Enrico Brocato and Merlin Smith

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  • #390031

    Merlin- great article in the latest "The Arrow". Great when a Louisiana boy ends up with a Pierce Arrow. I think I may have told you this. Living in Alexandria, in Central Louisiana, in the mid 80’s, I was one of a few in that state looking for Classics. At the time, I had numerous Pierce cars; 31 phaeton still in my garage; 35 coupe; 34 Silver Arrow V-12 (later traded for ’37 Cord phaeton which I still have), 34 840 sedan. In fact, at one point, I owned half the Pierce Arrows in Louisiana, with my late friend Bobby Crump a close second. I still wanted more. A fellow in Shreveport (Enrico’s home town of course) had a ’32 Model 54 sedan for sale. Went to look at it. While there, he took me to Enrico’s house, showing me the two EDL’s. Yeah, nice, thanks; then back to his house and we made a deal on his 54. After the deal was done, Enrico called me; "So, you didn’t want one of the EDL’s?’ Uhh, what are you talking about. "Well, the guy was supposed to tell you that either one was available, more or less at the price of the 54". Damnitalltohell. Did not know that, guy never mentioned, thought my only choice was the 54. Would have jumped on one of the EDL’s. So, to make a short story long, I guess in the roundabout you can thank the guy for not mentioning one of Mr. Brocato’s cars was for sale, and me for not pursuing. Both cars were semi finished, and I remember one having some kind of removable center pillar so the door opened wide. Best- and happy motoring in that good old Pierce- David Coco

    #393463

    David: It is interesting that you mention of the EDL cars had a removable door post. In fact, usually that sort of arrangement allowed the door post to open with the door, or remain in place for normal sedan sort of use. These cars were ordered by funeral homes, to be used as ambulances, first call cars, or limousines on funeral day. Normally, when there was not a funeral, one single bucket seat would be fitted. The passneger door then could be opened with the post attached, and a stretcher placed in the spot between the instrument panel and the rear seat. Moreover, the car could also be used in this fashion to pick up the deceased, as what undertakers called "the first call". On funeral day, a small crane device, similar to an engine cherry picker would remove the small driver’s seat, and a full width front seat would be installed, restoring the car back to limousine status. I have seen mostly Cadillacs converted this way, and once in awhile one still stumbles across one at a show. Tony

    #393464

    David: It is interesting that you mention the EDL car that had a removable door post. In fact, usually that sort of arrangement allowed the door post to open with the door, or remain in place for normal sedan sort of use. These cars were ordered by funeral homes, to be used as ambulances, first call cars, or limousines on funeral day. Normally, when there was not a funeral, one single bucket seat would be fitted. The passenger side doors then could be opened with the post attached, and the whole side of the car would be open. A stretcher could then be placed in the spot between the instrument panel and the rear seat. Moreover, the car could also be used in this fashion to pick up the deceased, on what undertakers called "the first call". On funeral day, a small crane device, similar to an engine cherry picker would remove the small driver’s seat, and a full width front seat would be installed, restoring the car back to limousine status. I have seen mostly Cadillacs converted this way, and once in awhile one still stumbles across one at a show. Tony

    #393465

    David: It is interesting that you mention the EDL car that had a removable door post. In fact, usually that sort of arrangement allowed the door post to open with the door, or remain in place for normal sedan sort of use. These cars were ordered by funeral homes, to be used as ambulances, first call cars, or limousines on funeral day. Normally, when there was not a funeral, one single bucket seat would be fitted. The passenger side doors then could be opened with the post attached, and the whole side of the car would be open. A stretcher could then be placed in the spot between the instrument panel and the rear seat. Moreover, the car could also be used in this fashion to pick up the deceased, on what undertakers called "the first call". On funeral day, a small crane device, similar to an engine cherry picker,would remove the small driver’s seat, and a full width front seat would be installed, restoring the car back to limousine status. I have seen mostly Cadillacs converted this way, and once in awhile one still stumbles across one at a show. Tony

    #393466

    Interesting stuff, Tony. I may have left out one part of the story; Enrico was not home when I looked at the cars, the other Pierce owner showed me the cars; obviously he wanted to sell his, not offer me the choice of the EDL’s.
    Perhaps Merlin could let us know if my recollection is correct. I believe he told me the second EDL that Enrico had in his workshop was in a very private collection in the northeast (i.e. stuck in a garage and not driven or shown). Both cars were in mid-restoration when I saw them (this would have been in the mid to late 80’s), but I distinctly remember seeing the removable door post on the passenger side of one of the cars. Sure wish I had known at the time that one of these EDL’s was for sale; for a couple thousand more than I paid for the model 54 sedan I could have had a unique car. David

    #393467

    David: Thanks for the kind remarks. Enrico sold the other EDL to Craig Lovrich’s father, John, who is now deceased (remember Craig had the great unrestored Model 54 Sport Phaeton that won the Vale Faro Award at Williamstown). Craig told me that his brother now has his Dad’s car but does not use it. We should confirm with Craig that it is the one with the removal centerpost. Merlin

    #393468

    Darn, did I let kind remarks slip in somehow? Oh well. I remember looking at Craig’s car (the unrestored phaeton) when Henry Yeska had it for sale. Great car, I just could not afford the cost of ownership. Glad it went to someone who is maintaining it’s originality. Would be interesting to see if that EDL is a removable post car, or if that whole episode is a figmentation of my imagination. Will miss seeing you guys at the meet this year, y’all have fun! David

    #393469

    I think Craig’s brother has the removal post EDL; if he is at Lexington, I’ll confirm that. Wish you could be there; we will miss you. Merlin

    #412032

    Hello Merlin, Dave and Tony,
    Maybe I can clear some of this discussion up–no, not maybe; but, gospel.
    The car that Craig Lovrich has came out of Canada. I picked it up at “Stoney Point, Ontario” and trailered it to Enrico’s home. A most interesting event happened along the way; my brother and I stopped at a rest area to check out the “big load” and along came a “BIG (new) Caddy” in the back of this limo was Elvis Presley’s father. We chatted awhile, he just wanted to know, What it was?”
    Car #2: Enrico told me (we use to have many, many long talks at night)–his wife once remarked, “we were the only two people, she knew, that restored their cars on the phone.” Anyway, he said the partition was completely gone. At that time I knew where there was an EDL in Bill’s bone yard, over in R.I. He, more or less, hired me (I think the going rate, at that time, was 5 cents an hour) to drive over there, dismantle the “doner,” bring the division here, crate it and ship it to him. That was a long, long time ago! Keep in mind, the door post and complete division (with jump seats) were all shipped to him. This he had to fit to the car that Merlin now owns. And now, you know the whole story!
    Bob Sands

    #412033

    Great story Bob. So it would appear that what I saw, also long ago, was the car in the process of assembly, thus the assumption on my part that the post was “removable”. Remember that on my visit, Enrico was not on site to clarify for me; that both cars were there (Merlin’s and Craig’s), so I have no idea which one I was looking at; and lastly, it was when both cars were in the middle of restoration. To me, mystery solved! Sure hate not being at the meet this year. Know everyone will have a great time. David Coco

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