From the designer of the Mighty Mite came the rear-engine, front-wheel-drive 1947 Gregory – Pat Foster @Hemmings

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Gregory was a hardcore front-wheel- drive enthusiast. In fact, he was such a fan of front-wheel drive that when he designed a rear-engine small car for the post-World War II market, he made sure it featured front drive.

You read that right, the 1947 Gregory has a rear-mounted engine driving the front wheels, making it the most bass-ackwards automobile ever to hit the road.And yet its story is compelling. Gregory was an engineer with a passion for automobiles. Between 1918 and 1922, the Kansas City, Missouri, native built a reported 10 automobiles, all utilizing frontwheel drive.

Some were produced as touring cars, some as race cars, and reportedly all of them used a variation of the de Dion suspension. They were usually fitted with conventional engines mounted longitudinally in the frame, but with the flywheel end and transmission up front.Gregory barnstormed dirt tracks and county fairs for a few years, sometimes performing as a stunt driver.

His favorite car was one of his front-drivers powered by a Hispano-Suiza aircraft engine. He was that sort of guy.After WWII ended, Gregory, probably sensing greater opportunity in a car-starved market, returned to designing and building automobiles. In 1947, he unveiled a new small car with the engine—reportedly a horizontally opposed, air-cooled Continental four-cylinder producing 40 horsepower—mounted out back.

From that mill, a long driveshaft ran to the front of the car, where the three-speed Borg-Warner manual transmission and differential resided. Why Gregory chose this particularly unusual chassis layout is unknown, although it was noted that the rear-engine layout placed noise and fumes behind the passengers. The car was designed for easy servicing; in fact, it was claimed that the engine could be removed from the chassis by one man in less than an hour.

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Categories: 1947, Hemmings, Pat Foster

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