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New one to ID, but not armor.....
The AFV ASSOCIATION was formed in 1964 to support the thoughts and research of all those interested in Armored Fighting Vehicles and related topics, such as AFV drawings. The emphasis has always been on sharing information and communicating with other members of similar interests; e.g. German armor, Japanese AFVs, or whatever.
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SFC_Jeff_Button
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2006 2:50 am
Post subject: New one to ID, but not armor.....


OK you armor-holics, ID this one! I thought I'd seen some odd stuff at Ft Eustis's museum but this takes the cake. It came in a magazine I recieve monthly. To look at it, I never would have thought that it would even be feasible to use this thing for military purposes. The "APG" on the front, I assume means Aberdeen Proving Grounds. I have the complete history on this vehicle but I'd like to see who has an idea before I give up the answer. Hack off the front wheel and it looks like something a "military Santa" might pull with 8 reindeer, (9 with Rudolph, haha). It just needs a mortar mounted in the back....

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Cloudy
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2006 4:30 am
Post subject: Re: New one to ID, but not armor.....

How about the "Davis Personnel Carrier"?
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JimWeb
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2006 11:05 am
Post subject: Re: New one to ID, but not armor.....

'Davis Car' would be more accurate - built by a Gary Davis from Van Nuys California around 1949

Cool

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Doug_Kibbey
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2006 1:48 pm
Post subject: Re: New one to ID, but not armor.....

If anything, it looks like it would have been even less stable in a turn than an M151...if that's possible.
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SHAWN
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2006 4:38 pm
Post subject: Re: New one to ID, but not armor.....

okay, further explanation is required, jimweb et. al, what was the purpose of the 'davis car'.
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mike_Duplessis
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2006 5:21 pm
Post subject: Re: New one to ID, but not armor.....

I think I saw that thing pictured in an old 'Wheels and Tracks" issue from sometime back last century.
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JimWeb
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2006 8:31 pm
Post subject: Re: New one to ID, but not armor.....

- SHAWN
okay, further explanation is required, jimweb et. al, what was the purpose of the 'davis car'.


Near as I can figure out it was a lightweight vehicle for use in the jungle. The reason it failed its tests was that it was near impossible to steer when in a rutted track ( pretty common in jungles & other combat zones ) because the front single wheel would be up on the 'hump' between ruts.

However its manouverability on flat hard surfaces was noted and the principle was adopted for vehicles on aircraft carriers and later three-wheeler jeeps were used for jobs like aircraft starters, fire engines etc

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Doug_Kibbey
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2006 9:34 pm
Post subject: Re: New one to ID, but not armor.....

To add to the confusion is that there was a '47 civilian "Davis Car" that was a trike in the classic (not Morgan) sense that seated 2-4...very aero. Fewer than 20 were built. Looks like a watermelon seed sports car.
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Cloudy
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2006 1:10 am
Post subject: Re: New one to ID, but not armor.....

Having had a number of misadventures aboard 3 wheeler ATC's, I'd be rather dubious of the stability in a sudden turn...
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SFC_Jeff_Button
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2006 1:04 am
Post subject: Re: New one to ID, but not armor.....

Here is the complete description of this vehicle as it appears in Off-Road magazine, which is an awsome mag if I do say so myself;

Historians have affixed many labels to automobile entrepreneur Gary Davis. May of you are probably saying, “Who the heck is Gary Davis?� Well, the guy made a pretty big splash in his day, especially considering he built scarcely more than a double handful of cars and three utility vehicles. It’s a story that rivals that of the Tucker car. Like the irrepressible Preston Tucker, Davis has been known as a visionary and a crackpot. An idea man and a crook. An innovative designer and a desperado. Nearly 60 years later, who can tell for sure what went on in the mind of the man who tried to change the “common knowledge� that cars had to have four wheels.

Davis had become a successful car salesman in Southern California in the late 1930s and had many contacts in the car world there. Even then, SoCal was a car-crazy place. When World War II ended, those sentiments were heightened because of gas and rubber rationing. Most of all, there had been no new cars since 1942! Looking to capitalize on the public’s car-hunger, Gary began the Davis Motor Car Company in 1946, eventually moving the company into a 57,000 square foot former aircraft factory in Van Nuys.

How did Davis get fixated on three wheelers? Most likely from the acquisition of a V8 powered 3-wheel car built in 1941 for an extravagant millionaire by the legendary custom and race car builder, Frank Kurtis. Davis hired engineers, designers and craftsmen to create three-wheeled cars, promising double the normal wages when the company took off... as it was certain to do, so he assured. A couple of prototypes and then a small number of pre-production models, called the Divan (model D-2), were built into 1948 and that’s when the trouble began.

Workers were not being paid. The 300 paid franchisees across the U.S. were not getting cars. The over $1.2 million raised had evaporated and Davis was soon under investigation for fraud and civil suits were filed. By May of 1950, all the assets of the company were sold and Davis himself was convicted of grand theft and sentenced to two years in prison.

left)The military probably approved of the typical Spartan “numbutt� interior. The Davis was more roomy than the GI Jeep because it was wider inside. It was obvious the ergonomics mirrored the GI Jeep.(right) The front suspension actually worked well. It used a pair of coil springs mounted under the chassis and connected to the “u-arm� by a vertical link. A pair of tube shocks were used and a standard steering box. The wheel has a hydraulic brake. The ride quality of the Davis is superb. The rear used a pair of standard leaf springs. The rear axle was a semi-float Dana 23 with 4.10 gears.

In the latter days of the turmoil, before the company assets were seized, Davis managed to convince government officials to test a stripped Davis with a jeep-like body for military service. Called the model 494X, it used the same basic chassis as the D-2 but with a utility body that could carry five passengers. Maneuverability and utility were the key features noted in the brochure.

Three prototypes were built, reportedly in only a week. At least one, and possibly two were sent to the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Grounds for tests in April of 1949. Film footage exists showing a Davis being tested against a standard military jeep and the off-road results were laughable. Predictably, the low clearance and single, undriven front wheel were the primary causes of its poor performance in the dirt.

On-road performance was deemed good, particularly ride quality. The vehicle was stable to a top speed of 70mph and delivered fuel economy in the 20- plus MPG range. In 400 miles of tests, the three-wheeler took a hard beating at the hands of the Army. While the report was generally favorable for a vehicle of its type it noted there existed no solid place for it in the government military inventory. The Davis was returned with a polite, “no-thanks� and ultimately sold or dispersed as assets in the civil suit.


left) Some Davis cars used a Hercules four, but the militaries used a Continental L-head industrial four. This engine is commonly seen in forklifts and other industrial or agricultural applications and was actually produced until fairly recently. It was a close relation of the engine that powered the first jeep built by Bantam in 1940. In the Davis, the 63 hp are enough to make the 2,200 pound rig fairly peppy by old-time standards. Top speed was said to be in excess of 70mph. (right) Here’s a laugh. A front ski was included with the test vehicle for use in snow. Most doubt it was ever tested, but LaPerriere restored it with everything else. The single front wheel was always a problem due to excessive ground pressure of the skinny tire bearing all the front weight.

There were approximately 17 cars built and the three 494X militaries. All of the 494s and 12 of the cars still exist. The one shown was restored by military vehicle collector Fred LaPerriere to depict its time under test. The second of the three, serial number 494X-2, had been in the hands of a Denver based Davis franchise owner and acquired as part of the lawsuit settlement. LaPerriere bought and restored the unique rig in the ’90s, but it has been sold to another collector since these photos were taken.

What happened to Davis himself? After serving his time, he went on to help develop amusement park rides and formed an automotive consulting firm. He even tried to resurrect the threewheeler idea once, but, not surprisingly, found willing investors in short supply. Davis finally retired to Palm Springs in the late ’60s and died in 1973. In his possession at the time were two Davis cars and one of the militaries, which he drove regularly. Was he a crook or just an inexperienced, over-enthusiastic dreamer? Only Davis himself knew for sure but he left a bunch of interesting automotive history to explore

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