Of course it’s America’s Prestige Car: a Corvair dolled up with a big chrome eagle on its front, some out-of date wide whitewalls, and a few other do-dads.
But that’s nothing compared to the previous incarnation of the Eshelman Eagle. Be prepared. And I’ve dug up some Eshelmans from the 1950s too; they were anyhting but prestigious. In fact, they started out as genuine kiddie cars.
Wow! Utterly amazing. And there’s essentially no info on this wild creation. My guess is that Mr. Eshelman started out a bit overly ambitious with this rebodied Corvair, which I date to 1964 based on the wheel covers. I suspect it never took off, and for 1965 Eshelman decided to just apply his magic to a stock Corvair.
Here’s the Two-Door Hardtop Coupe, with this superbly-designed and integrated rear tail lights. Just the thing for the owner who can pay a little more to be distinguished above the ordinary. One wonders just how many owners that were.
Let’s go back even further. In 1960, Eshelman was selling this Model 903, “believed to be the lowest price car built in the USA that will pass State Inspection”. How’s that for a comforting marketing pitch. I believe the “903” refers to it having a 9hp single cylinder industrial engine. Note the big “Eshelman” badge on the side. Mr. Eshelman was not the shy, retiring kind.
Here’s the 1957 Eshelman Deluxe Sportabout, sporting all of 9 hp.
And going back another year, we have the 1956 De Luxe Model with 8.4 hp. I’m guessing these were shot in front of the Eshelman house. Perhaps that’s Mrs. Eshelman, who fancies well groomed poodles? I’m sure she was thrilled with the Eshelman Sportabout.
Here’s where it all started, with the 1952, with a genuine kiddie-car, powered by a 2 hp B&S engine. They’re hot collector’s cars now, so don’t laugh too hard.
I never heard of these. Interesting, comical and so durable in a collision! I wish the collectors of these well. Great information. sales pitch that they will pass state inspection. Very comforting.
It appears that production of the ’65 Corvair-based Eagle was so low that there wasn’t even a complete set of prototypes. Googling “1965 Eshelman Eagle” leads to a picture of a four-door in the previews that doesn’t show up on the Images page. Clicking on it directly shows it’s actually a stock Corvair.
Mostly what you get are the pictures seen in this article, from Alden Jewell’s Flickr. If you’re not subscribed that you’re missing out.
That photo of the 1964 car look like an impromptu snapshot. Did they only have one shot left on the roll of film? “Wear a red dress, the same exact same shade as the car. And stand in front of the C-pillar so no one can see how ugly the roofline is.” The photography is so bad that I’m guessing the guy who designed the car is the one who took the picture.
I keep seeing this…
This firm is totally new to me!
Popular Mechanics (1950s) has a bunch of small ads for the motorized carts and things; in the early 1950s, it’s gas-powered landscaping implements and such. Earliest I could find in PM is this from 1950 (pedal-powered, though):
Yeah let’s get our 3 and 4 years old kids into one of those things and let them get anywhere near a downhill slope. No thanks.
And yet, we lived through it.
Who’s idea was it to retouch the wide whitewalls on a car in 1965? Especially for a car designed for those “who can pay a little more to be distinguished”?
I thought for sure this was something designed in or for East Germany when I first glanced at the photos. It comes across as an Eastern Bloc concept of the decadent west. But it is only an uglified Corvair for probably the price of a Thunderbird or at least a loaded Skylark. Hard to imagine how this could fail.
The Red car looks to be based more on a channeled 53 Studebaker Starliner than a Corvair. Windshield and door vent window looks to be right off the Studebaker. the sweep of the fender line. shoulder stainless trim and the upsweep of the rear quarter say Starliner as well,
This was a fun one to research. Looks like the proprietor of Eshelman Cars was Cheston Eshelman, born in 1917 in Carlisle, Pa. He achieved his greatest fame (if you can call it that) in 1939, when he rather impulsively took flying lessons, and shortly thereafter rented a plane from a New Jersey airport… and headed directly over the Atlantic Ocean. He crashed into the ocean a few hours later, due to a lack of fuel, and was amazingly rescued by the crew of a fishing vessel. US authorities suspected he was trying to fly to Europe, but Eshelman claimed his destination was Mars.
Eshelman’s interest in aircraft didn’t wane, and he designed some sort of flying wing type aircraft that he attempted to sell to the US military during the war years. Immediately postwar, he designed a few smaller aircraft and tried market a personal aircraft called the Winglet.
None of that worked commercially, but he found more success in manufacturing small cars for children, golf cars, and also lawn tractors (the Eshelman Kulti-Mower was probably his biggest commercial success). A far cry from experimental aircraft, but I guess it paid the bills.
He continued tinkering and inventing – and moved from Baltimore to Miami in the early 1960s, when he got involved in marketing custom-bodied Corvairs. In Florida, he got involved in designing new postal delivery cars, safety cars and electric cars in the 1970s. Unfortunately for him, none of these projects resulted in commercial viability. Mr. Eshelman passed away in Florida in 2004.
Those taillight lenses on the “Eagle”! Formed out of sheet plastic? Perhaps not really formed, just flat sheet that deformed when screwed down, preferably on a hot day. Might pass state inspection but probably not DOT approved, if that existed yet in 1965. Daniel Stern?
I think they’re among the custom parts in the AMT ’69 Corvair model kit. Or something similar are. As for DOT approval (if it was indeed required then) I wouldn’t be surprised to see the complete stock Corvair taillights under those add-on lightboxes.
Quick! Hide those 50s microcar pics from Congress and the EPA before they see them! They would fall in love with them as “prolemobiles”
Wow~ new lows in FUGLY .
The Eschelman `Vair was a `60s style midlife crisis car, before the term was even invented!
“Eshelman” doesn’t seem like a good name for a car.
“Would you buy furniture from a store called Unpainted Huffheinz?”
How large was the mower deck on the later ones? Never seen any of these luckily.
Comment of the day!
You have to give Mr Eshelman A for effort. Almost15 years of eccentric and unsuccessful design.
I just watched the Grand Tour “Lochdown” episode last night, and My first thought on seeing the lead photo was “Should have made the eagle out of cheese “ 🤣
Was the point of advertising HP figures down to the hundredth meant to show how precise their dyno was? Or was it an attempt to make it look like 840-900 HP at a brief glance?
No wonder it didn’t catch on, no room for an opera window.