Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Disneyland, Autopia, Cecil Rospaw, Jean Whitney

Depending on which theory you subscribe to, either Thursday or Friday is the 53rd anniversary of the opening of Disneyland. (July 17th, 1955 was the televised dedication ceremony, but the park opened to the public on the 18th.) Today's photos show one of the first Disneyland attractions being assembled.
Walt Disney put Robert H. “Bob” Gurr (“Director of Special Vehicular Development") in charge of making Autopia a reality. Gurr had recently helped design the Lincoln Continental for Ford, so he was well-prepared to design Disney's 5/8 scale sports cars. Meanwhile, the chassis and drive were developed by Johnny Hartman of the Hartman Engineering Co. in Montrose, and forty fiberglass car bodies were built by the Glasspar Co. of Costa Mesa. Finally, in the last weeks leading up to the park's opening, the cars were assembled and tested at Mameco Engineering, Inc. (seen above) in Newport Beach.
In the photos above, Mameco's Ed Martindale and Ted Mangels are seen showing off their handiwork. In the background, you can see the Snug Harbor Cafe and what appears to be the old Western Canners Co. cannery. The small inset image is a detail showing the engine compartment. (For much more information about the development of Autopia, see this great post on Vintage Disneyland Tickets.)
On a sad (but unrelated) note, I learned today that two former Orange County Historical Commission members died recently: Cecil Rospaw and Jean A. Whitney. (Click on the links to learn more about them.)


colony rabble said...

...and the roadways for Autopia were laid by Santa Ana builder Jules Ogden Markel, who later went on to serve on the Santa Ana City Council.

Good info from you in today's Register about the Polynesian street names in FV.

Unknown said...

Great post!

I am always excited to see Disney-related pictures in a non-Disney environment.

Did that make sense? ;)

Major Pepperidge said...

Wow, these photos are sweet. Thanks for sharing!

Daveland said...

FANFRIGGINTASTIC! What a way to celebrate the Park's Anniversary - thanks for the post, Chris!

Anonymous said...

Ed Martindale is my father and as I recall the Mickey Mouse Club also did a segment on the Autopia cars at Mameco when I was a kid. BTW, it is Ted Mangels, not Jim, that was my dad's former partner and best friend. They met in the army and were lifelong friends until Ted's passing from a brain tumor some years ago. We all enjoyed many a camping trip and off-road race together. Ted became a top off-road chassis designer in later years and played a big part in setting up Ivan Stewart's Baja winning Toyota race trucks while working for PPI.

This all brings back a lot of fun memories.

Marty Martindale

Chris Jepsen said...

Marty: Thanks for writing! I will correct Mangels' first name. We all appreciate learning more about the people who appear in these photos. It's certainly not ideal to only post names and dates, but sometimes that's all I have to work with. Again, thanks for sharing.

Chris Jepsen said...

Via email, Marty Martindale adds the following information:

"...Ted Mangels was one of the drivers who won the first Baja 1000 in 1967 and the other was Vic Wilson, my father's cousin. The bread and butter of Mameco ultimately was manufacturing parts for the yachting industry but there were always fun projects going on like dune buggies, giant kites and mini-bikes. On his Mameco tee shirts the slogans were 'Martindale's Merry Metal Makers' and 'Adult Toy Makers.' My dad and Ted were also instrumental in helping develop the Meyer's Manx dune buggy... Ted and dad also campaigned one of the first fiberglass body race cars that were sponsored by boat builder Glaspar.
"...Mameco closed in 1993 after 40 years and was replaced by the Cannery Lofts on 30th street. BTW, the name Mameco is an acronym - 'Martindale and Mangels Engineering Company.'"

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I thought that I should report that my father, Ed Martindale, finally lost his battle with cancer and passed away on June 18, 2009.

Marty Martindale

Matt Tritt said...

Just to join in here, belatedly by a couple of years, Bill Tritt is my father. Glasspar was his company, and he designed and developed the Glasspar G-2, the Ascot and the Volvo Sport, which is why Disney came to him to make their autopia cars. I had a free pass to Disneyland untill I was 18 because of this. He also made the jungle boats and the teacups.

(We all moved away years ago, but our family was heavily involved in Orange County from the early 1870's through 1960, great grandpa Gilman being the guy who planted the first commercial orange groves in the county, and the country)


Unknown said...

Matt, in digging through some of my dad's old boxes I've found a Glasspar G-2 brochure, Glasspar race car photos and even old newspaper stories from when my father and Ted Mangels campaigned a Glasspar race car for your dad Bill Tritt. Pretty cool stuff...


Roger Eeds said...

Thank you so much for these photos and history. I sailed into the harbor in 1976 and it wasn't long before I met that peach of a guy Ed Martindale who was unfailing nice and jovial and a great help. It was fascinating to go into his jam-packed shop. One day I spied a 1958 Dodge Powerwagon under a cover and ended up buying it from him and getting it running again. On a related note: my dad was loved our Glasspar ski boat. I've move away also, (France) but have fond memories of old Newport and the great craftsmen and characters. I'm sorry to hear about Ed's death.

Anonymous said...

Roger, I do remember the 1958 Power Wagon project. We used to own 16 acres of land near Idyllwild, CA that was accessed from a five mile dirt road. Naturally in the winter the dirt road became very difficult so initially we fixed up a WW2 Command Car, that was based on a 1942 Dodge Power Wagon, which we stored at the local country store. It drove like a rock and totally exposed the passengers to the weather, so my dad bought the enclosed 1958 model, but we never got around to finishing it. As I recall, your 1958 model was blue and white and featured a push button automatic transmission which was quite unusual.