A jet-fast hunk of Akron history found a new home Wednesday.
In its heyday, the Green Monster Cyclops, built 50 years ago by late racing Hall of Famer Art Arfons, set records as its jet engine pushed the dragster past 340 mph.
On this day, however, a handful of folks, including Arfons’ son, Tim, gingerly unloaded the car inch by precious inch onto the asphalt of car collector Bob Jones’ showroom at 701 S. Broadway.
A crowd of about 20 car enthusiasts “oohed” and “aahed” and snapped photos as the historic vehicle arrived on a flatbed truck.
The Cyclops, which had spent the past 23 years at the Motorsports Museum in Michigan, will stay in Akron under the watchful eye of Jones and his family. There are only five or six Green Monsters known to exist.
Tim Arfons, who lives in Uniontown, said he intends to put his father’s car on permanent display in a museum he plans to open in 18 months or so. For now, the legendary speedster will sit on South Broadway, along with Jones’ myriad collection of other classic vehicles, including another jet-rail car built by Art Arfons.
Arfons, an Akron-area resident who died in 2007 at the age of 81, constructed his own cars and became known as the “junkyard genius” in the 1960s. During his career, he was a three-time world land-speed record holder.
Jones, a private collector, already houses one Green Monster, the last one Arfons built. The Cyclops was completed in 1961 and was the first vehicle Arfons equipped with a 17,500-horsepower jet engine. Arfons crafted the vehicle with a scrapped F104 J79 Starfighter engine. At one time, Art Arfons even tried to turn the Cyclops into a boat.
“My father was a self-made genius,” said Tim Arfons. “He did everything himself.”
According to the Motorsports museum website, Art Arfons built the Cyclops in an effort to break the land speed record. “Although he didn’t break the record in this particular car, he did set the record for open wheel/open cockpit cars at 342.88 mph. That record is still in the books today.”
The Cyclops made its way to Akron via Arfons’ shop in Green after sitting, most recently in storage, at the Michigan museum. Arfons and Jones became friends in recent years through various car-related events.
“Bob did such a wonderful job with the other car, we decided to leave it on loan with him for awhile,” Tim Arfons said.
For Jones, a collector for decades, the Cyclops is more than just a fast car.
“It’s an honor,” the 78-year-old businessman said. “Art Arfons is a name I grew up with. It’s iconic. It was always something special. When Tim asked, I knew it was an opportunity I didn’t want to waste. I think it’s a great addition.”
The Cyclops may be viewed along with Jones’ entire collection during an Aug. 16 fundraiser for Grandparents Against Sexual Predators (GASP) at the Jones Group Interiors Building on South Broadway. The open house, which requires a $25 donation, runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The event offers a rare look at Jones’ collection, which include both Green Monsters, several Model Ts and Model As, a rare 1962 Chevrolet Corvair pickup truck, a ’51 Crosley Super Sport Roadster and a stainless steel DeLorean just like the one used in Back to the Future movies, sans the flux capacitor.
Although he doesn’t call it a museum, Jones’ building has been transformed into one. Besides cars, there is a myriad of auto-related memorabilia, including vintage signs, gas pumps and pictures.
Reservations are required for the open house fundraiser. For more information, call Fran Doll at 330-805-1239 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or email@example.com.