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WestPundit
Thursday, April 13, 2006
 
I was watching the 1937 classic Topper on TCM last night. And I wondered what became of the show's "fifth star" - that outragous customized 1936 Buick Roadmaster. Old timers might recall that the car had quite a long and storied career after Topper, becoming first a promotional car for Gilmore Oil, and then Mobilgas.

This from Carl Bomstead at Collector Car magazine, April 2002:



Of the epic movies that the Hal Roach Studio produced during the 1930s, Topper, starring Cary Grant and Constance Bennett, still remains a classic to this day. The comedy follows a plot that is zany at best, as the two stars play husband and wife, and are killed in a car crash. In order to ascend to the great beyond, they are required to perform a good deed on earth and decide to show their snooty banker, Cosmo Topper, the lighter side of life. If it weren’t for the car the studio had designed for the movie, the film would still be a favorite for late night movie buffs, but certainly would not have become a cult favorite for old car enthusiasts and gas and oil collectors. The Topper car (designed by popular Pasadena, California, custom coachbuilder Bohman and Schwartz) was based on a 193[6] Buick Roadmaster chassis and went through several transformations in its subsequent use as a promotional vehicle for the Gilmore Oil Company and as the Mobil Special. In the film, Cary and Constance meet their demise when they have an altercation with a roadside tree. Since this is before the days of high-tech graphic design, the studio simulated the effects of the wreck by painting on the dents and scratches. The plot then called for the two stars to become invisible as they went about the task of performing their good deed. The vehicle then took on a prominent role in the film by transporting its invisible passengers, disrupting traffic, and at one point even changing its own tire.

Well, it seem the car ended up as part of "The Brucker Collection", and will be sold by RM Auctions at the Petersen Automotive Museum on the 13th of May (preview starts on the 9th). Fans of the movie will hardly recognize the car though. Conspicuous in its absense is the Cord-style nose, which wasn't appropriate for the car's new duties. The windshield is now higher, and fully framed. In fact, even the complete chassis, engine (now a 331cid Hemi), and drivetrain has been changed-out for that of a 1954 Chrysler Imperial Newport.

Well, the Petersen Museum is worth a trip to Wilshire Blvd. all by itself. But also up for auction is the 1968 Howmet Turbine Car, the Von Dutch "Toad Car" (not to mention Von Dutch's personal paint kit and spray gun) and the legendary Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's 1970 Honda 600.

RM Poster (1 page PDP)
 
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A blog dedicated to the personal musings of Kevin L. Connors - a pragmatic libertarian, engineer, businessman, and journalist.

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