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Streamline Test Car: The McQuay-Norris Tear Droppers

McQuay-Norris was a manufacturer of high-quality aftermarket engine and chassis and chassis parts located in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1932 the Company had a series of six “Tear Drop” Test Cars built on either Model “A” Ford or 1932 Ford chassis’ by the Hill Auto Body Metal Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio.

The attention-getting-egg-shaped McQuay-Norris tear droppers purpose was two-fold; for on the road testing by its Test Engineers of the Companies products, and the promotion of these auto parts around the country by the new hires.

All six of the machines were outfitted with General Tire “Balloon Jumbo” 14-inch wheels and tires that the Tire Co. Engineers designed in the late 1920’s. The low-pressure General “Balloon Jumbos” revolutionized tire and wheel design and manufacture. Requiring only 12-pounds of air pressure, the Balloon Jumbos promised a much smoother ride than conventional tires of the day.

The enlargeable press photos of  the No. 15 Test Car are from The Old Motor files and were taken in June of 1935 with George Leutwiler one of the Test Engineers along side of it. Learn more about these unique automobiles in an SIA article by Robert J. Gottlieb and another by Mark J. McCourt at Hemmings Motor News.

16 responses to “Streamline Test Car: The McQuay-Norris Tear Droppers

  1. Between the extensive glass and having the engine in the cabin with you, I’d imagine they got pretty warm in the summer. And I’m not sure the cowl vents alone would have made much difference.

      • Given their placement I think that would have been counterproductive as it likely would have stalled the air flowing in thru the radiator. Odd tho that the knobs indicate that you would have to have gotten out and opened them externally for either use. My first thought was “Gee, I’ve never seen a glove compartment there before.”

  2. I think these guys were really advanced for those days. All my admiration for Rumpler, Breer, Jaray,Ledwinka and so many others. Great article David, thanks tons.

  3. The background of side view photo depicts the, now gone, “Polk Directory Building”, which was located at 3rd and Howard in Detroit, and what looks like the extant “Michigan Bell Building” on the distant horizon. My wife worked for R.L. Polk in the early sixties and, since we had only one car, I often drove her to/from there since I worked nearby.

  4. I wonder how they serviced the engine. From the Hemmings article and photos, it looks like you low- crawled in on the humongous dash board and opened a hatch and did whatever service and repairs needed on your belly. I think the design does get the award for the longest and largest dashboard ever built in a motor car.

  5. The Cheetah race car active in the ’60’s was in a similar situation. A powerful Chevy engine (aluminum F.I. 377 I think) made this car hard to beat in the straights (faster than a 427 Cobra at the drags), but the heating problems for both the driver and engine were almost insurmountable. Good weight distribution though….LOL

  6. The body style lent itself well to a rear-engine placement. Housing the engine within the enclosed passenger compartment subjected the driver and passenger not only to the excessive heat, but the noxious and potentially deadly fumes as well.

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