Hill Auto Body Metal Company - 1930s - Cincinnati, Ohio


Hill Auto Body – Cincinnati, Ohio - Hill Auto Body Metal Company of Cincinnati. - ARROW PLANE - Chicago, Illinois - (1932) - The Arrow Plane was a rear­engined teardrop of a car built in 1932 for a wealthy Chicagoan named Lyman Voelpel by the Hill Auto Body Metal Company of Cincinnati. The car, which remains extant, was one of a number built by the Hill company during this period. The McQuay-Norris that followed in 1933 resembled the Arrow Plane, most specifically in its window design. The Hill company specialized in streamlined equipment for airplanes but made periodic forays into the automotive field with race cars and streamlined bodies. ---  Hill Auto Metal Body Company of Cincinnati, Ohio built the streamlined bodies for the 1933-1934 McQuay-Norris advertising cars that were built by the McQuay-Norris Manufacturing Company of St. Louis, Missouri, an auto parts manufacturer. The car’s teardrop shape was reminiscent of the Arrow Plane that the Hill Company built earlier in 1932 for Lyman Voelpel.

One McQuay-Norris car has been magnificently restored and was seen at Hershey in 2004



The McQuay Norris Streamliner is an important piece of automotive history. The car was one of six such cars built by McQuay-Norris, a St. Louis based manufacturer of internal engine and chassis components. The cars were built using a 1934 Ford chassis and running gear and the highly advanced streamlined body design was constructed of steel and aluminum over a wood framework. The aircraft inspired windshield and canopy design was constructed of Plexiglas. The cars were built to be used by McQuay Norris representatives for promotional purposes but more importantly they used as test cars and as such they were equipped with a multitude of gauges mounted to the dash to monitor the performance of various components. It is one of 2 such cars known to exist and the only one that is restored. It was restored in 1990 and became part of the Hemmings Motor News collection until purchased from them.

Currently for sale by Hyman Ltd for $149K


Excerpted from Six of a Kind by Robert J. Gottlieb - SIA #12 Dec 1972-Jan 1973 Pp46-48

Hill Auto Body

 The McQuay-Norris teardroppers were built by the Hill Auto Body Metal Co. of Cin­cinnati. Hill could construct anything from air­craft wheel spats to truck bodies, and it was also one of many smaller shops that turned out an occasional race-car body or streamliner to order. In 1932, owner John A. Hill had built a rear-engined teardrop car called the Arrow Plane for Lyman Voelpel, a wealthy Chi­cagoan. This car still exists and was sold re­cently at a Kirk White auction to the backers of a Florida politician for use as a promotional vehicle.

The Arrow Plane served as inspiration and partly as a model for the six McQuay-Norris cars. There's a good deal of similarity in the window treatment. John A. Hill, working with McQuay-Norris .chief engineer Arden Mum­mert, came up with the teardrop shape. Con­struction began in late 1932, and at least one of the cars was finished in 1933. The rest were completed in 1934.

Bodies were aluminum over steel frame­work. General Jumbo Airwheels and tires were used, but otherwise these cars were strictly Ford. Suspension and braking systems re­mained unaltered.

Hill Auto Body went on to build race car bodies for, among others, Roscoe Turner, and also a land yacht for Grove Laboratories. In 1937, Hill moved from its old location on Reedy St. in Cincinnati to new quarters at 700 W. 6th St., maintaining a body repair shop there until 1941 but also doing job-lot work build­ing truck bodies, cabs, aircraft parts, and for the military. In 1943, John Hill established a subsidiary operation called Hill Aircraft and Streamliners Co. Mr. Hill passed away in 1956 and Hill Auto Body Metal Co. went out of business in 1960.

What eventually became of the six McQuay­ Norris cars? We haven't been able to trace any of them. George Leutwiler tells us that they were sold one by one, most of them ending up as delivery trucks. One became a sign atop a jobber's store, but even that vanished about years ago.             


McQuay-Norris Teardrop Test Car
If Humpty Dumpty ever designed a car, there's a good chance that it might resemble a McQuay-Norris Teardrop Test Car.

Here's a scarce and little-known Oddie that today finds its home in the Hemmings Motor News fleet, a 1934 McQuay-Norris Streamliner. Bug-eyed, bulbous and ungainly looking, these vehicles were not created in an attempt to break any land-speed records, that's for sure. Instead, they were intended as rolling test beds and promotional vehicles for the McQuay-Norris Company of St. Louis, which manufactured replacement pistons, rings, bearings and other automotive bits and pieces that one might need in order to rebuild an automobile engine or chassis.

The idea to build the cars first came in 1932, and the task fell to Cincinnati, Ohio's Hill Auto Body Metal Company, which used unmodified 1932-33 Ford V-8 chassis and engines as the basis for the six Streamliners. Bodies were constructed of steel sheet metal attached to wood framing, with the exception of the doors, which were aluminum. In completed form, they very closely resembled the one-off, Ford-powered 1932 Arrow Plane that Hill had built for a wealthy Chicagoan. Notably absent from the body design are rear windows and windshield wipers. Reportedly, the company engineers who drove the streamliners noted that the faster they drove, the more visibility improved during rainy drives, as the water rolled back thanks to the rounded Plexiglas front window panes. Rearward visibility was handled by rear-view mirrors mounted on either side. The McQuay-Norris rode on General Jumbo Airwheels, which were much larger than the stock Ford rolling stock, though the stock suspension system was retained. In an interview in SIA # 14 with author Robert J. Gottlieb, McQuay-Norris engineer George E. Leutwiler related that, "These cars were easy to drive, but they had some peculiarities. For instance, you needed good shocks or the car would dance around a lot, because of the donut tires. In those days most of the roads were nothing but gravel. When I first drove from St. Louis to Memphis and New Orleans, it was gravel all the way, and that winter I did a few dances around curves on gravel roads."

As noted before, there really wasn't any reason for the aerodynamic teardrop styling other than to attract attention, even though it did apparently help increase the vehicle's top speed over the Ford cars that it was based upon, and it is what was inside these unique machines that mattered. All of the drivers were required to rebuild the engine in their vehicle with McQuay-Norris parts, thus providing adequate first-hand testimonials as to the fitment of the parts. For reliability, the vehicle itself provided proof of the durability of the components. There were no less than fifteen different gauges to monitor various aspects of the health of the drivetrain. Most were housed in a large wooden bulkhead that covered the engine in front of the driver; behind the driver was a blow-by gauge that measured the levels of unburned gases in the exhaust and acted as a wear indicator for the piston/ring assemblies. Some of the other gauges that provided relative analysis of the performance of the McQuay-Norris components included exhaust gas analyzer, viscometer, exhaust gas temperature, compression, vacuum gauges along with more common dial indicators for engine oil level, pressure and temperature, water temperature and ammeter, and an accuracy refined speedometer and odometer. That's only a partial list, and that console must have been quite an eyeful for the driver.

The drivers apparently kept copious records of all the information that this instrumentation provided, which was subsequently referenced during impromptu seminars held when the Streamliners rolled into towns where there were existing or potential distributors and users for its product line. They were kept in operation until 1940, then individually sold off. To date No. 9 (the Streamliners were numbered up to 15) is the only one known to have been found and restored to as close to original condition as is possible. Its survival can be credited to its purchase in 1973 by a British sports car restorer, who then sold it to one Michael Schoen in 1975. It was he who started its restoration. It took Schoen fifteen years to get the Streamliner into an operable condition. Hemmings acquired it nearly a decade later, and it is still kept in driveable condition. It is used for the occasional parade and displayed during Hemmings' annual open house events, at which it draws more than its fair share of attention.



For more information please read:

Six of a Kind - Robert J. Gottlieb - Special Interest Autos #14 Dec 1972-Jan 1973

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Car

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Era

Beverly Rae Kimes - Packard: A History of the Motorcar and Company

Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark Jr. - Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942

Richard Burns Carson - The Olympian Cars

Raymond A. Katzell - The Splendid Stutz

Marc Ralston - Pierce Arrow

Brooks T. Brierley - There Is No Mistaking a Pierce Arrow

Brooks T. Brierley - Auburn, Reo, Franklin and Pierce-Arrow Versus Cadillac, Chrysler, Lincoln and Packard

Brooks T. Brierley - Magic Motors 1930

Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

John Gunnell - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975

James M. Flammang & Ron Kowalke - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1976-1999

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Michael Lamm and Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design

Thomas E. Bonsall - The Lincoln Motorcar: Sixty Years of Excellence

Fred Roe - Duesenberg: The Pursuit of Perfection

Arthur W. Soutter - The American Rolls-Royce

John Webb De Campi - Rolls-Royce in America

Hugo Pfau - The Custom Body Era

Hugo Pfau - The Coachbult Packard

Griffith Borgeson - Cord: His Empire His Motor Cars

Don Butler - Auburn Cord Duesenberg

George H. Dammann - 90 Years of Ford

George H. Dammann & James K. Wagner - The Cars of Lincoln-Mercury

Thomas A. MacPherson - The Dodge Story

F. Donald Butler - Plymouth-Desoto Story

Fred Crismon - International Trucks

George H. Dammann - Seventy Years of Chrysler

Walter M.P. McCall - 80 Years of Cadillac LaSalle

Maurice D. Hendry - Cadillac, Standard of the World: The complete seventy-year history

George H. Dammann & James A. Wren - Packard

Dennis Casteele - The Cars of Oldsmobile

Terry B. Dunham & Lawrence R. Gustin - Buick: A Complete History

George H. Dammann - Seventy Years of Buick

George H. Dammann - 75 Years of Chevrolet

John Gunnell - Seventy-Five Years of Pontiac-Oakland

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Denis Miller - The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trucks and Buses

Tad Burness - American Truck Spotter's Guide, 1920-1970

Tad Burness - American Truck & Bus Spotter's Guide, 1920-1985

Robert M Roll - American trucking: A seventy-five year odyssey

David Jacobs - American Trucks: A photographic essay of American Trucks and Trucking

David Jacobs - American Trucks: More Colour Photographs of Truck & Trucking

John Gunnell - American Work Trucks: A Pictorial History of Commercial Trucks 1900-1994

George W. Green - Special-Use Vehicles: An Illustrated History of Unconventional Cars and Trucks

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Ronald G. Adams - 100 Years of Semi Trucks

Stan Holtzman - Big Rigs: The Complete History of the American Semi Truck

Stan Holtzman & Jeremy Harris Lipschultz - Classic American Semi Trucks

Stan Holtzman - Semi Truck Color History

Donald F. Wood - American Beer Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Beverage Trucks: Photo Archive

Donald F. Wood - Commercial Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Delivery Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Dump Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Gas & Oil Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Logging Trucks 1915 Through 1970: Photo Archive

Donald F. Wood - New Car Carriers 1910-1998 Photo Album

Donald F. Wood - RVs & Campers 1900-2000: An Illustrated History

Donald F. Wood - Wreckers and Tow Trucks

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road - Impressive International Trucks 1907-1947

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road - Keen Kenworth Trucks - 1915-1955

Richard J. Copello - American Car Haulers

Niels Jansen - Pictorial History of American Trucks

John B. Montville - Refuse Trucks: Photo Archive

Bill Rhodes - Circus and Carnival Trucks 1941-2000: Photo Archive

Howard L. Applegate - Coca-Cola: Its Vehicles in Photographs 1930 Through 1969: Photo Archive

James T. Lenzke & Karen E. O'Brien - Standard Catalog of American Light-Duty Trucks: 1896-2000

James K. Wagner - Ford Trucks since 1905

Don Bunn - Dodge Trucks

Fred Crismon - International Trucks

Don Bunn - Encyclopedia of Chevrolet Trucks


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