Davis Divan 47Hp

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Divan 47Hp





The Davis Divan is a three-wheeled convertible built by the Davis Motorcar Company between 1947 and 1949. The brainchild of used-car salesman Glen Gordon "Gary" Davis, it was largely based upon "The Californian", a custom three-wheeled roadster built by future Indianapolis 500 racing car designer Frank Kurtis for Southern Californian millionaire and racer Joel Thorne. After building two prototypes in 1947, Davis embarked on an aggressive publicity and promotional campaign for the car, which included numerous magazine appearances, a lavish public unveiling at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, and a promotional trip across the United States.

At the company factory in Van Nuys, employees worked frantically to build Divans, although the model was never put into mass production. Despite raising $1.2 million through the sale of 350 dealerships, the Davis Motorcar Company failed to deliver cars to its prospective dealers or pay its employees promptly, and was ultimately sued by both groups. The company's assets were liquidated in order to pay back taxes, while Gary Davis himself was eventually convicted of fraud and grand theft and sentenced to two years at a "work farm" labor camp.

Only 13 Divans (including the two prototypes) were ever built, of which 12 have survived. The car featured aircraft-inspired styling details as well as disc brakes, hidden headlights, and built-in jacks.

After purchasing "The Californian", Davis intended to reverse engineer it with a group of newly hired engineers, including Peter Westburg from Douglas Aircraft Company. Together they built a 1/4th-scale model of the car, which they then photographed for a Hollywood Citizen-News story on July 22, 1947, in which they claimed their ability to build 50 of the cars a day and sell each for $995. Later that year, Davis secured an investment of $2,500 from the Bendix family, which enabled him to create Davis Motorcar Company; ever conscious of his and his project's image, he borrowed local designer Raymond Loewy's office to make his successful pitch.

In 1947, Davis built two prototypes of what was intended to be an economy car, first the Davis D-1 (nicknamed "Baby") and then the D-2 ("Delta"), the latter of which featured a removable hardtop. While testing "Baby", Davis was able to achieve tire marks with a circumference of just 13 feet (4.0 m), demonstrating the vehicle's impressive turning radius.

Between 1947 and 1949, the Davis Motorcar Company produced a total of 16 running vehicles, including 11 pre-production Divans as well as the two prototypes and three military vehicles, which were comparable to Willys Jeeps. All of the Davis models had a single wheel in the front and two wheels at the back of the vehicle. The cars were built in a hangar at Van Nuys Airport that was previously used for aircraft assembly and later acquired by Petersen Aviation.

The Davis Divan measured 183.5 inches (466 cm) in length with a wheelbase of 109.5 inches (278 cm), which was remarkably long for a three-wheeled vehicle; it had a height of 60.0 inches (152 cm) and weighed 2,450 pounds (1,110 kg). With a width of 72.0 inches (183 cm), it was wide enough to seat four passengers abreast on its single bench seat; in fact, this feature had inspired the name of the car, which was the Arabic term for a couch or day bed. The car also featured a removable fiberglass top along with a steel chassis and chrome-trimmed aluminum body, which sported aircraft-inspired styling details, 15-inch (38 cm) wheels, disc brakes, and hidden headlights. The Divan was built with a channel steel frame and 11 body panels made of aluminum and zinc, while the "Baby" prototype had instead been constructed with a tube steel space frame. The finished car boasted jacks built into each of its corners, which allowed for easier tire changing.

Most of the Divans were powered by 2,600 cc (160 cu in), inline-four Continental engines capable of producing 63 hp (47 kW). Others, including both the D-1 "Baby" and D-2 "Delta" prototypes, were instead fitted with 47 hp (35 kW), four-cylinder Hercules industrial engines. The car's drivetrain included a three-speed Borg-Warner manual transmission as well as a Spicer differential.

Claims for the Divan's top speed ranged from 100 mph (160 km/h) to 116 mph (187 km/h), and its fuel economy was estimated to be between 35 miles per US gallon (0.067 L/km) and 50 mpg‑US (0.047 L/km). The car's three-wheeled design resulted in less tire wear while also making it more maneuverable and fairly easy to park, and Davis claimed that it could successfully make a U-turn at 55 mph (89 km/h). Scheduled to retail for $1,600 each, the Divans were never put into mass production or sold to the public before the Davis Motorcar Company's demise, and the cars that had already been built were instead given to creditors.

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