1948 Norman Timbs Special

1948 Norman Timbs Special 1948 Norman Timbs Special 1948 Norman Timbs Special Roadster
Mechanical engineer Norman E. Timbs created this dramatic streamliner in the 1940s. Timbs resume already included work on Indianapolis winners, such as the famous 'Blue Crown Specials.' It took him over two years to complete the car at a cost of $10,000. The body was created in aluminum by Emil Diedt at a cost of $8,000.

Timbs was influenced by the Auto Union Type C and Mercedes-Benz W25 Avus Streamlined GP racers from the 1930s. His shape is a close approximation to these cars, the GP cars of their day.

The Special uses a 1948 Buick straight 8 engine, with dual 'Compound' carburetors and dual exhausts, to propel the 2,200 lb. car to 120 mph. The engine resides in a tube chassis, behind the driver. The chassis is built from four-inch tubes, which kick up over the rear axle. The smooth shape is long, low and sports an underbelly pan. A one-piece rear panel opens to reveal the entire rear end of the chassis.

The car was discovered in the desert pretty much intact in 2002. It was restored by Dave Crouse.
One of the more elegant, streamlined and swooping custom cars ever created was the Norman Timbs Special – a project that would take over three years to complete.

Timbs was an automotive engineer who had worked with Preston Tucker on the Tucker Automobiles. Later, he built several Indy Racing Specials.

The Norman Timbs project began with several comprehensive drawings of the chassis, followed by a quarter scale clay model of several potential ideas. These were followed by a wooden model that incorporated several of the more pleasing design elements. The aluminum body was hand-formed by Emil Diedt and the chassis was constructed from aircraft tubing. Mounted mid-ship, behind the driver's seat, was a Buick straight 8 motor. Brakes, steering, and some of the other mechanical parts were sourced from a Mercury automobile. The rear body of the car had special hydraulic operation that allowed it to raise and lower with the push of a button. When opened, the engine, spare tire and fuel tank were exposed and accessible.

The car stood 47 inches high, from floor to the top of the windshield. It had a 117-inch wheelbase and measured nearly 18 feet in length.

The design of the car was influenced by several pre-World War II race cars, such as the Auto Union Type C and the Mercedes-Benz W25 Avus Grand Prix cars. It employed the aerodynamic designs and principles of the GP cars, having long flowing lines and low height. However, the Norman Timbs Special was built for the road, and not the track.

By the mid-1950s, the car had been painted white and was in the care of Air Force Officer Jim Davis of Manhattan Beach, California.

Much of its later life was spent outside, in a desert, where it deteriorated over the years. In 2002, it was auctioned by Barrett-Jackson at the Petersen Museum Classic Car Auction. It was sold for the sum of $17,600. The new owner began a restoration. The body of the car was about 90% original.

In 2010, the car made its restoration debut at the 2010 Amelia Island Concours where it won 'The RM Auctions Trophy For the Best Open Car.'
By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2010
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