Thoughts & Ameliarations: Essex Terraplane Completes Earhart Trifecta

When you hear the name Amelia Earhart, what do you think about? What’s the first word that comes to mind?

Maybe, aviatrix? Pilot? How about legend or icon? All of those words can serve as a single description for one of the most famous women to ever walk the earth. Most people associate planes with Amelia right off the bat; it’s natural. She belonged in the sky. She made her living there and she served her passion there. But did you know that Amelia was also a fan of fast cars? Makes sense, right?

Photo illustration | via SpecialBooks

Perhaps Ann Holtgren Pellegreno put it best as she wrote in the forward of Special Books’ release, “Amelia Earhart’s Terraplane,” by Douglas Westfall.

“There was another side to the air-minded Amelia, however, and that was the automobile," Pellegreno says in the book. "Certainly, Earhart covered many miles in these, including the meandering trip in 1924 with her mother from California to Massachusetts and later driving between lecture engagements.”

It makes sense that a woman widely considered to be a daredevil would get pure joy out of driving fast. And now, this summer at the Amelia Earhart Festival a brand-new piece of Amelia Earhart will be on full display as her 1932 Essex Terraplane and its owner project guest Jim Sommers will be coming to Atchison.

First, as always, a little exposition.

In 1932 Amelia Earhart was given the latest Hudson Terraplane after speaking at the Auto Prosperity Drive. In the newsreel of the big event, Amelia Earhart can be seen christening the new model with gasoline. What is not immediately clear from the footage is that upon conclusion of the ceremony, Earhart drove that very car off the lot. The car eventually went to auction after the death of Earhart’s husband in 1950 and was lost — much like it's owner.

Photo | via SpecialBooks

Now, over 80 years after that famous christening, only 14 of the original Hudson Terraplanes of that year are left. From that day, it's one of those rare eyewitnesses to history that sits in a garage where it gets tender, loving care from its owner, Jim Sommers, whose story is featured in Westfall’s book.

Chasing Earhart shot with Sommers early on in the documentary, and he told us the story first hand of how he came to acquire this amazing piece of history. I won’t spoil the story here, but we believe that destiny may have played a role in Amelia’s car falling into the loving hands of someone who knows classic cars better than anyone else.

Photo | via Jim Sommers

No one is more excited than Sommers to bring this piece of history to Atchison.

“I am very happy to finally have Amelia's Terraplane in Atchison for the festival," he said. "I have shown the car at many events here in California, but never outside the state before. Atchison Kansas seems to be the right place to do this."

Westfall, a national historian, was instrumental in brokering the deal that brings the

Terraplane to the Amelia Earhart Festival. It’s through his personal relationship with Jim that he feels made it possible.

"Years ago, I met Jim Somers in my post office in Old Towne Orange — he then said he had a special car,"Westfall said. "At the time, I never dreamed it would have belonged to Amelia Earhart. We are very glad we can bring it to Atchison."

The idea that Amelia Earhart drove this car, and taught her stepson George Putnam Jr. to drive in this car, makes it a very intimate piece of history and an important part of Amelia Earhart lore. It’s only right that it takes its rightful place in Atchison next to her birth home, and the last Lockheed Electra 10E.

The Earhart trifecta. This is going to be one hell of a festival.

Original article @ The Atchison Globe Here

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