Iconic Car On Roof In Ocean County Away For Repairs

The car was taken off the roof and brought to a garage for repair. (Photo courtesy Cosmo’s)

  BERKELEY – It’s strange to say, but the roof doesn’t look right without a car on it.

  We’re talking, of course, about Cosmo’s on Route 9. There’s been a white car parked up there for as long as anyone remembers.

  It’s commonly mistaken for a Volkswagen Beetle because that’s the only car most people know of that comes in that general shape. Even then, you can tell by looking at it that it’s not quite a Bug. It’s actually a Fiat from 1954, said Ian Szoboszlay, a third generation member of the Cosmo’s family.

  Even cars on top of roofs need repairs from time to time.

  “It’s down for repairs and it’s being restored,” he said. Being up on the roof, it’s exposed to the elements, and parts are now rotted out. It needs a fresh coat of paint, too. One of the company’s drivers is doing the repairs. They estimate it’ll be back on the roof in another six months.

  It has been on the roof since 1965. It has been taken down twice before in its history – for restorations and for the 1976 bicentennial parade.

Photo courtesy Cosmo’s

Lifesaving Car

  Why is the car up on the roof to begin with? In a town with a giant champagne bottle and a dinosaur, most people probably just say “oh, that’s just Route 9 in Bayville.” But there’s actually a very good reason that the car is up there.

  Szoboszlay said that when his Uncle Joe came home from Vietnam, he bought the car. “He wanted to put a big block motor in it to race it at Englishtown,” he said. “My grandmother said ‘Absolutely not.’”

  She had got him home from the war, and was afraid that she’d lose him in a crash while racing. So, Joe’s father painted it and put it on the roof where he couldn’t get to it.

The roof looks weird without a car on it. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

Public Interest

  The Cosmo’s car is one of many roadside curiosities in town. It was featured in the book “Sloppy Firsts” by Megan McCafferty, a Central Regional High School graduate who became a bestselling author. There’s a chapter in the young adult novel where one character gives a tour of the fictional town of Pineville which was clearly a stand-in for Bayville. The tour includes the car, the dino, the bottle, and even der Wunder Wiener.

  When the car was being taken down, Szoboszlay’s father warned him that he’d get phone calls. And he did. The very first day. “Where’s the car? I use it as a landmark when relatives are visiting.”

  The calls continue to come in on a regular basis. People are worried that they closed up shop. They started a Facebook page called “Little White Car on Cosmos’ Roof Gets a Makeover” where they have been publishing updates on the work being done to it.