Fiberfriends Deliver! Bob Cunningham Finds First Color Photo of 1951 Lancer

Hi Gang…

The best part of being part of the “Forgotten Fiberglass Faction of Friends” is the wide variety of neat, interesting, and great people you get to meet – and often become friends with.  Such is the case with Bob Cunningham of Des Moines, Iowa.  Bob is a car historian and specializes in rare and unusual marques of cars.   And that, of course, is how our paths crossed many years ago.

Recently Bob pointed me to a set of slides on ebay with what looked like one or two fiberglass cars from the 1950s.  And what a treasure trove of photos was revealed!  Two color slides were of Bill Tritt’s race car – the Mameco Ardun Glasspar G2 that recently debuted at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  Bidding was furious but Mark Brinker came out ahead (I stayed out of the bidding) and these color shots are now part of his collection.

But the most amazing find, in my humble fiberglass opinion, was a color slide of the 1951 Lancer – the only known color photo of this car we’ve ever found.

Way to go Bob Cunningham!

So today’s story and photo is dedicated to the hard work and fortitude of my good friend, automotive historian, and all around great car guy….Bob Cunningham.  So without delay, here’s the photo:


Other Photos of the Lancer:

The Lancer is significant because it was one of the first four fiberglass sports cars that debuted to the American public at the Petersen Motorama in November, 1951.  These four cars were:

  • Glasspar G2
  • Lancer
  • Skorpion
  • Wasp

Most people have seen photos of the Glasspar and Skorpion/Wasp sports cars, but Eric Irwin’s Lancer sports cars are virtually unknown.  Only two models have been found in the past few decades and neither is an exact match to this first car built and written about by Eric Irwin.  So finding a color photo of the first, one-off, Lancer sports car is indeed a rarified event.

In fact, Eric Irwin wrote the very first article that appeared on how to build your own fiberglass sports car.  It was printed in Motor Trend in November, 1951.  Click here to review all articles posted here on Eric Irwin and his Lancer sports cars.    

Let’s take a look at some other black and white photos of Eric Irwin’s first Lancer – designed and built in 1951.

1951_Nov_Motor Trend_007


1951_Nov_Motor Trend_006






Here Are Three Different Models of Lancers. He made a Fourth Model as well – and perhaps other designs too.


So…if you see some unusual vintage fiberglass photos out there on eBay gang, be sure to let us know.  You might have found a fiber-treasure as Bob Cunningham did that will help in our quest for documenting history and add to something that we can share with everyone interested in these very special rare cars of yesteryear.

Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…

Glass on gang…



Fiberfriends Deliver! Bob Cunningham Finds First Color Photo of 1951 Lancer — 5 Comments

  1. Thank you Bob Cunningham, for providing photos and information about Eric Irwin and his gorgeous . . .’ ahead of its time’ . . . . Lancer. Irwin clearly
    configured and constructed coachwork that immediately tells us what we can expect of it, in all dimensions/categories of the oft unspoken engineering and personal/aesthetic qualifications of the fabulous fiberglass sports cars of the 50’s!

    The ‘front clip’ . . as it is called today : bodywork from the windshield forward,
    to me, is unexpected. It is fashioned in a manner that accommodates and enhances the necessary headlights and grille . . . the classically shaped engine hatch . . . the curved opening for the front wheels . . . (and back) . . . the shape of the clip is very flowing, as a snowdrift in the wind . . . Remember when you were a little kid, riding in the backseat of a stoic black sedan, looking out the windows and noticing snow drifting over and around these stoic, cookie cutter produced automobiles that are parked along the way . . . and you wonder why the car makers didn’t make the car that you were riding in, look more like a snow drift. . . . . . And now, since we’re fiberglass sports car revivalists, we
    KNOW why Mother Nature’s hints were ‘summer-airily’ ignored by THE industry!

    And thanks to Geoff Hacker for forcing us to absorb all of the beautiful photos and writings about the fabulous, no longer forgotten, fiberglass sports care of the fifties.

  2. @Scot…I’ll be in Milwaukee for the Masterpiece in August of this year. Hopefully will work with Salisbury in 2014 🙂

  3. ~ wow, a great find. nice color image makes it a bit easier to imagine the real-life 3D version of the Lancers. i hope to see a restored example in person one day. maybe at an upcoming Salisbury Concours, Bob?
    [Bob, one short aside; as a DesMoines native and 30 year resident i regret not having made your acquaintance when i met Geoff for September’s event. i hope we will remedy that small oversight this year]

    • Geoff – Glad to see the photo was as significant as I hoped it would be. And Scott, yes, the Lancer absolutely would be a welcome entrant at the Salisbury Concours. Hopefully our paths will cross in Des Moines sometime soon…just look for the guy in the 1932 American Austin roadster. It’s the only one in town. 🙂

      • ~ Bob, i goog’d Bantam Roadster and immediately recognized the car, having taken note of it previously. (Old Car Weekly, etc) i’ve lived in St.Louis 35 years now and made an excuse of a dear friend’s wedding in the Amanas to get to know Geoff better. i made sure to let everyone i still know in DM (Cap City) about the Salisbury and the Henry Gregor Felson car show held at the Val Air Ballroom the same weekend. it was an outstanding two weeks with the home folks, so i am looking forward to my upcoming visits. can we hope to see you there, Geoff??

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