Meet The 1960 “Zar Car” – A New Canadian Fiberglass Car Emerges From History

Hi Gang…

Back in late 2008, I heard from car aficionado Kit Foster concerning a car that had just turned up in a Toledo auto show.  It had a Fiat 600 drive train and the word “Zar” on the trunk.  Kit enclosed 3 pictures and the third one was a close up of a sign asking for help of any kind.  My first pass at information on this car drew a blank, and Kit went ahead and challenged his readers in Old Cars Weekly to check out what they knew about the car.

Here are those first three images Kit shared:

Within a year or so, the owner of the car, Brent Myers, contacted me and asked for information, but nothing had turned up yet – I was disappointed to tell him.  Brent, being the courageous and adventurous person that he was, pressed forward and began restoration of this neat “bubble top” car.  I have great admiration for this because at the time he had what we call a “Mysterion” –  a nicely built car which had lost all of its history and provenance.  Click here to learn more about the pursuit and documentation of “Mysterions” here at Forgotten Fiberglass.

The Restoration of the “Zar Car”

So a few more years go by and Brent completes the restoration of his car and begins to show it in the Mid-West – to great fun and acclaim at each and every auto show.  But still no information.  But recently I got a call from an excited Brent and with pure joy in his words he shared with me…

I found it!” Brent excitedly exclaimed.

Found what?”  I asked

Found history on what the Zar Car!   What it is and where it was made!” Brent shared nearly out of breath…

What fantastic news!  Brent had visited the website Autopuzzles and one of the puzzles showed a press photo and some information about the car.  Armed with this new information, I tapped both Bob Cunningham and Alden Jewell and asked if they had additional detail on the Zar Car.  Both had heard about it, and both had information.

These are the best days for fans of fantastic fiberglass cars across the land…

Alden was kind enough to share his collection via scans with our group and these included a press photo, and a letter right from Zar Car.

Let’s see what these look like:

Road & Track: January 1960 

The final reference we’ve been able to find also came from Alden Jewell, and it appeared as a short note with photo in the January 1960 Road & Track Magazine.  Here’s what the note had to say:

Zar Car of Canada

Production planning is well  under way for a fiberglass-bodied compact car to be built by Zar Car of Canada, Ld., Windsor, Ontario.  The Zar will have an 83.5 inch wheelbase, weigh about 1500 lbs, and will carry a 4 cylinder 28 horsepower engine in the rear.  Top speed will be 69 mph, and the price will run about $1500.

With the documentation of this car, we have established that the Zar Car is most likely Canada’s second fiberglass car ever built – the first being the Canadian built LaDawri “Cavalier” – later called the “Conquest” when Les and Joan Dawes moved to Long Beach, California in 1956.  The car that Brent Myers found and purchased is becoming more special each and every day.

Let’s take a look at some recent pictures of Brent and his family with their newly restored – and perhaps one and only – “Zar Car.”

 

 

Summary:

So…you too can help with the documentation of this neat little car.

Bob Cunningham remembers that a press photo showing the front of the car also exists – but we’re still looking for it at this time.  And, as the letter from “Leo Finnigan, President of Zar Auto of Canada, Limited” states, there looks like there may have been a later brochure available – although we can’t confirm it at this time.  It might be lurking in your very collection – ready to share with the only known owner of a “Zar Car” – Brent Myers.

Of course questions remain such as how many did they build?  Is this the only car remaining?  Who was Leo Finnigan of “Zar Auto” and what happened to him?  Is Leo’s family still with us and do they have more history?  Just think gang…perhaps a fleet of Canadian Zar Cars are just around the corner hiding in a Canadian barn  – close to the American border.

Anyone want to take a trip to Windsor, Canada to check around before Winter sets in?   I know that Brent Myers will be there with you as you cross the border on your “Zar Car” quest….

Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…

Glass on gang…

Geoff

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Comments

Meet The 1960 “Zar Car” – A New Canadian Fiberglass Car Emerges From History — 11 Comments

  1. I just noticed that the letter from the company and the rear view press photo were obtained by Rick Lenz back in the day. Because most of the material that Rick had aquired went to the MaClellan literature collection in Texas, the front press photo might still be lurking there. It is a fribute to Rick Lenz and his passion to get it all that we have some of this impossible material today. Way to go Rick.

  2. Geoffrey,

    Thank you for putting the Zar car history on your web-site. You said that this forum is similar to hanging a fly paper up and waiting to see what is attracted to the information we post. Well, I have an un-expected response that I didn’t see coming. My wife read the story on your web site and commented the following, “HUMMMMMMM well smart guy did you forget all the people that have had a hand in the recovery, dismantling, resurrection, and completion of the Zar car. Well I must admit those friends and family that have contributed are many. Listed in order of importance, Wife Nan, children w/spouse Beth, Cam, Evan, Nichole, Gampa, Gram-ma, Bob C., Jase, Dunkin, Kalab, Lee, Joe, Bruce……

    “So I guess my wife was correct in an unexpected way. A funny little car brought together many different people to aid in its restoration. Along the way, good memories were made. So little fly paper what will you attract next?????????”

    Many Thanks
    Nan and Brent Myers

  3. Did you ever find out more informaton on the Zar Car or Leo Finnigan? If it is my grandfather he would have passed on in 1961.

  4. Was just doing some family research and found your stuff. Leo Finnigan Sr., the man who signed that letter was my grandfather and Leo Finnigan Jr. was my dad. Dad used to tell stories about his dad’s fiberglass car. I knew that granddad had sold his business in the late 50’s. The rumour was that it was General Motors who bought the company out for $180,000 for rights to the fiberglass patent and that the Corvette was the beneficiary of the technology. We have documents talking about the $180,000 sale but not who the buyer was and the Corvette story is only hearsay at this time. As for Leo Finnigan Sr., he was a notorious gambler and lost the money from the proceeds of the sale not long after. He died penniless of a heart attack the year I was born. Leo Finnigan Jr. passed away in 1999 so unfortunately we can’t follow up with him. There is also an Uncle Victor who we haven’t talked to in 30 years or so and there are no signs of him on the Internet but if he is still alive and somebody happens to track him down he may be able to recount more of the history. Let him know that family members out west would like to talk to him.
    Feel free to contact me at the email address linked to this comment. I would be happy to share any info and documents that I have.

    • Tim, did you by chance find out any more about Leo or touch bases with Victor? I did find some further articles about Zar Auto, including information about Leo Finnigan both for the car and other dealings. Happy to share what I have found.

      I recently purchased the Zar Car from Brent Myers who resurrected it from the dead and kept good care of her. I will be taking the responsibility for her well being from this point forward, so if you learned any more about the company, the car, the history in general, I would be happy to listen. 🙂

      • As a matter of fact I did find more info. The last time I had any contact with Uncle Victor was in 1984 when I had a 5 minute conversation with his wife Ruth but I finally found their joint gravestone on the Internet in about 2015 or so. She passed away in 1989 and he passed away in 1995 and they are buried in a cemetery in Windsor.
        Brent Myers did send me an email at the address linked to the previous comment. I sent him back some info on how to find Uncle Victor and also a copy of an old family photo of the Zar Car with Leo Sr. and another man who I believe may have been his brother Clarence. Mr. Myers never responded after that and I left the matter to rest until now.
        I do have more snippets of information about my grandfather that will be relevant to the provenance of the Zar Car and would be happy to compare notes with you if you send an email to the new address linked to this post. I have a fair number of unanswered questions and I am sure you do too. Hopefully we can piece together enough pieces of the puzzle to get an understanding of what came to pass and possibly share as much as possible with the readers on this website.
        Here’s a link to my grandfather’s obit btw.
        https://www.newspapers.com/clip/26229047/leo_finnigan_zar_auto_ceo
        Cheers,
        Tim

        • Tim, I do not see a way to send mail directly to you. My mail is: cobradude28

          then – it’s @yahoo.com

          Looking forward to further exploration with you about this.

  5. Back in the 60’s I came across a Zar Car that was in a junkyard located in Southgate, Michigan. I was looking for parts for my 64 Corvair at the time. I’ve always wondered what the Zar Car was all about and was just reminded of it while seeing some Messerschmidt autos on tv. Guess I should have bought it and stored my early Marvel comic books in it.

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