If you like old cars, and all kinds of cool information that applies to them, you really ought to be reading The Old Motor. It’s an online vintage automobile magazine that’s updated every day by its creator, David Greenlees, who lives in Brattleboro, Vermont. David is one of the automotive hobby’s really good guys, and is acclaimed restorer of veteran vehicles, including a Duesenberg race car that took part in the Indianapolis 500 during the World War I era. There’s always something fantastic being reborn in David’s shop, and you’ll also find all kinds of wonderful stuff on his website. As one example, we offer this unusual vehicle, and its even more curious history.
For the record, this is a customized 1938 REO tractor pulling a Curtiss Aerocar travel trailer of about the same vintage. The luxurious land yacht was commissioned by Dr. Hubert Eaton, a businessman whose holdings came to include Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, the last stop for any number of silver screen icons and other Hollywood celebrities. The REO power unit was custom-built by Standard Carriage Works of Los Angeles, resembling a design for another lavish transcontinental traveler designed by Brooks Stevens, of later Studebaker and Excalibur fame. The trailer comes from a firm founded by the American motorcycle champion and aviation pioneer Glenn H. Curtiss of Hammondsport, New York, who’d been building early travel trailers since about 1920. Curtiss eventually shifted into Florida realty development with his friend, Indianapolis Motor Speedway co-founder Carl G. Fisher. A firm to manufacture Aerocar trailers was set up in Coral Gables, Florida, just before Curtiss died in 1930. According to the Coachbuilt website, private owners of Florida-built Aerocar trailers also included chewing gum magnate Philip K. Wrigley and the noted bon vivant William K. Vanderbilt II. Eaton’s Aerocar featured a tall cupola for sightseeing, reminiscent of the Vista Dome passenger cars that were later a common sight on crack passenger trains. The Eaton rig was in regular service at Forest Lawn until 1991 and now resides, in largely original condition, at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.