Edwards America Oldsmobile

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America Oldsmobile





Sterling Edwards was a sportsman, test pilot, and scion of an industrial wire company based in San Francisco. While attending the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Edwards encountered a Cisitalia Mille Miglia roadster that ignited his imagination with its delicate curves and European design aesthetics.

Further inspired by his interest in competitive driving, in 1949 Edwards embarked on the build of an eponymous sports-racing car dubbed the R-26. The well-known Norman Timbs was hired to co-design the car, while experienced competition builders Lujie Lesovsky, Emile Diedt, and the now famous Phil Remington (later a key contributor to Carroll Shelby’s GT40 team) were retained for construction. Edwards successfully campaigned numerous California sports car races in the R-26, winning at Santa Ana, Palm Springs, and the Del Monte Trophy Race at Pebble Beach in 1950 (races to which he was central in organizing). The R-26’s racing prowess was equaled by its beautiful design, epitomized by the car’s Best of Show win at the inaugural 1950 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Not content with merely racing, Edwards followed up his competition successes with the creation of a customer-inclined road car that incorporated fiberglass coachwork replete with European design cues, and a large-displacement American drivetrain. In this pursuit the sportsman evidenced great foresight, being arguably a step ahead of contemporary visionaries such as Briggs Cunningham and Harley Earl. Ultimately five examples of the handsome Edwards America were built before the extravagant costs of the venture (and the product’s commensurate pricing) prompted Sterling Edwards to move on.

The America was crafted with European styling influenced by classics such as the Italian Cistitalia, combined with bullet-proof American components. This winning combination resulted in delicate lines contrasted with a massive hood concealing an American V-8. Sterling knew a great engine when he saw one and for this car he chose Lincolns hot 317-cubic-inch V-8 engine. In an attempt to keep costs reasonable, the body was hand-laid fiberglass with trim components from various U.S. manufacturers: taillights were 1952 Mercury, and headlight rings came from the 1953 Studebaker. A man of refined taste, of course Edwards saw to it that his cars were fitted with a finely-trimmed leather interior, as well as Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels, and uncompromising workmanship throughout. Intricate details such as the fold-down rear package tray illustrate just how much consideration was taken in the design and build of this incredible car. In spite of cost savings efforts by using readily available parts, the America was extraordinarily expensive to build. The price of each car eventually rose to over $8,000 and even then, Edwards was losing money on each one. The huge expense of each car combined with the terrible timing of trying to compete with cars such as Chevrolets new Corvette left Edwards with little choice but to abandon his dream. Production ceased in late 1954 after only five cars, including the prototype, had been built.

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