Charles Mayenschein's 1930 Ford
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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