We recently acquired a collection of Jeron race cars, models that were one of a kind, some unfinished when the compnay went into bankruptcy. WE ARE LOOKING TO ACQUIRE OTHER JERON MODELS.
Watch for these to be featured in an upcoming exhibition.
Following is an article about Jeron Models, as published in 1994 in a European transalation. (translated from German)
Originally published in 1994 in the Austrian Magazine Auto Review, written by Bernhard Schmidt
“That sound is pure sex”, roars Ron
Phillips over the shrill of the engine on the testing stand. His
smile is so broad, his glasses slide off. One could also describe the
sound somewhat differently -someone attempting a chainsaw massacre on a
concrete pillar. What falls so distinctly on one’s ears is nothing less than
America’s only twelve-cylinder engine.
Manufacturer of the rarity is naturally no fat cat
auto giant, but rather a sleek newcomer: “Phillips Quarter Classics”
(PQC) That means: highly polished wheel spokes, laser cut
hubcaps, seven layers of lacquer, delicate walnut wood steering wheels.
All this for a price, which is inversely
proportionate to its size: a top model costs around 400,000 shillings. (37.500 Dollars)
Regardless, the owner remains out of the
race. Nothing bigger than a Barbie doll can fit behind the steering wheel
of the one- meter model. PQC builds in a ratio of 1:4.
The stars of the house are the three
twelve-cylinders: W 154 (the original dates from 1939), the
Ferrari Testarossa (1957) and the Ferrari GTO (1960). The engine is19 cm
long and weighs 9 kilos and, can you believe it – it runs! 45 ccm
“piston-space” (capacity) creates 6.5 PSI (bhp) at 8500 revolutions. Maximum: 12,500 rpm.
CEO Ron Phillips knows the screaming sound of the
powerful (in spite of their size) miniatures all too well, because
every one of the fine- crafted machines is tested, with all patience and
love, on a stand in the basement of the home where he and his family live.
The smallest automobile factory in the world is
found underground: the coal-cellar is the chassis division, final
assembly is in the former bar and the testing stand roars in the hallway where
the acoustics are particularly good.
One is amazed by the precision (even if not
strictly true to the original) and somewhat astonished at the attention to the
authenticity of the details: perfectly turned nail heads, hand-sewn
dollhouse-sized driver-seat. One worries a bit about the people
behind it, who with painstaking care make autos so small that they’re good for
nothing. Yea, yea, fine mechanics, stooped over their work, crazy
idealists in their workroom, and the world just laughs at them…
Ron Phillips has a different opinion. To
him, it’s all about business. “Well”, he says, “not
only.” Every day for 32 years, he worked as a patent attorney in an office
at General Motors. Earnings weren’t bad: luxury villa,
Ferrari, and two E-Types in the garage. But the yearning for something
different kept growing.
First breakthrough, 1976: flowerpots.
His (naturally, immediately patented) design consisted of pressing them out of
sand. Unfortunately, the construction wasn’t so great. The things
crumbled in your hand. This flop resulted in a repentant return
to his desk at GM, where he prepared for his model car career with renewed
By 1985, he’d gotten this far. The concept
of the 56 year- old entrepreneur: first-class quality, only the coolest
classics, but simple models, few details, beauty and function over
authenticity, the model had to be able to run. And: the output would be
limited, so that collectors would speculate over its increase in value and
be proud to pay for such a rarity.
Phillips specialized in racing cars from the
time between Caracciola and Moss, which were the years in which his customers
were wide-eyed children, but now could afford to indulge in their hobbies
without having to calculate the cost- to- need ratio.
Already, the first examples have been grabbed from
his hands. There are nine models in the program. Besides the
12-cylinders, there are six one
cylinders: W 165, Ferrari 801 F, Maserati 250 F (two versions),
Alfa Romeo Alfetta 159, Lancia-Ferrari D 50 going for 200,000 shillings (16.000 Dollars), W 154 and Ferrari Testarossa coming in at around
350,000 shillings (32.500
Dollars). The 12-cylinder Ferrari GTO, Ron’s
first coupe, costs 400,000 shillings (37.500
All of this for our eyes and our clumsy fingers
in a filigreed dolls world. In the cockpits are tiny (functioning)
instrument panels behind (polished) aluminum dash boards, (adjustable) rearview
mirrors. Whenever Gulliver’s finger strokes the Lilliput-steering wheel,
the front wheels (rack and pinion steering) respond and turn. There’s
more: 36 (chromed) brass spokes per wheel, a racing-rubber mixture from
the 50′s in the Firestone tires, a precision differential in the rear axle, disc
or drum brakes.
Controlled by remote, the models have reached 100
kilometers per hour. Off the charts. One Schwabian (Swabian) customer has
his own private miniature races which always pits Mercedes against Ferrari. And
one thoroughly adult, but American collector plans to build a
Lilliput-Racetrack. With a “racing ladder tower” in the middle
of the course.
But with most of the customers, playing doesn’t
come to mind. With all seriousness, they store their treasures in
barricaded showcases, never to be touched. Mark Kahle, from Buffalo, a
concrete “multi” (tycoon), in a
northern state (), declares “parties are absolutely dangerous”. He
doesn’t even trust (dares) himself to drive it, “I’m too clumsy, and would guaranteed,
crash it into a wall.” Kahle is a PQC subscriber. Total price
for the first nine models of the assortment: $198,500.
All nine have not yet been delivered. The
Phillips-Family hasn’t followed up with the Cellar-Production yet. Ron
has the whole family involved. When papa’s in charge, both sons, Keith
(24) and Patrick (26) have become cellar-kids. Wife, Sandy, sews
upholstery in the living room, while Ron’s father-in-law, Harry, at home in
Ohio, constructs tank covers and wooden steering wheels. The 76
year-old has had experience in handwork under a magnifying glass: he
constructed the world’s first artificial heart
The Research and Development Division is found up
in two attic rooms at the villa. Phillips has hired on two engineers for
technical improvements to the 12-cylinder.
One of the most difficult jobs is forming the
metal parts. Prototype chassis parts for each auto are fitted on their
own individual mahogany forms. “All of the forms are destroyed after
25 examples have been built,” affirms Phillips. But he will
build 37 models of the GTO “exactly as many as were built of the
But most important to PQC are the engines.
And the 12-cylinder is the masterpiece. “Pure dynamite,” hisses
the boss through his teeth. The 12er is no exact shrunken model of the
original that simply wouldn’t function, but rather a unique construction.
The same engine is put in the Ferrari as well as the Mercedes – only the firm’s
logo on the valve covers distinguishes them from each other.
It has taken the team three years to develop the
machine (3,500 individual pieces). There are 48 valves and four over-
lying (overhead) camshafts which are gear driven. The diameter of the valves
are a little smaller than that of a grain of rice, the shaft is about the same
as the ink well of a ball point pen. The 12 pistons are the size of a
thimble. Computer driven ignition and fuel injection, a radiator (1.1
liter of fluid), two water and oil pumps and a starter with 0.25 PS (hp).
The transmission gear (gearbox) is
missing. In “empty running” (when
idling) the “centrifugal governor” (centrifugal clutch) separates, similar to that in a Mofa. Give it some gas and
it grabs. The 12-cylinder runner goes 160 km/h.
The motor and fine mechanics are finished up in a
suburb of Detroit. Boss of the “go-to” (supplier) firm is
Gunther Dieterle, a Stuttgarter (a man
originated from Stuttgart, the Swabian car-capital) who moved to the States 34 years ago and now speaks a mixture of
Schwabish (Swabish) and American. “The 12-cylinder is one of the craziest
jobs that I’ve ever done. The first crankshaft was a whole week’s
often the customers drive off with the screeching V-12 machinery (Many
customers like the screeching machinery most and buy only the V12), even though it alone costs $16,000 (around
200,000) shilling. Because of that, Phillips,
under the name of PMW (Phillips Motor Works) will in the future offer
just engines without bodies. No twelve-cylinders, but rather the legendary
Chevrolet “small block’ (V-8; 5.7-Liter;“Hubraum” of the 60′s) and the four-cylinder from the Model a Ford (late
20s). “(You) just put them on the table and let them roar”, says Ron.
The 1:4 models are one of a kind but not
original. Purists shudder when they see how nonchalantly Phillips has
dealt with the originals.
Most exact is still the chassis form.
Frames, undercarriage and the “aggregate” (all the mechanical parts) have nothing in common with the original. For
example: the tie rod assembly (suspension): the Mercedes W 165 has rear crossed suspension (control arms), “screw springs” (coil
springs) and a stabilizer. The original had a DeDion
Phillips curries (follows) before all the cult of beauty. Just about everything is
chromed, what in truth never was and there are more nuts and bolts than in the
original. The oil pan on the 12-cylinder alone is fastened with 34 bolts.
“I love nuts and bolts,” says Ron, and
my customers do too.
The Title picture says: Gulliver’s
Travels The owner of these fine, prestigious autos have America’s
only twelve-cylinders and only one problem: Getting in
The next pictures text: The run of
things: engineer, Kenneth Whitelarn working on the millimeter for
millimeter modeling of a car body
Keith Phillips while dispatching a Maserati 250F on a flight to Chicago Promenading a Lancia D50 for admiring fans
The last pictures: The thrill of the first
meter: Patrick Phillips and two groupies and the Lancia D50 on a trial
Everything’s is so “gigantically” (incredible) small: The tie rod assembly of the Ferrari 801.
The cockpit of the Mercedes W 165. The V12 Ferrari engine – and the coke
can is certainly not a meter tall!
Schmidt is a German journalist who wrote the Ron Phillips story in 1992 about
the quarter-scale models. It was later published in 1994 in the Austrian “Auto
Piepenburg was born 1961 on the island of Gran Canaria and raised there, his
father was a German journalist. Conrad soon became a photographer and worked
for many publications including Stern, Geo, BMW Magazine, Auto-Bild, Auto
Forum, Merian, ADAC. Later he turned to advertising where he still works for
many international agencies. Currently he is doing most of the photography for
BMW M GmbH.