TexasEscapes.com HOME Welcome to Texas Escapes
A magazine written by Texas
Custom Search

Texas | Columns | Lone Star Diary

One piece at a time

by Murray Montgomery
Murray Montgomery
A framed photo hanging on the wall at the old Alcalde Hotel in Gonzales was my first introduction to Oliver Albert.

As I recall, the photograph was of Mr. Albert standing beside one of his unique automobile creations. Unique enough to be featured in the San Antonio Express News. And now that I recollect, the framed photo may have been from the syndicated newspaper column, Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

You might say that Oliver Albert took the old Johnny Cash song, “One Piece at a Time,” literally, because that’s how he built his car. In fact, the car he titled the Longhorn II, was assembled using parts from 14 different vehicles.

The following article appeared in The Gonzales Inquirer in 1980. I don’t recall the year that Albert passed away, but I do remember that he was legend in Gonzales and everybody seemed to know of his automotive exploits.

The Gonzales Inquirer • November 6, 1980

Oliver Albert, a resident of Gonzales, and his hand-built Longhorn II automobile were featured Saturday, November 1 in the San Antonio Express News by George and Bonnie Carmack.

The Longhorn II was built by Mr. Albert alone over a period of fourteen years from the best parts of 14 makes of automobiles and is said to be so valuable that he drives it only as a parade car and has never driven it over 40 m.p.h.

The Longhorn II is 19 feet, four inches long with a wheel base of 120 inches. Weighing 2,800 pounds, the height is three feet, nine inches at its tallest point atop the windshield.

This sleek, handsome car was to be featured at the Come and Take It parade this year but the rains that weekend changed Mr. Albert’s plans, as the car is considered far too valuable to allow any damage to occur to it.

Albert won’t comment on how much the car is worth and all he’ll tell you is, “I kept close tract. The sum I have down could be $25 over or under.” No, the only thing Oliver Albert is saying for sure is: “It was built with the money I kind of saved up that women and whiskey didn’t get.”

The article also listed alphabetically the cars represented in this “Longhorn II.” They are: Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Jeep, Lincoln, Mercedes, Mercury, Nash, Plymouth, Pontiac, Renault and even Terraplane.

Oliver Albert described the assemblage to Mr. Carmack as such: The engine is a 1941 Lincoln V-12 which he found in a Houston automobile junkyard. “I managed to sneak it into my apartment without anybody seeing it,” Albert said. “This was before I built my steel building and I disassembled the engine in my apartment.”

“Part of the front axle is from a 1942 Jeep — bolted to a curved cross member from a Mercury. The springs are 1933 Dodge. Each headlight is made from four different Chevrolet headlights with aluminum over them to make them a unit.

“I wanted the headlights long and streamlined. The radiator is from a 1940 Ford pickup. What a problem those front fenders were. Each fender has parts of four fenders. I first put together parts of two 1947 Chevrolet fenders, one a right and one a left. But I had the darnest time trying to get the front part of the fenders with just the right curve.

“I kept looking at all sorts of front fenders and suddenly it hit me that I should look at back fenders. So that rounded front of each front fender comes from the back section of two Chevrolet pickup rear fenders.

“The curved doors are the rear deck lids from two 1955 Fords.”

It also contains a Pontiac gas tank, Chrysler emergency brake and a Renault steering wheel. About 95 percent of the body and 85 percent of the hood are aluminum, which Albert had to pattern cut, fit and then rivet, using “about 10,500 rivets” and innumerable nuts and bolts in making the car.

Mr. Albert stated that the windshield frame was made from a folding cot. The bumpers and bumper guards are made from old bedsteads and part of a trunk in an Easy Spin-dry washing machine.

“And there were several hundred miscellaneous things, such as angle iron from old oil derricks and windmills.”

Chances are, most people in Gonzales will never see the Longhorn II except for the possible exception of next year’s Come and Take It parade, if the weather allows it.

But for the most part, the Longhorn II will remain in the tin building for Oliver Albert’s eyes only.

© Murray Montgomery

Lone Star Diary November 16, 2012 column
Gonzales, Texas
Related Topics: Column | Texas History | Texas Towns | Texas

All Texas Towns :
Gulf Gulf Coast East East Texas North Central North Central Woutn Central South Panhandle Panhandle
South South Texas Hill Hill Country West West Texas Ghost Ghost Towns counties COUNTIES


Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast

Texas Attractions
People | Ghosts | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII | History | Texas Centennial | Black History | Art | Music | Animals | Books | Food
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators | Lodges | Museums | Rooms with a Past | Gargoyles | Cornerstones | Pitted Dates | Stores | Banks | Drive-by Architecture | Signs | Ghost Signs | Old Neon | Murals | Then & Now
Vintage Photos


Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
Website Content Copyright Texas Escapes LLC. All Rights Reserved