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W.E. Miller
Wellington Everett Miller (b. November 19, 1904-d. April 6, 1983)
Associated Builders
Advance Auto Body, Bohman & Schwartz, Locke & Co., Crown Coach

Although he’s primarily known today as a designer of Classic Era automobile coachwork, Los Angeles native W.E. Miller’s career spanned a half-century during which he designed more than 1,000 different vehicles, products and advertisements for over 100 clients.

His subjects included: automobile bodies, automobile chassis for front-drive/rear-engine racing cars, truck bodies, truck chassis, fire apparatus, armored bank cars, city & interurban buses, heavy-hauling trailers, house trailers, house cars, road rollers, wheeled toys, mobile kitchens, motorcycles, motor scooters, garden tractors, flying automobiles, horse-drawn vehicles, vending machines, auto-model kits, model-airplane engines, hydraulic presses, production machines, factory tooling, precision cameras, a rocket-test sled, gear transmissions, a mobile X-ray unit, airplanes, aircraft interiors, armament, a phonograph-record press, conveyors, turnstiles, water pumps, ceramic kilns, road graders and market carts.

Most of his working career was spent in Los Angeles where he designed cars for a who's who of early Hollywood, his clients included Rudolph Valentino, Tom Mix, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Clark Gable and Frank R. Strayer. Other designs were completed for restaurateur Antonio Luciano (aka Tony Lucey), oilman Henry R. Dabney, railroad executive Albert K. Isham, and Los Angeles car dealers Ralph C. Hamlin (Franklin) and Earle C. Anthony (Packard).

During his lifetime Miller accumulated one of the world’s largest and best-known collections of automobile books, periodicals and literature which was collectively known as the ‘Library of Vehicles’. The valuable resource was acquired by the Blackhawk Collection upon Miller’s death in 1983, after which it became the nucleus of the Nethercutt Automotive Research Library and Archive of San Fernando Valley, California.

Wellington Everett Miller was born in Los Angeles, California on November 19, 1904 to William Edgar and Emma Lewis (Lyttle) Miller. His father, a machinist, was born in Beckley, West Virginia in 1874, his mother in in Audubon County, Iowa in 1879.His immediate family included an older sister, Ada Lenore, born in 1901 and two younger brothers - Donald Verne, who was born in 1907 and Leonard Haven, born in 1913. (As adults Ada remained in Beverly Hills; Donald moved to Sierra Madre, CA where he was a successful banker, and Leonard to Abilene, TX where he became a well-known preacher).

William Edgar’s job with the electric company took them round the state for much of W.E.’s childhood, which included some secondary education at East Los Angeles’ Abraham Lincoln High School. The family moved to Perris, California before he had a chance to complete his education, and W.E. took a full-time job with Rufus M. Hook’s Perris Garage, 225 D Street, Perris.

The Miller family returned to LA the following year and W.E. took a position with the McKinney Blueprint Co., 315 S. Broadway, Los Angeles as a delivery boy/shop assistant. He subsequently took a similar position with the Reim-Thompson Company (1919-1924), a recently organized automobile body builder which took over the former George Bentel body works at 1015 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, in 1919. Built in 1917, the transfer of the 78,000 sq. ft. purpose-built 4-story body plant and showroom was reported in the February 1, 1920 issue of Motor West:

“Bentel Business in New Hands.

“The Bentel Shops in Los Angeles are now owned by a new corporation, the Reim-Thompson Co., headed, by George F. Reim, for eleven years Cadillac dealer in Omaha and a pioneer in the industry, dating back to 1899, and having been connected also with the White and Packard. Associated with Mr. Reim is R. M. Thompson, vice- president and treasurer, who for years has been a district representative of the American Car Co., manufacturing street cars. He will give all his time to the new company and will have charge of sales.

“Financial backing of the new concern is said to be unusually strong. The four-story Grand Avenue plant's facilities for fine body building will be greatly improved, and manned by specialists in refinishing, repainting and manufacture of special bodies. The special top business will be enlarged.”

Reim-Thompson’s chief draftsman and designer, Frederick A. Seilje, encouraged Miller to get some training, so he enrolled in 2-year auto body drafting and design program with Andrew F. Johnston’s Gray, Maine, correspondence school.

He became a fan of the Walter M. Murphy Co. after seeing 3 Murphy-bodied Lincolns at the 1920 Los Angeles Auto Salon which was held in mid-December at the Harold L. Arnold Building at 7th and Figueroa Streets. The December 12, 1920, Los Angeles Times reported on the Murphy display:

"Three custom-built creations on Lincoln chassis from the Walter M. Murphy coachworks at Pasadena are attracting unusual attention. The superlative quality of the work marks these machines as the finest examples of custom jobs and speaks well for the future of this coach and body plant. Needless to say, the new Lincoln, itself, is one of the centers of interest."

Within three months (March, 1921) the 16-year-old Miller was hired by Murphy’s George R. Fredericks as an assistant draftsman at the firm’s 55 N. Vernon Ave. shop in Pasadena. Murphy’s designers at that time included Fredericks, Charles Gerry and John Tjaarda.

Miller’s resume lists Ralph de Palma (1923) the Doble Steam Motors Co. (1921-1923) and the Endurance Steam Car Co. (1922-1924) as clients, and although he doesn’t specify, it’s assumed he completed the assignment as an employee of the Walter M. Murphy Co.

In 1925 20-year-old Miller left Murphy to take a higher-paying job with the Scientific Research Association where Bill Waterhouse assigned him the task of creating blueprints for ‘Fudge’ Moore’s ‘Road-Runner’ road-going airplane. Available in three versions, taxi, truck or salesman's special, and built by Virgil B. ‘Fudge’ Moore’s Autoplane Co., the prototype featured folding wings and was designed to carry mail or parcels on short suburban and interurban runs. At least one prototype was constructed, but the firm’s investors were unwilling to take it into series production. Years later Miller recalled: “Ironically I never did get paid for the month I worked there”.

Miller’s next position was with the legendary racecar builder, designer and engineer, Harry A. Miller. During his short stay at the firm (2652 Long Beach Boulevard in Los Angeles) he assisted Leo Goossen, Miller’s draftsman, with the design of a front-wheel-drive passenger car based on the firm’s model 91 and 122 FWD Indy racers.

Unable to find any steady work in Los Angeles, Murphy’s George R. Fredericks found him a drafting/design job with the Healy Aeromarine Bus Company of Keyport, New Jersey. Fredericks had started his career with Healey and maintained a good relationship with its current owner Inglis M. Uppercu.

Unfortunately the work was short-lived and in April 1926, he accepted a position with Locke & Company, a former custom body builder that had recently opened a production body factory in Rochester, New York.John Tjaarda, another old friend from Murphy who was currently working for Locke, recommended him to George Tasman, the plant’s manager. Located on Greenleaf St. and Leighton Ave., adjacent to the New York Central Railroad’s eastside Rochester rail yards, the plant specialized in open bodies, and produced a large number of beautiful, series-built cabriolets, phaeton’s, dual-cowl phaetons, convertible sedans, convertible victorias, roadsters and sport tourings for Chrysler, Duesenberg, Franklin, Graham, Lincoln, Marmon, Packard, Pierce-Arrow, Ruxton and Stutz, most of which were advertised as customs or factory, although they built regular production bodies as well.

While working for Locke Miller helped John Tjaarda with preliminary designs for his rear-engined moncoque-chassised Sterkenburg automobile, which incidentally was christened after John Tjaarda’s surname (van Sterkenburg).

There was a major company upheaval soon after his October 10, 1926, Washington D.C. marriage to Martha Katherine Gibson (b. 1908 in Oklahoma) and the newlywed was let go, returning to Los Angeles with his bride.

Tjaarda got a job with General Motors Art & Colour where he continued to work on perfecting his rear-engined car for a disinterested Harley Earl. The Sterkenberg accompanied him to a new position with Briggs Mfg. in 1932, and eventually saw the light of day as the star attraction of the Briggs Mfg. exhibit at the 1933 Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago. Edsel Ford loved the Briggs Dream Car, as it was publicly known, and incorporated many of its features in the production 1936 Lincoln Zephyr.

Miller worked on another, less well-known prototype at about the same time. Between 1925 and 1936 he produced a number of body designs for the Lundelius & Eccleston Motor Corp. aka L & E, a Los Angeles–based automobile engineering firm.

Founded in 1912 by Oscar Frederick Lundelius and Hubert Ward Eccleston (an LA City Engineer) and originally located at 1444 West 58th Street, the firm introduced a Franklin-based prototype in 1924 that featured a novel Lundelius-designed independent suspension. A 1924 issue of MoTor described it as follows:

“Four transverse springs are used at both front and rear to support the wheels. Each rear wheel is driven by a short shaft having two universal joints, the shaft connecting with a bevel gear and differential unit hung from cross members on the frame.”

The “Car Without Axles” never entered into production although six subsequent prototypes were constructed between 1925 and 1926 under the direction of L&E’s chief engineer, Melvin N. Lefler using bodies designed by W.E. Miller. The prototypes were used to sell subsequent improvements of the axle-less concept and their bodywork suggested whatever make was popular at the time, one resembled a Ford, another a Cadillac, another a Studebaker, and the final iteration – introduced in 1934 – a Franklin. A single Lundelius & Eccleston, the original 1924 prototype, is known to exist. Lundelius and Lefler were awarded a total of 30 US patents – all relating to automobile suspension systems and the firm remained in business until the start of the Second World War. The LA directory listed 357 North Labrea Ave., Los Angeles as a later address and the Fresno directory listed a branch at 1154 I Street, Fresno.

Miller also did some industrial design work for the Vickers Mfg. Co, an LA-based manufacturer of hydraulic equipment founded by Harry F. Vickers and located at 3660 S. Main Street. Vickers, the "Father of Industrial Hydraulics," later moved his business to Detroit where he teamed up with Sperry Corp.’s Frederick J. Fisher (one of the famous Fisher Bros.) in the creation of a new subsidiary, Sperry Vickers, with Vickers serving as president. That firm was incorporated into the Sperry Rand Corp., of which Vickers served as CEO and chairman until his retirement.

In November of 1926 Miller went to work for Hollywood Motor Bodies, 518-526 W. Garfield Ave., Glendale, one of the numerous body building firms founded by Gilbert E. Porter (b.1884) the creator of the short-lived Sequoia automobile. He had previously been involved with the Globe Motor Truck & Body Co. of Ypsilanti, Michigan after which he moved to Los Angeles where he helped found the Transport Body Co.

Constructed in 1926, the $3,000 Sequoia was an attractive 6-cylinder short-wheelbase (98”) boat-tail sports car equipped with a California top and a novel three-piece curved windshield with integral sun visor.

The two known examples were likely constructed in the shops of Hollywood Motor Bodies Co., 518-526 W. Garfield Ave. in Glendale, another body-building firm with which he was associated. The July 22, 1927 issue of Lumber Manufacturer & Dealer reported:

“Glendale — Hollywood Motor Bodies Co. now Hollywood Coach Co.”

Miller states the Hollywood Coach moniker was already being used at the time of his hiring, regardless the reorganized Hollywood Coach Co., soon declared bankruptcy and Porter moved back to Detroit.

The text from a surviving circa 1927 brochure for Hollywood Coach Co. in transcribed below:

“Custom Built Automobile Bodies; Upholstering; Painting

HOLLYWOOD COACH CO. 518-526 West Garfield Street, Glendale, California: Phone Glendale 6350

Facilities: Our plant is modern, well-equipped and amply financed. Special planning and designing departments are at your service.

HOLLYWOOD COACH CO. “At your Service”

Specializing in the Designing and building of custom built Passenger Bodies for all Chasses, Roadsters, Coaches, Sedans, Coupes, Special Pleasure and Travel Bodies. Location and Movie Bodies. Ambulances, Hearses and Busses of all kinds. Attractive – Smart – Particular.”

Luckily his old co-worker Frank Spring had a temporary position waiting for Miller at Walter M. Murphy which provided him with steady employment until the end of 1927 when he accepted a job with Harley J. Earl at General Motors Art & Colour at 3400 W. Grand in Detroit. At GM Miller became acquainted with clay modeling and helped design the 1929 LaSalle.

In February of 1929 he was recruited by Packard Motor Co.’s Archer L. Knapp to join the automaker's custom body styling center at 1680 E. Grand Blvd., Detroit. His duties included competitive car analysis, sketches, modeling and painting and he worked alongside such famous designers as Knapp, Raymond Birge, Werner Gubitz and Ray Dietrich.

When Dietrich left in 1931, Edward Macauley replaced him with Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky who introduced Packard’s famous elongated hood and the slanted "A" pillars, first seen on a striking convertible phaeton which debuted at the 1933 Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago. He also assisted de Sakhnoffsky in the design of the very un-Packard like coachwork that graced Packard's secret (R&V) front-wheel-drive 12-cylinder prototype of 1932. Unfortunately, the ongoing economic crises forced massive lay-offs at Packard and Miller was let go midway through 1933.

By that time the Miller family now included two sons (Wilton Everett- b. 1928 and David Gibson - b. 1930) with a third one (Marc Edsel – b. 1933) on the way. In fact Marc Edsel’s birth was front page news in Emporia, Kansas, the July 20, 1933 Emporia Daily Gazette reporting:

“Santa Fe Train Wins Rice With the Stork—Child Born in Emporia

“The stork ran a race to Emporia with Santa Fe train No. 38. Wednesday and the train won by the narrow margin of 40 minutes. The train, upon which Mrs. W. Everett Miller was a passenger, arrived in Emporia at 3:50 o'clock Wednesday afternoon. At 4:30 o'clock Mr. and Mrs. W. Everett Miller were the parents of a son, born in the Newman Memorial County hospital.

“The Millers are moving from Detroit, Mich., to Pasadena, Calif. Mrs. Miller and a 3-year-old son were traveling by Pullman while Mr. Miller and another child made the trip by motorcar. Mr. Miller was scheduled to arrive in Salina Saturday and he expected there to receive a telegram from Mrs. Miller in Pasadena. The telegram will be waiting for Mr. Miller, when, he reaches Salina but it will go from Emporia instead of from Pasadena. Mrs. Miller and their new son, who arrived only a few days ahead of schedule, are in excellent health.”

The July 24, 1933 Emporia Daily Gazette reported on W.E.’s reunion with his new son:

“To Emporia To See New Son.

“W. Everett Miller arrived in Emporia Sunday from Salina to be with Mrs. Miller and their new son born Wednesday afternoon in the Newman Memorial county hospital. The Millers were moving last week from Detroit, Mich., to Pasadena Calif. Mrs. Miller and one child were making the trip by train while the remainder of the family went by motorcar. Mrs. Miller left Santa Fe train No. 23 upon its arrival in Emporia at 3:90 o'clock Wednesday, afternoon and went to the hospital where the new son was born at 4:10 o'clock. A telegram announcing the event awaited Mr. Miller in Salina when he arrived there Sunday morning. He came immediately to Emporia and will remain here until Tuesday, when he will leave for Pasadena.”

Work for an automotive designer was very tough to find during the darkest days of the Depression, but Miller had plenty of friends in Los Angeles and Western Auto Supply’s L.L. Johnson hired him to create advertising art for the successful LA-based auto parts chain at its 1100 S. Grand Ave. headquarters.

Unfortunately the job was temporary and two months later he was once again looking for work. Unable to find any permanent positions, Miller spent the next two years working out of his home as a free-lance designer and draftsman. He warns: “Sometimes concurrently and at all times NOT covered by the dates shown in my employment record, I have served firms and individuals as a designer, consulting engineer or advertising artist.”

1927 Tom Mix (Hollywood), custom automobile design
1933 Montgomery Aircraft (Alhambra), advertising illustration
1933-1941 Bohman & Schwartz (Pasadena), custom automobile design
1933-1943 Advance Auto Body Works (Los Angeles), design trucks, three-wheeler
1934 Welbilt Body Co (Los Angeles), truck design
1934 Thor Sjoberg (Los Angeles), automotive drawings - Thor Sjoberg(b. Feb. 9, 1888-d.Aug. 24, 1948) was a well-known LA-based automobile body designer and engineer. The 1920 US Census lists his occupation as ‘automobile top maker’. Later LA directories list him as draftsman (1939) engineer (1943)
1934 Nelson Studio (Los Angeles), product design
1934 Union Oil Co. (Los Angeles), advertising art
1934-1935 Airplane Development Corp. (Glendale), design Vultee interiors
1934-1935 L.A. Automobile Works (Los Angeles), truck design
1934-1936 Auburn California Co (Los Angeles), Cord custom design
1934-1937 Moreland Motor Truck Co (Burbank), truck designer
1935 Bekins Van Lines (Los Angeles), new van design
1935 L.A. Furniture Co (Los Angeles), advertising illustrations
1935 Standard Auto Body Works (Los Angeles), truck designer
1935 Motorcyclist magazine (Los Angeles), covers
1935 Vernon Brown (Los Angeles), house trailer design & layout - Vernon Brown was an LA-based trombonist who worked on the road with Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Mugsy Spanier who after the war became one of LA’s best-known studio musicians.
1935 Gilmore Stadium (Los Angeles), racing program covers
1935 Dan Copping (Los Angeles), small sport-car design
1935 William F. Stephens (Los Angeles), house-trailer design & layout
1935 National Cycle Shop (Los Angeles), advertising art
1935 Langlois Bros (Los Angeles), truck design - Located next door to Standard Carriage Works at 717 S. San Pedro St. was Langlois Bros., a well-known school bus body builder and distributor founded by twin brothers, Harry F. and Herbert N. Langlois.
1935 Timm Aircraft (Glendale), airplane drawings
1935-1937 Gilmore Oil Co (Los Angeles), streamlined cars & trucks
1935-1939 SoCal Plating Co (Los Angeles), special design
1935-1945 McCarty Co (Los Angeles), advertising illustrations
1935-1954 Crown Body & Coach Corp (Los Angeles), bus & factory illustrations

During 1935 Miller took on a special assignment for Bohman & Schwartz, the restyling of Clark Gable’s newly purchased 1935 Duesenberg Model JN Convertible Coupe. Gable envisioned the car as a sporting two-seat roadster and he and Miller set about customizing the vehicle to suit the movie star’s taste and sense of style.

Miller produced a rendering depicting a full-length hood terminating at the trailing edge of the cowl upon which a dramatically raked windscreen resided. The lengthening treatment was continued with external side exhausts which exited just ahead of the aerodynamically styled rear fender spats. To complete the car’s Continental visage, the dual side-mount spares were brought to the tail end of the car and encased in metal shrouds, and the newly skirted front fender-wells filled-in.

Gable chose a monochromatic color scheme which was extended to the body color radiator shell and headlight buckets and surrounds. Other custom touches included a lowered convertible top, elegant single-bar bumpers and mesh inserts in the sides of the hood which was fitted with scooped and v’d hood ventilators. The resulting vehicle still exists and remains a prime example of what could be accomplished when an owner, designer and coachbuilder were all on the same page.

The car appeared in the 1938 Hal Roach comedy Merrily We Live, starring Brian Aherne and Constance Bennett, albeit with a noticeably darker color and updated bullet headlights. Gable sold the car after the War after which it was acquired by a laundry list of collectors and dealers, eventually ending up with the Behring Collection who displayed it at the Blackhawk Collection for nearly a decade. Last sold in 2005, it was sold to a private collector who restored it back to its Bohman & Schwartz livery and presented it for display at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours.

In 1936 Miller accepted a full-time position with Advance Auto Body Co., 1000 Macy Street (at N. Mission Rd.), Los Angeles, his job duties entailed doing whatever design, drafting or sales work that needed to be done.

Advance was founded in 1919 by Medardo Morgagno (1891-1985), an Italian immigrant who moved to Los Angeles shortly after his 1909 arrival in New York. His 1912 Declaration of Intention (naturalization) papers list his occupation as machinist, his address as 1420 Catalina St., Los Angeles. Morgagno was a skilled woodworker and combined his two talents by producing early commercial bodies for Los Angeles growing commercial and industrial community.

Morgagno (aka ‘Joe’ Morgagni) specialized in tank trucks, but bid on any project that walked in the door. His most popular client was the Gilmore Oil Co., a well-known west coast petroleum products manufacturer and distributor headed by Earl Bell Gilmore (b.1887-d.1964). Originally founded in 1900 by Earl’s father, Arthur F. Gilmore, Earl B. oversaw the expansion of the firm which eventually became the west coast’s largest oil and gasoline distributor with 2 refineries, 50 distribution centers and nearly 3,500 affiliated service stations.

Gilmore sponsored land speed and Indianapolis racecars and constructed California’s first purpose-built midget raceway, Gilmore Speedway. Although his oil business (acquired by Socony-Vacuum Oil Co. aka Mobiloil in 1940) is mostly forgotten, the Los Angeles Farmer's Market, constructed by Gilmore in 1934, remains one of LA’s chief tourist attractions.

One of Advance’s most notable creations for the firm was a Miller-designed streamlined COE dual axle tanker with a curved windshield and mesh grill that was used on economy runs. The second was another Miller-designed tanker which featured a custom aerodynamic front clip mated to a Mack Model BM conventional cab & chassis. It’s prominent feature being an extensive on-board blue, red and gold neon lighting display designed by W.C. James, head of Twentieth Century Pictures (later 20th Century Fox) special effects dept. The 600 feet of neon tubing required 15,000 volts of electricity, supplied by four generators located under the hood. Gold neon was used on the radiator shell, blue neon for the truck’s silhouette and side lettering and red neon for the cab lettering and the rear-mounted Lion mascot and slogan. One press photo shows a front ¾ quarter view of the illuminated truck with Earl B. Gilmore on the left and W. G Julier, head of Gilmore’s transportation division on the right. A second shows the rear ¾ view while a third shows the front ¾ view sans Gilmore executives, its text follows:

“Mack Model BM chassis – 196” wheelbase, third attachment axle installed by local concern. Tires: 9.00-20 dual reduction all rear wheels – Budd Wheels; tank capacity 2,200 gallons; gross weight loaded: 29,700 lbs.

“This job is equipped with Neon Lighting effects and will tour the principal towns and cities in the Pacific Northwest, and when it returns, lighting will be removed. No gasoline is carried while lighting is in operation. Color scheme is blue, green and orange. Illumination is supplied by a series of small generators (Special) mounted on top of the motor under the hood, driven by a belt from the fan pulley with a transformer mounted on the side of the motor. Body is false steel over tank and is made by local concern by hand. Cost of all special work, including special cab, hood, radiator, tank etc. is $4,650.00, painting and chromium plating approx. $500 additional. Chromium plating $140.00.

“Gilmore Oil Co., Los Angeles, Calif.”

Another famous Advance-built Miller-designed project was the teardrop-shaped Arrowhead 3-wheel automobile which was constructed for the Arrowhead Spring Water Co. of Los Angeles. The advertising vehicle was pictured on the cover of the November 1935 issue of MoToR where it was referred to as the “Car of 1960”.

The rear-mounted flathead Ford V-8 was mounted backwards, transferring power to the front wheels via a standard transmission mated to a standard torque tube, axle and differential. The car was steered through the single rear wheel, and was similar in layout to Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxions.

Only one of the reportedly $8,000 vehicles was built and a circa 1960 article stated that the car still existed, however its current whereabouts are unknown.

In 1936 they constructed a streamlined remote radio truck for KMTR, a large Los Angeles-based radio station. When the station’s owner, Willard Fonda, got into financial trouble and stopped making payments on the vehicle, Advance Auto Body was forced to repossess it.

Advance Auto Body also constructed a small number of Miller-designed streamlined White delivery trucks for Bullocks Department Store in 1935-36. At least one of the attractive vehicles survives and is currently undergoing restoration at Full Circle Restorations in Lockeford, California.

In 1936-37 Advance Auto Body constructed a handful of motorcycle taxi bodies for a San Francisco cycle dealer who had intended on establishing a motorcycle taxi service in Shanghai, China. The Japanese invasion of 1937 put a hold on the plans and the vehicles ended up serving tourists in San Francisco.

In 1937 the firm modified a plain-looking 3-year-old bakery truck into an attractive streamlined job for the Julia Lee Wright bakery of Los Angeles.

It’s assumed more Miller-designed streamlined trucks were constructed by the firm, but photographic evidence is lacking. He remained with Advance until September of 1940 when he had a disagreement with Morgagno and resigned.

Miller’s resume lists the following clients during the period he was working at Advance. He warns: “Sometimes concurrently and at all times NOT covered by the dates shown in my employment record, I have served firms and individuals as a designer, consulting engineer or advertising artist.” As to whether the works was produce for the client directly or through Advance, is not indicated:

1933-1941 Bohman & Schwartz (Pasadena), custom automobile design
1935 Clark Gable (Hollywood), custom automobile design
1935-1945 McCarty Co (Los Angeles), advertising illustrations
1935-1954 Crown Body & Coach Corp (Los Angeles), bus & factory illustrations
1936 Auto Bed Shop (Los Angeles), custom automobile design - The Auto Bed Shop (4554 Eagle Hack Blvd. Los Angeles), was a regular advertiser in Modern Mechanix, Popular Mechanics that offered folding beds for automobiles in the 1930s.
1936 Radio magazine (Los Angeles), radio circuit diagrams
1936 Harlan Fengler (Los Angeles), racing-car designs
1936 Hetzel Bros (Los Angeles), truck brake engineering
1936 Standard Carriage Works (Los Angeles), truck design
1937 Ful-Ton Truck Co (Los Angeles), automotive engineer
1937 Frank R. Strayer (Los Angeles), house-car layout (director for Columbia Pictures)
1937 General Fire Truck Co (Detroit, Michigan), fire truck designs
1937 W.O. Worth (Los Angeles), steam automobile designs - William O. Worth was a consulting engineer who between 1906 and 1910 manufactured small numbers of vehicles in Evansville, Indiana and later in Kankakee, Illinois
1937 Tony Lucey, custom automobile design - Antonio Luciano aka ’Tony Lucey’ was the owner of Lucey's Restaurant, 5444 Melrose Avenue at Windsor Blvd. - a popular hangout for Hollywood stars of the 1920s, -30s and -40s.
1937 Collins Trailer Co (Beverly Hills), trailer designs (distributors of Pierce-Arrow Trailers)
1937-1946 J.F. MacCaughtry (Los Angeles), Stan-Driv truck design
1938 H.H. Dickson (Los Angeles), auto signal patent
1938 Admissions Control Systems (Los Angeles), turnstile design
1938 Weber Showcase Co (Los Angeles), showcase styling
1938 Divco California Co (Los Angeles), delivery truck designs
1938 Worthington Pump & Machinery (Los Angeles), application drawings
1938 Freuhauf Trailer Co (Los Angeles), trailer design
1938-1939 Moore Lynn (Los Angeles), folding house-trailer design
1939 Vega Airplane Co (Burbank), Starliner interior design
1939-1940 Zenz Bros Co (Los Angeles), design trucks & horse- drawn vehicles - Zenz Bros., 242 S. San Pedro St. at Second St., specialized in building historic vehicles and props for the Hollywood studios. Founded in 1898 by brothers Frank and John Zenz the firm produced the vehicles used in Pasadena’s annual Tournament of Roses chariot races which were held between 1904 and 1915. They also supplied the chariots used in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1925 epic, Ben Hur, and produced many of the carriages and wagons used in Hollywood’s early motion pictures. The 1915 Los Angeles Directory lists the firm principals as John Zenz, J.B. Hawks and F.A. Martin. John Zenz remained at the helm of the firm bearing his name until it withdrew from business during World War II.
1939-1952 Yankee Motor Bodies (Los Angeles), truck design
1939-1954 Penberthy Lumber Co (Los Angeles), truck & plant engineering
1940 White Motor Co (Los Angeles), special delivery trucks
1940 W.L. Peters (Los Angeles), design mobile kitchen

Miller was well-known in Los Angeles body building circles and he quickly found a similar position with the Crown Body & Coach Corp., 2500 E 12th St., Los Angeles. He served as the firm’s chief engineer, and was responsible for designing buses, fire apparatus and truck bodies as well as writing and illustrating the company's advertising.

Another famous Miller-penned Bohman & Schwartz creation was a 1941 Packard Custom Super 8 1907 Custom Convertible Victoria. Based on an original rendering made by Miller, Schwartz lowered the body by five inches, re-drew the rear window, and incorporated such amenities as extra cigar lighters and the concealed door handles.

Miller’s position at Crown Coach was eliminated in November, 1941 and he took a job with the Lockheed Aircraft Co.’s Burbank design studio. In addition to his stated duties as an engineering designer and supervisor of the mock-up shop, he designed a personal airplane and created airbrushed rendering s for brochures and proposed aircraft.

During the War Miller took on a number of side-jobs for the following firms and individuals:

1941 American Liquid Gas Co (Los Angeles), butane-converter illustrations
1941 Western Trailer Mfg Co (Los Angeles), house-trailer design
1941 C.T. Gilliam & Associates (Lakewood), city planning
1942 UCLA (Los Angeles), ESMWT teaching design sketching
1944 Peerless Pump Co (Los Angeles), re-styled pumps
1944 Longren Aircraft (Torrance), front-drive delivery truck design
1944-1945 Cal-Kiln Co (Los Angeles), layout drawings of kilns & muffles
1946 Ralph Roberts (Pasadena), factory design proposals of Reo trucks
1945 Duff Bolenbach (Glendale), house-trailer design (former auto racer)
1945 Glendale Body Works (Glendale), truck-body design
1945 Salsbury Motors Inc (Los Angeles), motor-scooter engineering
1945 Pre-Products Service (Westwood), editing new patents magazine
1945 Olga Wells (Los Angeles), model making, vending machines
1945 W.R. Ladewig Co (Los Angeles), detailed drawings of hydraulic valves
1945 Mel Anderson (Alhambra), drawings of model aircraft engines
1945 Lights Inc (Alhambra), prototype of electric waffle iron
1946 Chemold Co (Glendale), advertising illustration of auto boat carrier
1946 Jarvis Mfg Co (Glendale), design & engineering of station wagon
1946 Young's Photo Studio (Glendale), photograph retouching
1946 Clarke Auto Hydraulics (Pasadena), special-purpose truck design
1946 Mac Short (Glendale), garden tractor design
1946 Sampson Motors (Los Angeles), racing-car design illustration
1946 Preston Motors Inc (Fort Wayne, Indiana), design hydraulic-drive motorcycle
1946 C.P. Skouras (Los Angeles), design of hunting car - C.P. Skouras was a longtime 20th Century Fox executive and president of the Fox West Coast theater chain.
1946 Amplex Mfg Co (Glendale), camera design & engineering
1946 Mrs. Cox (Pasadena), interior design & layout of house trailer
1946 J.B. Ledbetter (Santa Rosa), design & layout of house car

The end of the War coincided with the end of Miller’s employment at Lockheed. Joe Brunner Jr. hired me to design fifth-wheel trailers and landing gear at Kay-Brunner Steel Products (2721 Elm St, Los Angeles) but the job only lasted six months. The job resulted in a November 22, 1954 patent application on a coupling and retractable trailer support (the aforementione project) for which Miller was awarded US Patent No. 2809054 on October 8, 1957.

He was subsequently hired as a mechanical engineer by Century Engineering Inc., at 2741 N. Naomi St, Burbank, where he worked on numerous small projects which included a military camera, Air Corps rocket sled, Naval missile, Naval flight recorder and wing-tip fuel tanks for aircraft. He left Century in 1955 eventually finding a position as a project engineer with the Technical Products Div. of Waste King Corp., Vernon & Los Angeles. Originally founded as a manufacturer of household garbage disposals, the firm’s Technical Products division was involved in aeronautics and designed an early commercial autopilot system.

During the late 40s and early 50s Miller’s private clients and side-projects included the following:

1947 Henry Dreyfus (Pasadena), design & modeling of flying automobile.
1947 Davis Co (Los Angeles), tank truck design
1947 Pete Petassi (Los Angeles), mobile restroom design
1949 Shaw Sales & Service (Los Angeles), design & engineering of three road rollers
1948 Centerscope Products (Glendale), design body for Imp cyclecar
1949 Modern Research & Process (Los Angeles), piping & service diagrams
1949 Darwin H. Clark Co (Los Angeles), house organ illustrations
1949 Crescent Valve Co (Los Angeles), advertising illustrations
1949 Pascoe Steel Co (Los Angeles), sales drawings
1949 Cardinal Co (Hollywood), child's scooter design
1949 Trumpis Collar & Associates (Los Angeles), design automobile & bus - LA-based Trumpis Collar & Associates, consulting engineers to the recording industry also manufactured phonograph record pressing equipment.
1949-1953 David Gray (Montecito), body design for 1909 Fiat, 1914 Rolls-Royce & 1905 Packard
1950 West Marquise Co (Los Angeles), General Petroleum trophy design
1950 Dave Smithson (Los Angeles), tin snip design
1950-1953 Road & Track magazine, historical editor
1950 Tommy Wolfe (Long Beach), technical witness in accident
1950 Ray Murray (Los Angeles), design of ceramic extrusion press
1950-1951 Westways magazine (Los Angeles), historical articles
1951 Murdock Distributors (Glendale), design plastic milling machine
1952 Charles Shephard (Rochester, New York), patent research (Shepard was a patent trial attorney)
1952 Fletcher Aviation Co (Pasadena), automotive research
1953-63 Paul Penberthy (Glendale), lumber truck design
1953 Westinghouse Electric (New York), automobile research
1953 Traindex Corp (Sherman Oaks), prepare auto trading cards
1953-1954 Walt Disney (Burbank), drawings of Concord Coach for Disneyland
1953-1954 Revell Inc (Venice), design Highway Pioneer plastic model kits
1953-1954 Gowland & Gowland (Puerto Rico), design plastic auto model kits - Revell and Gowland & Gowland were related pioneer manufacturers of plastic models car kits, both offered a Highway Pioneer line during the mid-1950s.
1954 T.C.W. Jones (Burbank), patent drawings of toy rocket launcher
1954 Mr Oelerich (Sun Valley), Saurer truck research
1954 K & K Body Works (Los Angeles), design service truck body
1954 Technibilt Corp (Glendale), production design studies of market carts
1954 Udell Goodfellow (Glendale), body design for 1909 Cadillac
1954-1955 C. Bohman & Son (Pasadena), custom automobile design
1955 Lynn Truck & Mfg Co (San Bernardino), design vegetable harvester
1955 Utility Trailer Mfg Co (Los Angeles), tool engineering
1955 Cyril F. Edwards (Manhattan Beach), body design for 1909 Pierce-Arrow.
1963 Penberthy Lumber Co. (Los Angeles), hinge design
1964 Penberthy & Miller (Los Angeles), Accumetric Perspecti-Gide

Miller resigned from his position at Waste King’s Technical Products Div. in 1958 and took a position as an electric automobile project engineer at Standard Armament, Inc., in Glendale. He resigned in 1959 to oversee his now significant collection of automobilia, which he christened the W.E. Miller Library of Vehicles.

Miller started collecting in 1914, and early on the collection was housed in Miller’s home at 5415 El Verano Ave. in the Eagle Rock subdivision of Los Angeles. In 1949 he moved the collection to a 4,000 sq. ft. office located around the corner at 2919 W. Broadway.

The ‘Library of Vehicles’ weighed in at 15 tons, and included 3,500 books, 25,000 catalogs, 7,000 periodicals, and 250,000 clippings covering any and all types of transport, albeit motorized or not. Materials housed in the collection included owner’s manuals, technical manuals, promotional material and sales literature, complete runs of automotive trade journals and periodicals, biographies of great motoring engineers, and a one-of-a-kind collection of plans, photographs, catalogs and engineering documents of American coachbuilders dating from 1900 to 1940. The 1958-1959 construction of the Glendale and Ventura Freeway interchange forced Miller to relocate both his family and his archive to a new home at 12172 Sheridan Ln., in Garden Grove, California in 1959.

During the 1960s Miller wrote two books; Perspective Geometry, pub. 1964; History of the Detroit Electric Car Company, pub. 1968, and served as the editor of the Horseless Carriage Gazette, the journal of the Horseless Carriage Club of America, a club he helped found in 1937.

In 1971 he oversaw the estate sale of his longtime friend, mechanic, racer, collector, Arthur Fred Austria, who acquired them over 40-odd years. Born in Wisconsin, Austria moved to Los Angeles in 1920. During the next five decades he worked for a Cadillac agency, raced Ralph DePalma and others on local tracks, opened his own garage and switched to collecting antique cars which were sold only when he was desperate for money. His sizeable collection was housed at his business, Art Austria's Simplex Garage, 200 Mildred Ave., Venice, California. His  obituary had a short interview with Miller as follows:

“'It was a business for him, but he had a real affection for these cars. He was an auto enthusiast' said Austria's friend W. Everett Miller. Miller led a tour of the collection, trucked from Austria's overflowing ex-airplane hangar at suburban Venice to the Sotheby, Parke-Bernet auction galleries and back lot in Los Angeles. "This is my favorite," Miller said beside a shiny 1911 Leon Bollee, a high-riding, French sedan with luggage-rack and spare tire on top. The oldest machine in the collection is a 1903 body-less Stewart, three-cylinder Locomobile, catalogued as 'a challenge to the imaginative restorer.' 'Funny thing at sales like this,' he said. 'People will ignore the Cadillac and cry over a Model-T Ford. Fords they know. It's old home week to them.'"

In 1972 he gave up editing the Gazette and took a full-time position as chief engineer/designer with Daystar Motor Homes, Inc., 1414 West Artesia Blvd., Compton, California. The firm's $70,000 26' luxury motor home was built on a Dodge 440 commercial truck chassis by a third party in Taiwan named Phosphorous, a Chinese-American firm connected with Witness Lee's Southern Californian 'Local Church'.

Miller even travelled to Phosphorous' Kaohsiung, Taiwan (Republic of China) factory to make arrangements for the construction of the Cor-Ten steel body and teak interior.
Only 16 Daystars are known to have been constructed before the firm closed down in 1975, the victim of an alleged money-laundering scheme initiated by Phosphorous' directors Timothy Lee, Samuel Chang and K.H. Weigh.

Another project of Miller's was the Accumetric Perspecti-Gide, a drafting tool that allowed the layman to create accurately-scaled perspective drawings of virtually any object. The device was described in the new products column of the March-April 1965 issue of Design as follows:

"The new Accumetric Perspecti-Gide for perspective drawing is an anodized aluminum plate 18"x 24" imprinted with guide lines and used under a floating tracing paper drawing. The device is said to be not only an aid to accuracy but a time-saver for artists, engineers and architects particularly. Detailed information on the plate and an instuction booklet, Perspective Geometry and the Accumetric Perspecti-Gide, may be obtained from Penberthy & Miller, 5800 S. Boyle Ave., Los Angeles, 90058, Calif."

In 1980 he became the editor of the Classic Car, the journal of the Classic Car Club of America, a club with which he had been associated with since its inception.

Wellington Everett Miller passed away on April 6, 1983 at the age of 79, just one month after suffering a massive debilitating stroke.

Miller’s ‘Library of Vehicles’ was acquired by Ken Behring’s Blackhawk Collection in Danville, California - the task of sorting and indexing it befell to Miller’s friend Gene Babow, a writer for Car & Driver, Collector Car News, The Classic Car and president of the Association of California Car Clubs.

Miller’s collection was subsequently purchased by the Nethercutt Collection in Sylmar, California where it form’s the nucleus of the Nethercutt Automotive Research Library and Archive, a comprehensive research facility considered one of the top ten automotive libraries in the world.

The library facility is open to the public, with some restrictions on access to the research and historical stack material. There is a research service provided at a rate of $25/hour, which includes the capability to make color copies. For more information, contact the facility at (818) 364-6464 ext. 235, with inquiries directed to Archivist Lori Thornhill or Chief Curator Skip Marketti. For automotive information and automotive research inquires please email

© 2004 Mark Theobald - with special thanks to Randy Ema, The Classic Car Club of America and the Horseless Carriage Club of America







John Ness Walton - Doble steam cars, buses, lorries and railcars, pub. 1966 (203pp)

Streamlined Truck Design, Part 4 - The Flying Trucks of Wellington Everett Miller, Car Styling, Volume 112: May, 1996 issue

John C. Meyer III - How the Hobby Started: Part 7, September-October 2012 Horseless Carriage Gazette

Richard Kelley - The Arrowhead Teardrop Car, Special Interest Autos #107, October, 1988 issue

J.M. Fenster – Packard, the Pride, (2nd ed.) pub 2005 (originally pub in 1989)

George W. Green - Flying Cars, Amphibious Vehicles and Other Dual Mode Transports, pub. 2010

Alan Darr - The Gilmore Oil Company: 1900-1945, Old Car Illustrated, September 1977 issue

W.E. Miller - A Career In Automobile Design, The Classic Car, Vol. 28 No. 1, March 1980

W.E. Miller - Bohman & Schwartz, The Classic Car, Vol. 28 No. 1, March 1980

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

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