Name this car and win money and beer
Hey gang, how would you like to earn a hundred bucks and a six pack of beer?
No, the Reporter is not holding a promotional contest or anything like that. But you might call this the ultimate WHATIZIT? contest. For those unfamiliar, we run a photo of something on page 12 and our fine readers try to guess what it is. The prize is getting your name in the paper for a job well done.
A man in St. Augustine, Fla., is seeking your help to solve a nearly half-decade old mystery and is willing to part with that big bounty in order to do it.
But I have to warn you – this one is the toughest of the toughies. Celebrities couldn’t come up with the answer. Experts couldn’t come up with the answer. But you just might have a shot at the beer. And the hundy. We’re giving you a lot of hints.
See, Phillip Topcik is looking for the name and make of a car that he bought years ago and said that it once belonged to John and Anne Greeneltch, who lived in the 9100 block of 50th Ave. in Oak Lawn. The car was in town in the early and mid 1960s and sold to a Volkswagen dealer in Evergreen Park. It was serviced at Evergreen Imports at 3401 W 95th St in Evergreen Park and eventually traded to them for a VW Bus. It was also serviced at Zander Shell Service at 95th & Ridgeland in 1965.
“I know a million things about this car,” Topcik said. “But I don’t know the make and model. No one knows who built it or what it was called. Anne Greeneltch told me her husband said it was made in Germany for a movie star and that it was made to look sleek and fast.’’
Since he bought the car that he calls “ugly” and features suicide doors in 1967, Topcik has been trying to figure this out. He has written letters. He has had stories written about it in four magazines – including one written in all German.
He said he even sought out former talk show host and car aficionado Jay Leno’s help. He said Leno tried to help but couldn’t come up with an answer.
He bought the car when there was no such thing as an Internet. But over the years, he got out his computer and hoped a trip down the information superhighway would solve his problem.
In 2003, Automobile Magazine tried to help Topcik out.
Author Jean Jennings “sicced” her favorite expert on the case – a dude by the name of Robert Cumberford who she described as a “rather historic” noted historian.
“To me, it seems to be a homemade custom on a VW chassis with possibly some early Porsche bodywork,” Cumberworth said. “Porsche did do some contract work for Studebaker in the 50s and 60s, including some air-cooled V-6 cars. I have seen photos of a couple of those prototypes. As I recall, they were all front-engine cars, and I think one might have been front-drive but am not certain.
“C. Orval Selders actually drove those cars when he worked for Raymond Loewy at Studebaker in South Bend, running them around inside the ancient factory buildings at night. He might be able to shed some light on the photos, but I really do not think that the car is representative of what a professional organization would have done. As I say, probably a bodged-up body using existing steel stampings superimposed on a rear-engine VW chassis.”
The magazine located Sedlers.
Case closed? Of course not. If the case was closed, you readers wouldn’t have the opportunity to win the bucks and beer.
“I must say, I had never seen this vehicle or photos of it.” Selders said. “At first, it just seemed to be some backyard cobbled-up design. But the fact that it bore that identification plate does give it a different perspective. An attempt at styling has been made, so, therefore I think you can disregard it as a ‘mule.’ It looks like a hodgepodge of different parts pieced together to resemble a Porsche 356 from the front view. The doors look like 356 doors turned around from side to side and hinged to the rear.
“As interesting as it may seem, I simply don’t think it had a thing to do with the Studebaker- Porsche project of the 1950s, when I worked for Raymond Loewy. Those body designs were very clean and reminded me a lot of the Simca Swallow of 1951. And as for a design project involving any designer from the Loewy group, I am sure it falls far short of that expertise.”
For car geeks who need some more vital information about stuff I know nothing around, a metal identification tag on the luggage compartment says:
MOTOR N.R. 2-030596
FARGEST: T.P. 143532
V. ACHS-DR: 320KG
H. ACHS-DR: 450KG
ZUL. GES. GEW 1140KG
Automotive magazine said it was hand built in 1951, the motor number is 2-030596, the chassis number is T.P. 143532, it weighs 800 kilograms, and it was the only one made.
“I’ve been researching this since high school and college,” Topcik said. “We’re hoping someone knows someone who knew John Greeneltch and who may have an idea of what made and model it is. Someone in Oak Lawn must remember the Greeneltch family and the car…maybe there is someone 70 years old and remember it from high school... What did Mr. Greeneltch tell you? Who made this car? For whom was it made? What movie? What movie star?”
Topcik got in contact with the Reporter last week after he was at a restaurant in St. Auguustine and a former Oak Lawn cop and his wife sat down near him and began talking. This might be his last shot at finding out this information.
So ultimate Whatizit? players, send those guesses to firstname.lastname@example.org. You don’t have to put WHATIZIT? in the subject line or get it to us by Monday night.
Good luck. If you win, don’t spend the money in one place and share the beer.
And I’ll even throw in a buck so you can download Johnny Cash’s tune “One Piece at a Time’’ via iTunes because this story reminds me of that song.