The Birth of the CRV Centaur (Piranha): Original Press Release Emerges 1964-1965

Hi Gang…

Nick Whitlow is the “king” of all things CRV.  He’s been collecting information about these cool 1960s sports cars for years before I started researching vintage fiberglass cars with Rick D’Louhy, so having a resident expert on hand for one of the cars in our “Forgotten Fiberglass” gang is a pleasure in every way 🙂

Recently, in my quest to uncover more details about all things vintage fiberglass, I located a “press release” photo which may turn out to be the “big bang” or starting date for the announcement of the CRV Centaur Sports car – a car that later became known as the “CRV Piranha.”   At this time, this is the earliest known announcement of the CRV-Centaur sports car.  Let’s see what the press release photo and caption had to say and show.

Press Release / Design Photo
Do It Yourself Speedster
January 7, 1965

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Detroit, January 7, 1965 (AP) – This is an artist’s conception of the plastic-bodied CRV-Centaur sportscar which two Detroit engineers unveiled today and which they say can be assembled in the backyard.  The cost will be about $3,500.  Rear-engined, the buyer will have a choice of two engines.  The body is formed from plastic sheets trademarked Cycolac.  The body weighs 146 pounds.  Bucket seats are fixed but foot pedals are adjustable. 

By the way, from what Nick and I can tell, the year shown in the photo is 1964 and this is most probably when the photo was taken.  Or it simply could be a mistake.  All public announcements using the verbiage in the photo and the photo itself occur in January 1965.  Which leads us to our next example – an in-paper reference related to this press release.

Engineers Introduce Sports Car
Chicago Tribune, January 9, 1965

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Caption: Artist’s conception of new plastic-bodied sports car introduced by two Detroit engineers.  Rear-engined CRV-Centaur will sell for about $3,500, according to developers. 

Detroit, January 8, 1965 (AP) – Two Detroit engineers, with the help of the Marbon Chemicals division of Borg-Warner corporation, have introduced a 150 mph sports car which, they assert, can be assembled in a backyard.  The $3,500 CRV-Centaur, to be shown publicly at the upcoming convention of the Society of Automotive Engineers January 11 thru 15 in Detroit, has a rear engine and a plastic body.  It can be ordered in kit form with no more than 25 major components.

Limited production is expected to start this summer, said Dann Deaver, automotive designer, and Forbes Howard, race driver and president of Centaur Engineering corporation, creators of the car.

Interestingly, this press release is dated one day later on January 8th, 1965.  So…Nick and I will have to be on the lookout for more information out there in eBay land.

But Wait!  There’s More!!!

I talked over my findings with Nick Whitlow and what I can tell you is that he never disappoints.  Nick produced two more photos of the design model used for the CRV – undoubtedly designed and created in 1964.  As you review the photos below, you’ll see some differences from the ultimate press release photo of the model – perhaps airbrushed in the photograph.

Thanks very much to Nick Whitlow for allowing us to share these photos below.  We at Forgotten Fiberglass are grateful for his support.

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Summary:

Thanks again to Nick Whitlow for his help with research and information concerning the CRV sports cars, and if you have time check out his fantastic website on these cars by clicking on the link below:

Click here to visit Nick Whitlow’s CRV website

Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…

Glass on gang…

Geoff

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Comments

The Birth of the CRV Centaur (Piranha): Original Press Release Emerges 1964-1965 — 3 Comments

  1. Interesting history of the AMT dragster version on the NHRA website. The name Don Cook is listed as a past owner, (unclear if this is the Don Cook that is known for his Glasspar G2 exploits) as is Rich Riddell, who sold Jerry Wood his Glasspar G2. The AMT car is being re-restored at the Don Garlits museum in Florida.

  2. Geoff, Nice piece. The CRV-I was built for Marbon Chemical by Centaur Engineering and made it’s debut at the SAE convention in Detroit in January 1965. It was the star of the show!
    Marbon was so impressed by the public’s reaction that they told Centaur if they could build another CRV, a racing version, in time for the June race at Mid-Ohio, Marbon would make Centaur their division for Cycolac.
    Centuar came through and the CRV-II made it to Mid-Ohio. The car featured a fiberglass tub with Triumph suspension bolted to metal cages under the chassis and a Corvair engine. The car did very well in SCCA that season and even survived a crash with a Jaguar, which was heavily damaged.
    Centaur went on to build 3 or 4 more cars before Marbon leased the fixtures and rights to AMT Corp to built their version of the car called The Piranha. AMT made 5 or 6 cars before cancelling the contract due to the great expense of hand-building each car.

  3. My father worked for Centaur from the 60’s into the 70’s. Year(s) before they moved over to 15 mile. He used to take me to work on weekends and that place kept me entertained for hours on end. I remember thermoformed car bodies stacked on end on the shop floor. Besides CRV and Formacar they had a hand in Amphicat , boats. Football helmets etc.

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