One of the first cars I wrote a major story about was the Pontiac with the see-through Plexiglas body that was made for the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair. In 1972, Don Barlup purchased the car during the first Pontiac Oakland Club International convention. This meet was held at his pizza restaurant in Mechanicsburg, Pa., during Hershey weekend. The story I wrote appeared in SPECIAL-INTEREST AUTOS magazine in the late 1970s. About a week before I moved to Iola, I saw the car again at a Pontiac dealership show in Lancaster, Pa. The dealer had helped Don “restore” the famous “Ghost Car.” A few weeks later, Don put the car in the Dutch Wonderland auction and Leo Gephart and Frank Kleptz were both interested in it, with Frank ultimately taking possession. I next saw the car at a meet at Allstate Plaza in Chicago. Frank was pretty excited about winning an award with it and we really didn’t get to talk about it that day. Years later I got to know Frank better and even rode with him (in another car) on the Great American Race. Frank eventually came up with the proof that I had always been looking for that two plexiglass cars were built. The first was his six-window touring sedan, which started out as a ’39 and then later had the front end parts updated to 1940 specs. The second car was a big C-body four-window 1940 Torpedo sedan that has never been found. There were photos of both body styles in the Pontiac public relations department, but no one knew for sure if the photos of the second car were real or if they had been doctored with an airbrush. Frank found an article from an old 1940 British magazine that had many details about the construction of the second car and actual photos of it being made. Frank passed away not too long ago and the car was resold in a recent auction. I do not know who the current owner is, but it would be great to see the car as part of the “21st Century Orphans” theme at the Iola Old Car Show this year. In fact, we’d really love to have both see-through Pontiacs, if anyone knows where the second one is. Getting back to the show, it will honor the Pontiac, Mercury, Plymouth and Oldsmobile brands and the organizers and the OLD CARS WEEKLY staff are looking for any “special” cars of each of these brands that fit the theme. Anyone bringing such a car will get lots of good publicity.
Gunner’s Garage with John Gunnell
"Gunner" is one of of the most prolific authors and most visible characters in the old car hobby. He has written dozens of books about old cars for Krause Publications and is the former editor and publisher of Old Cars Weekly. His collecting pursuits range from old Pontiacs, to MGs, to retired police cruisers, to Indian motorcycles. He remains a frequent contributor to Old Cars Weekly and owns and operates Gunner’s Great Garage, a classic car restoration and gift shop in Manawa, Wis.
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