In Memoriam – Bill Stevenson; Aug. 24, 1946 – Sept. 4, 2023

We just heard that Bill Stevenson of Frankford, Deleware, best known in our community as the owner of “Whimsy” the 2CV Artcar, has passed away.

On the evening of September 4, 2023, Bill had been working outside, clearing brush with his little battery powered chainsaw.  He had put his Guineas to bed and returned to his trailer for his evening routine. He had plans to go back out to the barn but collapsed in the kitchen and passed away.  He was found the following morning by his carer.

Bill was an artistic, energenic and absolutely wonderful fellow. Though he had many health difficulties throughout his life, he remained a joyful and engaging person.  A stroke in 2010 left him unable to use his right arm but he didn’t let that slow him down. Over the years he trained himself to walk again, adapted a car so he could drive, and shaped for himself a life that met his needs and allowed him to stay active and involved in the various communities he belonged to.

The best way we can pay tribute to Bill is to publish the profile we ran back in the Fall of 2013 on the 20th anniversary of Whimsy along with some photos taken when Bill attended the American Visionary Art Museum;

Whimsy – The Notorious 2CV Artcar’s 20th Anniversary

Bill Stevenson looks like a living cartoon character from Dr. Seuss’s book The Cat in the Hat. Complete with a funny hat that seems permanently affixed, he exudes an infectious degree of charm and eccentricity wherever he goes. George Dyke recently interviewed Bill about his legendary automotive art experience creating “Whimsy”, his unique 1958 2CV

“My first Citroën was a Traction Avant 15-6 that I purchased in 1963. I liked buying used cars and though the stylistic shape of the Traction inspired my purchase, within a couple of years it became apparent that its mechanical shape wasn’t going to get me very far. So in 1966 I bought an ID19 that held a bit more promise and ultimately sold my 15-6 to Red [Dellinger] about five years later.

“It was just after I had bought my ID19 in Wilmington, DE., that I spotted an ad posted at the University of Delaware, for a 2CV that was not drivable, but beckoned with possibilities. I drove up to Pennsylvania to discover that it was a true barn find and still in the barn! I dragged it back home and over the years purchased a few other 2CV parts cars, hoping one day to get a couple of them going.”

“I’ve been a commercial fisherman since 1975. Long days on the water meant there was little time to devote to cars and my 2CV projects sat idle. In 1987 I moved to Auburn, Maine were the fish were more plentiful. The more laid-back New England lifestyle afforded me the opportunity to tackle one of the 2CVs and commence restoration on my first purchase – the 2CV barn car. It took a few years, but by the June of 1992 I was looking at a lovely red 2CV. In fact, I wanted to take it to the Rendezvous meeting at Northfield, MA but I had another day of work to do on it so I went to Rendezvous sans 2CV.”

“As I stared at my freshly painted 2CV, I felt the urge to turn it into something different through art. I had always been enthralled with art on cars. Although I was fascinated by automotive art and could dabble a little bit on my own, I realized that I needed the help of real talent for the transformation. So began a 600 hour collaborative effort by artists David Cedrone, Dan Britton, Jo Martyn-Fisher and Edith Tucker and me.

“The first art went on before it was inspected and plated. Jo Martin-Fisher began with the flowers, then a scarecrow and a mermaid on the trunk. Once the license plates were on Whimsy in July, we were off to its first parade in Portland, Maine.

“The art went on from July 1992 thru June 1994. David commenced drawings on the passenger’s side. Edith painted the wheels. Dan put in more hours than anyone doing all of the art inside the car, under the hood, in the fender wells and on the driver’s side. All 4 participated with huge enthusiasm.

“Although I was somewhat cash strapped after the restoration, they happily contributed their talents for a little bartering. I did some carpentry work for Jo. In David’s case, I offered my mechanical skills to get his 1981 Ford pick-up truck going. (Actually there wasn’t that much wrong with it. The local garage said that it needed an entirely new driver’s door, when the door handle merely needed a repair. That, a couple of belts, hoses and a new exhaust system and David was on the road again.)

“Whimsy’s first Citroën Rendezvous was in Massachusetts in 1993. (I asked George Dyke to drive Whimsy in the Rendezvous parade that used to take place every year from the parking lot of the Motel 6 in South Deerfield through Miller’s Falls and over to Northfield Mountain Park. A distance of about 15 miles). With a visual smorgasbord of artistry from every angle it drew immense interest as everyone at Rendezvous peered into the nooks and crannies on both the exterior and interior. The more they looked the more Whimsy drew up surprises and plenty of smiles. I wanted to make sure that the spirit of the 2CV was embodied in Whimsy’s art. I got the idea of clamping an umbrella to the roof to pay homage the 4 wheels under an umbrella, characterization the 2CV got when it was introduced. I had a basket of eggs painted behind the back seat, because of the original design specs of the 2CV was that it had to travel across a farmer’s field and not break a single egg in the basket. Under the hood there is a duck looking at a cracked mirror, because the 2CV is also referred to as the ugly duckling. I even did a “Hitchcock” by having Dan paint me into the diverse group of people that appear to be holding up the earth.

“It took 2 more years for artwork to be added to the point that the car was completely covered, (inside and out) save for the one or two small areas that you’d be hard pressed to spot today. She has painted on her: 15 mermaids, 1 merman, 1 king neptune, 6 fairies, 4 fair maidens, 1 cupid, 55 cartoon nudie characters, numerous other human characters, 4 cats and enough flowers and “hippie renderings” that make you think you’re on an LSD trip from the 1960’s.

“Whimsy has made many media appearances; some of which include a magazine in Austria, several magazines in England, a 6 page spread in the French magazine Citropolis, on several U.S. TV shows, including “Motor Week” and in a TBS National Geographic special titled “Driving the Dream”.

“I didn’t know about any other 2CV art efforts at the time I did Whimsy. A few years later I came across an artcar calendar at a local gift store and saw a photo in it that told me I was not alone! I discovered that there is an Art Car Agency, a firm specializing in providing what the name states for special appearances (auto shows, art exhibitions, parties, festivals and parades). Heck they’ll even arrange to have a Art Car custom built for you!


“About 1990 I heard of a 1959 2CV Truckette for sale in Montana that had been modified to be a pick-up truck. It had the windshield intact but otherwise it was cut at the window level. Weird enough for me! I bought it sight unseen and the owner kindly agreed to keep it there until I could come and get it. In 1995 I figured that 5 years was kind of “pushing” the limit on the storage favor, so I decided to hitch up a tow dolly I built to my “plain Jane” 1982 VW Vanagon and go pick it up. My friend Mary Blackfeather said that I shouldn’t go all the way to Montana without art on the bus. It only took me a second to realize she was right! I missed the art-admiring smiles and joy from other motorists and pedestrians when I wasn’t driving in Whimsy. Why not create an “art van” support vehicle?

“After a 2-day marathon painting session by Mary and me, the VW bus donned 2 mermaids, 1 mercat, 1 setting suncat, 22 other cats, 10 inside dashcats and 2 nude humans. And off I went to Montana! It became not only a sister vehicle to Whimsy taking on the name “Topcat” but my daily use vehicle racking up about 20,000 miles per year. Topcat is also the tow vehicle for trailering Whimsy to events such as the annual Orange Show Art Car Weekend in Houston, Texas where “Whimsy” received a 1st place award in both 1996 and 1997.

“Other art items have been added to both vehicles over the years. In 1992, artist George York created an inflatable 2CV, and in 1996 an inflatable cat (Topcat) that sits on the VW’s roof. Accessory items include a mermaid table, mermaid jacket, mermaid quilt, and cat chairs.

“I’ve been to approached attend many promotional gigs with Whimsy. One of the most memorable ones was with an advertising agency in Richmond, VA that wanted to use it in a trade publication for Freddie Mac. Harold Blank, my agent with Art Car Agency, negotiated a great contract on my behalf for which I had to do very little. The photography crew and producers came to Delaware and shot for a few hours in my back yard. During the course of the shoot they invited me out to lunch.

“Anywhere you’d like to eat?” they asked. Not wanting to be ostentatious, I suggested a quick lunch at the local general store that had a little café/sandwich section. As we approached the cashier to leave, the Freddie Mac producer pulled out his credit card and gave it to the lady. She refused the card saying this was a cash only place. He was surprised and said to the lady that he couldn’t believe she wouldn’t accept his card. She was emphatic and finally the photographer on the shoot came forward and fortunately had some change to pay for lunch. All the way back home the Freddie Mac folks kept saying that they couldn’t believe the lady wouldn’t accept their card. Given where Freddie Mac was heading – deja vu!”

Now 20 years on, Whimsy and Topcat are still owned by Bill. He moved back to the Delaware area in the late 1990’s. In 2010, Bill had a major stroke that left him unable to walk or speak when he got discharged from the hospital. We’re pleased to report that Bill has been gradually improving. He talks a little slower than he used to but he’s walking and he soon hopes to discard his cane altogether! His artcars are not up for sale, but thinking to the future, Bill would like to see Whimsy (and Topcat) go to a home where they will be appreciated for their unique art value. Bill does have “8 or 9 project 2CVs, Truckettes, and a custom Woody in rough condition” that he says he will sell if he can be convinced that the buyers will truly improve or restore them and have the skills to do so. Bill says they are major projects so don’t expect an easy endeavor!

One of the more recent outings Whimsy has made was to The North Carolina Museum of Art. They were having a Rodin exhibit and wanted to complement Rodin’s painting with French automotive art. Of course Whimsy fit right in. Fine art on wheels indeed! Who knows, maybe Whimsy will make a return appearance to Rendezvous one day…

In 2005 Bill made an appearance with his art cars at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, MD;

On April 5, 6, and 7, from Noon to 4 PM, there will be a sale of Bill’s Lifetime Collection of Citroën 2CVs, Meharis, VW Vanagens and parts at 22240 Good Flocking Way, Frankford, Delaware 19945. (Whimy and Topcat are not included in the sale). What will be sold are:

Stored indoors:

  • 1 x ripple hood Fourgonette
  • 2 or 3 60’s or 70’s sedans
  • 1 x Mehari
  • 1 x Ami Super chassis with. running gear
  • 1 x 2CV Sedan body shell
  • 2CV engines, gearboxes, mostly pre-602
  • Other engines (Corvair, NSU, Austin)
  • Forklifts
  • Compressors
  • miscellaneous tools and equipment

Stored outside:

  • 3 x ’70s Fourgonettes (rough)
  • 1 x 1 2CV sedan (rough)
  • 1 x Mercedes 190c (rusty)
  • 1 or 2 VW Vanagons (rough)

PLEASE NOTE: No early birds. Everything sold as-is, where-is. First come, first served. Cash only. Some of the complete cars have titles.

For additional information TEXT Steve @ 410-212-3468.

1 comment

  1. Bill’s Duck was always a hoot at the annual meets, but he also contributed greatly to helping us preserve our cars. Many yrs ago I learned from Bill about Fluid Film, which he used to protect his seagoing fishing trawler’s holds from rusting by salty seawater. He told me and others how well it worked, so based on his recommendations, I built a FF sprayer out of a spare hydraulic pump, brakeline tubing ad a couple brake flex hoses. With that homebuilt spray rig and a home gutter de-icing heater strip wrapped around the fluid can to improve the flow, I hosed the box sections of m y ’67 Chapron after replacing the chassis and fixing the factory flaw in the front sill section. That film coating job has held up remarkably well now for 35 yrs with no sign of chassis rustthru. Thanks a bunch Bill – rest in peace.

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