“The Bathtub” Show Car Comes Back As Clean As Ever

Last year we brought you a story about how Beau Boeckmann and the Galpin Auto Sports team located and planned on restoring one of the wildest show cars ever conceived during the Kustom-Krazy 60s. Let’s get you up to speed with what this crazy creation and the talented team at Galpin have been up to.

For those who don’t know, “The Bathtub” was the brainchild of Rob Reisner in 1968 and was shown and promoted by famed Kustomizer, George Barris back in the day. The car was a hit on the show circuit and even had a smattering of scale models of it built by adoring fans of the beyond-the-norm-design featuring two tubs and a toilet.

We’re not sure which would scare us more, moving down the interstate on a porcelain, “reading chair” for all to see, or doing so, knowing that the hairs on our back are mere millimeters from that toothy belt driving both superchargers!

An “Outhouse-Find?”

There have been numerous “barn find” stories reported lately and the one centered around “The Bathtub” ticks off all the necessary boxes to make for one of the more interesting tales. So much so, that the Discovery has created a series titled “Car Kings,” featuring some of the iconic finds that see the light of day at the hands of the Galpin crew. As for “The Bathtub,” the GAS team located the car in Paramus, New Jersey, and reportedly paid $25,000 to the then-owner, who purchased the car many years prior as an “old show car”.

The car features many details keeping with the "Rub-a-dub" theme, including bubbles, toilet paper dispensers for pedals, and the piping with the requisite plumbing fixtures.

The team took the car back to their shop and began prepping it for an overseas excursion to the Yokohama Car Show in Japan. But, before the team could feast on noodles, they needed to overcome numerous obstacles to make the car ready for its second world-premiere. The biggest hurdle was actually making the car move under its own power. There are clues that the original builders considered making the car a driver, but enough reality prevailed to prove their intentions were never realized.

We could think of many places where we could put an early hemi, but right behind us while sitting on "the pot" never came to mind! The "gas" cap is ironically located under the seat.

There are also a few changes to the car from its original configuration. One that we noted early-on, was the use of rack and pinion steering, which could have been added to allow for driving or to simply make maneuvering while pushing it a little more simple. The rack is definitely shown in the un-restored condition, while various period photos show the car with what appears to be a rod connecting the two front spindles.

As with many show cars from this era, form is definitely situated well before function. This is most clearly seen when you watch the team disassemble the engine. Those butterfly-infused injector housings perched atop a duo of belt-driven superchargers have all the right visuals, but when you get below the surface, the facade gives way to actually making it all work.

Re-Doing The Plumbing

The folks at Galpin work their magic on the car’s components and are determined to actually make the car a running, driving vehicle rather than a “pusher.” The goal is to move it under its own power into the show area with the requisite cheering of the crowd during the Yokohama event. Of course, a touch of last-minute drama always makes for great television (and a superb spot for a commercial).

The engine is the showcase of the build, but only as art. When they get under those twin-superchargers, the guys soon find out how much of a "poser" this car was, but are determined to make the car into a real driver.

The entire Boeckmann family loads themselves into the numerous tubs with Beau firmly affixed on the throne as they fire up the ‘Tub and drive it into the show area. We’re not sure what fuel was put into the gas tank located deep under the toilet seat, but since this car apparently has no cooling system, and those now-gold pipes show a definitely discoloration, we’d say this car is destined for only short runs- across show floors- indoors- VERY infrequently. But, it does run, a fact solidified by watching the Discovery episode video titled “Lots Of Plumbing”.

Still Entertaining After All These Years

Whether or not something akin to “The Bathtub” is to your liking, there’s no denying that the entertainment value of the car was not only quite high when it first entered the show scene, but it also has retained a significant level of enthusiasm. Cars such as “The Bathtub” were built to push one’s imagination beyond the factory-original cars of the day and they carried the viewers to a world where anything was possible. For that, they remain as quirky icons of a time when America’s youth were stretching their wings (and their minds).

This episode marks a pivotal point for the show. Beau, the Executive Producer of the show pivoted the program away from traditional car builds you’d see on other shows, to some of the weirdest and most historically-interesting hot rods and customs. After this episode, the theme continues with other hand-built show rods such as the “Lil’ Red Wrecker,” “The Wishbone,” the highly unusual “Brubaker Box,” and other automotive oddities.

The car makes its entry into the show under its own power, but the look on Beau's face speaks volumes of what it must be like to pilot a several-hundred horsepower toilet.

You can watch the “Lots Of Plumbing” episode about “The Bathtub” and other builds on Discovery’s website. Whether or not they were ever meant to be driven, they sure are STILL very entertaining!

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About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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