*Updated* A Streamlined Mystery Car – Was it a Harry A. Miller Design?

The car you can see in action above in a Universal Newsreel on the streets in the Los Angeles area has fascinated us for quite some time. Critical Past has it dated as having been filmed on February 6, 1935 and in the notes referenced it as being a Stout Scarab. The basic makeup is quite a bit different than one, and we are skeptical of it being a William Stout creation.

Take a few moments to watch the amazingly clear footage of it traveling down one the palm tree-lined boulevards in the area, along with other cars, some that date to the mid-1930s. The news clip is courtesy of Critical Past, which has one of the largest archival film and still images collections in the world.

* Update * Robert Cunningham has unraveled the mystery and has found that the car was built by Allyn Streur and Allen Hoppe, of Hollywood, California. A press photo that has survived is dated February 4, 1935, and shows the pair posing in the car. It appears that it was constructed from a late 1920s lightweight production chassis.

  • white
  • Drawing by Leo W. Goossen for Harry A. Miller dated January 27, 1933

In an effort to learn more about this car, a considerable amount of time has been spent studying photos of the other streamliners that were current at the time. After studying the photos, drawings and patents of  the others, we have come up with a short list of who may have designed the car in the news clip. It appears to be either Harry A. Miller or Professor Elliott G. Reid.

The closest match appears to be the drawing above by Leo W. Goossen for Harry A. Miller. The rear-engined car was slated to receive either a 220 c.i.d. Miller, or a radial engine. You can view more of historian Gordon White’s drawings by Goossen of the car at Autoweek, in an article by Graham Kozak, which gives more details about the concept. The actual car in the film was fitted with what appears to have been a common flathead six-cylinder engine.


Above is a photo of a car with as similar shape from the December 12, 1935, Automotive Industries. Shown is a wooden model of a whale-shaped car designed by Professor Elliott G. Reid for wind tunnel experiments. His research lead him to determine that this shape had better streamlining characteristics than the commonly used tear drop shape. You can view one of his late 1930s patents and drawings for a Packard Streamliner that he assigned to the Company.

If you can add anything to this story or know of any actual photos of the car in the film, or more information about it, please send us a comment. Thanks to historian Robert Cunningham for his help.

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Posted in Auto photos 1921 - 1942, video | Tagged , , , , , , |

A White Fire Truck at Towner & Hartley in Santa Ana, California


The last time we were at the Towner and Hartley shop we viewed an interesting photo of a 1913 Overland Ambulance. Today we are back with an early White Truck equipped with a fire-fighting body that was likely constructed at the shop. The White Motor Corp. started manufacturing its line of trucks in 1910. Let us know if you can tell us more about this truck. The photo is courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

Posted in Trucks, Buses and Equipment | Tagged , , , |

The 2014 Millers At Milwaukee Vintage Indy Car Exhibition

  • Pirrung-Special
  •  The 1935 Pirrung Special, a f.w.d. special powered by an early Offerhauser

The annual Millers At Milwaukee meet is one of the few such events in the country that cater to vintage oval track enthusiasts. The focus of the event has always been the Miller Racing cars created by Harry A. Miller, and later cars powered by the Offenhauser engine. It is held at the Milwaukee Mile race track at the State Fair complex; the track opened in 1904 and is the oldest operating auto racing track in the country.

The 19th annual 2014 Meet was held last weekend with well over fifty cars attending. The two-day event has always been a fun and low-key gathering where you can see, touch, smell, and get up close to the cars. There is plenty of time to talk with the owners of the racers, and possibly even get a ride in a two-man car out on the track. A number of other related early racing cars and specials also attend so, it is a chance to see some very interesting machinery.

You can learn all the details about the event at Millers At Milwaukee. A great deal of information about the cars that Harry A. Miller built and the history behind them can be found at the Miller-Offenhauser  Historical Society. And thanks go out to Lee Stohr of Stohr Design for his photos.

  • Fred-Frame-Duesenberg-Racing-Car-1      Fred-Frame-Duesenberg-2      John-Zink-Special
  •    1930 Fred Frame Duesenberg Sprint Car – The John Zink Special
  • Bowes-Seal-Fast-Special      Miller-TNT-Racing-Car      Bugatti-Type-37A
  •           Bowes Seal Fast Special – Miller TNT – Bugatti Type 37A
  • 1913-Peugeot-racing-car-1      1913-Peugeot-racing-car-2      1913-Peugeot-racing-car-3
  •                      1913 Peugeot Type – 3.0-liter Coupe de l’Auto
  • 1930-Miller-Sampson-Special-1      1930-Miller-Sampson-Special-2      1930-Miller-Sampson-Special-3
  •       1930 Miller Sampson Special with twin Miller 91 c.i.d. engines

Follow along above as Jean Jennings takes us to the Millers At Milwaukee event in 2013 to meet up with Miller collector Dan Davis and run a number of his cars out on the track. You can also read her post about the adventure at Jean Knows Cars.

Posted in Auto Racing 1894 - 1942, Auto Racing 1946 - 1965, Post-War Contemporary Photos, Pre-War Contemporary Photos, video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , |