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A California Special by Emil Diedt

This unnamed special looks to be having the finishing touches but on it by master metal fabricator Emil Deidt from California Metal Shaping. Deidt was one of the premier metal shapers and body builders of the time who worked on many specials and racing cars in the postwar period. Deidt later on built the bodies for the Scarabs that we studied earlier.

With Deidt in the press photo, which is dated August 5, 1951 is Dan Quella who is listed in the caption as being an automotive engineer who helped him build it. The pair built the car for radio comic Eddie “Rochester” Anderson. The caption states that the car weighed 2,100 pounds, developed 225 h.p. and was 14 feet in length. The caption also states that it was a road racer.

We suspect this special is built on a Jaguar XK120 chassis as the wheels windshield and steering wheel appear to be from a XK. The body looks to be a total custom by the talented metal smith. Can any of our readers tell us more about this car? Was it raced and if so where and by whom? The Old Motor photo.

**** Update I ….Thanks to reader Mark Windham who sent in a comment and a link to a photo of the car which has survived. The car was shown at The 2011 Amelia Island Concours. 

****Update II …..Thanks to James Shirley in his comment below and also for the cutaway photo seen at the bottom from the Speed and Sport magazine, Trend Book No. 104., we now know its construction details and it was not based on the Jaguar components that we guessed at.

Many thanks to both of you.


2 responses to “A California Special by Emil Diedt

  1. The Diedt Rochester Special is a one off commissioned by Eddie Anderson based in part on an original sketch by Roger Bacon . Auto enthusiast Anderson did provide design and component parameters to the Diedt shop for his Special built on a tube chassis with light weight box section cross members. Power was supplied by a modified 331 Caddy V8 coupled to a Ford box with Lincoln gears with a Halibrand equipped live rear axle. Front suspension was a transverse leaf spring and solid axle. The rear suspension used two transverse springs and trailing radius arms. It used Norden steering, Rudge Whitworth wheels, and had special magnesium drums with steel liners using Ford brake components. The only Jag part was the modified KX120 windshield frame. Having seen it I can attest that it’s still spectacular.

  2. If you search the Revs Digital L ibrary for Kurtis Kraft, you will find a couple of photos of this car being constructed, apparently at the Kurtis factory. Is this an error?

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