• Welcome to The Fedora Lounge!

Car in the movie " TOPPER "

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by Streetrodder, Jun 7, 2010.

  1. I'm not good at computers, but I am well versed on cars. Especially old cars. I saw a question posed on here, I have the answer to, but I can't locate the question. Forgive me for my ineptness. The question was, what type of car was used in the movie " TOPPER". It wasn't an Auburn Boattail. It was actually a highly modified '35 Buick, made to look like a '35 Auburn Boattail. It didn't look much like an Auburn, but for whatever reason, they used the Buick. Also, part of the question was, " what color was it ?" It was a light mist green. I have a picture of the car, so, if the person who was asking the question wants to see a picture of it. Leave me a message, and I'll send it to you. Thanks for your time.............COOTER
  2. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender


    As it looks now

  3. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender

    Here are some more pics showing the original and the redone (for the first time) gilmore nose. Sorry Binkie- it's not an Auburn.
  4. "It Looks like a Coffin Nosed CORD, with a modified Tail?"
  5. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender

    From the auction listing- when the car sold in 2006.

    235hp, 331.1 cu. in. Chrysler Hemi V8, five-main bearings, Carter four-barrel carburetor, front and rear
    semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 131.5"

    The Topper Car was also fitted with special controls – including a second steering wheel, so as a stuntman drove the car, onscreen it would appear as if it was being driven by an invisible ghost.

    Originally, film director Norman Z. McLeod considered using the new coffin-nosed Cord but the required changes could not be made easily on the semi-unibody design.

    Instead, Tony Gerrity, then at Bohman & Schwartz, transformed a Buick chassis into a very “Buck Rogers” design which included a shapely fin, supercharged Cord-like exhausts, a Graham shark-like nose, teardrop fenders on all corners and a racy cut-down windscreen. Other custom features included placing the stock headlamps higher off the fender by mounting them on catwalks, fitting standard Buick parking lights on both front and rear shapely teardrop fenders, and the addition of small fender skirts to reduce the rear wheel openings by about four-inches. Due to the prominent rear dorsal fin at the rear of the roadster there was no trunk lid.

    From an automotive design perspective it is interesting to note that the front fender shape, which flowed into the doors, was very similar to the design which later appeared on the 1941 Cadillac Special and by 1942 was seen on many GM cars.

    In 1939 the studio sold the Topper Car to the Gilmore Oil Company. Re-sprayed in the Gilmore colors of cream and red, the Buick was fitted with a power system and a public address system for use in their promotion of “Red Lion” gasoline. A hitch was fitted to tow a trailer with a live lion cub as part of the promotion.

    Now known as the Gilmore Oil Car the Buick was modified to accommodate the car’s new potential uses. A new full chrome radiator grille of horizontal bars stretched down to the bumper. The change in appearance was more in keeping with 1940 styles and provided a fresh look for west coast motoring shows, events and processions such as the Hollywood Boulevard Christmas parade.

    Later Gilmore returned the car to Bohman & Schwartz and a second trailer was designed by Gerrity that featured all the design cues including the wheel skirts and tapered fenders. This trailer was built to house the additional electrical and sound equipment required for promotions.

    By the late 1940s Gilmore had been absorbed by Mobilgas, who felt the Buick was beginning to look out-of-date. It was sent back to Bohman & Schwartz for updating and to be repainted in white and adorned with a red Pegasus on the door and center of the “sombrero” hubcaps.

    As well as the Topper Car, Bohman & Schwartz were responsible for the coachwork of candy heiress Ethel Mars’ 1935 Duesenberg (Herb Newport), and the 57-Varieties heir Rust Heinz’s 1938 Phantom Corsair. Other film studio and star cars by Bohman & Schwartz include Clark Gable’s and Barbara Hutton’s 1935 Duesenberg SJ convertibles.

    Clearly inspired by the jet age the front grille consisted of a series of three concentric circles surrounding a bullet-nose and flanked on each side by three vertical bars with a toothy vertical grille below. The split windscreen remained, but was taller and fitted with wind
    wings. Gone were the separate front fenders and chrome exhausts. A new flat hood flowed into the tops of the bulbous fenders and free-standing headlamps were mounted inboard. Oldsmobile bumpers were fitted and the license plate moved to the centre. New parking lights, mirrors and modified Olds hubcaps were added.

    An eight-cylinder GM motor was fitted to improve performance. Mobil continued to utilize the old Roadmaster-based car for publicity, but by 1954 the straight eight engine and mostly original running gear were beginning to show their age.

    Once again the Mobil returned to California and Bohman & Schwartz, but by this time Schwartz was no longer part of the company. C. Bohman and Son purchased a 1954 Chrysler Imperial Newport chassis furnished by General Petroleum and re-mounted
    the body. The Mobil Special was now powered by a new 235hp Chrysler Hemi V8 with an estimated top speed of 125mph – although for practical reasons this was never tested.

    The round front fenders were restyled to reflect the slab-sided look more in keeping with the period. The full fenders swept downward to flow into the original shape of the suicide doors and right into enlongated back fenders; devoid of their skirts, and sported small Cadillac-like fins mirroring the contours of the characteristic rear center fin.

    As well as the visible changes Bohman modified the frame, relocated the master cylinder, steering column, etc. re-worked the lower wooden body structure, firewall hood and dash and fitted new instruments. All the changes were priced at over $10,000 in 1954.
    - Richard Bann
  6. Hey welcome to the lounge! This is the very question that bought me to the lounge.

    One of my favourite scenes in the movie is where they run off the road and you can hear the engine idling. I'd swear you can hear each and every plug fire. Great stuff
  7. Until I knew what the heck that car was I went round and round on the net. At first, I thought it was an early Cord or what they used to call the Baby Duesenberg with an added tail fin. The Baby D looked exactly like a Cord but it had a Carson top and bullet headlights like the Auburns. Man, did they ever make some great looking cars back then or what.
  8. remerz

    remerz New in Town

    Car in Topper

    I am writing about experiences in my life. It includes seeing the Topper car at my parents home in Auburn California in the 1960's. It was owned by the son of a couple living in my parent's apartment. I would like to include a photo of the Topper car. Could you send me a photo via a reply to this message?
    Richard Merz - Folsom CA

Share This Page