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The Arbib Oliver Mystery

Hampton Wayt, of Nashville, TN, is doing research for a book on Richard Arbib, industrial designer extraordinaire'.  In the course of that research, Hampton came across the slim references to Arbib on the Museum site and has posed a number of questions that are recapped below the images.  If you have some information that might be helpful in solving the Arbib Oliver Mystery, please contact Hampton by email at  

In addition to designing the Futuristic Oliver prototype shown here, Hampton advises that "...Arbib was way ahead of his time, a true innovator.  He had his hands into all kinds of projects.  He was responsible for the most memorable Century boats, from 1954-60.  This includes the Coronado and the Arabian, among others (with all of those slick removable hardtops).  He also was responsible for the 1957 Hamilton Electric Ventura watch - recently used in "Men in Black."  No one would guess that the design was that old.  He also designed the 1952 Packard Pan American show car which eventually
became the Caribbean.  He did many things, but its too much to mention..."




The above images were sent by Hampton.  The top two are an actual "model" taken from photographs turned up by Hampton.  It is not known if the model still exists.  The bottom left image is a photo of the original rendering by Arbib that appeared in the January, 1984 Antique Outboarder magazine.  The whereabouts of the originals of these is also a mystery.

Here is Hampton's questions:

Did they (Oliver) ever build this motor?
I have read on the website that a few were sold.  Is this correct?
How many were built and in what years?
Do you know anyone who has one that I can photograph?  

How about some help folks!

Excerpt of October 24, 1999 email message from Peter Hunn:


Thanks for the look at those interesting Oliver prototypes!  Did you notice the little white plastic stand on which the model sits?  That's standard-issue K&O.  It's quite possible Arbib had K&O work up a model of his proposed outboard. They'd only recently done the 35 horse miniaturization, and might have figured the space age Oliver would make a neat toy.  Even the transom clamps are classic K&O.  Other than that, the Arbib motor is a mystery to me.  I bet the model was used to try whipping-up corporate support.  Its base has that "pass it around the board room table" look....

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