Although Andrew Di Dia was unschooled in the
art of automotive design or engineering, an automobile he designed in
1953 was so far ahead of its time, it looked modern when it debuted in
1960. Unlike the thousands of modified or customized cars constructed
during the late 1950s, Di Dia's car was one of a handful of true
coachbuilt cars, constructed from the ground up, its aluminum panels
hand-hammered by skilled coachbuilders.
Most recently the Di Dia 150, as the car
became known, has been honored at two Concours d'Elegance where it had
a chance to rub shoulders with its contemporaries, the much desired and
written about Detroit Dream Cars of the 1950s. The only thing
sepearating them is the fact it was one mans' dream, constructed with
his own limited funds over a period of 6 1/2 years in a small Detroit
(FYI: Andrew Di Dia signed his name Di Dia
rather than DiDia
or Didia, so that’s how I’m spelling it. Period refernces below are not
Andrew Di Dia was born on July 15, 1917 in
County, Michigan to Gaspare (b.Oct. 23, 1888 in Marsala, Trapani,
- immigrated April 16, 1904 – d. Jan 8, 1977) and Vircunza (aka
Jean/Gina b. 1893
– Pensavecchia), immigrated in 1913) Didia. His parents were married in
on 10 April 10, 1913. To the blessed union was born three children;
(b 1915); Andrew (b. July 15, 1917-d. Feb 24, 2014); Joseph (b. Feb.
1919-d. May 6, 1992) DiDia.
Andrew was named after his grandfather. His
being Andreas (b.Oct 23,1854 –d. Apr 29,1933) and Caterina (b.1856) Di
They immigrated to the United States April 16, 1904 with their son
(aka Alex, Jasper), and daughter Jennette Di Dia.
The 1910 Detroit directory lists Andrea’s
machinist, also listed was Gaspare (aka August) his occupation also
The 1913 Detroit directory lists Gaspare as Gustav A. Di Dia, 56
occupation auto worker. Gaspare’s Draft registration card dated June 5,
gives his home address as 341 Hague St, Detroit and his employer as
Motor Co., occupation, machinist.
1930 US Census list Andrew’s father’s name
(sometimes listed as Jasper, Gustave), his occupation laborer in an
factory - home address is given as 20422 Cameron St., Detroit.
The 1940 US Census lists him living with his
15917 Monica St, Detroit, his occupation as ‘gap inspector’ at an
Andrew Di Dia married Josephine Ceccarelli
(b. May 20, 1915,
daughter of Oreste and Erminia [Martini] Ceccarelli) on September 7,
Acmetonia, Allegheny, Pennsylvania.
The marriage certificate list his occupation
and his home address as 15917 Monica St., Detroit.
I could locate no history as to how Andrew
ended up in the garment
business, although I discovered that he later worked as a bus driver
Department of Street Railways during the mid-to late 1940s, as
evidenced by the
following accident report found in the 1948 listing of accident
reported during the annual meeting of the Safety and Traffic Committee
of the Automobile
Club of Michigan:
“ACCIDENT FATALITIES #2
“January 7, 1948 at 7:12 A.M.
“JOSEPH SCHAFFER, age 45, of 12076
“Accident Occurred: Grand River at
“Andrew Didia, age 30, of 15917 Monica,
driving a D.S.R.
Coach (1947 Mack), lic. 36-71, southeast on Grand River at 15-18 MPH
at the ea.pt crosswalk of Cherrylawn, he struck a pedestrian who was
across the street from north to south. The injured man was taken to Mt.
Hospital by #14 auto and he died there at 4:55 P.M. The driver was
brought to the
APB where a statement was taken by Asst. Pros. Francis Criqui. The
released to appear if wanted. A statement was taken from a witness this
It’s unknown if he lost or resigned his
the unfortunate incident, however the October 1953 issue of ‘In
reported ‘This member had left the employ of D.S.R.’ The article was in
reference Di Dia trying to get back into Detroit local No.26 of the
Union (AFL-CIO). The article also states he ‘no longer worked in the
“FIFTH MEETING (August 31 -September 2,
1953) The Secretary
placed before the General Executive Board the request of Andrew
DiDia, a former
member of Division 26, Detroit, Michigan, for reinstatement in the
This member had left the employ of D.S.R. and had stated that he
Financial Secretary of the Division whether he could continue his
even though he no longer worked in the industry. He stated that because
never been given an answer from the Secretary as to whether or not he
continue his membership, he became delinquent and as soon as he found
could continue his membership, he requested reinstatement. After
consideration, the General Executive Board enacted to deny the
Although his exact occupation and employer
existing references to Di Dia during the 1950s list his occupation as
Di Dia’s interest in automobiles extended
back to his
childhood, and his father and grandfather had both worked in Detroit’s
factories, his father working as a machinist for Cadillac. Andrew also
employment in the auto industry, working as a ‘gap inspector’ at one of
Detroit plants up until he got a job as a bus driver for the City of
He was a life-long car enthusiast and in the
early 1950s had
the Detroit custom shop of Clarkaiser modify a number of cars for him.
was influenced by the creations of Alexis de Sahknoffsky and Harley
much so he that he drove around in a customized Buick with fins.
In 1953 he decided to create his own stylized automobile, enlisting the
help of his neighbor*,
Edward V. Francoise, to put the design on paper.
*(Di Dia lived at 19130 Riverview St.,
Detroit, MI and Francoise at 19295 Riverview St., Detroit, MI.)
Francoise just happened to be a Chrysler
Corp. automobile designer, and Di Dia comissioned him to turn his ideas
into a series of renderings which would end up being the car today
known as "Bobby Darin’s Dream
Car," a vehicle that looked modern a
decade later, and today is considered to be one of the shining stars of
A former Army Air Corps pilot, Francoise
went to work for Chrysler after leaving the service. After nearly a
decade at Chrysler he left to take a position as industrial designer
with Guerdon Industries, a Marlette, Michigan
mobile home manufacturer, where he remained until his retirement.
Francoise' sketches were
Clarkaiser Customs along with a clay scale model that Francious
had provided to Di Dia.
the firm’s normal custom jobs, Di Dia’s car was not based on an
vehicle, it was created from the ground up, using a framework of round
chrome-molybdenum tubing fabricated by Clarkaiser’s principals, Ronald
Clarkaiser had been formed by the two
partners at the end of
the Second World War, and was reportedly Detroit’s first custom car
the next decade the partner’s superior fabrication skills brought them
place trophies including John Cassaubon’s 1950 Ford, Larry Ernst’s 1952
Nicholson’s Arctic Sand 1948 Ford, the Gilardone Bros.’ 1953 Ford, Alan
Utopia 1950 Ford, Stan Lendzon’s 1952 Buick, Bob Palmer’s Golden Bird
the Volpe Bros.’ 1948 Mercury and Tony Volpe’s 1951 Ford.
The Di Dia project was managed by Ron Clark
who is credited with
the design and fabrication of its novel Ford-based swing-arm rear and
independent front suspensions. Originally estimated to be a 2-year-long
project, numerous setbacks and delays made it into a 6½-year-long
during which time Ron Clark took over the project on his own.
The car's construction was detailed by
custom car historian Ron Fetherston in the July 1995 issue of Rod
“Apart from a few pieces like spindles and
adjustable Thunderbird steering column, the Plymouth steering wheel,
Chrysler windshield, the Pontiac seats, the third member and the
engine and transmission, everything else was custom built. Both
excellent fabricators. They created the chassis and hand-formed the
aluminum. They machined parts out of billet, brass and steel, then
painted or polished them.
“Andy was hoping for a finished car in two
years, but it
wasn’t until August of 1960 that the car was completed. According to
body was finally completed in late 1957. Ron’s perfectionist nature and
wonderful manual skills helped produce a body that was as crisp as a
hand-hammered out of half-hard .064 aluminum over wooden bucks. Each
assembly, for example, took Bob 15 weeks to shape. All the aluminum
was gas welded and then metal finished without any fillers. Bob
before they started on the Di Dia the only aluminum-forming experience
had was fabricated a racing hydroplane hull for a local boatyard.
“Apart from the original illustration, an
model and the specifications for an upcoming Chrysler windshield*, the
not have much to work from. ‘We did it by eye,’ Bob recalls, building
shaping bucks and forming the metal according to Andy’s clay model.
the ‘secret’ Chrysler windshield – Andy had managed to get the
of a new Chrysler wrap-around windshield, so that part of the project
proceed. Today the windshield might be a production item, but it, too,
work of art. The rear window was also an integral part of the roof and
section. Made of Plexiglas, it cost $1,500 to produce, which would
“The bumpers were formed from a mixture of
flat and round
8-inch steel and billet brass. They were hand-formed, rolled, filled,
polished and then chromed. The same applied to the wild grill treatment
was fabricated out of aluminum and cut down the side of the body into
“A ’58 Cadillac 365-cubic-inch V8 was
into the car
using a marine induction manifold that gave the Cadillac a low engine
A matching ’58 Cadillac automatic transmission moved power to the rear
The engine was later changed to a Ford 427,mated to the Cadillac
when Ford wanted to the Di Dia on the show circuit. It is still fitted
“Like the exterior, virtually everything
inside was custom
fabricated, apart from the steering wheel and the bucket seats. A pair
Pontiac bucket seats were trimmed in bronze leather and fabric to match
interior. The dash panels feature a freestanding, see-through
four recessed gauges. There is also a unique six-lever control panel on
the dash for transmission, wipers, lights and so on.
“A wide center console splits the interior
in two, dividing
it into four individual seating positions. All this was custom
trimmed with chrome, leather and aluminum.”
*(Edward V. Francoise's son states that
the windshield and steering wheel were provided by his father.)
completed, Di Dia towed it behind his
Buick to Los Angeles in time for an official debut at George Barris'
annual Bakersfield Motor
and Boat Show which was to be held November 24-27, 1960 at the Kern
County Fairgrounds. Didia arrived in LA about two months early, and the
car made several 'unscheduled' public appearances, the first of which
was in front of Slate Bros.' 339 N. La Cienega Blvd. restaurant on
October 1, 1960. Its official debut was announced in
the November 12, 1960 edition of the Bakersfield Californian:
“Motor, Boat Show Will Have Custom Exhibits
“Custom cars and boats, original-design
hotrods, new cars, racing cycles – more than a hundred exhibits will
and boat enthusiasts to the Kern County fairgrounds Nov. 24-27, for the
annual Bakersfield Motor and Boat Show.
“Two buildings will be required to house
this year's vast
collection of automotive arts, says show producer George Barris, who is
one of the country's top custom car authorities and editor of several
“The show will feature champion racing
television cars, several entries by local car clubs, and many new cars
In addition to the cars and boats, there will be a queen contest on the
of the auditorium the first evening of the show, and regular free
throughout the show's four-day run.
“One of the top attractions at this year's
show will be the XPAK
400, revolutionary air-propelled car designed by George Barris of Car
Magazine. This car, which rides on a cushion of air five inches above
will be demonstrated during the show.
“The $150,000 Di Dia will also be
This will be
the first public showing of the all-aluminum, 510-horsepower ‘dream
designed by Andrew Di Dia, which took six and a half years to build.
“Last year’s motor and boat show attracted
more than 20,000 spectators
to the fairgrounds. Barris predicts a record attendance of 25,000 will
year's ‘bigger and better’ motor show.”
The car's official name, the Di Dia 150, was
derived from the preceding news article, and rather than fight it
- it cost only $93K - Didia embraced the moniker. Soon afterward it
picked up another name by which it's most commonly referred to today -
'Bobby Darin's Dream Car.'
Andrew Di Dia and Bobby Darin had a rather
unusual relationship that commenced with a
chance 1956 meeting in Detroit. They gradually became good friends and
an interest in the ongoing construction of Di Dia’s dream car. In an
with Darin's biographer David Evanier, Di Dia explains how he came to
“Bobby was just like a son to me. He first
appeared at the
Gay Haven in Detroit in 1956. He had no money. He was staying at the
Hotel for $21 a week. I told the owner of the restaurant to feed him
believe it was on the house. And I paid the owner. I gave Bobby some of
clothes and bought new clothes for him.”
The father–son relationship was confirmed by
Customs’ Bob Kaiser in a 1985 interview with Rod & Custom’s David
“When Bobby Darin was getting started in
singing business in Detroit, Andy met him and treated him like a son.”
Although he wouldn’t find out
Darin had been
raised by his grandparents. for three decades Darin thought they were
'his parents' – and
that his real mother, Vanina (Nina), was his
‘older sister’. Nina’s husband,
Bobby's ‘uncle’ was actually his stepfather.
who was born in the Bronx as Walden Robert Cassotto on May
14, 1936, was
stricken with recurring bouts of rheumatic fever at the age
that left him with a seriously weakened heart. He discovered his
condition at the age of 16 and soonafter began working as a songwriter
in his native Manhattan. camethereafter becamerealizing he was unlikely
to live a long
life he pursued his career at an often fanatical pace.
He recorded his first big hit 'Splish
Splash' in 1958, and during the next two years the hits kept coming
culminating with a 1960 Grammy for 'Mack The
Knife.' As his popularity increased so did the size of his entourage
and in 1960
Di Dia was hired as his personal valet, accompanying the singer
whenever he went on tour for most of the next decade. Darin's
biographer, Al DiOrio, recalls:
“Wherever the Darins went, there were
waiting on them
hand and foot. Bobby maintained a large entourage on the road that
included his valet (either Charlie Maffia or Andy DiDia),
Sandy's hairdresser, *Dodd's nurse, Bobby's conductor, and
often Bobby's manager.”
(*Born on December 16, 1961, Dodd M. Darin
was the son of
Sandra Dee and Bobby, both of whom were already major stars when they
in 1960 - she was 18, he was 24 – they divorced in 1967. Charlie Maffia
was Darin’s step-father.)
his star rose in the musci business Darin
turned his sights on becoming a movie star, appearedin in a number of
television productions, and in 1960 co-starred with his future wife,
Sandra Dee, in 'Come September,' for which he received a Golden Globe.
Darin like Di Dia's car and the two came to an arrangement where Bobby
would use the car at awards shows, openings and photo opportunities.
Although Di Dia owned it, Darin's agent was
allowed to say it was Darin's and the 'Bobby Darin's Dream Car' moniker
can be traced to aMarch 31, 1961 United Press newswire article
written by UP's entertainment editor Rick Du Brow:
“Car Cost $150,000 (Press Agent Says)
“Hollywood, Mar. 31, (UPI) – There’s this
car and it cost $150,000. That’s what the press agent said.
“He’s Bobby Darin’s press agent. Darin is
doesn’t claim to be modest. He says he wants to be the biggest thing in
business by the time he’s 25. He’s got six weeks to make it.
“But $150,000 for a car?
“‘Well, actually it only cost $97,000 for
parts,’ said the press agent. ‘Bobby’s been offered $150,000 for it.
Come out and see it.’
“There it was. Maroon. All hand-made.
Aluminum from top to bottom. Tail fins higher that the roof.
“‘It’s easy to park if you own a city
block,’ said Darrin.
“Actually it only cost $93,647 and 29
cents,’ said Andrew Didia, a Detroit men’s clothing designer. He and
Darrin designed the car.
“‘The parts weren’t much,’ said Didia. ‘It
was labor. It kept four men busy for seven years in my Detroit garage.’
“It’s eight-cylinder. The headlights wing
down. The doors
open electrically by the push of a button on the top – and the sky view
sections on the sides raise up at the same time.
“Most of the top is glass. The seats are
plush brown and
black. The doors are a foot thick. The mufflers are under the front
“Didia said the car is finished with 30
coats of imported
pure pearl oil of essence with added crushed diamond dust to make
“Said Darin, ‘I wonder what the trade-in
preceding press release was accompanied by a photo of Di Dida and Darin
standing in front of the car, with the following caption - the
first time it was referred to as 'Bobby Darin's Dream Car':
“This is the Bobby Darin Dream Car … all
representing 6 ½ years of planning by Darin and Andrew Di Dia, an old
Darin’s who built the machine. The car here is shown in the Paramount
lot where Darin is starring in ‘Two Late Blues’. One of the many
features is the 30-coat paint job which contains crushed diamond dust…
brighten things up a bit. Bobby Darin is shown at far rights (with
first public appearance with his 'Dream Car' would be at the 1961
Academy Awards, the April 1, 1961 Associated Press Newswire reporting:
“Hollywood, (AP) – They won’t outshine
Darrin at the
Academy Awards show April 17. At least not up to the curb, they won’t.
“The young singer and his actress wife,
Sandra Dee, will
wheel up to the bright lights at curbside in a handbuilt dream car,
almost $100,000 to build.
“It’s a 500-horsepower. Four-foot high
with a mostly
plastic top, disappearing headlights, and a 30-coat lacquer paint job
crushed fish scales and diamond dust.
“It’s called the ‘Bobby Darin Dream Car’
Andrew Di Dia, who will tour the country with it while Darrin isn’t
for public appearances. Di Dia owns most of it, Darin a share. The
helped on the design Di Dia says.”
car was featured on the cover of the December 1961 issue of Rod
& Custom, which attributed the car's custom paintwork to George
Barris, who also was created with taking the photos:
“The DiDia 150
“One of the most fabulous dream customs
to come true
was created by Andy DiDia of Detroit. Immaculately finished in every
the handformed aluminum body and tublular frame, 6 ½ years in
valued at $150,000.
“Fabulous custom DiDia was handformed from
aluminum. Frame is made up of three-inch alloy tubing. From ground to
hugs the road at a low 48 inches. When doors are open, a torsion bar
opens skyview top sections for greater headroom – make getting in and
Windshield wipers are hidden under cowl flap, which opens automatically.
“White, frosted backup lights are set in
combination tail light and bumper rings. Custom-made rear glass is
Plexiglass (in one piece) and cost over $1500. High, sleek tail fins
lights and directional signals.
“Windshield is double-wrap design, with
windwings cut into
ends of the glass. Headlights are normally concealed in upper part of
Photo shows headlight starting to swing down into position when switch
turned on. Bumpers are made of 10-guage spring steel, and house
lights in front of the tip tubes and read clearance lights facing
Exhaust pipes are beneath this.
“Beautifully styled interior has four
seats covered in rust-colored Naugahyde with pleated, metallic
inserts. Seats are four-way power operated. Console switches activated
hood, doors, power windows and trunk. Even hubcaps are custom-made,
18-guage steel, chromed and trimmed with color. Paint was shot by
Customs of North Hollywood, with 30 coats of pure pearl of essence,
from Sweden. Crushed diamond was added, hand rubbed.”
The Di Dia was also featured in an article
entitled ‘A Portfolio of Cars you’d like to own’ in the April 1962
“This One Cost $93,000
“Headlights tilt up out of sight; roof
rise as doors
open; a touch opens doors electrically; controls are levers or buttons;
lid opens sideways; directionals are automatic.
“Andrew DiDia makes his money designing
men’s clothes and
spends it designing and building cars. His Didia 150 is the 43-year-old
Californian’s latest masterpiece. Final construction costs of this land
'magnifique' topped $93,000. The 219-inch aluminum body is mounted on a
alloy tubular frame. A modified 407-hp Cadillac engine can flay the car
straightaway at 140 mph. Panels in the engine compartment are all
steel or chrome-plated brass. Other highlights include $7,000 worth of
trim and a hand-rubbed 30-coat paint job – rustic pearl and diamond
Andrew Di Dia and the ‘Bobby Darin Dream
Car’ spent the
winter of 1962-1963 making appearances at custom car shows and
stop-off at the Washington Timing Association’s Rod and Custom Show was
in the November 8, 1962 issue of the Gettysburg Times:
“Dream Car Cost $150,000, Took Seven Years
To Build – by
“Pittsburgh – (AP) – The automobile status
symbol to end all
status symbols has made its entrance on the American scene – but
want to be the first in his own block to own one had better think twice.
“At $1,000 down and $100 a month, you
pay this one off
in about 124 years.
“It’s the ‘DiDia 150’ or ‘Bobby Darin’s
depending which name you prefer. Owner and builder Andy DiDia, a
clothing designer, doesn’t care; it’s his car, but singer Darin is a
friend of his.
“The Darin-DiDia rolling palace showed up
the star of the
third annual Rod and Custom Show put on by the Washington (PA.) Timing
“With some 125 cars, the quick and the
costly, marshalled in
Pittsburgh’s City Auditorium, there was plenty of competition, but the
150 grabbed attention from the outset with it spinnaker-sized tailfins
dazzling price - $150,000.
“$93,647 For Labor
“Owner DiDia explains that labor alone,
seven years of it,
accounted for $93,647.29. A very precise man, and it shows in the car
“Surprisingly, it is not really flashy.
DiDia tailored the body to relatively simple lines in a solid,
finish that is fairly subdued for a mixture of paint and diamond dust.
“The real innovations are functional:
controlled air conditioning, totally concealed headlights, individual
lighters, ashtrays and radio speakers for each of the four bucket
windshield wipers that start themselves when it rains … All it lacks is
electronic brain to drive it, but what can you expect for only
In 1964 Bobby Darin was nominated as ‘best
for his portrayal of a shell-shocked soldier in 'Captain Newman M.D.',
and decided to drive the
to the Academy Awards ceremony. Darin’s manager, Steve Blauner,
car, and the event in an interview with Darin's biographer David
“Andy was building that car for years,
recalls. ‘He had said he didn’t know if the car would ride. I said,
put Bobby in the car a block or so away from the building, and we’ll
nothing happens. So Bobby gets in the car, and here comes this
who opens the window and leans out but Liz Taylor and Eddie Fisher.
you get that car?’ And they’re carrying on about the car, because there
nothing like it. Well, all of a sudden, the car broke down and started
steam. Smoke was coming out of it. So we got Bobby in and dropped him
the Civic Center.”
Apparently Di Dia forgot to turn the
cooling fans (controlled by one of the switches located in the center
Darin took off with the car and the big Cadillac engine quickly
it was a bad omen, as Darin, who was competing with John Huston, Hugh
Melvin Douglas and Nick Adams for Best Supporting Actor, lost the Oscar
Melvyn Douglas for his appearance in Hud.
The 1964 Academy Awards was the last time
the car was mentioned in the press. During the ensuing years the
V-8 was swapped out in favor of a Ford 427 and the car's antiquated
torque tube and
traverse spring setup replaced by a more comfortable two-leaf rear
suspension and standard axle.
Di Dia remained Darin's valet into 1970 when
the two parted ways, Di Dia recalled the circumstances in his interview
with David Evanier, Darin's biographer:
“Once we had a dispute. He said, ‘Andy,
who’s your favorite
star?’ I said Clark Gable. So he fired me. He hugged me, but made me go
He said he was going to use somebody else. Because I didn’t say he was
favorite, that he was the best. And I really thought he was the best.
together again a little later.”
Sometime prior to that time ownership
of the car transferred from Di Dia to Darin because in 1970 the latter
to the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, Missouri.
During his decade plus working on the road
with Darin, Di Dia continued to design apparel, the details being ably
handled back in Detroit by his wife, Josephine. Di Dia remained active
in the garment business into the 1990s, his last known address being
Nine Mile Rd., Farmington Hills, Michigan., an address shared byhis
garment company, Esquire Sportswear.
In 1981 The Museum of Transportation in St.
took the car to Manns Auto Body Shop in Festus, Missouri to have it
The work was done by Mike Manns and Arty Roberts, and remains one of
influential projects to ever roll through the shop, which continues to
The St. Louis Dispatch's Lia Nower described
the car and it's restoration by Manns in the April 18, 1994 edition of
“Bobby Darin's Car: Still a Dream
“The late singer Bobby Darin's "Dream Car"
on display in dazzling shape.
“Mike Manns, owner of Manns Auto Body in
Festus MO, restored
the car for the second time since Darin donated it to the National
Transport here in St. Louis in 1970.
“‘About 100,000 people have viewed the car
since it was
restored 13 years ago,’ Manns said. ‘It was handmade in the 50's from
that is very soft. People don't realize they're denting it when
“The car, designed by Andy DiDia in 1953
‘one of the
most fabulous custom cars ever built with every futuristic innovation
could buy,’ Manns said.
“It cost Darin more than $93,000 and took
seven years to
build. Darin drove the car to special events, including the Academy
“Darin, who died at 37 in 1973 of heart
problems, was best
known for his 1959 rendition of ‘Mack the Knife.’
“The car, which looks like a square
Batmobile, was the creation of a clothing designer, not a car
manufacturer. The story goes that Darin struck up a friendship
a well known clothing designer from Detroit. DiDia, an auto buff,
car on a whim and showed it to Darin. Darin loved the lines and made a
“They dubbed the ‘DiDia 150’ the ‘Bobby
Darin Dream Car.’ Originally,
the car had 30 coats of paint, mixed with a diamond dust from Sweden.
“This time, Manns used a glittery gold
undercoat with pearly
red on top.
“The ‘Dream Car’ featured a list of
thermostatically controlled air-conditioning that keeps the temperature
constant, hidden headlights, taillights that swivel when the car
corner, glass windows on hinges and rust leather bucket seats, each
own ash tray, cigarette lighter and radio speaker.”
Since that time it has made a
number of appearances, and 40 years after it was first shown in Detroit
it won the Preservation Award at the51st Detroit Autorama, accompanied
by its designer.
Di Dia also accompanied the car when it was
exhibited at the July 25, 2010
Concours d'Elegance at Rochester, Michigan, as part of a featured
museum owned cars. More recently the pair were the main attraction of
Keels & Wheels Concours d'Elegance in Seabrook, Texas.
The Di Dia 150 remains
on display at the Museum of Transportation in St Louis, Missouri.
Andrew DiDia, its designer, passed
away on February 24, 2014 in Redford, Michigan at the age of 94. He was
predeceased by his wife Josephine, who passed away on Jun 4, 1985.
According to his son Terry, the car's
delineator, Edward V. Francoise, was never paid for his efforts.
© 2014 Mark Theobald for Coachbuilt.com
Appendix 1 - new information, 2015
On July 1, 2015 I received the following
letter from Terry A. Francoise regarding his father's involvement with
the "Dream Car":
"In the 1950's, Andy DiDia commissioned
Edward V. Francoise
to conceptualize and draw the car today known as "Bobby Darin’s Dream
by Andy DiDia.
"My father at that time was an auto
with Chrysler in Detroit. He worked at Chrysler after serving in the
Corp as a pilot for 10 years until 1958 when he became an industrial
and stylist in the mobile home business moving to Marlette, Michigan
continuing on for the next 20 plus years in that endeavor.
"I am not sure where they met, but I would
be sure that the
windshield from Chrysler was incorporated by my father’s efforts, and
the Plymouth steering wheel. Andy DiDia lived just down the
us. The finished windowless picture in the coachman article was taken
driveway. He lived at 19130 Riverview, Detroit, 19 MI and we live
the street at 19295 Riverview, Detroit, 19, MI. I also retain a
from friend and Attorney at Law, Alfred Plotkin, advising my father to
legal action to collect his design commission, which he never did.
Plotkin also lived on Riverview in Detroit.
"A couple of years ago, Mann's restoration
in Missouri, whom
refurbished the Dream Car a few years ago was very interested in my
we exchanged materials. They are involved with the Museum of
where the car presently resides outside St. Louis.
"I personally saw the car several times
while it was at the
Didia residence garaged.
"While there was no known engineering of
vehicle by Ed
Francoise, the concept design is pretty important. And for that, Edward
Francoise should be recognized. The picture I am attaching was used
in publications, and my father’s name was always removed. All
provided here can be corroborated.
"Terry A. Francoise
Appendix 2 videos: