Short Sport: 1956 Eshelman Adult Sport Car

032616-Barn-Finds-1956 Eshelman Adult Sports Car - 2

Sorry, I could not resist this one. This isn’t the usual Barn Finds fodder here, but it’s a car and it’s old and dusty, and it’s red (is any of this helping my case?). This is a 1956 Eshelman Deluxe Adult Sport Car and it’s listed here on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $3,000. This, my friends, is a flipping great deal, as in, car-flipping; if a person is into such a thing as making money buying and selling cars. Or, if you’re like me, you’d want to have it as a fun restoration project. Either way, this is a great deal. One of these sold at the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum auction three years ago for $15,525. I know that auction-hype jacked up that price a bit, but these are incredibly rare microcars and for $3,000 you simply can not go wrong here. I couldn’t imagine that restoring this car would cost much more than a grand, leaving you with a healthy $10,000+ profit for a couple of weeks worth of work. ‘Nuff said?

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These 5′-4″ long cars were advertised in the same sort of way that a few other microcars were in the early and mid-1950s, including the King Midget. Cheston L. Eshelman, a gentleman who had a company making garden tractors and implements, branched out to scooters and small cars. His company would take out ads in the back of magazines that would tout the benefits of the Eshelman Cars, such as getting 70 mpg and costing 1/5 of what most other cars cost. If this were a “Deluxe” model it would have had chrome rockets on the sides under the door cut-outs. The ’50s were so cool! What isn’t cool is that broken steering wheel. You’ll have to fit one from a lawn tractor or something creative like that. Here’s a 1955 car in action on YouTube. The 1955s didn’t have a hood like this 1956 does. And, yes, it looks pretty tippy and dangerous; cool!

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This is an 8.5 hp, air-cooled Briggs & Stratton engine with a single-speed belt drive and centrifugal clutch setup. This baby was good for about 30 mph. Electric start was optional but there is no indication as to if this car has that option or not, or if there are a couple of chrome rockets laying around that would make this a Deluxe version. There would have been operating head lights and tail lights on the Adult Sport Cars that were powered by a battery that you’d have to charge up periodically since there wasn’t a generator available. These cars came in either yellow or red and here’s what the cockpit should look like. That hole in the dash is how you turn the car off. There’s a kill switch in there that the valet will push after he parks the car when you drive it to the fancy restaurant with your spouse comfortably seated next to you, unless you tip over on the way there.

You know you want this car, admit it! It’s not for guys who need a coal-powered 4×4 pickup to prove their manliness, this thing is for those guys, and gals, who like unusual vehicles and don’t give a dang what others think about their rides. This would be something fun to take to car shows or to drive around in the pits at races or drive around a flea market with. Do you have what it takes to drive this microcar or are you intimidated by its size, or lack thereof?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    And today’s history lesson, the Eshelman Motor Co. “Mr. G. ( arm waving frantically) may I be excused to go to the bathroom?”
    Never heard of this, but this Eshelman, apparently, was quite the shyster. Wiki has neat a write up on this, and they had many products, including the “Rocket Boat”. They also bought a bunch of Corvairs and rebadged them as their own, and GM was furious, and tried to make him cease and desist, but he made a few anyway. Can you imagine finding one of those? According to Wiki, the ’56 had a 2.75 hp engine and the 8.4 hp came out in ’57 with an enclosed car. Thanks, Scotty, I’m a smarter person thanks to you. http://www.american-automobiles.com/images1/Eshelman-Rocket-Boat.jpg

    Like 1
    • Charles Robert Speh

      C.L. Eshelman was an aircraft designer, built a a successful manufacturing business, and a visionary to many. He was certainly not a shyster. I hold a very professionally produced, detailed “book” which is a prospectus for initiating and developing an automobile manufacturing facility, in I assume South America. The prospectus is in Spanish. I have never seen or heard of another copy. This was the work of a very serious businessman, and I can only wonder what could have been if the prospectus had been successful.

  2. Van

    It would be my luck, I don’t drink and drive but this thing would do it.
    I’m sorry officer, but the only way I could stop laughing long enough to get home was several rounds of tequila.

  3. George

    Steering wheel on the left, pedals on the right. What could go wrong?

    • Van

      Mas tequila

  4. That Guy

    When I first learned about the existence of these, and the way they were advertised, I couldn’t help thinking of Sea Monkeys, X-Ray Glasses, and whatever the miracle muscle builder was which magically turned 98-pound weaklings into Charles Atlas. Pure snake-oil hucksterism at its finest.

    They sure look like stupid fun today though.

  5. Roger Owen

    Hideous, Hideous, Hideous. Please make it go away, or I will not sleep tonight!!!

  6. Badnikl

    Took this shot a couple years ago of one in OK- For sale I think it was $2500.

  7. Badnikl

    Close up of steering wheel

    • Scotty G Staff

      Nice; thanks, Badnikl!

  8. JCW

    Bought up 4 of these trying to make one. When cancer hit needed cash so sold them still have the itch for one and not enough cash. Story of my life.

  9. Jim

    I have a lunch box bigger than that car!

  10. JCW

    I brought one home in the back of my Suburban the wheels were off it although it might have fit whole.

  11. Rancho Bella

    You had it right in the header. “sport car”, no “s”.
    Shelby always referred to a sporting car as “sport car”, who would know better?
    Also, in L.A, the racing Sunbeam Tiger in the sixties came from and sponsored by……….”Hollywood Sport Car”

    Somehow over the years and S has been added

  12. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    One of the converted early Corvair sedan Eshelman “limos” was on display, restored, at the 2004 CORSA National Convention in Lexington, Kentucky. Ugliest conversion I’d ever seen! Padded landau roof over the rear roof only, tubular “grille” between the headlight pods, home upholstery for the interior. Fugly!

  13. Jim

    A Corvair limo? When I get a chance I’ll have to look for that. I’ve seen a six passenger Vette and a stretched Vega station wagon, that would fit right in with them! There’s no limits. And why not!

  14. Paul

    Just bought a 57′ Eshelman Golf Car that is very similar in design to the one listed above except it has a bar on the back for golf bags and there is a cast aluminum golf ball on the middle of the hood to raise it. The grill looks more like a basket then the flat style here. Still has originial General Jumbo Jr. tires that are holding air on it! Seat was redone professionally and paint is fresh. I can’t decide if I should keep it or sell it……yes it is fugly but the rims are really cool. A split compression style rim with the address of the plant before the fire and the motor was made in august of 1956…Did he make some before he got the lease on the new place on feb 10 1957? But after the fire early 56′?

  15. JCW Jr.

    Paul, do you have some pictures. What price range would you be looking for if you decided to sell and what part of the country are you in. I had 4 of these and had to sell when cancer got me. If price is in my range and I can talk the wife into it would be interested.

  16. Paul

    I may consider selling it. I just got her running today and I have to take the front grill in for a professional welding job. It appears everything is original? Except the paint which I intended to redo due to mishandling from previous owner and acquired some scrapes. And a newer battery. A drive belt was replaced in the past with the wrong size so I will be taking care of that and a muffler that has a big hole in it. Not sure on price. I will try to post pics below.

    Like 1
  17. Paul

    Another pic of the back. Have it on floor jacks to oil the rear chain drives.

  18. Paul

    Pic of the cabin. Gear box has me confused. It appears original but my guess is only for the golf cars to “gear them down” I hear they only did 14 miles per hour. However a bigger sprocket on the drive assembly could change that. ;)

    • Wes hOLLIDAY

      Thank you for the Eshelman article, I bought the car featured in your March 2016 article.
      Just completed a total restoration, engine has been rebuilt, bodywork, and paint..Will see if I can send you some pictures, the little car turned out really nice. I will take the car to shows in back of my Ford van. Appreciate you steering me in that direction. Eshelman Club has a good size membership,of friendly people,and are re-starting a web site..My name is Wes Holliday.

      Like 1
  19. JCW Jr.

    So this is a newer electric start model

    Like 1
    • Wes hOLLIDAY

      You have an electric starter on the Briggs engine ? Does it work well , could you please send us some pictures ?

  20. Paul

    It is the 8 1/2 horse gas power motor. Serial number says Aug. 1956 it was made. Grill says 1957 sport.

  21. Paul

    Sorry my mistake. Grill says Golf 1957 Sport

  22. Paul

    Update on the 57 Golf Sport. Grill is fixed and painted, added larger sprockets on the drive and new chains. Really having a challenge figuring out the mechanical throttle set up. Looks like they brazed together a metal coat hanger for a linkage. It kind of limits the ability to open it full throttle. Gear box has me baffled also. I put a new belt on it a bit tighter. Speed of tires do not appear to reach more than 5-8 miles an hour. Have not had it on the road yet. Just tinkering on it when I get a spare minute. And yes it is electric start and has a new muffler on it. Hard to find a similar styled muffler that this one had on it.

  23. Charles Bowman

    I have a 1955 Edelman my daddy brought new in Maryland for me I was 4 years old I ride it to this day I’m 67 years old have the original title

    Like 1
  24. Wes Holliday

    Restored 1956 Eshelman Adult Car

    • Chuck Moon

      Hi Wes,
      Do you have anymore info on the Eshelman club you mentioned earlier?

      Thanks,
      Chuck Moon

  25. Wes

    Eshelman Owners Club
    Address: PO Box 007
    City: La Jolla
    State: CA
    Zip: 92038-0007
    Country: United States
    Telephone: 858-454-2628 evenings 6-8 PST
    E-mail: Contact Club
    Contact: Howard G Singer
    Type: National Club
    Members: 68
    Description: Founded in 2000, we have members that own or are interested in Eshelman Child’s Sports cars, adult vehicles, tractors, and the Golden Eagle.
    Restrictions: Owner of lover of Eshelman products.

    • Chuck Moon

      Awesome. Maybe I can help with a website. After over 50 years of thinking it was the greatest thing I had ever seen, I’ve finally got my hands on the Adult Sports Car that my uncle won at a movie house raffle. Needs lot of work but I’ve collected everything except the grill. Remember seeing it in a barn when I was a kid but all that is long gone. Found a gas pedal on Ebay earlier this week which was last missing piece other than grill. 470 241 8848 ctmoon@charter.net

  26. Wes Holliday

    Subject: Eshelman Grill and Headlights
    To: lofinjos@yahoo.com
    Date: Friday, September 30, 2016, 3:33 PM

    Wes,
    I have a grill for the Adult sports car and two of the front head light rings. All brand new castings made from the originals. I would want $175 for the grill and $75 each for the front head light rings. I can also have made any other casting you need, steering wheel, the tail light rings, dust covers for the wheels and rims. All will need machined. Let me know what you want other than the grill and head lights and I can have them made. Joe
    Remember these comments are from 2016 !

  27. Wes Holliday

    Hello Chuck Eshelman club use to have a great web site, it was on Yahoo.
    Then Yahoo cut off all their hobby type web sites and things just never were the same. I have all the Eshelman posts from 2016 saved on my computer.
    If you need to look at something I can forward you the relevent posts, I based my little cars restoration on the web sites infotmation. Wes Holliday.

    • Chuck Moon

      Hi Wes,

      Thank you so much! Any idea how to contact “Joe” in the five year old post with the grill? I was so excited when I saw that post for a moment until reality set in when I saw the date. :-(

      Have a great weekend!

      Chuck

      • Wes Holliday

        Hello Chuck I have had the same phone ,and address for past 25 years, so it never occured to me that things might change.
        I would look for him on google, remember he has a metal casting shop, those places don’t move very often.

      • Chuck Moon

        Wes,

        Thanks you so much! At first I thought that was your email in the post but tried it anyway this morning and it was Joe!

        Thanks again!!!

        Chuck

  28. PRESTON PRESSLEY

    I have two Eshelman cars ,but it doesn’t have the hood on either one . There is a hole in the top looks like maybe gas port and there ia a hole in under dash fo pull start I guess. Both cars in rough shape and I believe you could make one out both . I don’t have the motor but can get it ( original ).These two cars I do believe they are Adult cars. . On body is bent up some what and the other has rust but still in good shape consitering the aga. Anyone have any idea what they are worth?

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