As well as being repainted, the shape of the nose was altered to more accurately reflect period images from the early ’60s – Speakeasy’s faithful restoration seems to have included a dent in the front valance, after the car bottomed out on a kerb at some point during Street’s ownership.
In addition to conventional restoration techniques, technology that was inconceivable in the 1950s – even to Street – played a key part in both rebuilds. Alonzo kicked things off by using a 3D printer to replace the hubcap fins that had gone missing during the car’s internment.
“First they were 3D scanned, then printed from a material that could be buffed and polished,” explains Buckley, who played a vital role in the project.
“They resembled the originals so closely it was almost impossible to tell them apart.”
Recreating a damaged tail-light lens required more intricate work, says Olsen: “All four look the same, but they are all completely different. We had to scan one by hand and 3D print it in solid white plastic. That piece was then used to create a mould, into which we poured acrylic that matched the colour of the lens.”
Getting the Golden Sahara II to Geneva was quite a task, given its as-found condition
Perhaps the biggest challenge during the ongoing restoration has been deciphering and reviving the complex electrical systems, which had been created without thought to future repairs and, crucially, without a schematic drawing.
The team started where it felt most comfortable, with the television. “When we got it out, it had the same UHF/VHF connectors I remembered as a kid – I had flashbacks to hooking up my Atari games system,” laughs Olsen.
“As well as powering the TV, we were able to feed a signal via a small, hidden DVD player, so we can loop period footage of Jim Street displaying the vehicle.”
Some of the more intricate gizmos are still on the to-do list, including the touchpad steering with its hydraulic solenoid pack and separate power-steering pump, not to mention a fearsome wiring harness.
“It isn’t currently hooked up, but all the parts are there to restore it,” says Buckley.
Klairmont, Olsen and Buckley’s enthusiasm for the project is palpable, and it’s surely only a matter of time before the car’s out-of-this-world gadgetry is once again wowing the crowds.
This custom creation can now shine again
The Golden Sahara II’s enduring appeal is no doubt partly due to its disappearance while at the peak of its power to amaze, yet the reason why remains a mystery.
“The paint deteriorated so badly it was probably due for restoration when Jim put it into hibernation,” suggests Olsen, “and the availability of tyres may have played a part.”
Goodyear’s experiments with urethane ended in the ’60s – despite their breathtaking looks they lost traction in the wet, became unstable at more than 65mph and melted under heavy braking.
“Also, Street had travelled across the US for three or four years, and I’ve been told by people who knew him that he was just tired.”
In the end, perhaps technology caught up with Street and, rather than see his beloved ‘car of the future’ become a relic of the past, he chose to quit while he was ahead. Whatever the reason, now at last his legacy lives on.
Images: Olgun Kordal/Goodyear
Thanks to Goodyear; Klairmont Kollections
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