Bertha was born at the Seagraves Fire Apparatus Co in Columbus Ohio in 1942 - She sported a spiffy 100’ Arial Ladder Rig and got to come out west to save lives and property for the fair people of the City of The Angels - She was retired in 1962 and for all her trouble got a space in the Los Angeles City Salvage Yard awaiting being scrapped - In 1972 she was rescued by Michael Leeds, a young artist, who saw beyond the rust and abuse heaped upon her, he saw the fine stylish lines beneath the patina of filth and he saw at her heart, an incredible 980 cubic inch V12 engine and he fell in love - So, this is a story of the un-dead, of resurrection and of an on and off affair that would span at least another four decades - So, our story begins, again - -

   A young Michael with ‘wheels on the road’ - there was something coolistic about running spartan and open wheeled

    1972 - John Forbes and I drive up California Coast Hwy #1 from Los Angeles to Santa Cruz at a grueling top speed of 40 miles per hour (and a gas consumption of about 3 miles per gallon) - “We were living on ten acres on the mountain ridge in Bonny Doon just north of town, were volunteers on the local fire team and had a small collection of antique fire engines ” - The art glass studio had been commissioned to create a series of epic stained glass car windows for the new Sly McFly refueling station on Cannery Row in Old Monterey - We drove out to Reno Nevada to see Harrah’s car collection to study the 1929 Supercharged Grand Prix Bentley and a 1929 SSK supercharged Mercedes

Some of the Stained Glass panels at McFly’s Refueling Station Cannery Row Ca. -               

                                           These panels are nearly 7 feet wide

   While studying the Bently and Mercedes, a dual cowled boatail Duesenberg caught my attention and Shazam, the blue spark hit my brain - I became obsessed with the idea of transforming the Seagraves into a boat-tailed roadster - Living the bohemian life in an abandoned redwood water tank in the old orchard, ingenuity and resourefulness was the name of the game - A ’49 Studebaker pickup truck hood, turned around backwards, became the top of the boatail

My twin boys David and Joseph help fuel up

   Circa 1994 - Michael is introduced to Randy Grubb by our mutual  Glass Art represenative Lawrence H. Selman - Randy is reknowned in the classic French Paperweight Tradition known as Encased Lampwork (and is also a crazed automobile enthusiast) - I take him to see Bertha and we are immediately drawn together in a dynamic way - Randy has been on the arcane path of turn of the century automobile coachworking and he encourages me to join in, pull out the stops and forge ahead - NOTE: Randy becomes infected when Blastolene Molecules penetrate his blood brain barrier - CASE STUDY: exhibited in extreme obsessive compulsive behavior i.e. creating a giant scale vehicle with a World War II 1800 C.I. V12 PATTON TANK ENGINE known now historicaly as  THE BLASTOLENE SPECIAL - currently in the collection of  JAY LENO

   Wooden ‘bucks’ are built and taken to Donny Housman’s Mercury Metals in Watsonville Ca. where Michael will apprentice for one and a half years building just the front fenders

Donny’s then teenage daughter helps out

The front coumpound fender sections are from a 1948 Diamond ‘T’

Go Donny Go !

The Studebaker boatail comes off and we visualize what could be

at the Seagraves Fire Apparatus Co


John Forbes’ highly stylized automobile sculpture adds inspiration to the sweeping boat-tail and rear fender design


General Baron Margo visits Northern Headquarters    

                                     back in the day

Transforming the ’49 Studebaker hood into a boatail - out in the orchard - circa 1974

Building fender ‘bucks’ on the chassis

          looks good in wood !

A 1923 Seagraves

Rear fenders and boat-tail executed in 18 ga steel - Whew !

                                   (Two years later)

All seams welded both sides then hammered on dollie for stress relief

Videos building steel fenders and boat-tail coming soon to a web-site near you !

Tony preps the metal parts for paint


Through a labrinth of circumstance Bertha gets taken completely apart and is sold to a fireman in Menlo Park and sits on the trailer picked up on, for ten years, and then, through another labirinth indeed, I am able to re-aquire her (parts)