I love hearing from new people every day here at Forgotten Fiberglass. Back in October 2007, Denny Allen wrote in with the following letter:
I thought you might be interested in a fiberglass body I purchased in the early 60s.
The person I bought it from said 5 were produced in Pasadena, California before the business closed. I had it stored in the rafters of our garage for almost 40 years before we moved from California to Montana. After we moved into our new home in Montana I decided it was taking up too much room so I sold it. It is now setting in the back yard of a person who has moved so I don’t know what the fate of it will be. I have attached two pictures to this Email.
Michael “Denny” Allen
In Search of History – Inspecting The Pictures
I took two looks at the pictures and it immediately knew what it was. It was another “California Special!” Wow! The 3rd one we had found. Two were complete cars most likely built by the same person/team and this was now an unblemished body which made a total of 3 found.
How fantastic to hear and looks like it would be saved. What great news. But I move too quickly in the telling of the story. Let’s discuss the name of the car.
“California Special” is a name Rick and I have bestowed on this car because all 3 of the bodies have a “California” heritage and all are truly “Mysterions.” That is, we don’t know what it is, where it’s from, or who built it. The first one we found was owned by good friend James Giles of Calimesa, California. The second one is in the hands of another friend of fiberglass – Bob Deull of New York. And now we found a third one owned for nearly all its life by Denny Allen.
The true heritage of these cars is unknown, but I suspect it may be a company called “Plastic Age Company” out of Pasadena, California. We’ve just never found pictures of their cars yet. Hopefully time is on our side and the photos and history of this company will surface.
Since Denny had owned the body of this car so long, I asked him if he would take the time to share with us the history of this car and the special he had planned to build so many years ago. Denny was more than willing to do this, and our thanks goes to him to make this story possible.
Take it away Denny!
Letter From Denny Allen: Fall, 2011
This is yet another story of an uncompleted car.
I have a fiberglass shell of a “California Sports Special”, this name was given to this body by Geoff Hacker because no one seems to know who built the body or what the real name was. In the early 1960s I saw an ad in the local Penny Saver for a fiber glass body and frame for $50.00. This was in Garden Grove, California. I bought the body and frame.
The frame was a badly butchered early Ford frame. My roommate and I cut up the frame and used it for re-bar in a concrete patio slab. It’s probably still there today. The person I bought the body from had a hopped up Chevy 235 stove bolt that he was going to put in the car if he had completed it. He did not know the name of the body builder, but was told by the person he bought it from that it was one of five built in Pasadena, California before the company went broke.
I was given a 1958 Chevy convertible frame by a friend. About the same time I bought a wrecked 1953 Cad with 53,000 miles on it. The engine had been stripped of intake manifold, carb, starter, generator, and other stuff. I traded a beat up 1953 Studebaker Star Light to a junk yard for parts to get the Cad 331 running.
I cut 19” out of the Chevy frame to get a 98” wheel base. The Cad 331 and Hydra-matic transmission were mounted in the frame and the Cad was fired up as a test. The Chevy frame came without a rear end, so the Cad rear end was adapted to the Chevy frame.
About this time I became sidetracked, I was given a wrecked 1956 Chevy. I thought this frame might be lighter than the 1958 X frame. The whole front of the 1956 frame and body were wiped out so my roommate and I cut up the body and the pieces joined the Ford frame in another concrete slab.
The 1956 frame was cut off behind the wrecked front end and a cross member was installed between the frame rails. A Ford beam axle was split and attached with rubber cushioned pivot points (1958 Chevy rear suspension parts) to the cross member Allard style.
Later I learned that the Allard suspension was not all that great so I decided to continue with the 1958 frame. In 1968 I got married and we bought a house in Mission Viejo, California. The car building got sidetracked and the body got stuck up in the rafters of the new house for 36 years.
I gave away the 1958 frame and Cad engine. I retired in 2000 as did my wife. We moved to the small town of Fort Benton, Montana. The Body was taking up room in our garage so I set it out on the driveway and sold it to Ed Evalt – a Corvette enthusiast. After selling the body I sent a picture to Geoff to see if he could identify it. Geoff showed an interest in it so I tried to buy the body back for three years with no success.
Unfortunately Ed Evalt died in a car wreck. Ed’s widow found one of my letters offering to by back the body and offered to sell it to me. I now have the body back in my garage and am waiting for Geoff Hacker to arrange shipping to Tampa.
My last idea for a frame was something between a Kurtis 500K and a Lotus 6. I still have a 12 pound chrome-moly Gambler sprint car front axle, Ford 8” rear end, Corvair steering box, 4 Ford spindles, disk brake conversions for the Ford spindles, Watt linkage for the rear end, and a suit case full of spherical ball ends and other stuff.
By the way, when I bought the body, it was all in one piece. Later, I cut it in half in hopes of creating sections that would “hinge up” and give greater access to the mechanicals.
I will probably not complete a car, as I have grown older and find that am only good for about 2 hours of work a day and yard and garden use up this energy. The main reasons for not completing a car: Lack of money so I tried to build everything myself from stuff I had on hand, too many changes of frame ideas, lack of time, and other distractions.
Michael D.(Denny) Allen
Fort Benton, Montana
Moving a fiberglass body from Montana to Florida is not an easy prospect in any way. If the car was rolling but not running – it would be fairly easy. As you know, it’s just a body. But a special body to us here at Forgotten Fiberglass. Denny was up to the challenge again and he found a company that could crate the body for us. Here’s what he recently shared about this process:
I am enclosing pictures of the shipping crate as viewed from our bedroom window. It is setting on my trailer held on with a logging chain and boomer. The street going past the driveway with the trailer is one of the main ones coming into town so many neighbors have seen it and are wondering what it is.
One lady could not stand it and asked my wife what it was. I screwed a satellite dish to the crate to add more interest. This is a small town. The dish was on the crate for a week before my wife noticed it. She dislikes the body and the crate it is in so she does not look at it much.
I have not heard from your shipper Dave. I hope he can arrange for the trucker picking up the crate to give me a half hour heads up so I can hook up my pickup to the trailer before he arrives (and remove the dish).
Here are two photos of the “Mysterion and the Crate” – one showing Denny’s recent addition of a “satellite dish” to better disguise the true nature of this “beast” of a crate:
Denny’s 75 years young this year and a fascinating car guy to talk to. He even maintains two very interesting websites – click here to view the entry page to both websites at www.longrope.com
So the saga continues and we’re hoping to ship the body before Montana’s first snowfall – which I’m sure is coming soon. And then the story will continue again….will it be another 40 years before this body finds a chassis and becomes a finished car? Time will tell, but I will share with you this….Merrill Powell of “Victress fame” is working on a short story for us here at Forgotten Fiberglass. The title of the story is as follows:
“How to finish a fiberglass kit cars in 50 years or less – by Merrill Powell”
It should be interesting reading in the near future for you fans of vintage ‘glass out there 🙂
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…
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