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Never heard of the Dale, a 3 wheel car sold in the 1970s as a result of the oil crisis. They're doing a documentary on HBO. Has anyone seen the actual vehicle? What did you think of the car?

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There was a lot of publicity around the Dale at the time and it was written up in several car magazines and news and general interest magazines. It was a very strange story, the whole thing turned out to be some kind of stock selling scam. The closest thing they came to making a car, was a kind of kit car like contraption with fibreglass body, small industrial engine and 3 wheels. I believe it ran but don't think anyone outside the company drove it, although it was shown to various people including reporters and potential investors.

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I don’t remember the beginning of it all, but I remember when they found the transgender “lady” who was behind the scam. I think it was an an episode of America’s Most Wanted television series in the late 1980’s? It will be an interesting show to watch...

 

Just looked it up, it was unsolved mysteries not most wanted, both were favorites in my college dorm...

Edited by Mark Wetherbee
Correction (see edit history)
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Tagged the "car of the future," the Dale was expected to return 70 mpg.
PHOTO BY HEMMINGS MOTOR NEWS
 

 

The trial against G. Elizabeth Carmichael and her associates of the defunct Twentieth Century Motor Car Corp. was finally underway, after her dramatic capture revealed a twist in the case.

The Dale car, a design of Dale Clifft, was supposed to be produced by Carmichael's budding auto company in California. It was a 70-mpg vehicle constructed of “rocket structural resin” that was made to withstand damage well.

After receiving money from investors, Carmichael was accused of disappearing with the funds. She faced grand theft, fraud and securities charges.

Carmichael went into hiding, but the FBI eventually nabbed her climbing out the window of a rented Miami house. Fingerprints confirmed that Elizabeth Carmichael was a man, Jerry Dean Michael, a 47-year-old fugitive missing since 1961.

Read the story below and use the tools in the lower right corner to view in full screen

 

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Just saw the ad for it yesterday, so there must be a media blitz. From what little I've read, that was one messed up Lady/Dude/whatever. A life based on deceit.

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Every time there is a crisis they come out of the woodwork. In the "first fuel crisis" (which really was never a crisis really, plenty of gas was available ( did add a 16 gallon auxiliary tank on the roof rack of my station wagon to be able to run from Indiana to south Florida non-stop. Never needed it.).

 

Were a bunch of oddball cars besides the Dale in the NMSL period: GM ElectroVette, Brubaker Box, CitiCar, and lotsa furrin buzz boxes that didn't buzz at 55. Add in the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development and Demonstration Act of 1976 and they were coming out of the woodwork.

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NMSL - "Negative Motion Servo Logic" or perhaps "Natural Mystification Study of Litigation" or ...

 

A group that really over-uses acronyms would be ... professional pilots (aviators).  Of course there's a reason for that, copying clearances etc., but for attempting communication with the rest of the Human Race, Nah!

 

Just take a look at this list of Aviation Acronyms: https://atcsl.tripod.com/aviation_acronyms.htm

 

Cheers,

Grog

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National Maximum Speed Limit. Mentioned 55 afterwards. Gee Whillikers Sandy am I the only one who remembers that ?

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5 hours ago, padgett said:

Gee Whillikers Sandy am I the only one who remembers that ?

No your not. I crawled along at 55 like everyone else. Funny thing though, now days 55 seems like a pretty good speed. 

Heady stuff in the DeSoto. 

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, padgett said:

National Maximum Speed Limit. Mentioned 55 afterwards. Gee Whillikers Sandy am I the only one who remembers that ?

 

Everyone of my age (well, almost everyone) remembers the Federally Mandated Speed Limit (FMSL), but I don't know anyone who refers to it either by FMSL or NMSL (National Maximum Speed Limit).  There were even songs written about the FMSL/NMSL, such as "I Can't Drive 55", by Sammy Hagar; however, nowhere in that song are the acronyms FMSL or NMSL mentioned.  Gee whillikers, "What in the wide, wide world of sports is a goin' on here?"  Acronymania?  Or sumthin'.

 

Cheers,

Grog

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7 hours ago, capngrog said:

 

Everyone of my age (well, almost everyone) remembers the Federally Mandated Speed Limit (FMSL), but I don't know anyone who refers to it either by FMSL or NMSL (National Maximum Speed Limit).  There were even songs written about the FMSL/NMSL, such as "I Can't Drive 55", by Sammy Hagar; however, nowhere in that song are the acronyms FMSL or NMSL mentioned.  Gee whillikers, "What in the wide, wide world of sports is a goin' on here?"  Acronymania?  Or sumthin'.

 

Cheers,

Grog

Another reason I'll NEVER waste garage space for a late '70's car; a speedometer that shows a maximum of 85 mph, and the 55 either red-lined, or enlarged!

 

Craig

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19 hours ago, padgett said:

Were a bunch of oddball cars besides the Dale in the NMSL period: GM ElectroVette, Brubaker Box, CitiCar, and lotsa furrin buzz boxes that didn't buzz at 55. Add in the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development and Demonstration Act of 1976 and they were coming out of the woodwork.

Including OTIS:   https://forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/forum/your-studebaker-forum/stove-huggers-the-non-studebaker-forum/49484-orphan-of-the-day-1975-otis-electric-delivery-vehicle

 

Craig

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22 hours ago, capngrog said:

NMSL - "Negative Motion Servo Logic" or perhaps "Natural Mystification Study of Litigation" or ...

 

 

 

I was thinking Nationally Mandated Second Language 

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The show is, IMHO, unwatchable. I really looked forward to this series because I remember as a teen when the Dale was being hyped and was fascinated by it and its (claimed) advanced, revolutionary design.  Then, before I ever saw a single one on the road, it disappeared. In those pre-internet days, info was hard to come by, but apparently, as I gathered over the years, there was a shemale, FBI raids, a whole lotta B.S. and, in the end, very little actual automobile manufacturing involved. Too bad, it seemed like a good idea gone wrong, then it was gone. I always wondered what happened.

 

Then this HBO documentary got greenlighted and I caught wind of it. Eagerly I awaited the intervening months until its premier, and then I watched it.

 

W.   T.    F.   ??????? 

 

The first episode was a bit light on details about the actual "Dale" car (my main, if not ONLY interest) and devolved into an hours long (or so it seemed) introduction to the "Lady", a cross-dressing con-man on a cross-country journey with his wife and kids in tow, all retold via herky-jerky carboard cut-outs skittering across the tv like a frantically demented version of South Park. The whole thing looks like it was sloppily put together post-deadline on a high school light table in a 1970's Graphic Arts Class. Sure, I realize that attention spans have shrunken dramatically in the Digital Age and folks need a lot of visual stimulation now to hold their interest, but this show actually made my eyes hurt. The director(s) seem to confuse this annoyingly manic pre-school finger-puppetry for Avant Garde cinema.

 The second installment was just as off-putting as the first and I fell asleep after a few genuine bits of info on the car and its design team accidentally got onto the screen before the show again mutated into a gripping expose' on mid 1970's transphobia in Corporate America, again told in two dimensions by scissors and paste graphics. When I awoke the end credits were mercifully scrolling across the screen. 

 

The actual history of the Dale is probably an interesting  story (or cautionary tale),  its just horribly told here as an aside to whatever this docu-mess is trying to say. To be fair, the title is "The Lady and the Dale", and the "Dale" does get second billing in that title. I just never imagined the gap between the two on screen would be so vast.

 I wont be back.

 

I guess I'll have to wait for the more languid and insightful  Ken Burns version on PBS.

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On 2/3/2021 at 9:59 AM, dustycrusty said:

The first episode was a bit light on details about the actual "Dale" car (my main, if not ONLY interest) and devolved into an hours long (or so it seemed) introduction to the "Lady", a cross-dressing con-man on a cross-country journey with his wife and kids in tow, all retold via herky-jerky carboard cut-outs skittering across the tv like a frantically demented version of South Park. The whole thing looks like it was sloppily put together post-deadline on a high school light table in a 1970's Graphic Arts Class.

 

I have to agree the cardboard cutouts were very distracting and really brought forth the cheap production. Not knowing anything about the car or the story behind it, I was able to get past that, the entire time saying to myself "I can't believe I have never heard about this."  Unless the Super Bowl is a blowout, I will wait for the finale. 

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As for the car, I don't really think they ever really had a legitimate prototype from what I've seen. Some people are saying the only engine was nothing more than a small gas generator, although that seems just as far fetched as well. I'm looking past the bad animation to learn about a con artist who pretty much laid waste to every life she touched. And the people who knew her seem to STILL be under her spell. I won't draw any further parallels.

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1 hour ago, Golden73 said:

As for the car, I don't really think they ever really had a legitimate prototype from what I've seen. Some people are saying the only engine was nothing more than a small gas generator, although that seems just as far fetched as well. I'm looking past the bad animation to learn about a con artist who pretty much laid waste to every life she touched. And the people who knew her seem to STILL be under her spell. I won't draw any further parallels.

 

I recall they mentioned a road test, and maybe there was footage? 

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On 2/4/2021 at 6:10 PM, John348 said:

 

I recall they mentioned a road test, and maybe there was footage? 

According to the doc, 1 or 2 test runs for Japanese manufacturers. The driver was an engineer for the company. He made a run at about 40 mph and then a hard turn. The engine location and rear wheel mounting made the car very tippy and they rolled the car. The investors apparently left in a hurry. The other people were pretty upset about it, claiming he did it intentionally to sabotage the investment. His claim was it was a bad design and they should have done differently in the first place. If there was footage, they didn't show it.

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  • 2 months later...

Obviously the "Big 3" connived to prevent the Dale from being built to eliminate competition.  I hear they cornered the market for fibreglas so the Dale could not be built.  I also understand that a prototype convertible Dale was built secretly and still exists in unrestored condition.

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Dunno about the others but GM at the time was more concerned about selling too many cars - fed was talking about ordering it to be broken up like what happened to ma Bell and Standard Oil. See the Sherman Antitrust Act.

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Some time back in the 1970s, my dad visited Los Angeles and came home with a Dale brochure.  Not sure where he got it from.  It disappeared long ago - probably when my mother cleaned out their house before she sold it.  I've since seen the exact same brochure scanned and on the 'net.  

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20 hours ago, padgett said:

Dunno about the others but GM at the time was more concerned about selling too many cars - fed was talking about ordering it to be broken up like what happened to ma Bell and Standard Oil. See the Sherman Antitrust Act.

It was around 1962 there was talk of that.  At that time, each division made its own chassis and engines, and easily could have been separate corporations, with Fisher Body and the transmission factories become part of Allison and made into standalone suppliers.  (GM eventually did sell off Allison, Detroit Diesel and AC-Delco)  

 

By the mid-seventies, it would not have been as easy to break up GM as engines and other components became more commonly shared between divisions which hurt them as it did BMC/British Leyland with badge-engineered brand dilution between their once respected divisions.

 

Craig

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Was told that was the reason GMAD (General Motors Assembly Division) was created.

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Based on the documentary I think Geraldine Carmichael found a naive inventor looking to improve the world with a car that had a lot of flaws. She capitalized on the inventor's naivete and took deposits from a public terrified of running out of gas. Con artists are always con artists. It's what they do. It's possible that the big 3 also wanted it to fail, but I don't think that car ever would have been a success.

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