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Gatso Streamliner Built on a Ford Flathead V-8 Chassis

For something a bit out of the mainstream today, we are featuring the 1948 Gatso 4000 Sport “Aero Coupe” and “Sports Roadster” both fitted with aluminum coachwork. The postwar sports-racing cars were constructed in the Netherlands on lowered Ford of France Matford “13” chassis’ with a four-inch shorter wheelbase than the US built Ford version. The two-place Roadster weighed in at 2425 lb. and the four place at 2645 lb.

Power was supplied by a modified 239 c.i. 95 h.p. Mercury Eight flathead engine. The power plant was fitted with hard-chrome-plated cylinder sleeves, 7.5:1 compression ratio finned aluminum heads and a two carburetor intake manifold both produced by Eddie Meyer of California. According to the “De Auto” May 12, 1948 issue, “the estimated output is 125 hp at 4000 rpm.”

The radiator was lowered, and the bulge in the nose and hood was necessary due to the height of the carburetors; a third headlamp was added to the front for use in 24-hour races. Ben Uijtenhaak of the Netherlands reported that an earlier version “finished second overall and first in the unmodified category at the 1946 Alpine Rally” which was quite an achievement.

Information and photos in the “De Auto” May 12, 1948 issue are courtesy of Auto Historian Alden Jewell and an article in Forgotten Fiberglass.

  • Show exhibit “De Auto” May 12, 1948.

  • Chassis and coachwork framework “Forgotten Fiberglass” 

  • “Sports Roadster” – “De Auto” May 12, 1948.

  • “Sports Roadster” -“Forgotten Fiberglass” 

16 responses to “Gatso Streamliner Built on a Ford Flathead V-8 Chassis

    • The reason he invented the speed camera was to check his speed around bends, he was a well known rally driver, particularly of Ford Zephyrs and wanted to improve his speed.

  1. Let’s see, a sort of Allard-y grille, bodywork reminiscent of the Norman Timbs Special and headlight straight off an Electro-Motive E5.

  2. The steering wheel looks very interesting.
    Also wish I could see the engine better.I’ve heard of cylinder sleeves made of different things and platings but never chrome.
    I guess it just never caught on.
    Do hydraulic cylinders get chrome plated?

    • Yamaha used chrome plating of the cylinder bore in their 1960s racing motorcycles to solve cooling issues around the crown and exhaust port. It was fairly common on high-performance motorcycles until the 1980s, when electroless nickel with silicon carbide replaced chrome. It may not have caught on as much for cars because it was an expensive way to save a few pounds of weight – iron sleeves worked just about as well as chrome plating, and were much cheaper (but heavier). On a racing motorcycle, every ounce counts. On a street car? Not nearly as much.

      • The racing bikes were generally 2-strokes and the tradition carried on in commercial bikes as well, especially for off-road types, hence no boring of the cylinders and loss of compression would be remedied by a new set of rings.

    • Chris, you may already know this, but if not…. The nice steering wheel (unknown exact make/model with a “horn ring”. It could be from a stock Ford/Matford French Ford). The design is known as a “banjo” style wheel. The “banjo” name comes from the springy wire radial rods from the wheel hub to outer steering ring. These greatly reduce the annoying transfer of road vibrations to the driver’s hands especially appreciated on long road trips (car rallies) which are worse on irregular road surfaces. They date back to Early Ford Deluxe factory passenger models of the mid to late 1930s era. Other makes like Buick and Cadillac also provided them on certain models of their fine vintage pre-war cars.

  3. Another thing, 125 hp in post war Europe was pretty fantastic in a lighter car, plus the torque of the V-8 would seem to make it pretty flexible in a rallye (sic) type of event.

  4. Industrial hard chrome Chrome Plating is on every hydraulic cylinder ram all over the World, — to reduce wear and prevent rust. Decorative Chrome plating is one thing and industrial chrome is another! Not the same ! The difference is: The Atomic structure of one type of Chrome is Tri- valent , the other is Hexavalent! Look THAT up in your Physics Book of Isotope Properties& your Funk & Wagnalls! The Grille looks : Astony – Martinny to me!!!

  5. Picture 2: The Man in front of the engine with the white flower in the sleeve of his jacket was ” Prince Bernhard” the husband of “Juliana” the “Queen of the Netherlands”

  6. I love the photo of the fabulous Mercury 239 “fully dressed” (with the Eddie Meyer goodies (heads, intake manifold, dual carbs) in front of all the De Auto 1948 Show admirers! Flathead V8s on full open display will always draw an admiring crowd. I know personally because I helped co-research and hand build a perfect museum quality static display flathead V8 in 2008. It is our local club’s treasure. It was donated to our Early Ford V8 Club of America, regional group 11. It recently was put on display at the Los Angeles Classic Car Show at L.A. Convention Ctr. in February. It became a show hit and highlighted the So-Cal V8 RG booth and car displays with the member-hosted information tables . People hovered around the engine and some young folks wanted to know where the valve covers were (honeastly, they were baffled) :-). Veteran gearheads really dug it. Digital cameras were clicking enthusiasticallly around the engine and beautiful fully restored Early Ford V8 cars. The Club recieved the “Most Innovative Booth Display” award at the awards ceremony. We have taken the display engine to outdoor car shows a few times with many, many Early Ford/Mercury afficionados immediately gravitating to this icon. All visitors look over every detail and start smiling before telling us their favorite personal flathead V8 stories. Many dads and grand-dads tell their children and grand children with them to look it over as they explain all the obvious details to great delight. “That is a cylinder head”, “Those are the spark plugs”, “That is the starter”, “That is the air cleaner”, “That funny thing out front is the distributor”, “Oh, that is the coil!”, “There’s the fuel pump”, “Here’s the oil pan”, etc., etc. The kids love it. It is universally loved by all current fans and future fans of Early Ford V8s.

    Highly detailed plastic molded miniature scale model 59A stock Ford/Mercury V8 display engines are now available and are really nice to add to a memorabilia collection.

  7. Several British diesel engines had chrome liners. They would almost last for ever,. but you had to be careful not to use chrome rings, they would seize and pull the liners into the sump. Chrome liners were usually very thin steel almost like a tin can with a rolled over flange on the top to secure it in place.

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