Bill Rothermel examines a one-off custom
Wait a minute—what’s a car like this doing in HMM? For starters, it’s what’s under the hood – a 345-hp, 389-cu.in. Pontiac Tri-Power V-8, shifted via a Corvette four-speed manual transmission—that counts. But the engine and transmission are just a small part of the story when it comes to the 1966 Bosley Interstate Mark II. Chances are you’ve never heard of the car, let alone seen it in person.
Horticulturist Richard Bosley was passionate about sports cars and heavily involved in the blossoming motorsports scene of the 1950s and ’60s. Lack of a formal engineering education proved no barrier to his dream of building a sport coupe of his own design. Using components liberated from various Ford, Mercury, and Chrysler models, Bosley constructed the one-off Mark I, wrapped in a fiberglass shell that he styled and built. He drove the Mark I over 100,000 miles before trading it for the chassis of the 1956 #6 Sebring Corvette, campaigned by Raceway Enterprises, and some cash back to him. This chassis became the basis of his next design.
With his second car—called the Interstate Mark II—he envisioned an automobile for “driving in comfort and safety over the interstate highways and for the aesthetic of good automotive design.” The Interstate was equipped with novel safety features uncommon at the time, including seat belts, head rests, tempered glass side windows, a smoke-colored rear window, Marchal air horns, anti-lift windshield wipers, and a built-in roll bar, among others. In-period, the car was featured in numerous buff books and was invited to the Henry Ford Museum for the Fifteenth Annual Sports Cars in Review in 1967. Another copy was never made, and the car fell into obscurity.
The body and major components were found in an abandoned warehouse in the early 1990s. Put in touch with the Bosley (actually, the remnants of it) via a car broker, Stephen and Kim Bruno purchased the collection of parts in 2015. Stephen likes one-off cars and coachbuilt vehicles—and the broker, appropriately, thought it was a good . t for him. As the fifth owners of the one-off vehicle, they purchased a fiberglass body attached to a wooden dolly, a rusty Corvette frame, and boxes of parts. If that sounds familiar, well… we all know you have to start somewhere.
Jon Dega of Rare Classic Restorations in Boca Raton, Florida, contacted Brett Bosley (Richard’s oldest son), who had his father’s paperwork and records, period photos, and 8mm film of the car, all of which were used in the restoration of the Bosley. It’s safe to say that lots of documentation and correspondence existed from the nine-year period of time it took to originally construct the car.
Bosley chose the Pontiac 389 because of the additional power it offered over the Corvette 283 in the early 1960s. Examination of period photos showed the engine to be a 1959 Pontiac 389, not the 1964 unit that came with the car (as evidenced by the bellhousing). Jon set about securing a 1959 engine to ensure that the restoration was as accurate as possible. He described it as a “chunk of rust strapped to a pallet.” Most important, it had the right numbers—vital in the proper rebirth of the unique car.
John Havens, a Pontiac Tri-Power specialist, identified the aluminum intake and was contracted to reconstruct the original Tri-Power setup as-built. A 35-gallon gas tank was included—perfect for long-distance travel. Jon’s shop had to re-create the skunkworks chassis, finned brakes, and many unique pieces, along with the knock-off spinners for the magnesium “kidney bean” Kelsey-Hayes center-lock wheels that were part of the racing Corvette that provided the basis of the Interstate.
When asked what the hardest pieces to find were, Jon said, “The aluminum trim for the dashboard. Turns out it was aluminum tile molding reducer for vinyl tile, flipped upside down!” Jon, who has a background in home improvement, added, “After examining it closely, it came to me one day. It looked familiar.” He found some of the NOS trim online and, voila, “problem solved.” The underhood catch to retain the prop rod is the roller latch to an old kitchen cabinet. Bosley used what was available.
Finished in a stunning, as-built Candy Apple Red, the restored Interstate debuted at Pebble Beach in 2017, with all three Bosley children in attendance. The car completed the Tour and competed in the Dream Cars of the Sixties class, where it received Second in Class honors. It has since gone on to be shown and garner awards at many top concours throughout the United States, including Amelia Island, Boca Raton, Concours of America, The Elegance at Hershey, and has even made an appearance on Jay Leno’s Garage. It has also been displayed at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, alongside its predecessor, the Mark I. We can all say thanks to Jon, Rare Classic Restorations, and Stephen and Kim, for restoring and preserving this unique piece of American automotive history.