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What is a 1947 davis


nick8086
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The Davis three wheeler was somewhat of a scam, as Gary Davis was trying to sell dealerships and raise money.  Unfortunately the "raising money" only resulted in 17 cars being produced.

 

Davis would show cars to the press, and did some impressive things with the car, such as driving at relatively high speed in a tight circle.  He repainted cars quickly and often to give the appearance of having a lot of inventory, which wasn't true.

 

In total, 17 cars were built, and 13 or 14 survive today.  He used various engines, such as a Hercules industrial engine, and at least one exists with a Ford V-8 in it.

 

I owned one many years ago, mine came from a gun collector in my hometown in Louisiana, he'd bought it from a company in Texas which had bought a dealership and got the car in a legal claim against Gary Davis for fraud.

 

The car I had was in storage for many years, yet when I went to strip the paint away, there were at least 4 or 5 paint layers of different colors.  I'm convinced this was one of the cars that Gary Davis was using as mentioned above, repainting often. Picture shows it as I found it, in about 1980 or so.

 

Wish I'd kept it, but circumstances in our lives sometimes change things, and you can't kiss all the girls.  The car lives now in a small, eclectic collection in the South, or at least it did a few years ago when I touched base with person who bought it from me.

20090408130857576_0001.pdf

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It's the only car I've ever owned that, literally, would stop traffic, people would pull over to see what the heck was going by them....

 

What three wheel people will tell you is that the single wheel in the middle rides in the part of the road that's not smoothed by millions of tires going over it, so on some roads there can be quite a bit of not comfortable "road feel" from that wheel/steering.

 

The little Hercules four cylinder engine that was in my car was sad, was probably intended for powering forklifts, I'm sure the Ford V-8 one that's fairly "famous" is a much better driving car.

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Tom McCahill tested the Davis, and was favorably impressed. But the car company was nothing but a scam. One senior employee ordered some tooling to make body panels and when Davis found out, got very angry and cancelled the order. That was when he realized Davis had no intention of producing the car for sale. Yet he was always after them to give him more cars, saying "if you give me a dozen cars I will make them look like a hundred, give me a hundred cars and I will make them look like thousands".

 

The earliest prototypes were always on the go, appearing at shows, in parades, and in publicity photos. They were repainted regularly to give the impression that there were many different cars, and to keep them looking new.

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There is a collector here in Ann Arbor that has a gorgeous, restored Davis. He might have a second Davis as well. I haven't seen him in a few years, but his car was a regular attendee at local events. I think his last name may have been Davis as well. The car was always a show stopper. Here are some photos of it at the Orphan Car Show in Ypsilanti:

Tom-Wilson-1948-Davis-Divan-Coupe-RR.jpg

Tom-Wilson-1948-Davis-Divan-coupe--600x398.jpg

Edited by motoringicons (see edit history)
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The Davis had an aluminum body, and was not of the highest workmanship standard.  Read that to say that they were somewhat cobbled together, which of course goes along with the "scam" aspect of the endeavor.  There's one well known picture of the production line, and it's obvious it's a set up, think it was in a hanger at an abandoned air strip....

 

Here's a nice Hemmings article about them, mine was #8 by the way....I still have a Davis chrome script that was never put back on the car. 

 

http://www.hemmings.com/magazine/hcc/2005/04/Three-Wheeling---1948-Davis/1280664.html  

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Davis would show cars to the press, and did some impressive things with the car, such as driving at relatively high speed in a tight circle.  He repainted cars quickly and often to give the appearance of having a lot of inventory, which wasn't true.

 

Home Depot did the same when it opened up with empty paint cans.....................by the hudreds. The illusions!  worked for HD......................

 

Wayne Carini had one with a flathead on several shows. Pretty sure he sold it though.

 

what doesnt he sell?  all for a buck...............................!

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On 7/1/2016 at 5:21 AM, trimacar said:

The Davis three wheeler was somewhat of a scam, as Gary Davis was trying to sell dealerships and raise money.  Unfortunately the "raising money" only resulted in 17 cars being produced.

 

Davis would show cars to the press, and did some impressive things with the car, such as driving at relatively high speed in a tight circle.  He repainted cars quickly and often to give the appearance of having a lot of inventory, which wasn't true.

 

In total, 17 cars were built, and 13 or 14 survive today.  He used various engines, such as a Hercules industrial engine, and at least one exists with a Ford V-8 in it.

 

I owned one many years ago, mine came from a gun collector in my hometown in Louisiana, he'd bought it from a company in Texas which had bought a dealership and got the car in a legal claim against Gary Davis for fraud.

 

The car I had was in storage for many years, yet when I went to strip the paint away, there were at least 4 or 5 paint layers of different colors.  I'm convinced this was one of the cars that Gary Davis was using as mentioned above, repainting often. Picture shows it as I found it, in about 1980 or so.

 

Wish I'd kept it, but circumstances in our lives sometimes change things, and you can't kiss all the girls.  The car lives now in a small, eclectic collection in the South, or at least it did a few years ago when I touched base with person who bought it from me.

20090408130857576_0001.pdf

 

I well remember the Davis in your driveway back when you lived in Louisiana. My wife really liked the Davis, and hoped that you would have kept it, as well as the big Pierce Arrow "Worlds Fair" car you let go to acquire your Cord. You've certainly had several outstanding cars come and go over the years. Your '17 Franklin 9-A Touring which came from Dr Whittaker's collection in Waterproof, went through my hands and is now in a Franklin collection in the Lehigh Valley. The yellow and black '27 Chevy Roadster likewise passed through my collection after being driven on many Glidden and Vintage tours, still resides in Louisiana, and will again be offered for sale by its current owner of ten years. I wish I could have bought one of the other '38 Super Eight Packards when you had three of them side-by-side in your garage - Convertible Cabriolet, Club Sedan, and Touring Sedan with those special personalized license plates.

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  • 4 years later...

I could tell from your photos that you really liked that gray one. Good colors and surprisingly handsome for such an odd little thing. I'd be curious to know how they actually drive.

 

GfFI3.gif

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I watched the little three wheeler go up for a trophy. It's a fun thing to look at and ponder, but it's not my type of weird..........lets just say, it won't be at Englishtown lining up to make a few passes.

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Seeing one of these in person is on my automotive bucket list. 

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7 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

I could tell from your photos that you really liked that gray one. Good colors and surprisingly handsome for such an odd little thing. I'd be curious to know how they actually drive.

 

GfFI3.gif

The driver of that Reliant Robin needs a passenger to balance the weight!!

 

Craig

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I'm sure they handle fine around town going slow on flat ground, like say The Villages in Florida you could use one instead of a golf cart. Looks like the center of gravity is low.

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My friend who is into English cars has two of the little rascals - a mate of the Robin roller in blue and an earlier roadster. Really different and I'm sure quite exciting to drive in an adrenalin rush kind of way. 

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On 5/25/2021 at 2:08 PM, Matt Harwood said:

I could tell from your photos that you really liked that gray one. Good colors and surprisingly handsome for such an odd little thing. I'd be curious to know how they actually drive.

 

GfFI3.gif

The Davis is a very stable car, that video and the Laugh-in tricycle aside.  That’s why tricycle landing gear is used on most small planes.  The Davis drives well, it’s just that the center wheel hits all the bumps in the middle of the road where a path is not smoothed by four wheel cars.  Easy to steer.  As to power, the one I had used a Hercules four cylinder engine which was pretty sad, underpowered.....

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48 minutes ago, edinmass said:


I have been really trying not to post a negative comment on the Davis............but a liquid lunch and holding back is killing me. I like oddities and the obscure, but the Davis just does nothing for me.

 

What is the rule?  If you can't say something positive say nothing at all?

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To paraphrase a saying....

"ugly is in the eyes of the beholder".


I get a Gremlin and park them together... and when anyone says "wow, thats an ugly car", so I can point the Davis and say... true, but not that ugly. :)

 

---

 

All joking aside... I'd LOVE to own a Davis.  Take about a conversation piece!  It's not uniquely unattractive... there are a LOT of other cars who's designers designed with an ugly stick. :)

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