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1928 Porter Touring Car

1928porter Today, building a new car from previously introduced components such as engines, instruments, body, and chassis pieces is nothing unique. Lotus even does it with a Toyota engine. But back just before The Great Depression, when there were practically more automotive manufacturers in America than there were cars on the road, the idea of borrowing bits and pieces from one make and/or model to complete another one was a brilliant, pioneering breakthrough.

Witness the 1928 Porter Touring Car, valued today as a rare treasure, lusted after by antique car collectors. Built by kitbashing real cars on a true 1:1 scale, the Porter engineers began with a Chevrolet frame, engine, and transmission. And why not? All the development work and costs were done, everything fit perfectly together, and it was a strong, reliable base for a grand touring car in the Roaring '20s.

1928-porter- good view Similar to Henry Ford's "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black" philosophy, Porters were only made in Carnation Red with a white folding top. The red went very well with the brass fittings, maybe reminiscent of a fire engine, but the ultra-wide whitewall tires set on wire wheels seem a bit "bright" to me.

Because of the expense of stamping new body panels, existing body parts from the Ford Model T, the Maxwell, and the Hudson were used. It even had rear suicide doors. But the hood, grille nameplate, and brass radiator surround were made just for the Porter. Also unique to the design are the lowered headlights, setting the styling apart from other 1920s cars, as well as adding to the special appeal of this classic. The windshield-to-bumper braces were another innovative Porter feature.

The Touring Car's body only had three doors, but seated five people. Its body widened from the cowl toward the rear, but with the primitive driving controls, only two people could comfortably sit up front. Three-across seating was comfortable in the back; there was no rumble seat. A wicker case served as the trunk.

1928 Porter B Unique Porter engineering features included "Stop-On-A-Dime Brakes" and a carburetor that contained sixteen nuts, fourteen screws, and three bolts. The Porters were also the first cars to have a factory-installed radio in the 1920s.

Only two original Porters are known to exist. One is in the hands of a private collector in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; the other is in a museum in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Since they were just built for a very short time, the attractiveness (and scarcity) of them has spawned reproductions, made easier since many of the parts this car was made from are still available.

All of these ancient, antique cars are so much fun today. Whether in parades or car shows, they draw stares, smiles, and cameras. I think that they should not sit around and collect dust, but should be shown to those who would drive many miles to see them.

OK, we've gone on about the 1928 Porter, and now it's time to say ... April Fools!  If you haven't remembered the car by now, it's my duty to tell you that it actually never existed--not until 1965, that is. This car was the star of TV's My Mother The Car, which was only on for one year (1965-66). Barris Kustom Industries built it exactly as described above, but with a 283-cubic-inch V-8 and Powerglide (two-speed) automatic transmission. Yes, there are replica(r)s, and a 1928 Porter Touring Car is at the Star Cars Museum in Gatlinburg.

1928 Porter Gladys_(My_Mother_the_Car) My Mother The Car has been called, and may be, the worst show ever on TV. The plot revolved around an attorney (Jerry Van Dyke) who bought a car that was somehow haunted by his late mother (voiced by Ann Sothern). She spoke to him from the afterlife through the car's radio, accompanied by a sequentially-flashing dial light. Once again, this would have put Porter engineering ahead of its time, since car radios were not factory installed until the 1930s.

Today, the show would have lasted 13 weeks at best. To have been broadcast for nearly an entire year (30 episodes were made) demonstrates how TV trends have changed since the 1960s. Instead of today's policy of demanding an overnight hit, the network gave the show time to try to find its audience. Now that audience goes to a museum or a car show to see "My Mother The Car."

Or, click here for the premiere episode, as well as the rest of the series.

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

The black & white image is from The second photo is from  The car show image is from The My Mother The Car image is from Wikipedia.


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Today is also the 40th anniversary of the AMC Gremlin.
Mere coincidence? I think not!

The Porter's design was fairly anachronistic for 1928, the general body (cowl, radiator, fenders) looks more like a 1918 car than a 1928. Likewise, the touring car body style was on its way out...after all, you don't see many Model A (1928-31) touring cars.

AMT made a plastic kit, it might be fun to look at.

One question: the text says there were two cars, but later says the car in Tennessee is a replica.
Which is it?

As the owner of a Barris TV car, I have several books on Barris, but in them he never mentions the Porter.
Ford had the Edsel, GM had the Vega, perhaps Barris doesn't talk much about the Porter for fear of the series reputation reflecting back on him... :)

I remember many 60s sitcoms. I tried to watch an episode of My Mother the Car..but I could only get halfway through it.
Anybody remember if Camp Runnamuck had a car? :)

FWIW, I always liked the Gremlin and never thought it looked particularly goofy.

The Dart, however, makes me want to hang myself out of sheer boredom.

To John B... There were two Porters built; one was "normal," the other one had a very low seat so that the car could be driven by a driver that was out of sight, making it look like "Mother" was driving the car herself.

The text reads: "Yes, there are replica(r)s, and a 1928 Porter Touring Car is at the Star Cars Museum in Gatlinburg." The car in Gatlinburg is not a replica(r).

From Wikipedia: ""Mother" was built by Barris Kustom Industries and was powered by a 283 cubic inch (4.6 L) Chevrolet V8 and Powerglide automatic transmission." I'll try to get you a direct link.

To John B... Here's a link to George Barris and "Mother":

@AC - The Gremlin's in-your-face goofiness was part of its charm. Especially in purple.

I've been working on a post of AMC Prototype cars. Since you mentioned the Gremlin, here's a perview:

T The Car Guy: My bad, I misread the text about replicas and Gatlinburg....sorry.
Neat car.

Never a problem... and I'd love an AMT model of "Mother" LOL!

Its weird to think a '65 Mustang is an older car today
than the 1928 Porter was when MMTC hit the airwaves.
All part of that roaring 20's fascination in the 60's.
I remember french phones being a fad back then.
And Head Shops always had black n white posters of WC Fields alongside the blacklight Jimi Hendrix and Pot Leaf psychedelia

Actually, there were two cars built for the show. The no.1 car, or "hero" car was built by Craig Breedlove. The no.2 car or "stunt" car was built by George Barris. The cars was 1923-25 model t touring cars which is a different body style than the 1927.

I clicked through and watched five minutes of the pilot episode. Dear Heaven, is that dreadful! Terminally un-funny. Chuck, you said that the network "gave the show time to try to find its audience." That assumes, somewhat heroically, that there was an audience for it to find!

I'm reminded of something our genial host once wrote about the Ford Pinto: "Somewhere, three decades ago, a designer proudly unveiled it to the bosses at Ford; workers spent their waking hours building it. Young families bought Pintos, showed Pintos off to their friends, washed Pintos in their driveways, drove their babies home from the hospital in Pintos." Similarly, someone, somewhere, thought this was a good premise for televised entertainment. Another someone sat at an IBM Selectric and composed the script. Someone else read it and laughed. A person in a position of authority at the network sat through a screening of the pilot and decided that, yes, this half-hour program was good enough to broadcast to the nation.

I hope they all got the help they needed.

The show's only redeeming feature--*only*, I emphasize--is that the used car lot and the street scenes are an inadvertent documentary of what older cars were common on the roads in 1965. Before my brain's instinct for self-preservation kicked in and made me stop watching, I saw several "Forward Look" Mopars and what I'd swear was a Studebaker, either a "Loewy coupe" or an early Hawk.

That Stude sighting almost makes up for the pain that script caused me. Almost. is where I posted a photo from Hot Rod Magazine, and they have it that Norm Grabowski built it, which makes sense if you are aware of Norm's Henway.

I was 13 when this show ran. I liked it. I have read that it was popular with kids and younger viewers, and I can certainly understand that.

Worst show ever made- give me a break. If they cared about the opinions of young people in those days it would have stayed on.

Adults did not like it. No imagination probably.

A talking car isn't much more farfetched than a talking horse(Mr. Ed) or a talking mule(Francis). What about a witch marrying a mortal(Bewitched) or a genie having an astronaut as a master(I Dream of Jeannie). What about another talking car Kitt(Knight Rider)? The only thing that was a little overboard was the fact that the car was his dead mother. How does one die in 1949(as stated in the first episode) and comes back as a 1928 car?
I like the show, and think its far from the worst tv show. Just look at some of the crap they have on the airs now.

The article is a little confusing. Seems the cars in the series, My Mother The Car, were fakes, or whatever term you wish to use, but according to the Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1805 to 1942, there were two Porter car manufacturers, one a steam car 1900 to 1901, and the other 1919 to 1922, the later being essentially the same car as the F.R.P., or Finley Robertson Porter, 1914-1916. Both Porter automobiles were short lived, but they were built.

I saw the TV show on a re-run today for the first time, and I would have to agree, it wasn't very good and I can see why it didn't last.

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