- Iconic “Clear Vision” bodywork by one of California’s best-known coachbuilders
- Extremely attractive lines on an outstanding luxury chassis
- Well-preserved older restoration
- A Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic
Befitting the breezy and colorful West Coast lifestyle, the coachwork built by Murphy of Pasadena, California was frequently lighter of line that its Eastern competitors. This was embodied by the most outstanding feature of the company’s Classic Era design, the “Clear Vision” windshield, which boasted a frame narrower than the space between a man’s eyes—thus eliminating blind spots. Not only a safety feature, the Clear Vision windshield also resulted in an airy, glassy greenhouse, the perfect complement to the simple and largely unadorned lines of the Murphy body below. Variations of this theme were produced, most prominently a convertible sedan with an equally narrow center pillar at which both doors hinged. This design proved popular and prolific, utilized on a variety of chassis in the late 1920s and becoming one of the best-known Murphy creations.
The Type AM offered here is one of two known examples of Murphy’s Clear Vision convertible sedan coachwork mounted on the immense, solidly well-engineered Belgian Minerva, with its smooth sleeve-valve six-cylinder engine. Murphy, it should be noted, was the West Coast distributor for Minerva, and thus produced some truly notable creations on that chassis. A Murphy factory photograph survives, published in the Summer 1987 issue of The Classic Car; it was likely originally sold in Southern California, given that it was photographed there in the early 1950s by the late enthusiast, Pierce Carlson. In the early 1980s it was restored to its present appearance for Richard E. Hyde of Belvedere, California. In his ownership it received a 2nd in class at the 1984 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and that same year was judged at 99 points and awarded a First Prize Primary at the CCCA’s Far West Grand Classic, receiving Senior badge number 1144. It was also shown in the presence of Murphy designer Franklin Q. Hershey at the 1987 Silverado Concours d’Elegance.
Now part of the present collection for some three decades, the Minerva remains overall well-preserved aside from light fading to the interior, while the engine compartment and chassis would benefit from detailing. The paintwork is still largely in very good condition, reflecting little use of the car since its restoration. Most significantly for an automobile restored in this era, the color scheme is still quite appealing and attractive, and the Minerva would still be a most impressive entrant at any event—reflecting the best of sophisticated Belgian engineering and handsome California design.