Rare Car In Lincoln Museum Comes Out Of Hiding For New HBO Documentary
Published for NET News-Nebraska's NPR and PBS Station
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A rare car in Lincoln has come out of hiding because of a new HBO documentary called, "The Lady And The Dale."
In the 1970s, Elizabeth Carmichael became a media sensation for promoting The Dale, a three-wheeled, inexpensive, and lightweight car with a motorcycle engine. One of the only three prototypes is displayed at Lincoln’s Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed.
Tim Matthews is the museum’s curator and said the car was made solely to demonstrate what other cars would look like.
"They call it "the space car," because it looks very futuristic. It's yellow. It does not have an interior or running gear. It's probably the cleanest, most slick looking of The Dales. Very interesting car, three wheeled, very, very strange shape," he said. "And we acquired the car not long after the huge controversy when the Twentieth Century Motor Car Corporation kind of imploded on itself."
It turns out the whole operation was a scam. Carmichael’s company never manufactured The Dale, despite hundreds of orders for the car, which sold for about $2,000.
Hot rodder Dean Moon is the founder of Moon Speed Equipment company and was fascinated by the car. He bought one of the prototypes that he happened to find sitting on top of a muffler shop in California.
Matthews said Moon shipped the car to his longtime friend Bill Smith, the founder of Speedway Motors Museum.
"Bill agreed that he would try to purchase the car, bring it to Lincoln, and perhaps offer a kit car based on The Dale and as soon as he received it, he found out too that it just takes way too much engineering and energy to get it going," he said. "So he brought it to the museum where it's been ever since."
The car was hidden-away in storage until last week when “The Lady and the Dale” documentary on HBO prompted the staff to dust it off and display it. Matthews invites people to come and see the car when the museum reopens on April 1.