Unique of the Week: 1948 Bob Hope Special

Classic Cars / 24 Comments

Bob Hope will forever be remembered for his decades of work as a world-class entertainer. And now his unofficial car is for sale.

This week's find came as a pleasant surprise to us and we had to share it with everyone. While scrolling around on eBay Motors, we found this: the 1948 Bob Hope Special. And according to the description in the posting, "this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a real piece of American automotive history." That statement couldn't be more spot-on. Built in Ames, Iowa in 1950 and 1951 by Lloyd Templeton and his sons, the car was crafted from a 1948 Mercury sedan.

Supposedly, Mr. Templeton named the car the "Templeton Saturn" because he believed it could "run rings around" other cars at the time. Powered by a Ford/Mercury flathead V8 complete with aluminum heads, a customized aluminum intake manifold, and a pair of Stromberg carburetors, Templeton claimed total power output was more than 200hp and that he'd driven the car up to 105mph. The engine is mated to a three-speed manual transmission. Even more impressive, the body was built from a variety of cars from that era.

For example, the tail fins were taken from the rear fenders of a 1946 Dodge, the boat tail rear end came from the hood of a 1936 Ford, and the seven foot long hood was donated by a 1936 Chrysler. Even the grille was a transplant, coming from another 1946 Dodge and the headlights from a 1946 Studebaker. Upon completion, Mr. Templeton displayed the car at the 1951 Minneapolis Motorama, where it won a trophy for the "Best All Around Car." He displayed the car again the following year after doing even more work to it and, once again, took home the same trophy. It was later displayed in California at the National Car Show in Los Angeles.

While there, the car was noticed by several influential people in the film industry and arrangements were made to have it featured in a movie starring none other than Bob Hope. Apparently, the joke in the film was to compare the long nose of the car to that of Bob Hope's own schnoz. Sadly, plans changed and the film wasn't made, but it turns out the American entertainment icon liked the car so much that he asked for Mr. Templeton's permission to drive it whenever it was in California. The former agreed and that's how it received the "Bob Hope Special" name. Over the years, the car appeared in various magazines and TV shows.

When Mr. Templeton passed away in the 1970s he donated it to a local church, who then sold it. His son later bought it back and then sold it again, but to someone who properly restored it. Today, it has only 11,064 miles and has a 'Buy it Now' price of $225,000. It's a true piece of American automotive and entertainment history. Photos courtesy of florida_auto

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