TOPPER the movie car


Tony Gerrity with TOPPER

Cary Grant and Constance Bennett in TOPPER
TOPPER with Gerrity designed trailer

Dad purchased a pile of photos at the Bonhams auction, held in association with the Greenwich Concours, last month. Many of these images are from the collection of the late author John Webb De Campi (I'll feature more soon). Among the photos were the images seen here of TOPPER, the 1936 Buick Special. Bodied by Bohman & Schwartz, the Pasadena based coachworks, for the MGM movie "Topper", the car was featured along with Cary Grant and Constance Bennett. These images are marked on the back and appear to be studio publicity photos. One shows the designer of the car, Tony Gerrity, who worked for Bohman & Schwartz at the time, standing next to his creation. The other shows the stars of the film, possibly in a scene from the film (I’m not sure, having never seen the film). After the film had run, the studio sold Topper to the Gilmore Oil Company, which used the car to promote its “Red Lion” gasoline. Re-sprayed in the Gilmore colors, the Buick was fashioned with a PA system and a hitch to tow a trailer with a live lion cub. Later Gilmore returned the car to Bohman & Schwartz who designed a second trailer (done by Gerrity) to match the features of the car. In the late 1940s Gilmore was purchased by Mobilgas and they sent the car back to Bohman & Schwartz for updating once again. A number of possible designs were drawn-up and ultimately one reminiscent of a period Studebaker was chosen. Repainted in white and adorned with a red Pegasus on the door, an eight-cylinder GM motor was fitted to improve performance. The last modifications were done by C. Bohman and Son who purchased a 1954 Chrysler Imperial Newport chassis, re-mounted the body, made numerous upgrades, and dropped in a Chrysler Hemi. In all, the changes came to a whopping $10,000. The car passed through the Jim Brucker “Movieland – Cars of the Stars” collection before being sold by RM Auctions in 2006 for $132,000.
TOPPER as it looks today (photo credit: RM Auctions)

1 comment:

  1. I liked the car as it was in the movie. I don't care for the changes they made to it later. In the movie it looked like it was built for speed. The way it looks now is a cross between a family car and a sports car.

    ReplyDelete