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Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance: The Norman Timbs Special

Posted in Auto Show, Classic, Collector Cars, General, Pictures by Kurt Ernst | March 18th, 2010 | 4 Responses |

1948 Norman Timbs Special

Norman Timbs was a gear head, just like you and I. Trained as a mechanical engineer, Timbs wanted to create a unique ride for himself, from a blank sheet of paper. He began work on his dream car in 1947, and finished it in 1948. The car was ahead of its time in both style and function; starting with a tubular space frame, Timbs used aluminum for the body to reduce weight. Despite the car’s length of nearly 18 feet, it weighs a surprising light 2,300 pounds. Put this in perspective; a first generation Miata was about 13 feet long and weighed in at 2,100 pounds.

More pics after the jump.

1948 Norman Timbs Special

Timbs used the best components available to him. The engine was a new Buick “Super 8”, mounted mid-frame and driving the rear wheels. The suspension pieces were borrowed from Ford, but Timbs designed a fully independent rear suspension for superior handling. Drivetrain components were sourced from both Ford and Packard.

1948 Norman Timbs Special

The single piece rear deck could be raised hydraulically to access the motor, suspension pieces or spare tire. The cockpit, snug for even two passengers, was done up in tan leather and featured an engine turned dash. Everything about the car, from its appearance to its craftsmanship, was stunning. It was impressive enough to land on the cover of both Motor Trend and Popular Mechanics magazines.

The car was found in a junkyard in 2002, and sold in its unrestored state for $17,000. A full, two year restoration was done by Custom Auto in Loveland, Colorado, and finished in late 2009. The car made its first public reappearance at this year’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

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4 Responses

  1. Hlavco says:

    That thing looks insane. Even more insane is that they found it in a junkyard. Too bad it would be incredibly expensive to build your own personal car nowadays, what with all the crash tests and requirements and regulations.

  2. Kurt says:

    Building your own car is governed by less regulation than building cars for production. This is why many kit car companies won’t sell completed cars.

    As amazing as the Norman Timbs Special is, it was one of about a dozen cars I spent the day drooling on. If you ever have a chance to make it to the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, it’s worth the trip.

  3. Scott Newton says:

    I went to high school with Norman Timbs’ son in Granada Hills, CA. Mr. Timbs was a genius. The advanced thinking displayed in this car was on full display in their Northridge home as well, which he custom-built. He was a hands-on guy and way ahead of his time.

  4. Kurt says:

    Scott, it’s sad, but you just don’t see many people with that kind of talent today. I can only imagine what the Timbs’ household was like.