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Michigan Man Uses Parts from 32 Classic Cars to Build a Single Whatsit-Mobile

American, Classics, Culture, Oddities  /   /  By Jim Motavalli

Don Stanley of Bay City, Mich. found the parts for his one-of-a-kind chariot from no less than 32 other cars. It was an automotive jigsaw puzzle of the highest order—requiring the piecing together of such parts as a 1964 Thunderbird interior, 1972 Pinto doors, 1982 Chevy transmission, and a 1932 Chevrolet rear bumper. Stanley writes that there is “no main body.”  Now the “Stanmobile,” as he calls it, is available for sale on eBay Motors.

Dig those fins, from a ’61 Caddy. And the mid-80s Seville trunk is clearly recognizable.

Dig those fins, from a ’61 Caddy. And the mid-80s Seville trunk is clearly recognizable.

Pictures of the Stanmobile make for a good guessing game. Which part comes from what car? Hint: It’s all good-old American metal. Despite its mashup quality, the car reportedly drives quite well.

The square headlights are set against the vintage hood and grille.

The square headlights are set against the vintage hood and grille.

The final effect is pure fantasy—even as one part melds into another. The vintage ‘39 hood contrasts with the square headlights. The ‘70s half-vinyl roof (complete with “opera window”) is juxtaposed to the futuristic doors. The wire wheels introduce an Excalibur-like “neo-classical” element.

The ’85 GMC 350 V-8 is regarded as a reliable engine.

The ’85 GMC 350 V-8 is regarded as a reliable engine.

The most conventional aspect of the car is the interior, which maintains a fairly consistent look, though the mid-60s T-Bird interior is at odds with what looks like an early electronic dashboard from the 1985 Olds. And there’s nothing wrong with that dependable GMC 350 motor.

The interior is the most conventional part of the car, although a 1960s T-Bird coexists with a mid-80s Olds dashboard.

The interior is the most conventional part of the car.

If you need more hints, here’s a partial list of the donor cars in chronological order:

  • 1932 Chevrolet rear bumper
  • 1939 Chevrolet hood, fenders, and grille
  • 1958 Buick front bumper and backup lights
  • 1961 Cadillac rear fins
  • 1964 Thunderbird interior
  • 1972 Pontiac Grand Ville rear axle
  • 1972 Pinto doors and fuel tank
  • 1972 AMC Javelin taillights
  • 1973 Ford sunroof (wow, did Ford make sunroofs in 1973?)
  • 1982 Chevrolet transmission
  • 1982 Cadillac front brakes and suspension
  • 1984 Firebird seats
  • 1985 Cadillac Seville trunk lid
  • 1985 Oldsmobile dashboard and electric system
  • 1992 Chevrolet fan

For a more complete list of parts, see the eBay Motors listing of the extraordinary Stanmobile. Despite the fact that Stanley is now selling his creation on eBay Motors, his list of parts provides this caveat: “Still adding more.”

About the Author

Jim Motavalli is a contributor to the New York Times, NPR’s Car Talk, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, among others. He is the author of seven books, including two—Forward Drive and High Voltage—about electric cars and why they’re important. He is a longtime radio host on WPKN-FM, and a public speaker on environmental topics.

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