Motor Mouth Blog

Come explore the musings of your fellow car enthusiasts. Get excited about the movement we are all a part of!


Car Stories: The Pierce-Arrow 38C

By Renèe Crist, ACM Collections Manager

The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company of Buffalo, New York, produced some of the finest automobiles made for thirty-eight years. For over 20 years, Pierce-Arrow was the car of choice by the White House for the use by the President. The Pierce-Arrow was considered the American equivalent of Rolls-Royce, making this example one of the finest cars available in 1916.

There were approximately 2,004 Model 38-C4’s produced in 1916, and this Brougham Limousine was just one of the seventeen body styles that were available. The car sits on its original chassis and body on a 134-inch wheelbase. It is powered by its original a 6-cylinder engine with 38 hp, 4-inch bore on a 5 ½ inch stroke. Some luxury features on the car include an electric clock, intercom to the driver from the rear seat, and crystal flower vases in the rear passenger compartment. The base price new was $5,350.

1913 Pierce Arrow Hood Ornament

This 38-C represents the Nickel Period, referring to the plating process used on automobile brightwork. The car is an especially important piece of automobile history since Nickel Period cars were often overlooked in favor of the earlier Brass Period and the later Chrome Period. Many Nickel Period automobiles have been lost or their original nickel mistakenly chromed in later restorations. This 38C-4 Brougham Limousine was restored to its current condition in 1964 by Lambert Lobberegt for his private collection of fine classic vehicles Issaquah, Washington. Harold LeMay acquired the car for his collection from the Lobberegt Estate in 1997. The car was donated to LeMay-America’s Car Museum in 2003.

A fine representation of automotive design and elegance, the car has been presented on the lawn at The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2005, Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance in 2006, Rocky Mountain Concours d’Elegance in 2007, and the Kirkland Concours d’Elegance in 2006 and 2011.

Recognized as a Full Classic by the Classic Car Club of America (CCCA), the car has been featured on exhibit in the Classics and Coachwork Exhibit at America’s Car Museum.

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Rocket Car: 1986 Owasso Pulse GCRV Autocycle

By Renee Crist, ACM Collections Manager

Higher fuel prices in the years following the 1970’s oil embargos opened the door for new manufacturers offering innovative options for those seeking fuel efficient transportation. The Pulse Autocycle, designed by aircraft designer Jim Bede and built by the Owosso Motor Company from 1984 to 1990, advertised its fuel consumption at 70+ miles per gallon outline for a term paper click.

The Pulse can be described as an enclosed motorcycle with outrigger wheels attached. It seats two, one in front and one in back. The car came equipped with a 400cc air-cooled Yamaha engine with 6 speeds and chain drive. It rides on a 120″ wheel base, has a total length of 192″ and weighs approximately 1000 pounds.  The car has automobile-like steering, with clutch, brakes, and gas pedal on the floor just like a car.  However, the gear shift, located on the right arm rest, shifts sequentially the same as a motorcycle.

The Pulse was also referred to as a “GCRV”, or Ground Cruising Recreational Vehicle.  The term describes a vehicle that has the performance and acceleration of a motorcycle engineered into a comfortable weatherproof vehicle with many of the attributes of an automobile. It rides on two automotive type wheels and tires with outriggers, each fitted with a small 8″ diameter wheel, and because only one wheel makes contact with the ground at a time, the design met United States federal regulations to be licensed and operated as a motorcycle. To operate the Pulse on the road, most states in the USA required the driver have a motorcycle endorsement on their regular driver’s license.

The first 21 manufactured by Owasso were called “Litestars”. Owosso Motor Car Company made 101 cars in 1986 and records obtained from the Lightstar/Owasso Registry indicate that #223 was manufactured in April of 1986 and titled to an owner in Pennsylvania in July of that year. Only 44 were ordered from the factory painted yellow.

There was a total of 325 Pulses built by the Owosso Motor Car Company.  America’s Car Museum’s Owasso Pulse is a complete unrestored original example that is frequently an object for study by engineering and design students.

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The Spooktacular Tomb For Two

By Reneè Crist, ACM Collection Manager

On display now through Halloween in the ACM Lobby is a spooky vehicle designed by Mike Fobes – The “Tomb for Two”! 


Just as the The Munster Koach was the Munster’s family car, The Dragula was Grandpa Munster’s race car, (both are famed customizer George Barris creations for the 1960’s TV Show “The Munsters”) the “Tomb for Two” is creator Mike Fobes’ interpretation of the Munsters family sports car. A car Mike says that “Herman and Lilly could drive on a moonlit night together, past the corn fields, the crematoriums and the graveyards.”

See the The Munster Coach and The Dragula in action in this clip! 

The Tomb for two is powered by a “Meat-Cleaver 302″, and C4 Transmission. The Custom Coachwork was created from 2 real steel coffins (new, not used”¦yet). True hot-rod styling, the car’s mechanical fuel injection system is straight out of the world of dragsters. The chassis is custom-welded utilizing a Model-T suicide front end(what else?).  A Model-T steering wheel and baffled pipe-organ exhausts further set the tone. You will see the passenger coffin has been autographed by George Barris himself who is the creator of the ACM Flintstones FlintMobile. Throughout “Tomb for Two” you will find spider webs, skulls, and other creepy details. The skull lamp low beams shine through the mouth of the skulls and the high beams shine through the eyes.

The Tomb for Two has been featured in many publications, including  being featured in “Heavy Metal Affliction” X-Box Forza Motorsports Online.

About the builderMike Fobes is a master builder, fabricator, and mechanic. He is a married father of two from Auburn, WA, who holds seven Master credentials from ASE and has earned more than 50 certifications. He is in the Automotive Hall of Fame in Detroit.

Currently, when he’s not working in his shop he is an instructor at Renton Technical College in Renton, Washington.

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Luxury Defined: The 1955 Packard Caribbean

By Renée Crist, ACM Collections Manager

When former Hotpoint CEO James J. Nance took over the leadership at Packard in 1952, his goal was to re-establish Packard as a luxury brand. Although Nance was new to the automotive industry, he knew luxury would market well, and the result was the 1953 Packard Caribbean. Continue reading “Luxury Defined: The 1955 Packard Caribbean”

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Driven by Dad: The 1983 Colony Park Wagon

By Renée Crist, ACM Collection Manager

Developed as Ford Motor Company’s first mid-priced brand, the Mercury line of cars debuted for the 1939 model year.

Introduced by Mercury in 1957, the top-of-the-line Colony Park Wagon came equipped with simulated wood siding, a consistent feature through the end of the model line in 1991. Sixth generation (1979-1991) Mercury wagons were downsized and lightened as a result of the 1973-74 oil crisis and development of tighter fuel economy standards. The Colony Park models later joined the Mercury’s Marquis model line. Then in 1984, the Mercury Grand Marquis series wagon was discontinued, leaving the Colony Park as Mercury’s only full-size wagon. Continue reading “Driven by Dad: The 1983 Colony Park Wagon”

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A Car To Kill The Cobra: The 1969 De Tomaso Mangusta

By Renée Crist, ACM Collections Manager

On display now in the newly-opened Exotics@ACM – Seductive Supercars exhibit, the Mangusta is an Italian supercar designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro while he was at Italian design and coachbuilder Ghia. One unique feature is its gullwing doors over the rear engine bay. It is also the first production car to use different size front and rear tires. Continue reading “A Car To Kill The Cobra: The 1969 De Tomaso Mangusta”

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A Cadillac with Musical History: The Fabulous Wailermobile

1976 Cadillac Brougham, known as “The Wailermobile” on display during
Drive the Blues Away at ACM.

By Renee Crist – ACM Collections Manager 

Legendary in the Pacific Northwest music scene, The Fabulous Wailers achieved national fame in 1959 when their song “Tall Cool One” rose to #36 on the national charts. The success of their debut single called the band to the East coast for special appearances, including the Alan Freed Show and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.

The Wailers have been credited for lighting up the 60’s rock explosion in the Pacific Northwest. Their rock arrangement of “Louis-Louis” propelled “The Kingsmen” into the spotlight, and Tacoma rock sensations “The Sonics” were produced and signed to the Wailers’ own label, Etiquette Records. Continue reading “A Cadillac with Musical History: The Fabulous Wailermobile”

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Car Stories: ACM’s 1960 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible

In 1960, General Motors styling was toned down from what some considered at the time, the design excesses of 1959. Chevrolet’s controversial “batwings” were flattened and Cadillac’s ever growing tail-fins started to shrink. Pontiac’s grille changed from split to horizontal, and the “Vfins” were gone.

The name Bonneville was first seen on a 1954 GM Motorama concept car called the Bonneville Special. It wasn’t until 1957 when the name appeared again on a production car introduced mid-year as a convertible performance model with a 310 horsepower fuel-injected V8 offered at the price of $5,782. Limited to one car per dealer, only 630 were sold. The following year, Pontiac marketed the Bonneville line as both luxury hardtops and convertibles. By 1959, Bonneville had replaced the Star Chief line as Pontiac’s top series.

For the 1960 model year, the Bonneville line was available in 2-door and 4-door hardtops, as a convertible and a 6-passenger Safari station wagon. 1959 and 1960 were the years Pontiac introduced the “Wide-Track” in which the front and rear track were nearly 5 inches wider. Bonneville’s had distinctive front fender scripts, Bonneville lettering on the deck latch panel, beltline moldings ending in three dashes of chrome at the rear and V-shaped crest on the lower front fenders.

This example is maroon with maroon and ivory leather interior and was ordered with power steering and brakes, power top, power windows, power front seat, “Wonderbar” radio and a “Safeguard” speedometer that came equipped with an excess speed buzzer and warning lamp. It is powered by a 389 cubic inch V8 with 303 horsepower matched to a 4-speed Hydramatic transmission. The base price for the Bonneville convertible was $3,478, and less than 18,000 convertibles produced for this model year.

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Meet the MicroStang – Newest Addition to the ACM Collection

The “MicroStang” is here to stay at ACM!

Now officially a part of ACM’s permanent collection, this 2012 Mustang is retrofitted with Dynacom’s 1967 fastback replica body retrotted onto 2012 Ford Mustang GT chassis complete with its 5 liter, 412 HP, Ford V8 engine and automatic transmission.

West Coast Customs, which you may recognize from the popular 2000’s show “Pimp My Ride,” dubbed this car the “MicroStang” when they helped create it with Microsoft. The purpose behind the design, also called “Project Detroit” was to showcase new Windows-based technologies of the time and to envision the possibilities surrounding vehicle technologies of the future. Continue reading “Meet the MicroStang – Newest Addition to the ACM Collection”

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Sprucing up the Isetta


An update by Renee Crist – Collections Manager

The upcoming exhibit “100 years of BMW” has given me the ability to pull a vehicle from the collection and improve it for display. The car is our 1958 BMW Isetta 300 Export. It will not be in the BMW exhibit as we have examples on loan scheduled for exhibition, but I will use this one for promotional display throughout the year. We have been working on the car (on and off) it for weeks now.


We are going through the Isetta and doing a cosmetic refreshing for display, along with mechanical conservation routine work: change oil, check and treat fuel tank – it has been drained when we conserved it a few years back, lube, clean and stabilize everything etc.  The car had been repainted many years before we acquired the car into the collection. The paint job was quickly done – dull, some runs, overspray, left with the appearance of an “orange peel,” and most of the rubber was painted over. We have been cleaning all this up.


We started by removing the side windows and all of the interior, including the fab “shag-a-delic” carpet someone had installed.  I had a feeling if we wet-sanded and buffed the paint, we would have pretty nice looking finish. The car has been buffing really nicely.


We don’t plan on getting it running and operational at this time – it needs a full mechanical restoration including brakes, engine refresh, wiring, tires, steering and suspension work so that will have to wait for some time in the future when budget allows. We will be replacing the window channel and rubber for the sliding side windows, and some of the other rubber such as around the door and we will also spruce up the interior.

The next thing I’m looking for is a set of hubcaps and to obtain a set of new grilles for the door’s exterior.

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