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The History of the Neo-Classic: The Dunham Coach Caballista

Posted in Bizarre, Collector Cars, General by UDMan | January 24th, 2010 | Leave a Reply |

During the 70’s quite a few vehicles of questionable taste were produced, and I thought I would introduce you to one of the most bizarre and obscure trends during the Disco Era, the Neo Classic. These are cars that were made to look like “Classic” cars, but they included features with questionable taste, haphazard build quality, and outrageous price tags. First up, say hello to the Dunham Coach Caballista.

The Dunham Motor Coach Company was the brainchild of Les Dunham who was deep into the custom car scene in the 50’s and 60’s. His breakthrough car, if you could call it a breakthrough, came in 1973 when he put the body styled like a 70’s era Cadillac Eldorado on a chassis of a Chevrolet Corvette. Thus, the Corvorado (Corvette + Eldorado) was born, and it was used in James Bond film, “Live And Let Die”. Because of the publicity of the film, at least 6 more of these styling exercises were produced.

However, in 1977 Dunham started another project called the Caballista, in which he used the Corvette again as his canvas. The neo-classic design was successful and 50 cars were built right up until 1982. Out of these 50 Caballistas, only 5 were convertibles. They were all built in Boonton New Jersey, with a starting price was over $60,000.

Let’s just say the design was unique. Love it or hate it, the design was meant for a different era. These types of vehicles were a phenomenon during the late 70’s in which they were showcased in “Blaxploitation” films like “Shaft”, rolling up in front of over the top discotheques like Studio 54, and were the pimp-tastic rides of the day. Think of them as the spiritual ancestor to the Escalade and Bentley of today. If you manage to find one today there are willing buyers waiting to purchase them. To coin a phrase from the movie “Live and Let Die”, these were rolling “Juke Boxes” taken from the flashy styling of the Wurlitzer record players that were the mainstay of any diner, pool hall, or bowling alley back in the day.

What else is there to say, the car speaks for itself. Is it a great design? No, but it is polarizing. Is it cutting edge? Not at all even when it was produced. Is it going to be a classic? No, but it is a collectible. The big question is this; Would you like to see more of these Neo-Classic posts in the future? Let me know with your comments below.

Image Source: www.madle.org. To learn all about Les Dunham and his work, check out Madle.org for more amazing images.

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