My book will present the construction and history of Starbird’s Predicta in an historic and cultural context. The car can’t be understood and appreciated without examining the background from which it emerged, and the historical and economic influences that caused it to be modified from 1961 through 2007. This integrated approach will help the reader understand and appreciate the full history of the car, the role it played in American automotive cultural history, and to appreciate the Predicta in a larger context.
The book will examine in detail the seven recognizable versions of the car including the 1960 AHRA drag race iteration, the modest 1961 restyling, the 1963 so-called “Monogram Restyle,” the silver metalflake version of the American Chopper era, the Carl Green restoration in 1996 (the only renovation of, or known work on, the car ever done by anyone but Starbird), and the incredible 2007 Starbird tear-down and reconstruction. We’ll also wonder together why this remarkable car received almost no media coverage after it was restyled in 1963 until 1989, even though the Monogram model kit was one of the best selling ever for Monogram. The car virtually disappeared in the media from 1964 through 1970, and only modestly appeared again, sporadically, in the media after its first post-acquisition renovation in 1980 but then burst upon the major media scene again in 2008.
Hundreds of never-before-seen photos, gathered over 35 years from many sources (including the previously unknown Monogram kit-engineering images taken during the company’s 1962-1963 kit research at the plant and the latest from the Ray Soff collection and from Jerry Eich) will be presented; many of these historic photos have been digitally restored for clarity. Also, noted customizer Carl Green (who restored Spencer Murray’s Dream Truck) has contributed his surprising and revealing restoration photos (and stories of how badly the car was apparently treated in the post-Darrell Zipp era). Of course, Darryl Starbird also shares his many candid initial construction and later reconstruction photos.
Another major focus of the book will be the Monogram Models hobby kits, without which artifacts the car cannot be fully appreciated and understood. Rather than sequestering information about the Monogram model kits only to an Appendix, the various iterations of the Monogram kit will be presented as integral to the larger story. Unique among all custom cars, the hobby kit company contracted with Starbird to rebuild and freshen the car after the decision had been made by Monogram Models that the kit must present an updated version of the car to have sufficient market appeal for a successful kit: In an important sense, kit marketing considerations drove the decision to restyle, revise and rebuild the car. Readers will also learn about the factory-built models for hobby stores, the desultory and little-known Hong Kong-sourced friction and battery-powered replica toys, rare manufacturer test shots, the previously-unknown and disrespectful Kelly Tire promotional campaign from 1965, and other fascinating details. The book will also sample the dozens of magazine and catalog advertisements, the 1964 Monogram World’s Fair catalog, and the interesting kit-restyling articles and commentary from both Darryl Starbird and famed kit designer Tom Daniel.
The perfect bound, soft color book will present a comprehensive text that takes a close look into the entire history of the Predicta starting with the initial construction based a heavily-damaged 1955 Thunderbird up through and including Darryl’s complete tear down and restoration of the Predicta in 2007 that resulted in a car that met the highest show car standards. The book is the result of decades of my tireless work in gathering photos, purchasing rare items and related ephemera, and is based, in large measure, upon , my interviews with Darryl Starbird, Carl Green, Darrell Zipp, Jake Finley, and others who have contributed their oral history about this most stunning of all show cars.
My book will be published by McFarland Books. The book will include a terrific Forward by Darryl Starbird, and includes hundreds of footnotes, dozens of appendices, and the photos of almost two dozen contributing photographers. If you’re interested in the book, send me a message about your interest and you’ll get an e-mail when it is published which I hope will be during the Christmas Season of 2017. The price for the book has not yet been set in December of 2016.
— Mark S. Gustavson,September 30, 2016