Charles Mayenschein's 1930 Ford

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The phaeton as it sat when Charley brought it home in 1955. According to Charley's son Tom, his mom said "What a piece of junk!" when she saw what he had bought. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Charlys bought the Phaeton for 20 dollars in Trenton, New Jersey. A boat trailer and a Model A was used to bring the project home. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Charley started the build with the frame. Six cross members were added for extra strength. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Charley installed the engine and drivetrain from a 1956 Oldsmobile in the phaeton. The suspension was from a 1956 Packard Caribbean, and it featured torsion bars and a reversible motor that automatically leveled the car when people entered or exited it. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
The body on the phaeton was lengthened 1 1/2 inces. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Charley cleaning out rust. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
The dash was made from a 1942 Ford hood and a Model A headlight shell. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
The seat frames were built from scratch. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Charley making the 18 gallon gas tank. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
The top area of the cowl was fit with Studebaker side vents. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
The front fenders were widened 5 inches. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
The hood was made from a 1947 Dodge hood and 1932 Ford side panels. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Charley made the bows and the top for the phaeton himself. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Charley upholstered the car himself. He had never sewed anything before, other than a button on a shirt, but he always said "You can do anything you want, if you just put your mind to it." Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
A photo of the phaeton taken in Sarasota, Florida in 1958. Just after the build was completed, Charley put the family in the car and drove it to Florida. 2 000 miles later, he cleaned it up and put it on the car show circuit. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
A photo of the Fabulous Phaeton taken around 1960. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
A drawing of the Fabulous Phaeton was used on an ad for the 1960 Birmingham Auto-Rama.
A trailer Charley built for the phaeton. He felt that in order to compete at a high level he needed an enclosed trailer. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
The Fabulous Phaeton at an indoor car show in the 1960s. Photo by Dave Jenkins.
Photo by John Eddy.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Charles-mayenschein-1930-ford8.jpg
An album containing a photo of the "Fabulous Phaeton" at the 1960 National Champion Custom Car Show in Detroit was listed for sale on eBay in October of 2011.
The Fabulous Phaeton was one of the main attractions at the Dayton Rod and Custom Auto Show.
A photo of the Fabulous Phaeton taken at the Carl Casper show in Dayton, Ohio, January 1967, just after Charley had passed away. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
At the Carl Casper show in Dayton, Ohio they gave a memorial award every year for Best of Show. This photo shows Carl Casper, Charles' widow, Jean the show queen, and the first year winner of the trophy, Dave Rudy, owner of "Rudy's Beauty". Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
In 1999 Charley's son, Tom Mayenschein, was able to buy his dad's old hot rod. In 2012 he redid and restored the interior in the car. Using old photos, he was able to put it back the way it was when his dad first built it. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
When Tom took the interior apart to restore it, the door and kick panels were still the original panels that Charley made in 1957. He had left notes inside them, telling when they were made and redone. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Inside the kick panel Charley drew a diagram that showed how the tape recorder was wired to the converter. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
About 6 or 7 of Charley's friends wrote on the gas tank guessing on how much gas the tank would hold. When restoring the interior there were other notes thru out the car, that Charley had left behind as well. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
The interior as it appeared after Tom had restored it in 2012. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
The Fabulous Phaeton at the 50th annual Carl Casper's Custom Auto Show in Lousville, Kentucky in 2013. The 7 foot 3/4 inches trophy was won for People's Choice in Louisville in 1958. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.
In May of 2013 the phaeton went to the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corner, Michigan for a year on display. A total of 21 cars were part of the display. The theme of the display was the 1950s and the 1960s nostalgia periode, and other cars in the display included The Little Deuce Coupe from the famous Beach Boys cover shot. Photo courtesy of Tom Mayenschein.

1930 Ford Model-A phaeton owned and restyled by Charles Mayenschein of Fairborn, Ohio. Once completed, Charley's phaeton became known all over the US as the Fabulous Phaeton. Charley bought the Phaeton for 20 dollars in 1955. It was located in Trenton, New Jersey, and his friends thought he was crazy driving 500 miles to buy a $20 pile of junk. A boat trailer and a Model A was used to bring the project home. He started with the frame that he strengthened by adding six cross members. The engine and drive train was taken from a 1956 Oldsmobile, and the suspension came from a 1956 Packard Caribbean. The Packard suspension consisted of a torsion bar with a reversible motor that automatically leveled the car when people entered or exited it. The body was lengthened 1 1/2 inches, and Studebaker side vents were added to the top of the cowl. The front fenders were widened 5 inches. Inside, Charley fit the phaeton with a dash he made from a 1942 Ford hood and a Model A headlight shell. A 1955 Ford Thunderbird speedometer, 1956 Oldsmobile gauges and a 1953 Cadillac steering wheel were installed. The hood was made from a 1947 Dodge hood and 1932 Ford side panels. Bows for the top were made from scratch, before Charles made his own top. Charley did also upholster the car himself. He had never sewed anything before other then a button on a shirt, but he always said "You can do anything you want, if you just put your mind to it". The body was painted light blue in 1957.[1]


Once completed in 1958, Charley put his family in the phaeton and drove it to Florida to visit his parents. A 1000 miles trip. Tom, one of Charley's three sons, remembers that when they were in Florida, on their way down to his grandparents, Charley went to pass a brand new 1958 Ford. When his dad came along side, the gentleman tried to keep him from passing. Charley wouldn't have any of that, so he tromped the peddle down to the floor and left the new Ford in the dust. Up the road he stopped at a gas station. The new Ford stopped at the gas station as well to see what the heck was in that old car that could beat his new Ford. A little later on, a highway patrolman stopped the family as well just to have a look on the car. When the family returned back home, Charles cleaned up the car and put it on the show circuit. The Fabulous Phaeton won trophies everywhere it went. In 1958 it won the "People's Choice" award in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1959 it won the "Best of Show" award at the National Champion Custom Car Show in Detroit. In 1960 Charley returned to Detroit and took home the "Best Hot Rod" award. 1960 was the first year they started giving out the "Best Hot Rod" award in Detroit. In 1963 they combined the "Best of Show" and "Best Hot Rod", into one trophy known as the "Riddler Award".[1]


In 1959 Charley bought a 1931 Ford Model A Roadster that he started to hot rod. The plan was to use the roadster to haul the phaeton around to shows in an enclosed trailer. During the build, he told his son Tom that when the roadster was done it would be even better then the Phaeton. Charley was a good friend of Art Arfons, the legendary land speed racer. In 1961 Charley went to Bonneville with Art to try for a record with Art's Green Monster. They soon realized that the car couldn't hold enough gas to get the speeds they wanted. A new car was needed. Art ended up buying a J79 jet engine that Charley designed a car around. Charley worked as a jet/bomber mechanic at Wright Patterson AFB, and he made a wooden model for Art that they tested in the wind tunnel at Wright Patterson. Charley got so tied up with the Green Monster and chasing salt flat records, that he put the roadster project on hold for a while. In 1964 the Green Monster went 536.76 mph at Bonneville for a world land speed record.[1]


September 7, 1966, tragedy struck, as Charley was killed in a motorcycle accident. In 1970 Charley's widow sold the Phaeton and the roadster project. The guy that bought the phaeton decided to have it reupholstered. A black diamond tuck interior was installed in the Phaeton. In 1999 Charles' son, Tom, was able to buy his dad's old hot rod back. Except for the interior, the car looked exactly the same way as it did when Charley owned it. It still had the original paint job that Charles put on it in 1957. It was a little cracked and chipped, but it still looked good. In 2012, Tom redid the interior in the car. Using two old photos, he was able to put it back the way it looked when Charley first built it. February 24-26, 2013 the restored version of the Fabulous Phaeton was displayed at the 50th annual Carl Casper's Custom Auto Show in Lousville, Kentucky.[1]


In May of 2013 the car went to the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corner, Michigan for a year on display. A total of 21 cars were part of the display. The theme of the display was the 1950s and the 1960s nostalgia era, and other cars in the display included The Little Deuce Coupe from the famous Beach Boys cover shot.[1]


Magazine Features and Appearances

Custom Cars December 1959
Hot Rod Magazine April 1960
Rodding and Re-styling January 1961


References



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