Saturday, January 14, 2023

This weird 3-wheeled machine was built in 1958 by Mr Bessières, a Vespa dealer in Bordeaux, to teach his children how to drive.

I never knew what the word Biarritz meant on the Cadillac, where it came from, but I just inadvertently discovered something about it

Biarritz is both a golf course, and a city in France. 

"In 1888, Willie Dunn Jr. designed the Biarritz Golf Club and the par-3 3rd hole which was dubbed “the chasm”. The chasm was adopted by C.B. Macdonald as a template hole and named “the biarritz.” Fellow architects were slow to grow fond of the bold and controversial putting surface that Macdonald was employing and called it “Macdonald’s Folly” in the early years.

Biarritz holes are long par-3s, typically 210-240 yards, designed to test a player’s ability to hit accurate long shots. Its defining characteristic is the massive green that stretches up to 80 yards. The large green is bisected by a deep swale in the middle — usually 3-5 feet deep — and is protected by narrow bunkers on both sides of the green."

Coincidentally, Cadillacs are required to be able to carry a golf bag in their trunk when new models are designed

In the mid 50s Cadillac unveiled the Biarritz name for their line of Eldorado Convertibles. 
815 were produced. 
The hardtop models of the Cadillac Eldorado were named the Seville

The 1958 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible had Cadillac’s 365 cubic inch engine, producing 335 horsepower and topped with three two-barrel carburetors. 
The interior had the finest materials, and the lengthy list of options included every comfort and convenience feature Cadillac could conceive, ensuring that driver and passengers enjoyed a top of the line motoring experience. 
The Eldorado Biarritz’s combination of power and presence has arguably never been repeated in such spectacular fashion. 

The Biarritz sold so phenomenally that in 1961, Caddy discontinued the Seville. From 1961 to 1964, each Eldorado was a convertible and carried the Biarritz name, even though there was no other Eldorado but the Biarritz.

Bill Campbell, the quiet engineer partner with George Hurst, may soon have his memoir published. He appreciated George’s strengths and was frustrated by the challenges.

I just got this email from Bill Campbell's daughter Tomi, in response to the post I did :

 Absolutely George was intuitive, inventive, had a creative mind always looking for ideas, and was a natural showman. My dad called him a “P.T. Barnum.” That showmanship played a major role in the company’s success.

My dad, a mechanical engineer, started working for George in 1956 part-time designing dies for engine conversion parts to earn a bit of extra money. That really didn’t work out in that George wasn’t making enough to pay anyone… But dad enjoyed the challenge. After two years, their insurance agent talked them into incorporating in May of 1958. 

In 1961 George offered $1,000 to the guy who could design a better 4-speed in-line shifter than they were using in Detroit. Bob Kenny came up with the idea, and eventually George gave him the $1,000. Today Bob is also 90 years old and very sharp.

A long time worker at Hurst once told me that George would sketch out the next idea he wanted to do, and my dad would figure out how to do it. While George was promoting, dad kept the entire operation running smoothly. Hurst-Campbell would have never succeeded as it did without the strengths of both men.

Probably ten years ago now I had my dad tell me his Hurst-Campbell story, and I recorded it. I’m attempting to write his story, but it is more in a memoir format. I’m using his wording as much as possible. Then I am filling in additional information that seems interesting to me. My intention is probably just to share it as people are interested. I wasn’t thinking of any formal publishing of it. It will certainly not be a book! I’m guessing in the end I may have 50-75 pages, including photos.

I do have early contacts. A few days ago I talked to Jim Rahm, who is the first guy who ever worked with George, 1953-7. Then I emailed and talked with Jim Kerr, who came next. Don Lane came early also, and I have talked with him. Bob Kenny came in 1961 and I visited him two weeks ago. Bill Widdemer came probably around 1960. I talk to Bill a couple times a year. I also talked to Lou Leib, the first shifter was installed in his truck. It has been great fun to talk to these marvelous men about their memories.

You are more than welcome to share what I wrote in a format that works for your readers. A challenge is that George was a brilliant guy who promoted his product effectively and ingeniously. He was also of compromised character in his private life – very opposite of my dad. In the end, he “fired” dad because dad was insisting on treating an employee with integrity, and George told him he was not allowed to. That story will be in dad’s memoir.

And I must end with this. The original idea for the Jaws was not George’s and had nothing to do with the race car industry. Dad read an article in the Philadelphia Bulletin about a dump truck driver who was caught in his cab in an accident at a train crossing, and bled to death five minutes before they got him extricated. Dad thought, “This guy isn’t going home to his wife and kids.” That got him thinking, and he came up with the initial idea for a cutting tool, but it could not produce sparks. When he shared the idea with George over a hamburger, George added in the spreading tool. George insisted on the tool running off a power steering pump. Dad said it had to run off a separate generator. There was some development to the tool over the next ten years, but it never really got off the ground successfully until after dad left Hurst (at George’s invitation) in 1969 and George put the Jaws into high gear, and powered by a generator.

George may take all the credit, but our family is so proud to know that it was our dad’s initial concept. Dad was the quiet engineer.


Here’s a guy in central Italy keeping his late father’s 1920 Fiat 501 S Torpedo Sport running and on the road

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