What's new

BILL CUSHENBERRY'S SILHOUETTE

#1
There weren’t many Bill Cushenbery customs in the first place, and fewer exist now. Silhouette, probably his second most famous car, is simply gone. Built at the height of the bubble-top era in 1962, it made its debut as seen here in pastel-pink pearl fades on a completely hand-formed steel body, at the 1963 Oakland Roadster Show, where it copped the Tournament of Fame award. It was also featured in this form, with Buick wire wheels and an injected nailhead Buick engine, on the cover of the first (and only?) Petersen Custom Car Yearbook that year.
Actually I’m a bit confused, because I have another color photo of the car in a rich candy red faded over gold, with white pearl in the coves, with the big AMBR trophy visible behind it with Twister T (the 1962 AMBR winner) parked next to it. So Bill possibly repainted the car right before the 1963 Oakland show. At any rate, it won him and his wife a trip to Europe and an invitation to join the Ford Custom Car Caravan, as seen in the other photo. To do so, he had to swap the Buick engine for a Ford, which apparently has two 4-barrels topped with large “baloney slice” chrome stacks. The paint is the darker candy red, with steel dish Astro wheels in place of the chrome wires.

Jay Fitzhugh states that the car was used in a feature film (without stating which one), and it was also turned into a 1/25-scale plastic model at this time by AMT. Then, by 1968, it was cast as one of the original 16 Mattel Hot Wheels, and remains in that line to this day.

Sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s, after Cushenbery had moved his shop from Monterey to Burbank, California, the Silhouette was reportedly stolen from the back of his lot, and has never been seen again. In fact, someone I know who had a shop in the area at that time, says the rumor was that the car was stolen because of some sort of feud or vendetta, and that it was buried, intact, in a graveyard for stolen and stripped vehicles somewhere in the Valley, and it’s probably still there. More “Noir.”
by Pat Ganahl
Silhouette (5).jpg
 
#3
Several years ago on the HAMB Jay Fitzhugh claimed he had info the would explain where it was and what happened. He never did. Several of Cushenbery's relatives or people with so called conections to him or his relatives have also posted they are close to finding it. No one has yet.
 
#13
I always liked that car. Several years ago, I met a gentlemen at the GNRS awards banquet that used to work for Cushenberry, he was a really interesting guy. My wife and I were sharing a table with him and Dean Jeffries, the year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He told me he was hauling the car not long after the nailhead was pulled and swapped for a Ford engine. The trailer had a blowout in one of the tires. He said he was not far from the shop so he walked to the shop, when he arrived back, the trailer was stolen, ( I do not recall if it was the truck and trailer , it would make sense it was both, but I cannot recall for certain) Another urban legend? Who knows, but he sounded convincing.
 
Last edited:

Tom

Administrator
Staff member
#14
Some people don't know that Cushenberry created a Silhouette 2. I used to know the owner; he was going to put it on the show circuit, with Cushenberry as the builder. That was about 10 years ago. I don't think any progress has been made.
Silhouette2-4.jpg
 
Top