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Hemmings Motor News Blog

Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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Is This the Only Photographic Evidence That Hoppenstand Actually Built Cars?

Posted January 17, 2022 9:28 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: classic cars

With demand high and supply low, there was money to be made in the postwar American automotive market. And with money to be made, that meant an influx of opportunists looking to either make a splash with their big ideas or make a quick buck with their big mouths. Colonel David Hoppenstand might have been one of the latter, but a newly surfaced photo appears to show that he actually did build at least one car under his own name.

Based in far western Pennsylvania, Hoppenstand had started building aluminum boats after the war but quickly determined that aluminum would make an excellent material for a small, lightweight automobile's body, as Robert D. Cunningham wrote for The Old Motor. He launched Hoppenstand Motors in 1948 to build the Gregory, a rear-engined, 684-pound, $555 car named after his son. He planned three versions: the Collegiate roadster, the International coupe and the Roadette convertible, all powered by an 8.5hp Firebug air-cooled opposed twin-cylinder engine that would reportedly return a 50 mph top speed and 55 miles to the gallon.

Two Gregory cars made it to the 1949 Cleveland Auto Show, but reception was so poor that Hoppenstand immediately went back to Pennsylvania, redesigned the Gregory with a sleeker body that seemed to pilfer much from Ray Russell's war-era Gadabout, stretched it, widened it and renamed it the Hoppenstand. Whether any were actually built, however, seems to be up for debate. Many sources on the internet claim three, but Cunningham indicates that the Hoppenstand amounted to little more than a catalog drawing.

That leads us to a group of photos that Wick Humble recently sent us depicting a parade in Toledo, Ohio, likely taken sometime in 1949. We see the expected floats and military Jeeps passing by a Studebaker dealership, but we also see a curious little envelope-bodied roadster with awkwardly tall windshield and Buick bombsight hood ornament. We know it's not the MG-based Gadabout. It could very well be a modified Crosley. Or it could be a (the?) Hoppenstand. It has freestanding headlamps mounted to the front bumper and that convertible top, neither of which appeared in Hoppenstand's drawing, and the wheelbase appears much shorter than the claimed 90 inches, and we're left wondering what it's doing in Toledo, but the shape and the time period seem about right.

Could this redeem Col. Hoppenstand? Could there be more photos of this car? And could the car seen in the above photo still exist?

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