Last week we were in the mountains above Malibu, CA to shoot one of the most interesting cars I have ever seen, the Timbs Special.
This sleek streamliner was created by mechanical engineer, Norman E. Timbs, back in 1948. The aluminum body was hand-formed by legendary metal man, Emil Diedt, and it was powered by a mid-engine Buick straight eight. The car actually graced the cover of the second issue of the newly-launched magazine, Motor Trend, back in October 1949.
Gary and Diane Cerveny are the proud owners of this baby. They have a number of cars in their collection and their tastes run the gambit from Rolls Royce Silver Ghosts to vintage drag and Indy cars, but they really made a commitment when they took on the restoration of the Timbs Special.
After its glory days in the late 40’s and 50’s, the car had some less auspicious decades including a stint as an attraction out in front of a SoCal restaurant with kids running up the back and sliding down the fenders. It was largely forgotten until what was left of it was auctioned at the Peterson Museum back in 2002 and was bought (almost accidentally) by Gary for about $17,000.
Gary, his son, and his father embarked on the restoration. Altho they had done numerous award-winning restorations in the past, after four years they decided to call in the cavalry and engaged the services of Dave Crouse and Custom Auto in Loveland, CO. Dave and his merry band spent another three years to recreate the masterpiece that is the Timbs Special. All told, over 5,500 hours went in the restoration of this car. It is absolutely stunning.
But wait, there’s more! We paired the TImbs Special up with another fav of mine from Gary & Diane’s collection, a ’55 Hudson Italia.
I’ve always liked these cars, and I’ve only seen one other in my life. However, that represents 33% of all of them known to exist since only six were built, and this particular car is the only one to have had its anemic six cylinder Hudson Jet engine replaced by a 265 cui Corvette crate engine by the dealership back in 1955 prior to it being sold to its first owner.
This car was a last gasp effort, like the Kaiser Darrin and the Nash Healey, to try to spruce up the stodgy image of a struggling car manufacturer. Hudson Jets were shipped to Turin, Italy and the steel bodies and pedestrian interiors were replaced with hand-formed aluminum, rich leather, and a lot of Italian flare.
I got a chance to take both these babies out on the road on a beautiful SoCal day, and I savored every minute. The styling on both of them was just spectacular, and there was so much detail to shoot on each one of them that I finally had to drag Ben away or we’d still be there.
The following day, we shot with Jay Leno again but that’s a whole other story. Next week we’re off to Fairbanks, Alaska for the Midnight Sun Cruise-In. The weather might be a little different up there, but we sure shouldn’t run out of light.