Here’s the real Marge Simpson’s 1965 open-wheeler – it’s the one that you never saw

Over at Marge Simpson’s garage, she certainly has one of the best collections of motors ever amassed, and it goes way back. And yet, in 1963, she still hadn’t seen her current vehicle of choice, a Chevy sedan, while she was scouring suburban Detroit looking for a hot rod, which she bought from a dealers for $1,050. In only the 20th century.

The car was discovered last week, hidden under a carpet in a garage in Memphis, Tennessee. A person who lives in the garage took it to a local mechanic, where it was tuned up and sold, for $7500. That person then sold it to the local Flint News Record to see what it would sell for at auction.

Last Sunday, the car was sold to avid collector William Henry Barham for $18,950 and a spot in the Marge Simpson Motor Collection. The car was named the Bataan Japanese Imperial Star Cruiser (BJR) after Barham’s uncle helped organize the war relief effort in 1947. He also owned a doctor’s practice on site. Barham is in the process of restoring the car.

Some tough engineering…

An open-mated race car had been the original model, but the Ford engineers designed a two-seater without a hood. The car was designed and built in June, 1963. However, the arrangement of the engine was different from what was to be produced, and Ford began to rework the engine.

Just two months later, during the mid-September quarter, Ford officially took the car out of production. One of the engines was changed to the Ford-260 V8, used in F-250 and F-350 Heavy Duty trucks. The other was a Ford-5C6 V6, used in the larger F-550, F-600, and F-1P trucks. The engines’ mpg ratings range from 14.8 mpg in 1971 to 35 mpg in 1995.

Ford still produced the body, but it had different dash handles.

Ford had already begun producing the first production F-series trucks and F-wagons with larger V8 engines. The BJR had been ordered with the optional 5C6 engine, but after a late-introduction and much longer build-out, it was considered too small.

Entering the market before the Mustang

While Lincoln pioneered the open-bodied, rear-drive car, Ford’s division Ford S.A.C. had been working on the open body and rear-wheel drive Mustang before they introduced the Model A. The Mustang’s body had been designed to permit just this type of front-end weight distribution, so it fitted the Model A like a glove.

Also, while it was technically a “retro” model because it was a factory-produced car before it sold any body panels to the dealers, the BJR is distinctly not a retro car. To the contrary, it is a very modern design that looks like a more modern car and has a modern suspension. For its size, it was first introduced in the beginning of the 60s and is not a very retro-looking car.

A blast to the future…

Ford is now talking about using the car, which has a Ford-5C6 V6 engine, in its bus line. But the interior and design are from the pre-1966 era of cars. That car hasn’t made it to the streets for years. So the value of the car is not greatly affected by its age. Also, as I mentioned, most the car has already been sold, and the BJR is one of the cars that are far less valuable than a vehicle of the same type from 1963.

Even though it still runs in good condition and looks great, the BJR will be 20 years old before it has any value for new purchases. And, of course, that means that Ford probably won’t be making another one at the rate that they have been making (or selling).

Finally, it will be interesting to see if it can fly in to the biggest collector shows. Interestingly, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a living example of one. Nor do I know of any. Which may be enough to convince you to put one in your collection.

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