I have photographic proof of only 7 different Venus cars, shown and briefly discussed below. That doesn’t mean that more weren’t made, it just means that I don’t have photographs of them.
It’s so very unfortunate that there aren’t more photos. Surely someone took a bunch of photos or even 8mm film of bodies being made and crated for shipping. I guess after the Venus project died and faded away, folks just threw things away. (I know we lost a lot of stuff during a flood at our house.) Since I am presently using Venus #1 and Venus #2 to differentiate between the two existing Venus cars, I’ll maintain that labeling to avoid confusion. But normally, I would start with the prototype as being #1.
Motor Trend Article “Prototype”: Whereabouts Unknown
The first Venus would, of course, be the one on the cover of Motor Trend Magazine. I am only assuming it was the first one successfuly made and assembled.
Note that even though its color is a light blue on the cover, it appears white in these photographs.
Specific Notes and Features:
* It had the initial 2-bladed custom “dragonfly” grille. As I later learned, these blades are actually a horizontal bar found only on the rear bumper of a 1953 Mercury, above the license plate.
This bar had a light to illuminate the plate. The correct bar is tapered slightly on the ends. (These are very, very difficult to find in good condition).
* The center piece of the grille, dubbed “the toaster” (by a Venus fan), is a custom-made piece, none of which exist today.
* The prototype did not have a folding top, at least not at the time of the MT article.
* The prototype had elegantly sculpted (custom) windshield posts. Unfortunately, none of these pillars exist for replication.
* This Venus, and some others, used Cadillac “Sombrero” hubcaps.
* Had a single spring-loaded button to unlatch the door….no pull handle. I believe this single button was probably off a Mercury.
* Hood hinges were mounted against the firewall, so the front part of the hood lifted up.
*The taillights were ’52 Packard 400, which could have been a quick add-on. They don’t look very good and do not follow the geometry of the body. This is the ONLY Venus
I know of that had these Packard lights., which by the way, were single bulb only.
Twin Venus’ at Hobby Airport: Whereabouts Unknown
Another very interesting photo, apparently taken out at Hobby airport as well, shows two Venus cars; one is solid light blue with 2-tone Navy/white interior, the second is solid white with 2-tone red/white interior. I am assuming the interior seats are rolled and pleated as seen on the prototype. Unfortunately, no rear-angled photos exist of these cars, and, this is the ONLY all-white Venus I know of. Note that the light blue Venus always had a black Ford steering wheel, and the white Venus had a white wheel.
Specific Notes and Features:
* Note that both of these have the four-bladed “dragonfly” style grille, same as the prototype.
* There are vertical slats behind the 2-bladed grille on the blue Venus. These slats are found on no other Venus photos I have ever seen.
* The white Venus has a different style white steering wheel than the black ’51 Ford wheel. Could this white wheel possibly be from a different donor car with
a different engine? Different transmission (automatic)?
* Both have 1954 license plates where the prototype above has 1953 plates. 1954 Texas plates used yellow letters on a black background; 1953 plates used black letters on a yellow background.
Perhaps these cars were not at the airport at the same time during MT photography.
* Both have the “early” custom windshield pillars, but the backward rake on the blue car seems to be greater than that of the red.
* There is blue trim paint on the wheels of the blue Venus, and red trim paint on the wheels of the white Venus.
Six-Blade Grille Venus: Whereabouts Unknown
The fourth unique Venus is shown below. It was confirmed to me that this particular Venus belonged to D.Y. Gorman, the business manager. In particular, note that:
* It has a unique 6-bladed grille as opposed to the original 4-bladed style. This was the only car with this grille style.
* It has a folding top, which was clearly custom made.
* It has a 2-tone paint job…white front, Navy rear
* The windshield pillars and the windshield are now a wrap-around style.
* The door latch how has a handle (Ford)
* Rear tail lights are ’55-’56 Dodge with custom trim piece, which is a big improvement over the original Packard tail lights.
* Wheel covers now have a wire-wheel style to them, and the center emblem is a “V”.
* The rear bumper has the vertical “bumperettes” attached, though these are easily removed or installed as desired.
* The instrument panel has what looks to be a large air vent (see close-up) with a row of four gauges underneath.
* The custom trim piece that surrounds the steering and shift columns remains the same as on prototype.
* The darker color on the rear deck of the car extends to the top of the doors and into the interior dashboard.
* The rear bumper is of 2 sections, and note the elongated vertical spacing of the individual lights on the tail lights (important later).
* The fit of the top bow to the windshield pillar seems to be offset quite a lot…a poor fit.
This particular Venus was photographed in front of an upscale house in the fancy “MacGregor Drive” area near downtown (below). Also, great photos of this Venus with the Battleship Texas, and another with San Jacinto Monument, two of my favorites. After receiving a tip from a reader quite awhile back, he told me that the same house is still there on MacGregor Drive and has been totally restored as it originally is in the photo (see last color photo of this restored house). So very cool! I hope to reproduce these 50+ year old photographs with new ones, using my restored Venus.
Pasadena, Texas Venus: Whereabouts Unknown
Very little is known about this Venus except for this ph0to below. I was sent the following detail along with the photo: “My wife’s father owned a Venus. She remembers that the doors were very thick, here father would simply climb over the door to get in, and that he and a friend built it. Her only photo was probably taken in Pasadena, Texas in 1958, because that’s where he lived at the time and it sports a 1958 license plate. Since the damaged taillight area is so prominent in the photo, I wonder if he was documenting it for some reason, such as for an insurance claim. It was great coming across all the information you have collected about this quirky marque.”
Black and White Two-Tone Venus: Original or Recycled?
The last Venus to mention is one that may or may not be original on to itself. It may be the case that this Venus was a make-over of the earler Venus owned by DY Gorman…the one with the 6-bladed grille above. This car is clearly associated with the new owners who formed “The Venus Corporation”. Very little is known about this particular time in the history of the Venus, and I will elaborate later in this post. Two additional photos below show this same car being driven in a parade in Galveston, and one other slightly blurry photo. (the Galveston photo is courtesy of the Kovar family).
* An interesting detail is that the offset (poor fit?) of the top bow on the windshield pillar of this B&W Venus is almost identical to the offset of the above Venus (#4). Could these possibly be the same car? (see photos). The wire-wheel style hubcaps are identical, and note the curious downward slant of the front bumper. It would have been relatively easy to replace the 6-bladed grille with the newer style ’55 Chevy grille and to re-paint the car. And by the way, one of the “Rebels”, William (Bill) Morris, told me the car was black and white, not navy and white.
So is the sporty Black & White Venus seen in front of the Venus Corp. building the same car as the one seen in front of the Battleship Texas and on McGregor Drive? I tend to believe that they are one and the same. If I had a photo of the instrument panel of the “Venus Corp” car, then that would clearly identify them as being the same.
One other thing to consider; there weren’t a lot of Venus cars that were assembled onto frames….these were just demos for all practical purposes. Their business was in selling only the body shells.
Venus Number 2: Found and Rescued
The sixth documented Venus was initially owned by Ken McLoad, and occupied a space in our carport for a decade or more. It too has a strange and circuitous history, having gone through several owners and one major hurricaine only to (recently) find its way back home. (Please refer to Venus#2 in Menus for the full history of this car). The major distinguishing features are:
* the addition of a Continental Kit and home-made bumper extension
* it had a rare folding top
* it was a two-tone color scheme (I believe white and blue)
* it has the alternate Dodge tail lights with spacing much closer than on the DY Gorman car
* it has updated grille from a ’55 Chevy Bel Aire
* has a wrap-around windshield
* additional fog lamps added in the front
Continental kits were never offered for the Venus; this was something Ken McLoad did on his own. I can tell it’s his work. This was only one of (possibly) two Venus bodies that had a folding top. The top was installed by Ray Jone’s upholstery shop in Houston; the tinted photo below is the only one that Mr. Jone’s had available to share with me. Note the bumper feature. This Venus was previously owned by Jack & Christi Kovar for 30 years, and remained untouched throughout that entire time. Note the “unsprung” front wheels due to the lack of weight from not having an engine, which is how Jack bought it 30 years ago. It does have the doors and side hinges. This car was recently purchased by my brother, Mike McLoad. This is one of only two known surviving Venus cars.
Venus Number 1: Found and Rescued
(Currently under restoration)
The fifth identifiable Venus is the one that was shipped all the way from Houston to Worcester, Massachusetts to Mr. Gordon H. Jewett, owner of the Geo. H. Jewett Company whose company specialized in auto/truck wreck rebuilding services. The first public showing of this Venus occured at an AutoRama car show in Hartford, Connecticut on February 23, 1955. (I give credit and thanks to Geoffrey Hacker and another friend for bringing this souvenir pictorial to my attention. Sorry, I’ve lost track of the name). Until having seen these “just built” photos, I had no idea what my Venus actually looked like initially. What is interesting to me is that this Venus shipped with the initial design of the windshield pillars, but had the later style grille from a ’55 Chevy Bel Air. This is the only photo I have of the car….sure wish I had a shot of the back side, interior, and engine. By the time I got to this car, it had been drastically changed….as you will soon learn. (Again, details about this particular car is presented in “Venus#1 History” in the Menu bar).