Finding The Lost Covington Tiburon Prototype

Hi Gang…

For me researching cars began a long time ago – about 40 years ago to be exact.  I bought my first “classic car” when I was 14 years old – a 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood (with my mom’s approval of course).  That’s me driving it in the photo below.

Yup. That’s Me, 14 Year Old Geoffrey Hacker. 44 Years Ago This Year Behind The Wheel of my Cool ’55 Caddy.

My grandfather, Morrie Hacker, worked for years selling new Chevrolets and in the summer of 1976 someone traded in their old ’55 Caddy.  Just $500 and it would be mine.  Sneaky adults….they knew I would have to get a job to pay for the car and restoration, but the trick worked.  No after school trouble for me.  Just car stuff.  I would spend the next 3 years restoring the Cadillac and finishing it – under the guidance of my grandfather Morrie Hacker and my antique car mentor Paul Terhorst – just before moving to Florida in the summer of 1979.  That’s when I got the research “bug.”

Showing My Restored 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood off at Countryside Mall, Clearwater, Florida in 1982

Landing My First “Shark”

We moved to Florida in August, 1979 and within 90 days I had already found what would become my first fiberglass car – my 1962 Shark roadster.  It was sitting forlorn behind a small building in downtown Clearwater, Florida and within a year I had the chance to buy it – all $350 worth.  And I did – and still have it 40 years later.  Click here to read the story of buying my first Shark.

I was all of 18 when I got the Shark and soon thereafter I met Rick D’Louhy.  He helped immensely researching it and we turned into great friends over the course of the next several years.  It was during the research on the shark that I learned its full history.  Most importantly, I learned about the history of the first Shark Coupe – the 1961 Covington Tiburon coupe built by Henry Covington.  I would often wonder what happened to the car – maybe it was just a few miles away.

I didn’t know it then, but my answer was exactly right.

Al Lendzian:  Dunedin, Florida Police Officer

So you have a car or two and your still a teenager – where do you keep your cars?  At your mom’s house of course.  Even back as far as the early 1980s my mom’s house (and now a different house where I now live) has always had unusual cars in front of it.  Here’s a photo below of the Shark in front of my mom’s house circa 1980.

It’s funny….to this day if I drive an old car over to my mom’s house (she still lives there), people will sometimes stop by and reminisce about the old cars they remember being there.  I guess they don’t know of my new house not too far away in Tampa, Florida and the “car guy” reputation it’s getting.  See photo below.

Taken a few years ago. Out front is my 1937 Gougeon Streamliner, 1959 Moon Transporter, 1961 Tiburon Coupe, 1954 Chicagon Concept Car and an Ultravan I was toying around with. You should have seen what was BEHIND the fence *wink*

Back in the 80s, I only had a couple of cars in front of my mom’s house, and one of those was the Shark roadster.  And not too long after I had moved it there, a police officer stopped by and wanted to discuss the car.  It turned out he was a car guy too and his name was Al Lendzian.  Al had found a car similar to mine on one of his neighborhood patrols, and wanted to know if I was interested in seeing it.  Can you image how a 20 year old “Geoff” must have felt when Al asked?  I wanted to jump in his police car right then and there.  Take me away.

The Covington Tiburon Coupe Appears

That weekend, Al came over to my house and we traveled down to Largo, Florida to see the car.  Rick D’Louhy joined us for the trip.  It was a short trip – about 30 minutes – so I took my brother Josh along with for the ride and the adventure.  My family has always been involved with cars so he jumped right in.  I had wondered what shape the Shark would be in and Al told me “not good.”  The car at one time had been beautiful as shown by the photo below.  Click here to see a 1961 Road & Track magazine article about the Shark.

Photo From 1961 Taken For Magazine Article

But Al Lendzian was right – the Shark had survived but not very well.  Let’s take a look at the photos taken that day – by Rick D’louhy.

I’m Holding Up the Hood, Al Lendzian is “at the wheel” and my brother Josh is checking out the back of the car.

Geoff With The Covington Tiburon – Rick D’Louhy is Taking The Photo

My brother Josh holding up the rear grill in place.

Who, What, Where, When and Why

It turned out that the Covington family still owned the car back when I found it in the early 1980s.  Brothers Jim and Jon Covington, owned it and they were very nice in helping me learn more about my car and the history of their father’s car too.  Our visit kindled a fire under Jim Covington and shortly after our visit he moved the car to a shared workshop of his.  Sadly, the remains of the car were disposed of several years later, so the fate of Covington Tiburon #1 is known and the car is lost.  But sometimes opportunity shows itself in other areas – it would just take 25 years to find it.

Our 1961 Covington Tiburon Coupe at the 2009 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

But Wait – There’s More!

Those of you who know me appreciate my tenacity, and know that the story on the Shark didn’t end there.  It actually started.  Twenty-Five years after acquiring my first Shark Roadster we found and acquired a nicely preserved Shark Coupe built by famed customizer Gene Winfield for his sports car customer – Eldon Rosenow.  And while we’ve had fun with this Shark Coupe over the past 15 years, we are now set to have some NEW fun with it.  That is, we’ve created a mold of it and are now ready to take today’s story full circle and bring to life a new Covington Tiburon Shark in the near future.

Vvvvrrrrrooooommmmm……

The Tiburon Mold is Complete and Good to Go. A New Covington Tiburon Will be hitting the streets in the near future.

Summary:

So I was 18 when I bought my first Shark Roadster and I’m 58 now and on the precipice of creating a new Tiburon Coupe.  Anyone interested in being the owner of the first new Tiburon to hit the streets in nearly 60 years?  Our home office in Tampa, Florida is a fun place to be if you’re a car guy.  Be sure to call us and stop by sometime and say “hi.”  No rest for the weary down here 🙂

Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember…

The adventure continues here at Undiscovered Classics.

Geoff

P.S…..I almost forgot.  Remember that car show photo above from 1982 showing my restored Cadillac on display at Countryside Mall?  Well….here’s a photo below of that same show in 1982 showing my restored Shark – the one I had found in 1979 and bought in 1980 – all shiny and showable and next to my restored Cadillac in the mall.

I’ve always liked restoring cars and I still do today.  It’s not about the size of the project – it’s about the design and the history of the car.  That’s what creates excitement – especially if the history is lost and can be brought back into the automobile history “fold.”  What could be more fun?

GRH

On the left is my restored 1962 Shark and on the right is my restored 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood. But the best part of this show was driving my cars through the mall – just like they did in the Blues Brothers movie which I had seen a few years before this photo was taken. I love mall shows!


Comments

Finding The Lost Covington Tiburon Prototype — 20 Comments

  1. Geoff
    You are without a doubt , the top marksman in the “car hunting” sport ! I can tottaly relate to the adventure ,as it’s been a life long source of excitement for me also .
    Love it that Your first car was a ’55 Cadillac sedan . Mine was across the isle, a ’55 Lincoln sedan . I wanted it to be a 2 door hardtop but I was still stoked . By the time I went in the Navy in ’70 ,I had acquired about 15 cars ,mostly convertibles that I kept at the family’s country place, non costing over a $100 .
    You’re early fiberglass special finds are amazing !
    Fiberglass forever my friend. Marty

    • Thanks for your kind words Marty. I have a few other stories on my early “finds” I can share but maybe we should share some stories here on Undiscovered Classics about you. Would be fun to share your story too. Interested? Best, Geoff

  2. Paul Terhorst was responsible, along with Bob & Sheila Joynt, for me getting involved in the old car hobby. Paul took me to his warehouse to see the then unrestored Scarab (?) he had there. I’d never seen anything like that. I was hooked! I’ll never forget the time and patience Paul, Bob and Sheila showed me me when first starting out. They changed my life.

  3. Very nice stories, Geoff. I love the era of this story my being just 2 years older it’s like I’m right there. Your subject matter is always interesting, and the fact you’re still at it makes me look forward to seeing what you come up with next. Thanks for Forgotten Fiberglass. You dont often cover my fiberglass dreams in print, I have an early Healey Jamaican 327, but the 50’s cars you often report upon are so interesting. Keep at it sir.

    • Chris – thanks for the kind words. Do you want to create an article on the Jamaican that we can post on our website? What better way to show your car to others. Would be fun. Let me know. Best, Geoff

  4. Geoff Back in the early 70s I bought a 65 Corvair for my wife and started buying and flipping as many as I could find Charlie was the go to guy in our town to sell all these gems to and all the years I was playing with cars until last week I had never heard of the Corvair Ultravan. I noticed your latest lost classics article you had one. is it the v8 model or flat 6. Cheers Sherlock

  5. Geoff,

    You are absolutely amazing! You have such compassion for what you do. What you have accomplished is unprecedented. I wish I had half the time to do the things you love. Business has kept me away from hobbies like this. I learned a lot reading this article and always look forward to hearing what’s next. The new “Shark” is something I did not know. Some pictures like the mall photos I don’t remember seeing before. Good luck with your ventures and thanks for all you have done.

    • Glen….I’m getting ready to build a new Shark. Given that your dad did the first Covington Coupe and the roadsters, do you have any interest? Let me know….would be fun 🙂

  6. Geoff,

    I wish I had the time. Being a one-man business doesn’t leave me any free time. As I’m getting older it also is getting more difficult to keep up but I also love what I do like yourself but if something changes I will let you know. Keep up the great work!

  7. Geoff
    Thank You for the invite . I would be honered to add stories to Undiscovered Classics !
    In my teens ( the ’60s ) I started thinking seroiusly about fiberglass as the perfect medium to progress from plastic model cars into real cars . At that time I was paying quite a bit of attention to the new wave of small manufacturers . fiberfab,Meyers and other mostly Volkswagen based kits . I was already vaguely aware and fascinated by some of the 1950s pioneers .
    Geoff , gotta wonder if we weren’t separated at birth ?
    This week I’m getting ready for Richmond Virginia’s wildly popular annual October Folk Festival. The theme this year In the non musical Folk life area will feature car culture . I’m going to demonstrate sculpting a foam vehicle body form over a lofted structure . The car is the 1959 Ford Levacar Mach1 which was destroyed in the 1962 Rotunda fire . Joe Essid will be there Sunday working up a story for our friends over at Hemmings blog. I’ll get with You soon after to share some “unique car story” fun ! Best , Marty

    • Marty….sounds good. I think your stories would really be enjoyed by the readers out there. Have fun at the show. Geoff

  8. Geoff:
    I read every word of your very interesting articles. Keep up the good work.
    And good luck in your continued search for (forgotten fiberglass). I think
    your Mother deserves a bouquet of roses and a gold star for her support in
    all your car endeavors.

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