The Dale car, a design of Dale Clifft, was supposed to be produced by Twentieth Century Motor Car Corporation in California. According to Twentieth Century's 1975 brochure, it had a two-cylinder engine, would reach 70 miles per US gallon (3.4 L/100 km; 84 mpg-imp) and would cost $2000. The body was to be constructed out of 'rocket structural resin' that would withstand damage well. There were only three prototype copies ever made and only one of them could move under its own power.
After having received money from investors, purportedly for the development and marketing of the Dale car, Carmichael disappeared and the funds were unaccounted for. She was charged with grand theft, fraud, and securities violations. During her trial, Clifft stated that he still believed in Carmichael and expected large royalties once the car would go into production. In fact, he received only $1001 and a bad check.
Following her arrest, it was discovered that Carmichael's given birth name was Jerry Dean Michael, which was still her legal name, and that she was initially identified as a male. He married the former Vivian Barrett while still living as a man and they were the parents of five children. Michael stated he had undergone hormone therapy and was in the process of completing sex reassignment. Michael had previously been charged by the FBI (when living as a male) for alleged involvement in a counterfeiting operation; he had been released on bail and never appeared for trial.
After his arrest related to the Dale car, Michael's bail was paid by a news station that was guaranteed the rights to his story. He subsequently jumped bail and remained at large until the airing of an Unsolved Mysteries episode in 1989. The episode revealed that Michael had been working as a flower vendor in Dale, Texas by the name of Kathryn Elizabeth Johnson.
Unverified sources from a dialogue on the Museum of Hoaxes website, report that Michael died of cancer in February 2004. However, other postings from this site claim that she is still alive (as of 2009) and living with a daughter in Austin, Texas.
- "She Really Is a He: The Bizarre Liz Carmichael Auto Caper". People 3 (16). 1975-04-28. Retrieved 2008-11-22.
- Unsolved Mysteries
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