Bonneville 2012 City of Burbank Streamliner 60 Years
2012 will see the City of Burbank, Hill/ Davis streamliner return to the Bonneville Salt Flats to celebrate the 60th anniversary of it's historic assault on speed records of the day. Dave Thomas in conjunction with Bill Davis has begun the arduous task of building a new City of Burbank racer to replace the original that was destroyed in 1955.
The need for speed captivated George Hill and Bill Davis long before they came together to build the machine that would shatter records set by the mighty Auto Unions of Germany. Both young men were members of the Stokers car club in Glendale California and participated in speed trials at EL Mirage and other lake beds in the area. They drove Ford roadsters, converted belly tanks and anything else that would go fast. As horsepower increased and speeds rose it became apparent that a different approach was needed to get past the mysterious 200 mph mark. Streamlining as it was known became the rage. George decided to build a streamliner and enlisted club member Bill "Willie" Davis as a partner .
Check out the Shop Shots page for progress on the project.
We have put some magazine covers and old photos on the Images page.
Learn the story of the Hill/Davis Streamliner on the History page.
Read George Hill's story of driving the City of Burbank on the Other Stuff page
The team welcomes input and old photos that will help the new version be as authentic as possible. The car is being built as close as possible to original spec with current rules in mind so that the finished product can be more than just a show car.
The project begins with a flat surface to serve as the bottom of the chassis. Next a mock up of the 3" round tube chassis is laid out using pvc tube. A stock Ford flathead and 3 speed transmission are set in place and bulkheads are cut from masonite panels. This allows Davis and Thomas to visualize the layout since no drawings of the original exist.
Once the shape is confirmed and location of the components laid out, steel tubing and aluminum sheet will be cut, fitted, welded and fastened together to build the structure needed to support the body.
We have been fortunate to recover the original 304 cu. in. flathead that Willie ran in his roadster and in a belly tank back in the 50's. This is the motor we will use in the current version of the streamliner.
The CT Automotive flathead with Adams-Moeller heads that was in the streamliner in 1952 is now owned by Speedy Bill of Speedway Motors and is on display at his museum in Lincoln Nebraska. Needless to say Speedy was none to keen to let us use it for this project.
It's January 2011 and time is fleeting. Our good friends at A.E.D. Motorsport Products, www.aedmotorsport.com , have delivered the 3" round chrome moly tubing for the chassis and its time to get bending.
It's August 2011 and we are down to less than a year to get this project finished. We have the frame tubes bent, mock up engine in, front suspension hung, rear end in place and its time to fab the bulkheads.
Wow its December 2011. We have the rear end and drive line in place and most of the front aluminum bulkheads fitted. The steering box is mounted and the linkage is made. Moving on to the rear bulkheads.
January 2012 time is getting short. Got a package today from our friends at Gary Schroeder Enterprises, www.schroedersteering.com, with a brand new 4 spoke steering wheel. Man is it ever cool.
March 2012. Wow the clock is moving faster. We are working with the Elliott Company to get the foam product we need to make the pattern for the body. Hopefully this will be faster and not as messy as the plaster the guys used back in the day. Starting work on the roll cage.
April 2012. Too much resting in the hospital has pushed us back a bit. Still working on all the bars for the roll cage and mounting the seat belts. We have a whole lot of 5 minute jobs to do. We have a very nice promotional brochure available. E-mail us if you would like a copy.
June 2012. The clock is running at double speed. Jim Travis, of Pumpkin Seed fame, was in town and helped us a bunch. He really helped out with the parachute system and great advice. DJ Safety, www.djsafety.com, sent the chute and related components. Roger Littell was here for two weeks, brought the Ross Pistons, and cleaned up a bunch of little jobs that needed done. The job list is smaller but still too long.
July 2012. A big thanks to Richard Noble, former Bob Estes Mercury employee for pitching in to help.
With the big show less than 30 days away, it has become painfully obvious to us that we will not be ready in time for Speedweeks 2012.
We would like to apologize to our supporters and those who looked forward to seeing the City of Burbank streamliner in August. We are continuing work on the project and the next goal will be October 2012.
The scope of this build is perhaps a little more than we anticipated as 95% or more of this car has been made or will be made by hand one piece at a time. We have a number of "5 minute" jobs left to do and we work towards the day when this great part of land speed racing history rolls on the salt again.
To the vendors and fans that have provided tremendous support we say thank you and hang in there.
The Hill Davis Streamliner ran at Bonneville from 1952 until 1955. A high speed crash and changing technology spelled the end of the line for the record setter in 55.
We can celebrate the anniversary much the same as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has it's 100th, over several years.
October 2012.... well the season is over for this year. We are much closer to finishing the project. We have had some medical setbacks and its tough to get anything done when you have doctor appointments every day but we are gaining. Stay current on our FaceBook page and stay with us.
January 2013...its a new year and we have new resolve. We have a schedule to get this thing done. All welding and assembly done by March 1, then off to the body guys. A "Friends of Hill Davis" facebook page has been set up to allow supporters to contribute to the project. We are on the home stretch.
February 2013...Geared up to get er done. Chassis is stripped down for final welding and then reassembly. Then off to the body guys. Special shout out to DRC Chassis in Indianapolis for their help.
April 2013.... The chassis is welded, thanks to DRC Chassis in Indianapolis, painted thanks to Indianapolis Fabrications and being assembled for the final time. Once its all once piece the guys at Indy Fab will make the body.
August 2013.... Well its show time 2013. One year later than we planned, but we got er dun. We are on our way to Bonneville for Speedweeks 2013, 61 years after the first running of the Hill Davis Streamliner. Willie Davis will be there and we hope we get to make a run. The car turned out super. Better than anyone could imagine. Photos are available on Facebook at Hill Davis or Friends of Hill Davis. Thanks to all our suppliers, vendors and those special people that devoted countless hours the last weeks to get it finished. A really special thank you to Indianapolis Fabrications for creating the body and truly making a piece of high speed rolling art
August 18, 2013..... The dust er salt has settled. We made it to Bonneville. We got thru tech inspection and had a chance to make a run down the course. It was the most exciting thing I have done in long time. Our driver pulled away from the push truck and motored off into the distance. We chased him for 5 miles before we saw the tiny speck up ahead parked in the turn off area. We didn't go all that fast but the car ran the whole 5 miles without incident, right out of the box. It had never turned a wheel under power before that. The little 276 inch flathead did all it could considering the density altitude was 6700 feet. No excuses, we were all happy and we know with more power we can do better. Stay with us on Facebook and maybe you will see us in magazine or two....
Thanks for your support....See you on the salt
Contact the team at Bonneville.firstname.lastname@example.org
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