis 500 held in 1911. The car was over 20 feet long! Mr. Reeves claimed that by having eight tires that each tire would have more longevity.

1925 Wasp

Automobile designer, Karl H. Martin Wasp, created quite a stir at the National Auto Show at the Grand Palace. Unfortunately, Mr. Martin was too late to register his automobile; therefore, Mr. Martin displayed his 1925 Wasp directly in front of the elevators in the lobby of the Hotel Commodore. With its Rickshaw Phaeton body, Victorian top, severely pointed bicycle-type fenders, and a 90 degree windshield the Wasp became a huge success among patrons.

Mr. Martin produced the first Wasp touring car which was the culmination of design and engineering experience that began when he became a professional designer and builder of automobile coach-work. The 1925 Wasp design caught the eye of actor Douglas Fairbanks. Mr. Martin later brought the first Wasp built as a wedding present for actress Mary Pickford in Hollywood, California.

In 1938, Rust Heinz, Heinz 57 Ketchup Company, along with Mr. Maurice Schwartz, Pasadena, California, designed the Phantom Corsair which was a six seat passenger experimental aerodynamic prototype model that currently still exists today. The design offered a smooth surface with separate fenders allowing for the curvaceous body to gracefully flow from front to back. The Phantom Corsair was a one of kind design. Bohman & Schwartz assembled the Phantom Corsair for an estimated $25,000. Mr. Heinz had future plans to build more Corsair models but unfortunately, Mr. Heinz untimely death ended any future production plans for the Phantom Corsair automobile.

1941 Chrysler Newport

The 1941 Chrysler Newport was selected as the pace car for the 1941 Indianapolis 500, the first time a non-production vehicle has held that honor. Basically a parade car, the 1941 Newport offered four doors, hidden headlamps and push button door handles. The model had no side windows while both the front and rear windshields folded flat forward. The Chrysler Newport was designed as a natural evolution. The dual cowl phaeton concept popularized by many independent coach builders during the 1930's. Mr. Dan Topping, owner of the New York Yankees, bought the Chrysler Newport for his wife, actress Lana Turner.

1965 Bugatti

The 1965 Bugatti was first introduced to the public at the Torino Show in 1965. Though its styling was praised by many, its prewar hardware was not. The 1965 Bugatti concept model was designed by Virgil Exner Jr. Bugatti which was built with only seven chassis. The last Bugatti was sold to Mr. Exner himself because Exner followed Buggatti's pre-war chassis specifications plains. The car engineering was already obsolete, but his machine approximated what a post-war Bugatti would have been like. Corrogeria Ghia, of Torino, Italy, built the body which first appeared at the Torino Auto Show.

A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for donating his story to the MotorCities Story of the Week program.  Photographs - TRW -1983 calendar history information provided by Robert Tate. For further information contact Robert Tate at

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