Glasspar made hardtops for sports cars – in a greater quantity and variety than most enthusiasts recognize. They made hardtops for the following sports cars:
- Glasspar G2
- Woodill Wildfire
- And maybe more – we’re still researching.
Let’s discuss what we know about each of eight hardtops Glasspar produced.
Glasspar G2 Hardtops:
The Glasspar brochure of 1953-1954 shows the G2 and an optional hardtop. We know from pictures of the Alembic I Glasspar G2 that hardtops were available for G2’s in early 1952, so there may be an earlier printed reference as well – we’re still searching. Here’s what is shown in the Glasspar Brochure about the hardtop:
Woodill Wildfire Hardtops:
Surprisingly, we’ve not found mention of Woodill Wildfire hardtops in their brochures. Perhaps Frank Cornell, Ted and Gregg Griffin, and/or Dick Foster can help. We did, confirm, that Glasspar did make hardtops for these cars, though- and we’ve found one too.
Mary Brisson, Curatorial Assistant for the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California was kind enough this week to pay a visit to their recently acquired Series 2 Woodill Wildfire – a kind donation from collector, historian, and enthusiast George Albright.
Mary took some photos of the Woodill Wildfire (which is the last full unbuilt Woodill Wildfire kit known) and the hardtop that came with it. This is just one of a few Woodill Wildfire hardtops that Rick D’Louhy and I have found thus far in our research. Know of any more out there gang?
Glasspar’s Porsche Speedster Hardtop and Brochure:
The best publicized hardtops Glasspar made were for the Jaguar XK120 and the Porsche Speedster. Several ads exist showing these hardtops as well as a magnificent brochure for the Porsche version – featured in today’s article as a courtesy from the collection of Russ Rodriguez of Fibersteel. Russ’s company, Fibersteel, continues to manufacture the Porsche “Glasspar” hardtop with approval from the Tritt family (thanks for the scans of the brochure, Russ!). Here are the scans of the six page Glasspar Porsche hardtop brochure:
Jaguar XK120 Hardtops:
I haven’t seen one of these in person yet. But there sure are quite a few ads for these hardtops out there. The first advertisement I found was in a Naugatuck brochure discussing the products that can be made with their resin – including fiberglass sports car bodies and hardtops. The same advertisement also appeared in the November 1952 issue of Modern Plastics. I also found a full page brochure from Glasspar concerning these hardtops – courtesy of the John Bond Collection at Kettering University.
Although we’ve found ads for these hardtops, we’ve not found any other brochures or advertising. Anything else out there gang? If so, send us some scans of what you’ve found. Here’s the Glasspar Jaguar XK 120 brochure:
The only mention we’ve found of these hardtops is in the ad shown below – and the Road & Track article discussed later in this story.
I’ve only found information in the Road & Track article discussed later in this story.
Recently, in working with Kettering University of Flint Michigan, we uncovered 3 photographs in the John Bond Collection which showed a fiberglass hardtop on a Singer roadster. I excitedly passed these onto the Singer group and then asked 88 year old Monroe Gretsky, who brought the Vaughan Singer name to the West Coast of the United States, if he remembered these hardtops.
“Sure I do,” Monroe replied. “We worked with Glasspar to make them, and they were an excellent product.”
This was the first I had heard of this hardtop by Glasspar so I called Matt Tritt and inquired about additional information. Matt certainly remembered the hardtops, and replied,
“I absolutely remember my dad making these hardtops. Singers were not that common and we were surprised that someone wanted to build one. We were more into the Porsches at the time, so the comparison of hardtops to each of these cars struck my dad and us youngsters kind of funny.”
So….we have confirmation from Monroe Gretsky and Matt Tritt about Glasspar Singer hardtops – and photographic evidence too. But no ads or brochures have ever been found.
Russ Rodriguez of Fibersteel also sent some photos of another hardtop that he was told was made by Glasspar and this was for the 1953-1955 Corvette. Photos of this appear below in our photo gallery. I’ve not found any literature or ads concerning this hardtop, but at least one Corvette owner insists that it was manufactured by Glasspar.
I called Matt Tritt about this too, and although he remembered all of the 7 other hardtops, the Corvette hardtop was new to him. But Matt said that anything was possible, and that the Corvette – like the Jaguar XK120 – was a well-known car, and it would make sense that Glasspar would have at least attempted to build some to test the market.
Hardtops From Heaven:
Ask and ye shall receive….isn’t that how the phrase goes???
So…what originally prompted me to write this article is an article I found in Road & Track – all about the hardtops made by Glasspar. What good fortune! I’ve been collecting information on Glasspar hardtops for years, but this was the first article I’ve seen – and we couldn’t be more lucky to have found it. Let’s take a look inside to see what they said back in 1956.
Hard Tops For Soft (Road & Track, May 1956)
Glasspar Uses Plastic To Dress Up Your Sports Car
On most sports cars the least appealing item of equipment has been the “rag” top; it flops, leaks, fades and looks best when stowed. More and more owners have solved this problem with a detachable fiberglass top, which is durable, weatherproof, and, above all, good looking.
The Glasspar Company at 19101 Newport Avenue., Santa Ana, California one of the oldest makers of plastic tops, has a busy sports car department these days. At left, a workman holds the female fiberglass mold for the Porsche top. Reinforcements of both plastic and steel tube hold the mold in proper shape, avoid twisted or warped tops.
First stop in the lay-up is to put the parting agent on the highly polished mold surface, which determines the quality of the finished top’s outside surface. Then the glass cloth, below, is painted with resin, hand fitted and shaped to the mold.
Thoughts on The Article:
This was the first time I had read about Glasspar producing hardtops for Austin-Healey. Perhaps we’ll find an Austin-Healey enthusiast out there who might know more information, or have additional materials, brochures, ads, etc that can help identify the history. I called Matt Tritt about this article, though, and he confirmed Glasspar made each one of the hardtops discussed that appeared in the article. As I’ve said many times before, Bill Tritt was one busy guy!
Nailing down this aspect of Glasspar’s automotive involvement helps paint a more complete picture of the involvement and innovation they had in this segment of the industry. Even back in this Road & Track article, John Bond pointed out that Glasspar was one of the oldest – and probably is the oldest – manufacturer of fiberglass hardtops in the industry. Another first for Bill Tritt and Glasspar. What a man he was!
This story represents the entire base of what we know about Glasspar hardtops. The only brochure we’re aware of as a stand-alone piece is the Glasspar Porsche Speedster brochure. If any of you out there have additional ads, brochures, and instruction materials – be sure to let us know. We’ll feature what you find on Forgotten Fiberglass and share what you know. And you’ll get credit for your find too (that means I’ll talk about you – and boy can I write!)
Thanks again to Russ Rodriguez for the scans of the Porsche Glasspar hardtop brochure. Click here to learn more about Russ’s company called “Fibersteel.” Thanks also to Mary Brissom, Curatorial Assistant at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California for so kindly taking pictures of their Woodill Wildfire hardtop (top and car courtesy of George Albright, of course – way to go George!)
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…
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