- The idea was born, plans drawn, materials gathered.
- Construction of the Little Car began.
- With construction complete (for now), the Little Car was titled with the state of Pennsylvania as
a "Homemade Motorbike" - this was the only category for
which it met the requirements.
- The engine was
replaced with a new Army surplus, one-cylinder, 5HP Wisconsin
engine. Jerry chose this engine for its high low-RPM torque. An electric starter
from a junked Crosley automobile was installed and connected via bicycle chain
and sprockets to
a homemade clutch assembly. Jerry also added a horn, a small
Lucite windshield supported by cast brass posts of his own design, and side engine
compartment vents salvaged from a 1939 LaSalle. New wheels
with pneumatic tires were also added at this time, and the Little Car was given a
new coat of pink paint.
1960s - Changing times brought road safety regulations that
forced the Little Car off the streets.
Discouraged, and busy with his family and business, Jerry put the car
into storage where it would sit for the next 20 years. (He
should have drained the gasoline, first!)
1970s - The Little Car would get its first new paint job
in more than 20 years... to the sporty yellow that it is today.
1983 - Now fully retired, Jerry finally took the Little Car out
of storage with the intentions of getting it back on the road. The gasoline that was left in it 20 years ago had
completely gummed up everything, so the vehicle was in need of some
serious work. Jerry replaced the entire fuel system,
adding an electric fuel pump. He rebuilt the carburetor and
engine, installed a generator and a larger battery, improved the
braking system, and fabricated and installed sheet-metal valence panels to
cover the brake cables. He also created a shift linkage and moved
the shift lever from outside the body to inside the driver's
compartment, and he installed a taller Lucite windshield. The Little
Car was not street-legal yet, but Jerry was determined. He still drove it around
his neighborhood and hauled it on a trailer to local shows so
could be displayed to the public. It was around this time that
the local (and some not-so-local) news media began running stories
about Jerry and his homemade Little Car.
- Word of the Little Car had spread and caught the attention
of the producers of MotorWeek, a nationally syndicated PBS program
devoted to cars and car enthusiasts. The MotorWeek crew came
to Jerry's home and created this three-minute
feature on him and his baby. It was around this time that Jerry first referred to his Little Car
as a "puddle jumper" -- borrowing from the vernacular of
the aviation industry that refers to small airplanes that
can cross or "jump" only "puddles", as opposed
to the larger ones that can cross the ocean. Surprisingly, the name "Puddle Jumper" stuck
and was perpetuated by this TV spot and future newspaper
articles. But for those who knew it as the "Little
Car" for so long, this new moniker never seemed to fit.
1990s - Jerry attached four fiberglass composite fenders which he
shaped over a wooden form that he designed and carved himself. He
also replaced the engine's starter chain and sprocket drive with a more
reliable belt and pulley system.
1990s - It was during this time when Jerry made his final push to
bring the Little
Car up to code and get it back on the road. He added taillights, turn signals,
upgraded headlights with hi/lo beams, side mirrors, a seatbelt, and
a bicycle odometer.
- Jerry's efforts were finally rewarded with a
state vehicle registration. The Little Car was
registered as a
"specially constructed vehicle", and after purchasing
insurance and receiving a routine state
inspection at a local motorcycle shop, the Little Car was
street-legal and back on the road after almost 40
2000s - One of the last modification Jerry made before he
stopped driving was to grind down the engine head 1/32 of an inch
(by hand, on sandpaper!) to increase its compression and improve the Little Car's
performance on hills.
- Alone and feeling the effects of time, Jerry left his home of more
than 50 years to move in with family. The Little Car
was put back into storage, where it sits today.