Norman Timbs Special powered by 1948 Buick Straight Eight

This car was destroyed in the 2018 Malibu fires in California!Norman Timbs, was a Los Angeles-based mechanical auto engineer with previous Indy 500 car building experience. He built this one-off streamliner in the 1940s at a cost of approximately $10,000. It is said that the design was inspired by the mid-engined Auto Union racers of the 1930s.

As it was found in the desert of California. Before this it sat in front of a restaurant in CA where children use to plan on it. Look carefully and you will see the depression in the panel behind the seat where children would run up the back of the car to get into the driver’s seat!

The car is only 47″ tall and rides on a 117″ wheelbase with a total length of about 17 feet. It has an aluminum skin over a tube frame chassis and weighs just 2,200 lbs. Power comes from a mid-engine Buick straight eight with dual carburetors. The Timbs Special utilized extensively modified 1947 Ford suspension components for a plush ride. Timbs designed an independent rear suspension using Packard and Ford driveline components. It is reportedly capable of 120MPH.

This is a October 1949 Motor Trend cover car and this new restoration debut at Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in March of 2010. The car was also featured in the 1949 December Popular Mechanics.

Its sensual and sleek hand-formed aluminum body features a unique two piece construction that allows the tail section to open behind the cockpit. With the tail section up the gas tank, spare tire, engine and other mechanical components can be easily accessed. The hand built aluminum body shows a true designer’s eye for shape and form. In 1948 the 17 1/2’ long Timbs Special was so unique in its construction and design that it was featured in Motor Trend as well as Popular Mechanics Dec 1949

The owner and restorer of this work of art is Gary Cerveny of Malibu, California. He is a noted collector of unique and one of a kind cars. Recognizing the significance of the car, he purchased it in 2002. His extensive research revealed numerous magazine articles, period photographs and firsthand knowledge of the car to insure an accurate restoration. Cerveny began the personal restoration with repair of body damage and rebuilding the drive train. Because the massive aluminum body with its complex curves required special skill, he engaged Custom Auto of Loveland, Colorado.

The RM Auctions Trophy for Best Open Car at the 2010 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance now belongs to this beautiful streamliner!


  1. Wow-With all that weight hanging out at the back, handling must be really stimulating! Still love the car.

  2. It is really sad that interesting and unique vehicles are treated so badly and abandoned without even a second thought.

    I would love to drive that car just to see how it handles and to feel the engine accelerate and hear the note of it’s exhaust, It would be stunning.

  3. Wgat beautiful lines and ingenuity, let alone the engineering that went into this one off. And I must say, $10,000 back then was alot of money, thank you Gary for buying the car and having the wherewithal to bring it back to life so our children can see automotive art at it’s best.

  4. Hallo weight hanging out back !!! NO its in the middle !!
    Its a mid engine car just like dragsters ang formula cars not like a VW or Porsche ! Thank U thats ALL 0,not really it was inspired by mid engine NSU it said in the beginning !

  5. Thank you Gary for bringing this car back to the world. Truly a masterpiece, it took my breath away the first time I saw it.

  6. Destroyed in the 2018 California wildfires? What a horrible shame! I saw this car in a special exhibit in Indianapolis in 2015 and was absolutely blown away – you had to see it in person to fully realize how beautifully sculpted it was. Well, it was literally raised from the dead once before, maybe it can be again.

  7. The ignorance of people to treat a fine work of art like that is astounding. It’s a very famous piece of history. I really hope it is rebuilt

  8. This car was classified as “damaged” in the 2018 wildfire in California but according to an August 2020 article but Auto, this automobile is going to be restored. The fire scored the body but enough of it remained that out of the owner’s 76 cars to be damaged by the fire, the Straight Edge is one of the only 5 that survived the blaze.

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