Vintage literature is the key to finding the history of our cars. But it’s not just vintage automotive magazines – that’s easy. You have to “belly up to the bar” and seek out all the ancillary print materials of the day. These include car club magazines, newspaper articles, books, foreign car magazines (these often included material not covered in our own country), newsreel film, and…my favorite – car show print material. And it’s the latter from which we garner today’s story.
Paul Sable is ever on the lookout for items of interest in the above categories concerning sport car specials, and he strikes pay dirt many times a year. Recently, he came across the Souvenir Pictorial from the 1955 Autorama in Hartford, Connecticutt. The Souvenir Pictorial is NOT the program from the event. This is most often a separate piece sold that highlights the cars that were in the show.
Paul was kind enough to send down the original copy down to me in Fiberglass Central, Tampa, Florida. And upon close inspection I was excited to find information about one of my favorite boulevard cruisers from the mid-fifties – the Venus by Ken McLoad. This Texas based company made a handful of cars in and around 1954-1955 and then ceased production.
Let’s see what the Autorama Pictorial had to say about this emblematic handcrafted car – the Venus Sports Car Special.
1955 Autorama Souvenir Pictorial
1949 Ford “Venus” Special
Owner – Gordon H. Jewett – Worcester, Massachusetts
On a stock 1949 Ford chassis, Mr. Jewett has built this handsome custom fiberglass sports roadster. The dash is fitted out with Stewart Warner instrumentation while the interior is upholstered in dark blue and white leather with dark blue carpet.
Built at a cost of $3,500, it has just been completed in time to make its debut at the 5th Annual Autorama.
Keep in mind that the cost of a brand new Corvette at this time was roughly the same cost of the investment figure noted above.
Linking History to a Car:
Great news! The information in the program was the last “link in the chain” that Patrick McLoad needed to confirm the heritage of his car – a Venus Special.
Yes, Patrick is the son of Venus designer Ken McLoad and he found and purchased his Venus in the New England area. And while there was some indication of the who the original builder/owner of his car was via correspondence Patrick had found in the archives of the Venus Company, no photo existed of Gordon Jewett’s car – until now.
We’re honored here at Forgotten Fiberglass to have helped find this last piece of puzzle for good friend Patrick McLoad, and look forward to the completion of the restoration of his Venus in the near future.
But wait gang – that’s not all. There’s more to share concerning information that appears in the Souvenir Pictorial. But as you may have guessed, that will have to wait until a future story here at Forgotten Fiberglass.
Thanks again to Paul Sable for his eagle eyes in finding this Autorama Souvenir Pictorial from 1955 and for lending it to us for review and scanning – greatly appreciated Paul!
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…
I found this car in an old fallen down barn in Sudbury, Mass back in 1972. A car fan as a little kid, the Venus had me scratching my head wondering what it was. It sat in that garage for about ten years, then disappeared. Glad to see it 50 years later and now know what it is. Congrats on the restoration
The thought also occurred to me that more than likely, the cars in the 1955 Hartford AutoRama were judged and given an award of some sort. It would be interesting to know if the Venus won anything.
Geoff: Many thanks for assembling the story about the “birth” of my Venus, and tons of thanks to Paul for finding and forwarding the information about this particular Venus. I have every intention of writing a more detailed account of this Venus, and I even spoke on the phone to a guy who was there when it was delivered in a crate! But you beat me to it, and that’s okay! When I get around to completing this, I’ll be certain to send it to you for possible publication on Forgotten Fiberglass should you so choose. Keep up the good work!
I am looking for similar exterior door hinges. Does anyone know what the Venus has for hinges?
you may use the trunk original from auto union dkw f 94, or same item from alpine a 108. both are avaiable in reproductions in brazil.
Yes, exterior hinges were used on a number of classic British sports cars too…Triumph? But I think these are far too small to be used for a door. Do a Google Image Search (or Bing) for “external trunk hinge” and you’ll see quite a few, some from Fords, Chevy, and Alpha Romeo. I just don’t know how large they may be for use on a door.
Bob: The exterior door hinges were custom designed for the Venus, and were not stock on any other vehicle. Thanks.
I was wondering if anybody knows how many of these Venus sports cars were built? The reason I ask is because I have pictures of three cars, one with a flat windshield, one with a curved windshield and a two-toned one with a wrap-around windshield, like Patrick’s car.
Hello Glenn. In regards to exatcly how many Venus bodies were made is up for debate. From my research, I think that only about ten or twelve were ever made. But there is a newspaper article where a company spokesman claims that 17 were made. Poor records were kept, so who really knows for sure. I would like to see those photos, and perhaps I can expand on which is which. The first few Venus bodies had “flat” windshields with custom-designed posts. Later, the curved windshields were fitted with a different style of post. Also, early Venus bodies had a “dragonfly” style grille (with either two or three blades), and later Venus bodies contained an “egg crate” grille from a ’55 Chevy. It is interesting (to me at least) that the Venus shown in the AutoRama Souvenir Program had the flat windshield, but an eggcrate grille. Is there a way for you to post your photos?