Unusual Vehicles is a segment that looks into the history of an unconventional car. Three-wheeled vehicles are known for having quirky designs, and this was the case with the Davis Divan. First built in 1947, the Divan was the creation of Glen Gordon ‘Gary’ Davis. The three-wheeled convertible took inspiration from an Indianapolis 500 racing car called The Californian.
Davis started out as a used-car salesmen, though he soon had ambitions of developing his own machine. After seeing The Californian that was built for racer Joel Thorne, Davis set to work. He built two prototypes in 1947 with a group of engineers. They were called the Davis D-1 and D-2 respectively, with the latter having a removable hardtop.
Davis wanted to take advantage of the post WW2 American car market, so he embarked on a large public campaign. His prototypes were covered by several magazines such as Business Week and Parade. The Divan was revealed publicly at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
Based on the publicity, Davis was able to secure multiple dealerships to invest in his vision. The Divan had a removable fibreglass top, steel chassis and aluminium body. The shape could be described as aerodynamic and was large enough to fit four people inside. It was powered by a 2600 cc engine.
Davis’ company were only able to produce 13 models of the Divan, and investors became concerned that their money wasn’t being utilised properly. They began to show up at the factory to demand their money back and it wasn’t long before Davis was sued for breach of contract. This was followed by his employees suing him as well.
Although the company went into liquidation, the Davins lived on through exhibitions. 12 of the 13 have survived. For example, two 1948 Divans are displayed in the Lane Motor Museum and Petersen Automotive Museum.
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