It seems ridiculous to think of a car with three lives. The Norman Timbs Streamliner if in fact very special. We have covered this car in depth previously. In summary, the car was built from the ground up, lusted after and widely published; then forgotten, badly damaged and neglected. It was then discovered, painstakingly restored and lusted after again and widely published again. Then it was destroyed again. Now, it will be brought back to life and, I am sure, lusted after again.
Norman Timbs is the father of this beautiful piece of automotive art. In the late 1940s, he gave the car life creating it in is mind and building it with his hands. It lived a good life but after a few years it beauty was fleeting and its uniqueness was lost as was the car itself. At one point it was simply a derelict piece of road art used as a playground for children outside a California high desert restaurant.
Its second life came about at the hands of Gary Cerveny who bought the car for $17,000 at auction on a whim. After carefully going over his new acquisition and doing the proper research he realized his initial plan to make a cool cruizer out of the car would be a mistake. A long extensive restoration began resulting in life number two for this remarkable car. Its second birth and second unveiling was at the prestigious Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in 2010. It was a hit.
For nearly 10 years it survived and was adored by car enthusiasts around the world. Unfortunately, November 2018 would again see the car near death. The disastrous Malibu California wildfires burned the car and other collector cars owned by Cerveny to the ground.
His home and his collection of 76 rare and one-off custom cars, race cars, and other vehicles were damaged. He decided to save just four. Others were more valuable but the 1948 Norman Timbs Streamliner was the one he was most attached to. Cerveny considered this the centerpiece of his collection. He is determined it will rise again and hopefully live a long third life.
This time around, according to Cerveny’s assessment, the streamliner is in much worse shape than the first time he purchased it. Cerveny has recruited Rex Rogers, one of the Custom Auto employees who worked on the car’s first restoration, to work on this second restoration of the streamliner. He believes that just about everything aside from the body—though some parts of that could be integrated into a new body, should be able to be reused for the restoration, including the Timbs-designed independent rear suspension.
Cerveny plans for work to begin on the streamliner’s resurrection sometime after January 1, 2021. Once started, he anticipates the restoration will take 18 to 24 months. If all goes to plan the Norman Timbs Streamliner will again begin its new life at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Although that is some time away I hope to again be there for the third life of the Norman Timbs Streamliner like I was for its second birth.