It’s not often that we stumble upon a story like this. Myths abound concerning the case of Don Haynes and his peculiar American adventure, but one thing is undeniable–the man was a showman.
The yarn begins in Ashland, Oregon, where Haynes was living life as a truck driver and member of the Merchant Marines. He claims to have started a bet with a local farmer–$25,000–wagering that he could travel through all 48 states while remaining inside a 1949 Kaiser DeLuxe.
Eating, sleeping, bathing, exercising, and all other normal human behaviors were to be carried out within the confines of the sedan, which would have its doors welded completely shut. Other modifications included a toilet, fold-out bed, and hot-and-cold faucet among other necessities.
Haynes got himself an advance man and chase vehicle to help with the promotion and upkeep, respectively, of the “Marvel Man” and his white Kaiser as they toured the nation starting in April 1949. Yet, for some reason or another, Haynes was forced to give up two weeks shy of the deadline in April 1950, and unceremoniously had the car’s doors removed.
Haynes would go on to try similar stunts in later years, including attempts to procure pajama bottoms from the governor of every state, as well as a short-lived road trip with the wife. None would ever bring the man the kind of fame he achieved in his first attempt, nor would they spawn the same kinds of rumors.
And how wild they were. Some asserted that the whole shebang was actually just a publicity stunt put on by Kaiser-Frazer, as a way of promoting the ride comfort of the DeLuxe. Others argued that Haynes had actually installed and used a pair of removable floorpans, which he would use to get fresh air in unseen locations.
No one can say for sure what caused Haynes to forfeit his wager all those years ago, and as time goes by, the chances of closure are getting slimmer by the day. It’s probably just as well that this story goes on with a big question mark at the end of it, because it’s intriguing…to no end.