The Rockefeller Yankee
Click on above picture to see magazine cover where it appeared in 1953
Rockefeller Yankee original metal prototype with it’s namesake, Jim
Rockefeller, in 1951.
Jim and his partner, Warren Shiber started the Rockefeller Sports Car Corporation.They produced and sold a number of fiberglass bodied Yankee’s.The actual quantity is unknown, but according to Automobile Quarterly there were enough to qualify the Yankee as a production automobile.
The Yankee fiberglass bodies were molded by Lunn Laminates, the Long Island company that built the 1953 Corvette bodies. The Yankee body was very thick, probably about five times the thickness of the 1953 Corvette bodies. Because the Yankee was Lunn’s first car body they produced, they apparently were overly cautious when they built it. Later, when they molded the 1953 production Corvette’s, they probably used what they learned from the Yankee project to make the Corvette bodies lighter.
Warren Shiber and the Rockefeller Yankee at the 1953 Auto Show in Madison Square Garden, N.Y.
This particular car was sold at the
show. At about the same time, the 1953 Corvette was being introduced at
the GM Motorama in N.Y. Because the first Yankee was sold
months before the first 1953 Corvette was delivered, it appears that the Rockefeller Yankee was possibly America’s first production fiberglass bodied sports car.
about AMROC and the Rockefeller Yankee....a note from Jim Rockefeller
this is my response to your request to write up a brief overview of the
link between, you, me, AMROC and the Yankee.
In about 1949 I opened an auto body repair shop and was making a good living. Shortly after I started the business, I was visited by Warren Shiber, a sports car salesman who convinced me that we should build a family sports car and get rich. So, I built a metal prototype of the car and tested it on the road. It performed marvelously. Next, we built a wire and plaster mockup of the body of the car and sent it to Lunn Laminates, a fiberglass company on Long Island, to produce molds to manufacture bodies for our cars. One of our first production cars, with a Lunn body ( produced before Lunn started building the 1953 Corvette body for GM ), was displayed and sold at the 1953 Auto Show in Madison Square Garden, N.Y. I happen to be related to the rich folks who bear my name and tried to get them to finance the production of the car, but they weren't interested...so I sold out to Warren and formed AMROC with Pat. AMROC stood for AMendolia/ROCkefeller an engineering company founded by the two of us in the mid 1950's. Our friendship has lasted for many years beyond our AMROC days.
Although we worked on many unusual and innovative projects, one of the most interesting things we did together was prompted by the publics interest in the launching of Sputnik and the start of the space race. There was a great deal of work being done developing new rocket propellants. We decided to work on a propellant that would be more stable and safer to handle. I was a chemistry major and he was a mechanical genius (another Leonardo). We did develop a safe fuel and tested several small rockets on the beaches of Long Island. One test rocket was about 2 feet long and about 2 1/2 inches diameter. It's "payload" was a flash powder type of explosive, much like a firecracker. The idea was to observe the flash, set off when the propellant was exhausted plus an estimated time for the rocket to reach it's maximum height, then measure the time it took for the sound to reach us. We estimated it achieved an altitude of 9 -10,000 feet, depending upon whether the rocket was in freefall or still climbing when the flash explosive in the nose went off. We tested the fuel in some marvelous devices designed by my renaissance partner, Pat, and found the specific impulse developed to be 80 lbs/sec/pound. When later it was tested by the U.S. Army with their million dollar equipment, it was found to be 81 lbs/sec. We had calculated that the rocket we fired should achieve an altitude of 10,000 ft.
After Pat and I dissolved our partnership, I went back to school to become a HS Industrial. Arts teacher, where I taught Auto (adults at night), Power Mechanics, Metalworking, and a class in Jewelry Making. After retiring in 1980 I moved from Long Island and built my own house in Sundance, Fl...and finally moved to Sun City Center,FL. I'm now under Hospice care (wonderful people). So far I've lived a year beyond their expectations... :<)
I now spend my time online discussing Cosmology.
( Jim passed away in May 2007 )
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