Twentieth Century Motor Car Corporation
Not to be confused with the "Twentieth Century Motor Company", a fictional corporation in "Atlas Shrugged".
Key people Dale Clifft
The Twentieth Century Motor Car Corporation was an automobile company started by entrepreneur Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael in 1974. The company's flagship vehicle was the Dale, a prototype three-wheeled two-seater sports car designed and built by Dale Clifft. It was powered by an 850 cc air-cooled engine and featured a claimed 70 mpg-US (3.4 L/100 km; 84 mpg-imp) fuel economy and a $2,000 (in 1974 US dollars) price, which were popular specifications during the mid 1970's US fuel crisis.
Carmichael, 37 in 1974, claimed to be the widow of a NASA structural engineer, a mother of five, and a farm girl from Indiana. ...
... Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times in November 1974, Carmichael said she was on the way to taking on General Motors or any other car manufacturer for that matter. She said she had millions of dollars in backing "from private parties", and also talked of a 150,000 sq ft (14,000 m2) assembly plant in Burbank, California and over 100 employees on the rolls.
The Dale was also marketed as being high-tech, lightweight, yet safer than any existing car at the time. "By eliminating a wheel in the rear, we saved 300 pounds and knocked more than $300 from the car's price. The Dale is 190 inches long, 51 inches high, and weighs less than 1,000 pounds", said Carmichael. She maintained that the car's lightness did not affect its stability or safety. The low center of gravity always remained inside the triangle of the three wheels making it nearly impossible for it to tip over. She also went on record to say that she drove it into a wall at 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) and there was no structural damage to the car (or her). ...
That's all very fine, but what could possibly justify the following paragraphs in Wikipedia's Liz Carmichael entry?
After having received money from investors, purportedly for the development and marketing of the Dale car, Carmichael disappeared and the funds were unaccounted for. She was charged with grand theft, fraud, and securities violations. During her trial, Clifft stated that he still believed in Carmichael and expected large royalties once the car would go into production. In fact, he received only $1001 and a bad check.
Following her arrest, it was discovered that Carmichael's given birth name was Jerry Dean Michael, which was still her legal name, and that she was initially identified as a male. He married the former Vivian Barrett while still living as a man and they were the parents of five children. Michael stated he had undergone hormone therapy and was in the process of completing sex reassignment. Michael had previously been charged by the FBI (when living as a male) for alleged involvement in a counterfeiting operation; he had been released on bail and never appeared for trial.
After his arrest related to the Dale car, Michael's bail was paid by a news station that was guaranteed the rights to his story. He subsequently jumped bail and remained at large until the airing of an Unsolved Mysteries episode in 1989. The episode revealed that Michael had been working as a flower vendor in Dale, Texas by the name of Kathryn Elizabeth Johnson.
Isn't it scandalous that back then, people believed in outmoded concepts like the Public's Right to Know? (Apparently, a few people today still think that way today. Time to get 'em.)
For example, here's a 1975 People magazine article. All existing copies of this monumentally insensitive article should be publicly burned:
April 28, 1975 Vol. 3 No. 16
She Really Is a He: The Bizarre Liz Carmichael Auto Caper
When dream-car hypester Liz Carmichael went on the lam charged with defrauding her investors, police were puzzled to discover wigs, hair remover and well-padded bras in the abandoned $100,000 home the self-styled "widow" had shared with five children in Dallas (PEOPLE, March 10).
Now the mystery has been dramatically cleared up. Liz was nabbed by the FBI climbing through the window of a rented Miami house clad in a pink checked pants suit. The fingerprints clinched it: she was a he. Liz was disclosed to be one Jerry Dean Michael, 47, a fugitive from justice since 1961.
Many of the details of the masquerade remain murky, but apparently the 6', 175-pound Michael passed himself off as Liz Carmichael for 13 years. He evidently derived as much pleasure from his tightrope walk between sexual identities as from his numerous scams to relieve the public of loose cash—most recently as head of the Twentieth Century Motor Corp.
As Liz Carmichael, Michael often boasted that he would "rule the auto industry like a queen" with a cheap, gas-economizing car called the Dale. Now he is wanted for questioning in connection with phony real estate sales, counterfeiting and gun running—not to mention the dream car.
What about the five kids? Jerry Michael owns up to fathering them all. Vivian Barrett Michael—the woman Jerry married in 1959 and whom "Liz" was in the habit of introducing as her secretary—is the mother of the brood. "We love her just as much as we loved him. The children call her Mother Liz and me just plain Mother," attests Vivian of her husband, who last week said he is a transsexual who has had a sex change operation. Upon capture Jerry Michael insisted that for all the misadventures he is accused of, the dream car can live up to its 70 mpg claim. "I believe 100 percent in this car," claims the 50 percent man.
And if public article and book-burnings a la Savonarola's Bonfire of the Vanities aren't enough to get the message across, a few public reporter-burnings pour encourager le autres should do the trick.
It's the least we can do for the poor, oppressed Liz Carmichaels of this world. As you know, the most important social justice project of the 21st Century is the War on Noticing, because noticing can interfere with America's most important human rights issue: that