ROAD & TRACK
The DiDia 150 was the most expensive custom car in the world in 1960.
Nearly the entire car was custom-built by Detroit shop Clarkaiser Customs. Only a handful of parts—a Ford Thunderbird steering column, the big-block drivetrain from a Cadillac—were from production parts. Ron Clark oversaw the build; his "perfectionist nature and wonderful manual skills helped produce a body that was as crisp as a pin," describes Coachbuilt, "hand-hammered out of half-hard .064 aluminum over wooden bucks. Each fin assembly, for example, took Bob 15 weeks to shape. All the aluminum body skin was gas welded and then metal finished without any fillers. Bob recalled that before they started on the Di Dia the only aluminum-forming experience the team had was fabricated a racing hydroplane hull for a local boatyard."
The paint was infused with the dust of industrial diamonds, ground and mixed with the metallic ruby red; thirty coats were applied and sanded by hand atop a base coat of gold. Proving his skill, Clark designed and fabricated a front independent suspension and also adapted the rear swing-arm from a Ford. Each passenger seat received independent air conditioning, a cigarette lighter and ashtray, and a radio speaker that presumably played "Splish Splash" on repeat at least 48 times.
DiDia brought it to Los Angeles to debut it at George Barris's third annual Bakersfield Motor and Boat Show, but arrived two months early, so he showed it at any car show he could until the big event.
Along the way to modern day the car saw a full restoration, its Cadillac engine giving way to Ford 427 firepower. If you ever find yourself in the neighborhood, you should check it out. It was the car of the future.
It couldn't have come from anywhere else except a nostalgic, warm, fuzzy, America. Its then-astonishing price may be old hat compared to a certain billionaire's presidential campaign, but it is still a great car befitting a great, where taste and style never knew any boundaries.
The future is now! Hovercars to the moon by 1980!