History Outtake: 1925 Julian Coupe – With Rear Mounted 6-Cylinder Air-Cooled Radial Engine

Here’s an obscure automotive historical footnote that caught my eye because of its low-slung design and the central location of its passenger compartment: very unlike typical 1925. A little digging explains that: this has an air-cooled radial six cylinder engine in the back, predating the popularity of that approach.

I found this same shot with information from Harrah’s Museum, which provided a number of cars now in the National Automobile Museum in Reno, NV, where the Julian is on display.

Here it sits, in its bed of gravel. It was conceived by one Julian Brown, the son of a wealthy industrialist who designed a few other interesting things like a high-power marine engine before he decided to apply his so-far failed efforts at an automobile. It certainly shows some advance thinking.

None of the info out there indicates whether this engine was adapted from an airplane engine or is an original design.  The engine displaced 268 cubic inches or 4.4L and produced a healthy 60hp. It had a high (for the day) compression ratio of 4.8:1 and featured an assortment of high technology features, such as hemispherical combustion chambers, a hollow camshaft, and a remote oil sump.

The three-speed transmission sat underneath the engine and fed power to the rear wheels via swing axles.

The body was built by Fleetwood, and featured a unique seating arrangement: the center-mounted driver’s seat, two flanking but rear-set companion seats for adults, and two small fold-down seats on either side of the steering column for children. Brown called this a ‘Reverse Cloverleaf’ seating arrangement.

Not surprisingly, it never went into production, and then was sold twice and stored in a warehouse until Bill Harrah bought it in 1966.