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Tuesday, February 2, 2016


A 1928 Porter- very rare car! 
You never heard of a 1928 Porter SHAME on you!
I have the feeling I need explain first about this 1965-1966 TV comedy named "My Mother the Car" Porter! Jerry Van Dyke (yes Dick Van Dyke's brother), younger folk may remember him in the TV show Coach wanders into a used car lot and is drawn to this old falling apart car for some reason? 
He is shocked to find out the car is his mother, if you believe in reincarnation great! 
She is back to guide him in life and talks to him through the radio, they had car radios in 1928? NO

Mr. Crabtree (Van Dyke) restores the car against his family's wishes who now think he is nuts! The car only talks to him and they do not believe his story about it being MOM! 
Character actor Avery Schreiber plays eccentric Captain Mancini a wealthy captain (pun intended) of industry and avid classic car collector. Mancini spends much of his time trying to purchase the very rare Porter for his collection showing up in a parade of actual rare cars with crazy schemes.
It is clear someone serious in the car world was involved here!  

Oddly the Porter name was a real car twice, but our TV MOM was not!
 Porter Steamer

Porter Motor Co.

1900 Porter Steamer

In 1900, Porter Motor Co. established its office in Boston with its factory in Allston. Major D. Porter had been making making motors since 1886, designed a two cylinder single acting steam engine which could either use kerosene or gasoline as fuel. The boiler was tubular, divided into three compartments and had been tested to 1000 pounds pressure. The two passenger runabout's body was made of aluminum which was unusual for that time with water tight compartments to carry fuel and water supply. It could travel 50 miles between fill ups. The Porter had a safety device so that when the hand was removed from the lever on the tiller, the engine would shut off. It was in production for two years with a price tag of $750-1000

Production (how many?) lasted 1900-1901
Now 14 years later the second Porter Car appears kind of?
 1915 F.R.P. 

 This Porter FRP is actually rare!

 Finley Robertson Porter "FRP" was chief engineer for Mercer Cars 
and branched out with his own car in the old Metropole Car Company factory in Port Jefferson Long Island NY 
A Mercer type 35 for reference was his previous claim to automotive fame.
Before the Metropol this car was produced in the Port Jefferson plant by Francis M. Richard
1910 Only Motor Car Company, Only refereed to the engine ONLY 1 cylinder of 206 cubic inch displacement - he may have produced a couple hundred cars, but unreliable they stopped production
Mr, Richard evolved his car into the Metropol from 1913-1914 now a 4 cylinder of 448 cubic inch displacement with 90HP 

The 100 HP 4 cylinder cars were all sporty, failed at an Indianapolis 500 qualification.
INDY was more of proving ground for upstart car builders!
In 1916 the factory was taken over by the gov't and 1914 to 1916 it is believed only 12 cars were assembled!
Mr. Porter became Chief Engineer at Curtiss Aircraft in Garden City Long Island NY.
We will talk about Glenn Curtiss at another time!
  The Port Jefferson plant also gave us the Maxim Tricar delivery vehicle!
No this did not evolve into the Maxim Firetruck company, sorry!
The Porter Motorcar  popped up again without Mr. Porter, but his engine was used. Porter held patterns for Engines and other inventions, but in 1929 the stock market crash took down many companies like Porter and Porter himself, last address for Porter was 2 Rector Street in NYC and he did remain active in aviation as an engineer 

Under the American and British Manufacturing Company 
 1919 Porter Closed Sedan 
 1919 Porter 
YES there was a Porter car, I can not figure out who might have known that, connected with the TV show and why they felt the need to bring the name into the comedy show?
Rumor or coincidence the production manager on the TV show was W.A. Porter?  
Back to the Porter of TV fame, it actually is a 1924 Ford Model T  with a Chevy drivetrain built by Hot Rodder Norm Grabowski  
Marketing was a big thing back then although it really did not help the show
Don't tell anyone the model kit was a 1927 Ford

Before MOM and the Porter

To be honest this was not the most stylish street rod I have seen!
This photo showed up on a page about the recent passing of George Barris who, of course, claimed to have built the car! Partially true as Grabowski sold the car to a prop man Kaye Trapp who along with father of Craig Breedlove (Land Speed record guru) Norm Breedlove who was a special effects guy modified the car for the show. Yes a duplicate was built by Barris for stunt work including a self driving car- hidden driver.  
Not the most difficult replica to build
The two cars survived, one in a private collection up in Canada and one in a museum in Gatlinburg Tennessee? I think that may be the Hollywood Star Cars museum, but was not on display my last visit? Mom seems to be reading the signage!

Norm Grabowski built some crazy cars and was a part time actor
 This is the Kookie Kar from TV show Route 66
 Hey Norm was one of those cool dudes who seemed to be around for ever in a low key way!
 He was in that small group of zany car guys with things like this Corvair powered trike
 That famous crew cut immortalized as a radiator mascot
 Famous for goofy hand carved wood shift knobs
Norm and Big Daddy Ed Roth the Rat Fink
 That's Norm changing the tire in Cannonball Run while Joe Klecko holds the van up!
I barely remembered the show, but recently some of the retro TV channels have aired it and I caught episode #1 so I began to think about the car. As I finished up the blog I realized several other people have told the story as well, but I hope you enjoyed the CARHUNTER's account! 


  1. there are other people that claim Barris built the Porter for the show, AACA, and their was someone that claimed Craig Breedlove built it. Here's the link to the post I did about it, and the links to those claims are in it

  2. Jessee George Barris is trigger for me as it is clear he was a better hack than custom car builder. He did not build every famous car, LOL! Check out Batmobile blogs I nicely explained the whole story! There is a Barris Blog coming!!

  3. I found that Craig Breedlove's dad was a car body guy, who worked at Barris's shop, and that's a clear simple reason why the Breedlove name got mixed up in all this, and the stunt Porter car that was self driving, etc etc, was a duplicate of Norm's car that the tv show needed Barris to create.