Bizarre Teardrop 1934 McQuay Norris Streamliner

- in Cars

You think you’ve seen all strange and bizarre vehicles? Think again. Many of them were built a long time ago.

Speaking of rare and expensive vehicles, have you heard about a vehicle called McQuay Norris Streamliner? I don’t think so. If Humpty Dumpty ever designed a car, there’s a good chance that it might resemble a McQuay-Norris Teardrop Test Car.

1934 McQuay Norris Streamliner
The McQuay Norris Streamliner is an important piece of automotive history. The McQuay-Norris Manufacturing Co., a St. Louis, Missouri, company specializing in pistons, rings, bearings and other engine and chassis components, commissioned a series of streamlined automobiles that would act as rolling test beds and as rolling billboards and attention-getters; they served both purposes admirably.

Six cars were built using unmodified 1932-33 Ford V-8 chassis and running gear and the highly advanced streamlined body design was constructed of steel and aluminum over a wood framework. Bug-eyed, bulbous and ungainly looking, these vehicles were not created in an attempt to break any land-speed records, that’s for sure.

McQuay-Norris Streamliner-1934
Powering the Streamliner was a Ford flathead 221 cubic-inch V8 that offered 85 horsepower. It was mated to a three-speed manual gearbox and had a top speed of 80 mph.

1934 McQuay Norris Streamliner interior
The engine was under the dash, the driver seats six feet behind the aircraft inspired windshield, and there were no window wipers – a truly unique car. The interior was fixed with many dials and instruments to observe performance and engine condition. The most critical gauge for the McQuay-Norris drivers was a blow-by meter, which measured the unburned gases that escaped from the engine and told of the effectiveness of the company’s piston rings; this gauge was mounted behind the driver.

Another instrument employed was an exhaust gas analyzer. This gauge measured the combustion efficiency of the engine. A viscometer was used to test the body thickness of crankcase oil. The car was a truly rolling auto-laboratory.

1934 McQuay Norris Streamliner rear
From 1934 to 1940, the vehicles traveled across the United States and Canada. Only one of the original McQuay-Norris streamliners is known to exist today; in the late 1970s, owner Michael Shoen commissioned its restoration by (now deceased) Elwood Pullen. After a ground-up rebuild, the car was driveable in the late 1990s, and it is still kept in driveable condition. It is used for the occasional parade and displayed during Hemmings’ annual open house events, at which it draws more than its fair share of attention.

McQuay-Norris Teardrop test car

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