pressmen performance and photography

Saturday, January 27, 2007

mechanical elephant

As reported on the site of redbaronsantiques, In the years immediately following WWII, Europe was badly beaten and bombed out. Morale and optimism were virtually nonexistent. Enter mid- century visionary and successful English inventor Frank Stuart.

Stuart was intent on developing a way to boost the European economy as well as brighten the spirits of the general populous. The fruit of his labor is this mechanical Robot Walking Elephant Car.

Powered by a four cylinder Chevy engine, all hydraulics, tucked neatly inside the body cavity. The elephant literally skates along at speeds of up to 20 mph.

Stuart made three of the in 1947. One is permanently housed in a museum in Austria, one as well used for decades by the Hudson Department store in Detroit (it was later sold to a private museum in Chicago where it resides today) and one was kept by the inventor. It is the latter pictured here and it comes to us from his family who cared for it after his demise. In all likelihood, it will be the only one ever to come up for public auction.

It has been featured over the years on Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Forbes and the October 1999 issue of Architectural Digest Motoring. It has graced the presence of numerous parades and festivals over the years, but its crowning achievement came in 1952 when President Eisenhower rode it to the Republican National Convention in front of a hoard of reporters, cameras and well wishers.

Its smile elicits a smile from all who see it and its value lies in its ability to attract attention and goodwill in parades, as an advertising tool or just in appreciation of one man's labor of love.

It is truly among the rarest and most unique mechanical collectibles ever sold at auction.


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