David Lambert’s Almquist Sabre – Off And Running


Dave Lambert’s Almquist Sabre Debuted at the Willos Springs Race Track in March, 2020

Hi Gang…

Back around 2012 I heard from Kip Fjeld who had found an Almquist body.  He was very excited about his “find” and quickly shared plans that he and his friend Dave Lambert would be making a mold from the body and building one or more Almquist Sabre bodies that they hoped to build into race cars.  That was very exciting news and I stayed in touch with both of them through the years.

In 2015 I finally had a chance to meet Dave Lambert in person when I was visiting California.  We were showing our 1950 Leo Lyons Custom Mercury at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and Dave was in the area to see the Monterey Historic races.  Perfect timing for both of us.  He spent an evening together meeting our friends that had gathered together for the weekend and we all had a fun time on the night before the concours.  Great fun.  And we talked about his Almquist project too.

Fast forward to 2018 when I was in Los Angeles to do a short piece on a show called “Sticker Shock” (Discovery Channel) with a car that Joel Driskill had recently found – the 1949 Sunflower State Speedster.  After we shot the piece, I headed out the next day to see both Dave Lambert and another fiberfriend – Rodney Packwood.  We all met at Dave’s home in Escondido, California and that’s when I finally saw it – the beginnings of his Almquist Sabre race car.  But the actual beginnings of his project started decades earlier.  Let me explain.

Meet David Lambert, his Almquist body and his best friend. This photo is from my visit to his garage back in the spring of 2018.

Dave Lambert’s First Almquist Sabre

Dave grew up during the time when young men were designing and building their own sports cars across America.  In 1959 at age 19 he was living with his parents in Cincinnati, Ohio and found an Almquist Sabre that was complete but had been built years earlier.  And it didn’t run.  Since the Sabre bodies debuted in 1955 with Clearfield Plastics in Pennsylvania, it’s possible that it was up to 4 years old.  But that didn’t make it any easier to complete and get running.

The Almquist Dave had bought had a Crosley engine/transmission installed.  Everything was built where it should be, and appeared that it was a running/driving car at one time – just not when he bought it.  Dave started with repairing the fiberglass body and completed that job nicely, but never did get it running.  Instead, he was drafted into the army at age 22 and he sold his Sabre before he left for military service.  He never saw the car again.

Seeing the Car For The First Time

In 2018 I was in California again and this time determined to see Dave Lambert and other friends south of Los Angeles.  I met with Rodney Packwood and we headed to Dave’s house, and it was a great tour.  I had a chance to see the mold that Dave had built and the first body from the mold that would eventually become his race car.

When Kip Fjeld brought the original body that he had found to Dave to make a mold, much repair of the body was needed.  Dave fixed the body, created a mold and pulled two bodies from the mold – one for him and one for Kip.  The mold and body had actually been made several years before 2018, but my timing couldn’t have been better – work was about to begin to build Dave’s Almquist Sabre race car.  Let’s check out some of the photos from my 2018 visit with Dave Lambert:

You can see part of the mold created by Dave to produce the Almquist bodies

Here’s Dave’s Body – The One He Would Turn Into an Almquist Sabre Racecar

This is the starting point for the frame that Dave would use – more about that later in today’s story.

Work Continued

Dave’s project was really getting exciting to watch, so I asked him to share his perspective and story.  Here’s what Dave shared with me about the development and build of his car.

Sourcing The Frame:  From Dave Lambert

I had the Almquist body, but nothing else, so I started looking around for a frame.  If I had it to do over, I think I would make one from scratch—it would have been less work and less costly.  I was having no luck finding a suitable frame for a small H-modified.  I was at a race with my #67 car, a Crosley powered H-modified with a Hollywood Plastics body, when a guy stopped by and told me about a Jabro Mk2 project he had.  I arranged to stop by his storage unit to check it out.  I bought it, and so I had a frame.

Jabro Sports Car as Purchased by Dave For His Almquist Sabre

While the car had originally been a Crosley powered H-modified, it had been converted to a street car with Triumph Spitfire running gear and 14” wheels (fender flares, swing arm rear suspension, larger engine).  The body was pretty much trashed, and I sold it off to someone who had a Jabro and wanted some spares.

What I wanted was a frame, with a Crosley differential (I ended up using a Austin Healey Sprite differential), Crosley engine, Sprite transmission, and Crosley disc brakes.  The frame required a great deal of modification to return to this configuration, along with some tube replacement to repair rust damage.

Frame Taking Shape Nicely – Modifications and Build By Dave Lambert

Completed Frame and Suspension For Dave’s Almquist Sabre

Repairing The Body:  From Dave Lambert

Here are some pics (below) of the original Almquist Sabre body fresh out of a storage unit.  The photos were taken on February 8, 2008 near the time when Kip purchased it.  The body had never been mounted on a chassis and was in rough shape.  There was no cloth used in construction—it was all chopped-strand mat.  This produces a heavy, stiff body that is not terribly strong.  I had to do a lot of repair and straightening to make it a suitable buck for a mold.

Getting Ready For The Mold:  From Dave Lambert

A few gallons of bondo later, and with steel tubing for support, the original body is now a buck ready to have a mold made from it.

Making the Mold:   From Dave Lambert

Here are photos illustrating the steps I took to create a mold from a buck.  Remember…the process starts with a “body” or “shape” that is turned into a “buck.”  The buck is what’s needed to pull a mold from so that additional bodies can be made.

Back side of Flange

Parting flange made from melamine, hot glued in place and sealed with modeling clay

PVA sprayed on (polyvinyl alcohol, used as parting film)

Gel coat applied

Bondo fillet (since cloth and mat cannot make right angles)

Layup: veiling mat, then three layers of mat followed by one layer of cloth

Mold complete, still on buck, holes drilled through flanges, prior to removal from buck

Mold off buck, assembled, ready for body layup

After five layers: gel coat, veiling mat, two layers of 11 ounce twill fiberglass, separated by a layer of chopped-strand mat.  This picture shows the body while still in the mold (also shows the mold support rotisserie).

Mold by itself on rotisserie

Body After Mold Removal

Debut

David Lambert debuted his Almquist Sabre race car on March 7, 2020 at the Willow Springs Raceway in California.  He shared that it had some minor sorting to do after its first race – but that’s fairly normal for a car right out of the gate.  Let’s check out photos of the finished Almquist Sabre below.  And what a great looking race car!

Summary:

It’s been quite a journey for Dave Lambert and his Almquist – 12 years in the making since they acquired the original Almquist body.  But what an adventure and what a prize to have at the end.  Not just a beautiful and well-designed sports car for the track but the fulfillment of a dream – one that a 19 year old Dave Lambert started back in 1959.  Dave finally got his Almquist Sabre and congratulations are in order.  And great “thanks” for sharing the journey and photos with all of us here at Undiscovered Classics.

Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember…

The adventure continues here at Undiscovered Classics.

Geoff


Comments

David Lambert’s Almquist Sabre – Off And Running — 9 Comments

  1. Gee Whiz, Dave! That turned out just BEAUTIFUL! Love the color choice. Dolphin orange? How did it perform at Willow? Very impressive. Congratulations!

    • Thanks Ron! The color is Mango Orange, an Audi paint color, and the closest to McLaren Orange I could find.

      The car is going through some of the usual teething issues that new builds typically experience. At Willow Springs the car was overheating. I attended to some water hose issues and took it to Buttonwillow for a test & tune day: same story. I’m now waiting on a custom radiator that should take care of it (it currently has a very small 3-row radiator that’s apparently not enough). I also need to relocate one nozzle from the fire system–it’s on the tranny cover near the throttle pedal–which is a good spot for it except that when I’m driving I sometimes mistake it for the throttle! The car should be a good runner when I get the bugs resolved.

  2. Thanks for sharing the article and great work and dedication by Dave Lambert on keeping the story of the Almquist Sabre alive. Would be an honor to have the opportunity to visit with Dave in the near future. I’m sure my father and Harry would be impressed with the time, dedication and effort in crafting the mold.

  3. This Almquist is the nicest looking HM race car that I have seen and makes Don Miller’s Crosley specials look rather crude in comparison.

  4. Great article. Has anybody done something similar with a Devin D? I have one (not for sale) that needs a complete body restoration and frame replacement. Devin’s original molds may be around somewhere (can’t see why he would have destroyed them), but since I haven’t found anyone making replacement body parts I’d like to take a mold off of mine when the bodywork is finished in in case it gets wrecked and I need replacements. The frame is rusted-out and will need to be replaced, so I’d like to know if anyone has made a new D frame that can provide me with detailed info or photos showing how they went about it.

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