My First Car, 1927 Whippet Coach
Mic Daniels [ June 2004 ]
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Some time in the early 1950’s, when I was about 45” tall, I was with my dad in his sheet metal shop when he pointed to an unrecognizable (to me, anyway) pile of sheet metal and said, “There is your car”. Far be it from me to see anything in that pile of stuff that had any similarity to any car that I had ever seen.
Several years later, about 1965, as a teenager, I recognized that there was indeed a windshield and a radiator grill visible in the center of that pile.“ What the heck is a Whippet anyway?” With the help of some friends, I cleared away the junk and removed the car to an open shed, where we could change the oil, remove the gas tank, which was full of yuk, install a battery, fill the vacuum tank with gas, and with instructions from dad about hand throttles and manual spark adjustment, proceeded to start the little four banger. I then had to remove one tire and replace the inner tube.
For the next few years I played with the car on dirt roads and drove it in the local parade a couple of times, still with the 1951 license plates on it.
I graduated from high school in 1968, and my dad passed away that fall. The family business was going bankrupt within a year, and I was looking at the draft. With no place to store the Whippet, I sold it to a local mechanic and joined the Navy, to return four years later to find that the mechanic had sold it.
Jump to some time around 1994, at a friends wedding, in a conversation with another old friend, the whereabouts of the Whippet was revealed to me. Another few years passed before I had the opportunity to approach the present owner and actually see the car again. Turns out that he had never attempted to start the car, and had no idea if it would run or even turn over. Seems the last time that it was driven was when I had it in the Memorial Day parade in 1968. Anyway, he had given it to his sons and didn’t know of their intentions. It was another two to three years (October, 2001) when I was finally informed that they would be willing to sell me the car, still with the 1951 registration and inspection documents in my father’s name.
My intentions were to try to get it running as it was and take it from there. Well as it turned out, I found that the wooden sills were badly rotted, and got a little carried away taking it apart. Now I have a freshly painted chassis, a motor in Indiana, a transmission in parts on my work bench, body parts in a couple of different buildings, and dreams of driving a long lost part of my childhood to Nashville in 2005, with other members of the W.O.K.R.