1948 Templeton Saturn Roadster

1948 Templeton Saturn Roadster

Few cars have ever held the admiration of an entire country quite like this amazing 1948 Templeton Saturn Roadster. Not only was it a precurser to the custom car movement, but it captured the imagination of Hollywood celebrities like Bob Hope as well as backyard hobbyists back in the midwest.

During the post-war era America was in love with cars and aviation. Many of our returning war vets had seen European sports roadsters that we seldom saw here in the states up to that time. It was an era when Hot Rod Magazine was still in its infancy and custom car builders were experimenting with wild creations.

An Iowa backyard mechanic of some skill named Lloyd Templeton built his extroardinary custom which he called the Templeton Saturn. It had European roadster influence but was stretched across the larger Mercury chassis. Templeton built the car with his sons, Don and Bob. They modified a Mercury chassis, on which they hand crafted steel coachwork. The 7-and-a-half foot long hood gives it a rake reminiscent of an airplane. The driver sits just ahead of the rear axle giving the Templeton Saturn a very unique look. Even the huge dash appears to have been designed with cockpit gauges ala a B-52. They say there are 32 different instruments and controls. It has a three-speed transmission and two-speed Columbia rear gear. Templeton fashioned a short ratio three speed shifter on the right side of the driver while the reverse gear was operated separately on the driver’s left side. It also has a full race ready Mercury 239 Flathead V8 engine capable of 200 horsepower. It should be noted that this 1948 Templeton Saturn Roadster was very fast for its time. Templeton shrewdly used “hot rod” performance equipment of the period such as the rare Speedway finned high-compression cylinder heads and a Fenton dual intake manifold; 2X2-bbl Stromberg model 94 carburetors.

Templeton was asked why he called it the Saturn. He is reported to have replied that it was because it could run rings around any other car.

Like all great customs, this car was made up of the best parts of many donor marques. The bumpers are from a 1946 Pontiac while the long hood was crafted from a 1936 Chrysler. The rear fins are most unique in that they have been fashioned from a multiple 1949 Chevrolet fenders, while the rear deck started life as the hood for a 1936 Ford. The chromed headlight doors came from a 1946 Studebaker. You may recognize the grille as being from a 1946 Dodge. Sometimes the whole is better than the sum parts ever were.

This car was shown nationally and won the imaginations of sports car lovers everywhere. It is said that it was the most photographed and published car in America from 1950 through 1953. The Saturn was in demand, appearing on television shows in the early 1950s, and touring to special exhibitions. According to Templeton, at one such appearance where he had a three-minute segment promoting the car at a local TV station in Iowa, he finished by announcing that the car would be on display near the broadcast studio, where people could view it up close for just 25 cents. He claimed that in this relatively small town, 17,000 people lined up and paid their quarters to see this amazing car.

In 1953, the car was invited to California, where it was the featured car at the National Car Show at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium. Entertainer and automotive enthusiast Herb Shriner convinced Templeton to bring it to the New York Auto Show, where it was prominently displayed. It was also used in a number of promotional campaigns related to the Miss America Pageant. Then in 1954 it won ‘People’s Choice’ at the Motor World Fair in Miami.

Inevitably Hollywood found out about the Templeton Saturn and Lloyd was asked to bring his custom show winner West to California. Bob Hope was scheduled to co-star with the car in a movie. Although the movie was never made, Hope loved the car so much he asked Templeton if he could use it in California. According to the family, the car remained there for some time. Many photos have been taken of Hope with the car. You can Google this car by using the kewords “Bob Hope Special Roadster.”

After Templeton passed away the Templeton Saturn was given to his church where he thought they could make some money with it. However the church never promoted it and later his son bought it back from them. The historic car was restored in the ’90s. It has changed hands at a few high level auctions in recent years. This week the 1948 Templeton Saturn Roadster was posted for sale by P.J.’s Auto World in Clearwater, Florida. You can view it in their showroom. Find this ad and more cars with Hollywood connections in the Celebrity Car Section of the Cars On Line website.

1948 TEmpleton Saturn Roadster

 

1948 Templeton Saturn Roadster

1948 Templeton Saturn Roadster

 

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