Silhouette II Space Coupe

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A sketch of the Silhouette II as it appeared in Popular Customs January 1966.
Silhouette2-4.jpg


The Silhouette II Space Coupe is a streamlined bubble top show car designed by Bill Cushenbery of Cushenbery Custom Shop.[1]


Bill started working on the all aluminum Corvair powered car at his Monterey, California shop in 1963. In 1964 he moved to a new shop in North Hollywood, bringing the project along.[1]


The Dispute

Toward the end of 1964 Bill had a dispute with his financiers. He took elements of the car with him and moved to a new shop, thinking he would get the rest of the car back to finish once the dispute was settled.[1]


The Scorpion

Bill's project was presented to the world in Popular Customs January 1966. In the story he refereed to the car as the "Scorpion." Bill said that the name may not stick as he felt it had too many unpleasant connotations. The car was described as another Cushenbery show stopper, a sleek little streamliner displaying a happy mixture of influences from Bonneville and sports car racing. By 1966 Bill had created an original chassis using two-by-four-inch rectangular tubing. The mechanical Corvair components had also been shuffled around a bit to fit within the vehicle's unusual configuration. Bill had also begun to build the aluminum body, and a model of the car was already on Revell's future model schedule.[2]


Lost

After Bill lost the car, it mysteriously went missing. It surfaced a couple of times in other shops in the 1960s, before it vanished completely. Bill tried to trace it down without luck, and in 1998 his hunt ended when he passed away.[1]


Found

In late April 1999 Carl Green found the remains of the Silhouette II. The build was never completed, and he found it discarded among tall weeds on a property in El Cajon, California. The current owner was preparing to have it hauled off and crushed.[1]


Darryl Starbird’s Rod and Custom Hall of Fame Museum

Carl Green cleaned and patched the car up, and sent it to Oklahoma were it was displayed at Darryl Starbird’s Rod and Custom Hall of Fame Museum. Unable to raise enough funds to restore the car, it was languished for another 8 years until he moved it back to Southern California in 2007.[1]


The Cushenbery Project

In 2008, Barry Gremillion, an old friend of Carl's, stepped in to finance the restoration, and began making a documentary about it called "The Cushenbery Project."[1]


Willie Newman, a renowned aluminum body many from New Zealand, worked for a few months on the car. He made great progress on the body and chassis while Jeff Williams at California Corvairs re-built the chromed engine and drivetrain.[1]


In December of 2008, the project took what was supposed to be a 2 week break so Carl could return to Kansas and Willie to New Zealand for holidays with family. The project was on target for completion by Spring 2009. Carl and Willie never returned, and a series of events unfolded that delayed the project for another 7 years.[1]


The car remained with Carl's nephew, Rodger Green, in storage in Nebraska until Carl passed away in late 2015.[1]


Magazine Features and Appearances

Popular Customs January 1966


Further Reading

Click here to visit the Silhouette II Space Coupe Restoration Prject
Click here for more info on Bill Cushenbery
Click here for more info on Cushenbery Custom Shop


References


Sources

Rik Hoving Custom Car Photo Archive






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