One of the companies Nikos Bel-Jon produced murals for was Kaiser Steel. His close relationship with them and their involvement in the Kaiser-
Fraser car may have influenced him to create his mosaic car. During a radio interview Bel-Jon talked about someday wanting to do a car for
Kaiser-Fraser "that would shine in the reflected colors of neon and traffic lights".
It took Bel-Jon 2500 hours and $3,000 to create "Athena" (named after his daughter). He started on it in 1956 and completed it a year and a
half later. He was assisted in the body work by his father-in-law Frederick Brokoetter and his brother Achilleas. The mechanical work was done
by an outside mechanic.
"Athena" was originally a 1938 Zephyr (not running) purchased for $35. The hood, part of the trunk and top were cut off and the entire body
was rebuilt with clay and fiberglass. Bel-Jon’s signature technique of individually cut and directionally burnished tiles of aluminum applied in
mosaic fashion and covered with epoxy resin plastic were used on the car. A rainbow of colors of anodized aluminum abstract sections formed
the semi-translucent top and hood. By the time he finished it had, among other things, a 1957 Mercury dash, Chevrolet bumpers, DeSoto
lights, Ford V8 motor, Studebaker windows, Buick interior accessories, Olds hub caps, Naugahyde seats and black wool carpeting. The rear
bench seat was replaced with two seats with a table in between.
The car went through several reincarnations (note the front grills in the photos) as some of his designs and changes detrimentally influenced
the performance of the engine forcing it to continually overheat. Despite the changes, the car continued to have overheating problems to the
point that when the Bel-Jon family went cross country to NY Bel-Jon’s wife took their two daughters ahead by bus to Vegas while Bel-Jon
crossed the desert alone. He could only drive at night and had to stop constantly, which took days.
They spent weeks visiting sights across the country like the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest. It was hard to tell what people gawked at
more – "Athena" or the famous spot they came to see. The car was mentioned in "Popular Mechanics", "Popular Science", sports car
magazines and numerous papers as they passed through.
"Athena" was awarded "Most Unusual Car" in 1959 at the Albuquerque, NM Custom Automobile Show and was featured in the program for the
1960 Greek Independence Day Parade in New York.
The NYPD pressured the Bel-Jon’s to get the car off the streets as it attracted too much attention. Garages in Manhattan were not an option
and they eventually sold the car through Ray Garson at Flag Motors at 82-05 51st Avenue in Elmhurst, NY in the spring of 1960 – which is
where the trail ends. It is reported that someone might have seen a glimpse of "Athena" in Oklahoma City in recent years.
If you have seen “Athena” please contact us at Info@Bel-JonStudios.com