The Mono Stick
Besides the bubble, one of Predicta`s other Car of the Future features was the absence of a conventional steering wheel; directional control being achieved by a centrally located stick, much like that found on some airplanes, which could be accessed from either side, as there were two sets of pedals on the floor. Very innovative for then or now, with a 100 percent wow! But "how th' heck do it work?" Well, after almost half-a-century of speculation, here's the skinny: Sometimes knowing what you want and achieving that goal are downright incompatible, but luck was on young Darryl's side.
It was off to the local boneyard to be an organ donor for Darryl's latest project. The early production '57 Chrysler had two major components he was after--a 392cid Hemi (with tranny) and a full-time power steering unit. The powertrain would be a straightforward swap but the steering? Chrysler engineers had made their new power steering integral with the column. Sometimes the most obvious solution to a problem is right before your eyes, you've just got to look at it from a different perspective. The simple and elegant answer was to lay the column under the floor, attached parallel to the frame, problem solved with a little tinkering to fit the column to the T-bird's steering box and the center stick, and with everything married together, it worked like a charm.
Note that it was only during the first few months of '57 production that Chrysler offered full-time power steering. They then switched to a more conventional power-assisted system using mostly the same components, but with different valving. This is something Darryl would find out the hard way later when he went to duplicate the system. He would go on to use this central stick steering concept on several more of his fantastic creations, including Futurista and Electra.
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Here we see the '57 Chrysler 392-cube Hemi that's been with the `Bird since '59. However,
This is the $800 '56 T-bird that Darryl started with in late 1959. The driver's side was p
A rare construction shot of Predicta showing Darryl hard at work installing '59 Buick finn
Here's Darryl behind the "stick" under the Predicta bubble at the AHRA drag race Nationals
Ever since Darryl got his beloved Predicta back and reversed the changes made while in the hands of others, his goal was for a full and authentic restoration back to its 1963 Monogram model release form. When he opened his ever-expanding National Rod & Custom Car Hall Of Fame Museum in Afton, Oklahoma, Predicta became the centerpiece. But no one knew better than Darryl that it would need a little freshening up. The day finally came in 2006, just around six months before Darryl's 50th Anniversary Wichita Show early in '07, where she was to be the star attraction. She was as one of seven bubbletops featured in the show, four of which were Starbird creations.
Darryl dismantled Predicta down to the last nut and bolt, refurbishing, re-plating, or replacing everything, making her as good as the day Monogram Models had taken possession some four-and-a-half decades earlier. He even engineered and built his own rotisserie, where he could more easily work the body and frame to perfection before having son Rick spray it in a trademark Starbird Blue. As paint has changed significantly over the years, Darryl started with a House of Kolor Kandy Blue, which he lightened and finessed until the Predicta original shade of blue was ready to apply. If you're saying; "but, wasn't Monogram's model red?" You are correct, but it was only painted candy red as part of the Monogram deal. Blue it once was, blue it is again, and blue it ever shall be.
Getting close to his Wichita show's deadline, Darryl called on the car building talents of son-in-law, Tom Vogele, to lend a hand in what must have been the ultimate Monogram kit, a one-to-one Predicta. Tom, a hot rodding celebrity in his own right having cut his teeth building AMBR winners with the late Boyd Coddington, and later as editor of STREET RODDER, was more than willing to help Darryl. Putting all those painted and plated parts back together again turned into an intense month of 10-hour days.
Now, fully restored and on display at the Starbird Museum for this and future generations to enjoy and see, it illustrates how things were in an era when a young man with vision could put his dreams into steel (and plastic) to predict a bright and unlimited future, and Predicta stands as a benchmark of still-viable "what ifs."