1954 Edwards America Convertible
Year of manufacture1954
- Offered from the Muckel Collection
- The first of five examples completed in period; believed to be one of three finished as convertibles
- The only example built on a 100-inch Henry J chassis and fitted with an Oldsmobile “Rocket” V-8 engine
- Mechanically restored in 2003
- Presented at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance; successfully completed the Colorado Grand
- Subject of period coverage in Motor Trend and Road & Track; featured in numerous automotive magazines and books, including Automobile Quarterly, Autoweek, Collectible Automobile, and Hemmings Motor News
- Offered with correspondence, photographs, manufacturer’s fabrication notes and parts list, and history by marque expert (and former Edwards engineer) Bob Whitmer
Sterling Edwards was a sportsman, test pilot, and scion of an industrial wire company based in San Francisco. While attending the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Edwards encountered a Cisitalia Mille Miglia roadster that ignited his imagination with its delicate curves and European design aesthetics.
Further inspired by his interest in competitive driving, in 1949 Edwards embarked on the build of an eponymous sports-racing car dubbed the R-26. The well-known Norman Timbs was hired to co-design the car, while experienced competition builders Lujie Lesovsky, Emile Diedt, and the now famous Phil Remington (later a key contributor to Carroll Shelby’s GT40 team) were retained for construction. Edwards successfully campaigned numerous California sports car races in the R-26, winning at Santa Ana, Palm Springs, and the Del Monte Trophy Race at Pebble Beach in 1950 (races to which he was central in organizing). The R-26’s racing prowess was equaled by its beautiful design, epitomized by the car’s Best of Show win at the inaugural 1950 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Not content with merely racing, Edwards followed up his competition successes with the creation of a customer-inclined road car that incorporated fiberglass coachwork replete with European design cues, and a large-displacement American drivetrain. In this pursuit the sportsman evidenced great foresight, being arguably a step ahead of contemporary visionaries such as Briggs Cunningham and Harley Earl. Ultimately five examples of the handsome Edwards America were built before the extravagant costs of the venture (and the product’s commensurate pricing) prompted Sterling Edwards to move on.
Introduced in late 1953 with a numbering system based on Edwards’ accounting system, chassis no. 194-1 (stamped 8C110808) was the first Edwards America built. It is the only example built on a Kaiser-Frazer 100-inch Henry J chassis, and the only one powered by an Oldsmobile “Rocket” V-8 engine. Believed to have been finished in blue paint with a white top over a leather interior, and fitted with Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels, the convertible was sold new in 1954 to John McWorter, according to the research of former company engineer and Edwards historian Bob Whitmer.
Sold in 1960 by a second California-based owner, the Edwards passed to an enthusiast in Ohio by the mid-1960s, eventually settling into prolonged ownership by Bill Condon of Painsville, Ohio, who attempted to research the car’s history. In 1977 the America was sold to Bob Shuey of Caldwell, Idaho, and he presented the car to a great reception at the 1999 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
A year later the Edwards was purchased by Neil Huffman of Prospect, Kentucky, who conducted a comprehensive mechanical restoration that included a full rebuild of the engine and significant attention to the brakes, suspension, Hydra-Matic transmission, fuel system, electrical system, and the instrumentation. The car was then exhibited at the 2002 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance (winning an award for Outstanding Design and Restoration) and the Keeneland Concours d’Elegance. Huffman also drove the America in the 2001 Colorado Grand.
Acquired by the consignor in 2010, the rare Edwards has continued to benefit from careful attention and service as needed. The important production prototype has been featured in numerous automotive publications over the years, including Automobile Quarterly, Autoweek, Collectible Automobile, and Hemmings Motor News, and enjoyed period coverage of its introduction in Motor Trend and Road & Track.
Accompanied by an impressive file of documentation that features a full history of all the Edwards Americas by Bob Whitmer, this beautiful convertible attests to the groundbreaking vision of the remarkable Sterling Edwards. The convertible retains its Oldsmobile engine, Henry J frame, and intoxicating fiberglass coachwork; it is ideal for presentation at regional concours and American car shows and poised to make an important addition to any collection. To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/mo20.