Throughout the 10 plus years of doing research on the Venus, I’ve been given or have run across some very cool items that I call memorabilia.
The Nomura Friction Toy
Quite awhile back, I discovered that a Japanese firm known as Nomura Toy, Ltd. had actually manufactured three different versions of a Venus toy friction car. I find this to be quite amazing. Not only are the details of the model cars totally accurate, the boxes themselves read “Ford Venus”. I’m just wondering if Nomura thought the Venus was an actual Ford product? The only place they might have gotten this idea is from the Motor Trend article.
Shown below are the three versions with their boxes. I am fortunate enough to have purchased all three in near-mint condition with original boxes. The light blue version was by far the hardest to find, and it took years for one to surface. These Venus friction toys are very rare and are now very expensive.
In the above photo, note the difference between the engines; the plate surrounding the engine; and slight interior change. All three have clear plastic covers for a hood (hard to see in these photos). The red and light-blue versions have the same engine design and use a 9v battery. The dark blue version is an older style friction-toy where sparks are made with a flint (I think). I have not tried the sparking effect in any of these.
There are 2 styles of boxes. In the first box example, note that another Venus (yellow) is being driven in the background.
The Rebels Shirt
The second remarkable bit of memorabilia is a car club shirt. Script is embroidered over the left pocket that reads “Venus Test” or “Venus Club”…I can’t really make out the second word. Over the right pocket is the first name of the member, in this case “Cecil”. This specific shirt was graciously given to me by Mr. Cecil Tipton. On the left shoulder is an embroidered patch that reads “GHTA”. This stands for “Greater Houston Timing Association”. I was told by another Rebels member, Bill Morris (who still has his shirt), that some lady back in the 50’s was trying to open a drag strip on some property she owned, but it never materialized. She probably provided these patches for the shirts. On the back of the shirt is a very large club insignia that reads Rebels / Houston, with crossed Texas and Confederate flags. This is not a patch, but rather, it is all embroidery directly on the shirt. I am very grateful to Cecil for this shirt. Either Bill or Cecil told me that they used to hang around the shop where the Venus cars were built, and someone (maybe Eddie Kovar or Mr. Schulgren?) had these shirts made for them. None of the Rebels actually owned a Venus, nor did they do any testing or speed timings. I guess just hanging around the shop was good enough. But how very cool it is to have an example of one of these shirts. (Cecil Tipton is on Facebook and would be glad to substantiate this story…or talk about cooking!). (I need to shoot some better photos of the shirt; I don’t own an Olympus camera so these photos may have come from Cecil). I plan on mounting this shirt in a glass frame where both the front and back are visible.
The Venus Office Client Chair
Before he passed away, I had an opportunity to meet with DeWitt Gorman a few times to discuss the Venus. He’s the young guy with white T-shirt in the photo below. (And if you watch the video of the Venus drive around the block, he’s the one driving the car). DeWitt told me he had a job there for a summer where he did all sort s of jobs. But it didn’t last long as he hated the heat, the resin smell, everything being sticky, and above all the itching from fiberglass. Who can blame him! On one of these meetings, he brought along a fiberglass chair that was used in the “sales office” at Ratio Manufacturing…a “client” chair. He didn’t know who made it, but since it was early 1950’s, I wouldn’t expect many folks were making these. This will be a very cool display piece if I ever get a chance to show the restored Venus. Many thanks to DeWitt and his wife for this gift.