1950 Emil Diedt Rochester Speical news, pictures, and information
Coachwork: Emil Diedt
Designer: Roger Evans Bacon
Along with sports cars, hot rodding also became popular. Southern California is considered the birthplace of hot rodding. It was home to many famous speed shops run by legendary icons such as Vic Edelbrock, Ed Iskenderian, and Alex Xydias. They inspired fresh new ideas and exposed the true potential and capabilities of Detroit's cars.
Hollywood did much to stimulate this new attraction to the small sports cars. Celebrities, influential individuals, and the wealthy, were responsible for having many custom coachbuilders work their craft resulting in truly unique automobiles. Among the more memorable and thrilling of the Hollywood actors with a passion for sportscars included James Dean, Steve McQueen and Paul Newman. All three of these individuals raced sports cars which often resulted in great success.
Eddie Anderson was a popular comic actor in the late 1940s that would eventually appear in over 60 motion pictures. He was among the highest paid performers of his time, and an avid sports car enthusiast. Contemporary production sports cars were not enough to satisfy his interests, so he devised a plan for a special personal car. The design of the car was created by his friend and fellow racing enthusiast, Roger Evans Bacon. Anderson chose Emil Diedt to transform the design into a road-going vehicle. Diedt resume included a long list of successful and impressive race cars including the Miller Fords, the Brady Special, Blue Crown Specials, Novi Indy cars, and Nat Round's rear-engined Offy.
Together with the help of Charlie Faw, this 'Rochester Special' was created by 1952. The elegant body sits on twin-tube frame rails, and powered by a 331 cubic-inch Cadillac overhead valve engine. There are Lincoln gears, Norden racing type steering, a Halibrand quick-change rear end and dirt track style suspension with tubular shocks and radius arms. The lightweight aluminum body was finished in white paint with blue side scallops.
It is believed that Anderson paid $20,000 to have the car fabricated. This very steep price did not seem to bother Anderson, as he now had the ultimate road-going racing machine.
In 1953, Anderson returned the car to Diedt's shop to have the fenders skirted, and to repaint the entire car black. It was well used by Anderson over the next decade. By 1960, it was in need of a restoration. It was brought to Bill Moore Imports in South Beach, California, where it was dissembled. The work was never paid so a mechanic's lien was put on the car. It was sold to Don Ingle who had intentions to re-assemble the car, but was going through a divorce, and eventually decided to get rid of it. He traded with his friend Dutch Covey for a 1941 Ford Convertible. While in the car of Covey, which lasted just a year and a half, the car was re-assembled and returned to running condition. The car was traded for a Model A Pickup.
The history of this car for the next 2 decades is unknown. In 1989, it was in the care of David Butterfield of Coloma, California. At this point in history, the car was dismantled, though very complete. All of the major components were in good condition.
In 2002 the current owner purchased the car and began an extensive restoration. The work was performed by Moal, Inc. of Oakland, California which cost $300,000 to complete. The original paint scheme was used to complete the car and it is fitted with a correct 331 Cadillac engine with Offenhauser heads, Edelbrock Manifold and three two-barrel cabs. There are aluminum Alfa Romeo drum brakes, Halibrand quick-change rear end and magnesium kidney bean knock-off wheels. The interior features Smith Warner gauges, period correct four-spoke wood rim steering wheel, and ivory and blue tuck-and-roll upholstery.
The car has never been publicly shown or raced since its restoration. In 2007, it was brought to the Gooding & Company Auction held in Pebble Beach, California where it was estimated to sell for $300,000 - $500,000. Bidding failed to reach the necessary level to satisfy the cars reserve; it remained unsold.
By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2010
Coachwork: Emil Diedt
Designer: Roger Evans Bacon
The twin tube frame rails that extended through the fenders provided mounts for removable bumpers. Charlie Faw crafted the all-aluminum body. The car features a Cadillac 331 cubic-inch V8 overhead valve engine, Halibrand quick-change rear end and Alfa Romeo drum brakes.
Eddie Anderson, a comic actor who appeared in nearly 60 movies and played the role of Rochester Van Jones on the Jack Benny Show, commissioned Emil Diedt to build the car based on drawings done by his friend and fellow racer Roger Evan Bacon. The car was to be street legal but also capable of competing in sports car club of America Races.
The expense to build this car in 1950 was $20,000.
The 2008 Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance, in Rochester, Michigan, is the first time 'Rochester's' car has been publicly shown since its restoration in 2002.
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