Thursday, November 7, 2013

Davis Three Wheeler...

OK...I know I like kinda' strange cars, but just can't get this one out of my mind. It's the Davis.

The Davis motorcar company was incorporated in 1946 to build cars based on a three wheel prototype called "The Californian" built by Frank Curtis. Davis had seen the car which was a convertible and apparently had taken a drive around Los Angeles in it. He soon purchased the car for himself. He then used the three wheel car to promote his new automotive company.
The Davis Motor Car Company operated in a 57,000 sq. ft. former aircraft assembly building in Van Nuys, where a prototype three-wheeler named "Baby" was built. He hired aircraft engineers and designers which were laid off after the war to work on designing a production model. They worked from 1947 to 1948 coming up with a design that must've stunned the public back then, because it looked so futuristic. It was planned that production, beginning in 1948, would start at a minimum of 50 cars a day, later increasing to 1000. A second prototype called "Delta" was built, and a third prototype, the model 482, was completed later. The third model, the "Divan", established standards for the production Davis cars. The Davis car had only three wheels, one in the front and two in the rear and was powered by 46 hp four-cylinder engine hooked to a three speed manual transmission. There was only one seat but it was 64 inches wide. This was enough to seat four adults side-by-side. The three wheel Davis layout was new but it also carried innovations like disc brakes and hidden headlights, wraparound bumpers, a new one-piece windshield and rear window, and pushbutton door handles. One of the other features was an all aluminum body. Nobody knows exactly how many Davis cars were built but it is thought to be about 17. The company closed down in 1948, as workers and engineers were not being paid, and lawsuits were threatened by investors and dealers. Former employees then filed suit for back pay, and the company was investigated on allegations of fraud. Gary Davis ended up being accused of fraud and theft in connection with his car project, and spent two years in jail after he was convicted. Meanwhile his company went belly up.

Images from "Life Magazine" and Davis Motor Car Company PR.

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