Henry Covington – The Man & His “El Tiburon”

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Hi Gang…

The quest for information continues on all fronts.  Most recently, “press release photos” locked away in newspaper archives have become available and collections are being rapidly dispersed – precious photos scattered to the wind.  Each day I canvas eBay and other sources looking for stray photos here and there.  I’ve been fortunate – I’ve struck paydirt time and time again.

Today’s gems come from the St. Petersburg Times circa 1954 and 1961 and revolve around Henry Covington and his el Tiburon Coupe.  In 1954 Henry was 31 years old and had just moved to St. Petersburg, Florida to take on a new job as lead industrial designer for Crest Leather.  Henry was already a nationally known watch designer and had been enticed to move to Florida and become part of this growing organization.

Much happened between 1954 and 1961 – the dates of the two press release photos shared today.  When his first el Tiburon or “Shark” coupe debuted on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida in 1961, it must have been a sight to behold.  I can’t imagine cruising around the Tampa Bay area on test runs and shake-down rides – passing up the errant 1959 Cadillac or 1960 Chevrolet.  These were massive cars compared to the 82 inch diminutive wheelbase of Covington’s Shark.

I’m sharing both of these stories today because they make a nice presentation of Henry Covington, his background, accomplishments, and concept car.  Let’s take a look at each of these photos and their related stories below.

Crest Leather Plant Employs Nationally Known Watch Designer
St. Petersburg Times, October 1, 1954

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Appointment of Henry B. Covington, prominent watch designer, as head of the design department of Crest Leather Manufacturing Corporation here was announced yesterday by A.J. Pardoll, President.  Crest, which manufactures leather watch straps, moved here recently from Brooklyn, New York.

The appointment marks creation of a new department in the firm.  Among Covington’s duties will be designing of straps, packaging for both watches and straps, displays, and creative work in related fields. 

The 30 year old designer formerly was associated with the Gruen Watch Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, where he designed many of the firm’s leading watch styles, including the Time Master.  During World War II, Covington served with the Navy in the Graphic Arts Department, designing three-dimensional maps and morale posters.

For several years afterward he did freelance design work and during that time designed the Black Knight watch, which Elgin National Watch Company still bills as its most popular style. 

Covington was educated at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan and the Art Students’ League in New York.  He taught industrial design for a time at the University of Illinois.

Shark Debut Press Release Photo
* St. Petersburg Times, March 29, 1961
* St. Petersburg Times, March 25, 1962
* St. Petersburg Times, May 7, 1962

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The photo above appeared in the St. Petersburg Times newspaper at least three times and shows Henry Covington at age 37 with his Shark.  The most detailed caption shared the following information:

This is the “Shark,” unusual auto built by Henry Covington, 3457 58th Street North, St. Petersburg, a sculptor and painter and Pardoll Associates executive.  It is featured on the cover and in a story in the April issue of Mechanix Illustrated Magazine.  The car has a fibrous glass body mounted on the chassis of a 1950 Renault.

Summary:

I’m still on the prowl….looking for more press release photos from back in the day.  So far…I’ve found more than I’d ever imagined, and today’s article presents a glimpse at just two of the many photos found.  Many more such photos will appear here at Forgotten Fiberglass in the near future, so be on the lookout – I think you’ll be surprised what you see :-)

Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…

Glass on gang…

Geoff

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* Click on the following link to view all stories on:  Henry Covington’s Shark

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Comments

Henry Covington – The Man & His “El Tiburon” — 4 Comments

  1. This car must be built like a Swiss watch. Henry would be thrilled to know what a great home his creation now has, did he have any children?

  2. Wonderful, wonderful material, Geoff … brings back so many fond memories. I was just telling my wife a few days ago how Henry, in 1962 a few weeks before he died, piled three kids into a sports car and drove us from St. Petersburg to Gainesville to see a state championship basketball game. Not El Tiburon, of course, another sports car . . . maybe an Alfa Romeo. Henry was a great guy and a favorite among us neighborhood kids; and Olga was our favorite not-our-mother mother!

    By the way, Henry and El Tiburon provide the lead anecdote in the first chapter of my new book about 1950s St. Petersburg. There is also a picture of Jim Covington behind the wheel of the car.

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