click above image for gallery of the Aurora Safety Car
"We pass the basket for a second collection this week at Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration so the parish project car can be finished." It didn't go down quite like that in the Branford, CT parish of Father Alfred Juliano back in the 1950s, but the priest did build a car of his own design that was partially funded by parishioners. I remember rifling through a stack of musty Mechanix Illustrated backissues in my misspent youth and coming across a feature on this vehicle, called the Aurora. A lot of people have declaimed the hideousness of Juliano's "safety car" throughout the years. It certainly has a peculiar reverse rake to its stance, while the flowing, organic form of the fiberglass body give the Aurora the appearance of a quickly departing Sea Ray , rather than an automobile headed at you.
Father Juliano had a lifelong automotive avocation and studied art before entering the priesthood. His intent with the Aurora was to create the world's safest automobile atop a salvaged Buick chassis. The body was hand-laid fiberglass and the bubbilicious daylight openings are rendered in plexiglass. Despite his efforts, things did not go well for Fr. Juliano. The car's press unveiling was a disaster, and Juliano ultimately ended up in financial trouble and was forced to leave his order. The Aurora was given to a garage to settle a debt, and that's where England's Andy Saunders tracked the vehicle down. Andy runs an auto import and customization business, and relishes a challenge. Restoring the Aurora was an arduous process, but as you can see, it's risen like Lazarus from the very disintegrated state Andy found it in. Since its restoration, the car has appeared at several events and museums, including Goodwood. Quite the resurrection.
[Source: NY Times, Photo: Andrew Saunders / NYT]