The Bob Berkshire Roadster
The Bob Berkshire Roadster was built by Idlers car club member Bob Berkshire of Tarzana, California. In 1996 Ed Wilkins told Karl Knecht that Berkshire was shot down in France in 1944, flying a P-51. "He was a prisoner of war. After the war ended he came home to recoup in the Los Angeles area."
According to the "What's Doin'" section in the April of 1946 issue of SCTA News, Bob Berkshire of the idlers car club was looking forward to the day he would be able to build up a 1946 Ford roadster. Sweet dreams according to the newsletter. According to Karl and Wilkins, he built the roadster in a chicken shack while he was recovering from his trauma from being a prisoner of war. "He was in the Idlers car club along with Jim Nairn, Ed Iskenderian, and John Athan." He built the body out of sheet steel. The frame was a tube frame. In 1947 a photo of Bob with the roadster appeared in Veda Orr's "Lakes" Pictorial 1946 Season. Back then, the car was powered by a 1946 Mercury engine that had been hopped up with Visel pistons, Edmunds heads, Weiand manifold, Harman super cams. "Cost $2,000, not counting one year's labor," according to Veda.
Moving to Dallas
At some point, Bob moved to Dallas, Texas for engineering school. "He brought his roadster with him. A fellow by the name of Gene Howard is seen in the photos from 1950 to 1951 driving the roadster. I know nothing about Gene Howard," Karl told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in 2022. Howard was from the Highland Park area of Dallas. In 1996 Karl was told that Bob was killed in a car wreck at Fort Hood, Texas in 1977, and that his son was an attorney in Dallas. While Gene Howard supposedly owned the car, it made it into Hot Rod Magazine August 1951, in a one-page article about the Chaparrals of Dallas, which Howard was a member of. According to the captions, the roadster was valued at $5000. 
After about 1951 the Berkshire Roadster disappeared from the radar, and it could no longer be seen in any local photos. Gene Howard moved to Michigan, and Karl has no idea what happened to the car. While researching the Chaparrals of Dallas car club, Karl asked several members of the club from 1949-1952 about it, and none of them could say where it went. "It just disappeared out of view in 1952."
Found in Cincinnati, Ohio
In April of 2015, a friend of Karl Knecht told him that he had come across recent photos of the Berkshire Roadser on Instagram. "He emailed me the pictures. I confirmed that it was the remains of the Berkshire roadster. I contacted the owner by email. I sent him some pictures of it back in the day. He and his father had been looking for information about the car ever since the father bought it in 1987. They knew it was a special car but did not have any information about it." The car was located in Cincinnati, Ohio, and according to Karl, they were very excited to see the information he provided them. "He told me that the car had been stored in a warehouse before they got it and that the front grille and sheet metal were stolen during that time." In 2022 the son in Cincinnati still owned the car, and he told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that he intended to one day bring the car back out. In addition to the front, the top was also gone, but they had interior pieces and the windshield. Do you know what happened to the grille, front sheet metal, and top from the Berkshire Roadster? Please get in touch with Kustomrama at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any info to share about Bob Berkshire or his historic roadster.
Magazine Features and Appearances
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