- Written by webmin
If any of you know Geoff Hacker like we do, you’ll know that he’s like a terrier after a rat when it comes to tracking down information on the cars he’s interested in, going so far as to drive across the country to speak with family members of a custom car builder. You’ll also know that he’s had a long-standing interest in the immediate pre- and post-war sports cars that Frank Kurtis designed and Paul Omohundro built, including the 1946-1947 Kurtis Omohundro Comet, which Geoff had obtained a couple years back. Geoff’s just about nailed down the entire history of the car, but has one last tidbit he’s trying to track down, and he’s hoping somebody out there in Hemmings Nation can help. Geoff writes:
As part of the research for this car, I’ve met with the Omohundro and Kurtis families who both live out West. I’ve traveled to the Detroit Public Library and the Automotive Archives at Kettering University (Formerly GMI Institute) of Flint, Michigan, and interviewed all known owners of the car (and a second Comet built) from 1950 thru the 2000s. No aluminum stone has gone unturned.
However, the initial piece of information that my good friend Rick D’Louhy found has always been out of research. This was a story that appeared in the “Encyclopedia of American Cars: 1946 to 1959″ book by James Moloney and George Dammann. There were two stories about the Kurtis Omohundro Comet cars. The first story identified car #1 as the “Comet” and the second story identified car #2 as the “Mercury Special.” I’ve talked to both Moloney and Dammann about this information, but research for the book was discarded years ago (unfortunately).
All of our research into this car has been otherwise fruitful. We’ve been able to nail down every bit of information about both cars including appearances in national and international magazines and newspapers throughout the 1940s and early 1950s. However, the initial information that appeared in the “Encylopedia” about the Comet has continued to be elusive. That is, until recently.
Thanks to the research skill of Bob Cunningham, one more piece of information has been revealed. And it’s exactly what Bob found that has led me to ask for you and your readers’ help.
As you study the information that appears in the “Encyclopedia” about the Comet, you’ll notice it’s quite detailed. I’ve been looking for the source of this information in magazines, books, and newspapers of the day, and even reviewed all SCCA magazines/newsletters from 1944-1950 with no success. I’ve explored trade journals and every bit of info you could think of to no avail.
But when you study the information, you come to realize it’s too detailed to appear in a magazine. Plus, this would have appeared in 1946 – before postwar automobile magazines started. The encyclopedia talks about a 1947 introduction of the car – and the license plate in the photo ends with “46″ – which was perhaps a full year before Speed Age Magazine, America’s first postwar car magazine, debuted in May 1947.
Based on the fact the info is very detailed, I believed it must have been a sales flyer/literature on the car that was missing. But based on what I’ve seen from Bob Cunningham’s research, I believe it’s a publicity photo and accompanying press release that is missing.
Bob found the photo that matched the “Encyclopedia” photo on an online auction back in December, but it was missing any related “press release.” It’s exactly the same photo used in the “Encyclopedia.” The back of the photo showed the person who illustrated the concept car that was being built – it said “Frank Raybold Design” (the spelling might have been “Frank Rabold”). There is also unreadable print on the bottom right of the photo – hence the need for a better scan of the original photo.
It appears to be a standard 8×10 glossy picture and unfortunately we don’t know what happened to the photo. We realized too late what it was – but perhaps one of your readers knows the buyer or seller of the photo. If so, any help in reaching these folks would be appreciated.
No doubt more than one photo was created “back in the day” so the other possibility in reaching out to your readership is that one of them may have the photo and the missing “press release.” If so, this would be wonderful too. Your readers would be helping establish the 1947 Kurtis Omohundro Comet as the first documented postwar sports car in America, so this would be a great contribution to helping establish history that has long been forgotten.
If anybody out there can help Geoff with his research, let us know and we’ll put you in touch.