Sixty-five years ago, Eugene T."Bob" Gregorie designed a rakish, one-of-a-kind sports car for the son of Henry Ford, then never saw it again -- until a few weeks ago.
That was when Jacksonville car collector Bill Warner brought Edsel Ford's 1934 Speedster to Gregorie's St. Augustine Beach home after finding it in a DeLand garage, where the piece of automotive history had been for 39 years.
Warner had searched for the car for two decades.
Gregorie was Ford's chief designer in the 1930s and 1940s and is pleased the aluminum-bodied car he designed has lasted.
"I haven't seen it since we finished this car in the fall of 1934, aside from seeing it in a garage for tuning up and whatnot," Gregorie said. "It is in a lot better condition than I expected it to be."
Warner found the missing car Dec. 10 in the garage of John Pallasch, whose father, Earl, bought it 39 years ago.
"I felt like Indiana Jones. He [Pallasch] opened up the door to the temple -- his garage -- and here was this phenomenal and significant car almost untouched," Warner said. "It is a piece of automotive history."
Edsel Ford was in charge of Ford Motor Co.'s styling, sales, purchasing and finance when he asked Gregorie to design something racy in 1934. Using a period Indy race car with rounded snout and open cockpit as inspiration, Gregorie designed a streamlined shape and built it in Ford's aircraft plant in Dearborn, Mich.
"What you have to understand about this car is Edsel Ford's boyish spirit," Gregorie said. …