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“The Search for the Ultimate Vehicle”
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“Local” Low Power AM Stereo (CQUAM) & FM Stereo BROADCAST Transmitter Equipped for “Drive-In” Radio Coverage, so every vehicle with an AM or FM radio is a potential “PA System” to spread your music, message or radio show around the show field/event area.
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Click Play Button to Hear Previous “Sweet Chariots: The Search For The Ultimate Vehicle” Radio Show with Tom White owner of a 1958 Desoto Adventurer Convertible with Fuel Injection! 1 of 5 know to exist & the ONLY one that RUNS with the Injection System Installed! Talk about RARE!
Tom White’s 1958 DeSoto Adventurer F.I. Convertible
One man who knows a lot about the Bendix system is Tom White of Hopkinton, Massachusetts, who owns a 1958 Adventurer, one of only 82 convertibles built that year. Today, only five 1958 Adventurer convertibles are known to exist; White owns two, there are two in Sweden, and the fifth is in Wisconsin. But White’s car is a little different, and just a tad more valuable. Chrysler Historical Records show White’s gold Adventurer to be the only DeSoto built with and retaining fuel injection remaining. Gee, I wonder if it has a car alarm?
The history of this perfectly restored car, showing 66,671 actual miles, is as interesting as the car itself. Built December 6, 1957, it was a styling exercise and the first convertible built, said White, who has the Chrysler build sheets. Sold new at Liberty Dormont Motors in Pittsburgh to William Dickson, the car was issued a Pennsylvania title January 21, 1958. White has that same title tucked away in a pile of documentation. Dickson traded it for a recreational vehicle at Huffy’s RV Sales in Harrisburg in 1975. The RV dealer put it in a barn, where mice proceeded to have it for dinner. Mouse urine is very caustic and can eat right through sheet metal.
White purchased the car in June 1998 and towed it home. He had stumbled onto what he believed was a fuel-injected De Soto, because attached with speed nuts on the front fenders, albeit they were broken and some pieces missing, were gold and silver “fuel-injection” emblems. Knowing that he probably had the car that had eluded collectors for years, he began searching for the fuel-injection unit he needed to properly restore the car.
While at Hershey’s AACA October 2002 swap meet, White was showing a photo of the car to a friend and a felt a tap on his shoulder. It was Paul Gabauer, who had overheard the conversation and said he could lead White to the original system. It was in nearby Harrisburg. Gabauer told White he could put him in touch with the son of the man who had stored it since it was taken off a car in 1958. White could not believe what he was hearing and contacted the man. The man was the son of the late J. Gerald Cassel, a Chrysler field representative in 1958, who had removed a complete fuel-injection system, possibly the one from White’s car, 44 years earlier. He put the system in his attic and told his wife to never get rid of it. His son realized how valuable that box of stuff was and White braced himself to pay the price. He would not divulge what he paid, but after several negotiations, it took a “five-figure sum” to acquire the Electrojector unit, even though the primary distributor which fires the ignition was missing.
The striking De Soto retains its original radiator. The trunk mat is NOS, the only known example, as is the gold speckled carpet, found in Texas. All the original parts are still with the car, like the top well, which somehow survived the rodents in Harrisburg. The dash was repainted and re-padded. Everything on the car, including both clocks, the dashboard clock and the Benrus watch inside the steering wheel’s center, work. No detail on this car was overlooked. The fit and finish of every component is Pebble Beach quality. Even the door and trunk jambs glisten on this car that cost Dickson more than $6,000 in 1958. Base price of a 1958 Adventurer convertible was $4,369, the most expensive DeSoto in history.
The car was rust-free and no panels needed replacement, so the car was bolted to a rotisserie and media blasting was used to clean the undercarriage. Little scraping was needed because the car was built without undercoating. There was some sound deadener inside the car on the floors, but it was left intact. The front suspension and frame were also media blasted, repainted with urethane enamel, and clear coated. Take notice, concours judges! I always thought paint had to be the original type. All removable panels, such as hood, trunk, doors and fenders were stripped to bare metal, smoothed out, then covered with six to eight coats of Ditzler PPG primer. PPG Adventurer Gold was applied in four color base coats, wet sanding between each coat. Both inside and out of the hood, trunk lid and doors were painted as well. Three coats of urethane clear were applied, again sanding between each coat with 1,000-grit paper and finishing with 1,500 grit paper.
The original engine was taken apart, but did not need complete rebuilding. White did a valve job and installed new bearings. The original camshaft was retained. The engine and all accessories were done with a base coat / clear coat finish. The gold paint needed to paint the dual air cleaners took their local paint supplier about a week to match correctly. Even the air cleaner lids were wet sanded and hand polished.
The cardboard box of fuel-injection parts was next. To a mechanic in 1958, this system was nearly impossible to fix. It took White six weeks to figure it out. He determined the failure was in the electronic modulator. Once the system was operating, it was upgraded with new polyester capacitors and modern transistors replacing the original wax-paper dipped components.
Being an electrical engineer made the task easier for White. He reverse engineered the unit, found the faults, and got the electrical portion to work. Before he could determine whether the system would pump fuel, he had to machine some parts on his lathe. Using factory photos to replace the missing primary distributor, White shortened a stock distributor from a Chrysler 413 engine and re-worked the keyway. The keyway shaft into the distributor was round with a tab sticking out, and had to be enlarged and re-machined. He also had to fabricate a coupler and attach it to the secondary or “trigger” distributor, which controls fuel flow. He then bench tested the unit with air pressure and a power drill hooked up to turn the distributor, creating a driving environment without fuel. With everything working, the system was completely detailed then placed atop the original engine. White also received invaluable help from a Bosch employee and 300 Club VP, Jim Bartuska.
White’s Adventurer convertible was built with the 361-cu.in. V-8, power steering, power brakes, power windows, power seat, triad horns, bumper guards, remote driver mirror and matching passenger mirror, dual antennas, clock, steering wheel watch, Prismatic rear view mirror, Sure Grip differential, and Highway Hi-Fi Record Player. The NOS fuel injection emblems, the only ones known to exist, were “liberated” from a Chrysler building by an employee and found by White. He also has all factory manuals, fuel-injection schematics and service bulletins, about 200 pages in all, related to the car.
The trademark “Electrojector” was twice registered with the US PTO. The
first filing was 4 January 1957, registered 27 August 1957.
It was registered by Bendix Aviation Corporation in Detroit as “Goods &
Services: Fuel injection systems for internal combustion engines. First use
was 16 NOV 1956. Last listed owner is Facet Enterprises, Inc. in Tulsa, Oklahoma which is aspin off of a Bendix / Fram conglomerate, now known as Purolator.It is owned by Pennzoil. See Purolator’s website
for a more detailed version of how they ended up with the rights to the
Electrojector. Bendix bought Fram and got sued for it, so they had to spin
off a company for filter products.
Bendix filed a secondary trademark description under the
Electrojector name in February 1957, which now defines it as “Electronic
parts of a fuel feeding system – namely modulators, distributor-breakers,
amplifiers, and solenoid nozzles.” First use is still 11/16/1956. This
trademark was registered in October 1957 and also became property of Facet.
Both trademarks were renewed once in 1977. Both are now expired and
considered “dead” by the US PTO.
They have registration numbers and serial numbers, but these are
trademarks. The only way to search for a patent in the ’50s online is by
patent number or current US classification.