Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Elvis Abducted By Alien Vampires

This is true, I swear.

Although they're not too hard to find now-a-days, the steering wheel in the Milner Coupe was an unknown entity just a few years ago. No one knew what it was or who made it. At first glance it looks just like a plain 'ol common 3 spoke chrome hot rod wheel with a black plastic handle. The distinguishing characteristic of it is the three holes in each spoke. Rather than getting progressively smaller from the center to the outside, it has the large hole nearest the hub, then the small hole, with the middle sized drill nearest the grip.

I guess it was in 2003 or early 2004, in my very first conversation with RB from Kansas, he explained he was convinced the wheel was a vintage Grant product. He had called their office in Glendale to ask them about it, but they denied ever having made a model like that. He told me they were under new ownership and they were evidently mistaken. Sounded good to me. We kept up the hunt.

In my own search I came across a website from Australia selling boat steering wheels by a company called Covico. They looked like the Grant wheels. I couldn't find any current information on the Covico company, but in the 60s they were based in Covina, CA and made all sorts of small hot rod products. I could find no pictures of the Milner steering wheel anywhere in their old catalogs. I talked to people who had the right wheel. There were no ID marks whatsoever.

In subsequent conversations with RB and also with DB from Massachussetts, I stated that I thought the Graffiti Coupe had a wheel made by Covico. But it was just conjecture. Wishful thinking. I had no proof, just a hunch.

Now here's the funny part. Well, maybe more scary than funny.

Within a few months it became common knowledge that it was a Covico wheel. Auctions on Ebay started using Covico in the description. Articles in magazines and online sites began printing that it was a Covico steering wheel.

Friends! I was guessing!

To this day I have not seen proof of any kind that I was right. I have written several people selling them asking if they had a Covico stamp on them. They all answer no, they had just heard or read online what it was. Hilarious!

If I knew I had that kind of influence on the truth, I woulda told everyone that I had a 12"...

Oh nevermind.

2009 Update - A picture of a Milner Coupe type steering wheel has been found in an old Ansen Racing Parts catalog. The book also has a picture of the elusive horn cap. This does not automatically make them 'Ansen' products, just that Ansen sold them. It is however the closest we've come to identifying any manufacturer for these unmarked parts. It also brings into guestion the origin of the Coupe's motor mounts. We've always assumed that they are Hurst because of the popularity of those parts, but Ansen also made a front engine mounting bracket similar to the Hurst, as well as motor mounts and frame adaptors. Does the presence of so many Ansen parts (steering wheel, cap, brake & clutch pedals) mean that the builder also bought the mounts at the same place and time? As Bugs Bunny says, "I don't know...could be".