Introducing The Piranha Speedster – The Digital Restoration Begins

Hi Gang…

More and more we see the handcrafted cars of the 40s, 50s, 60s being written about in major magazines and accepted at world-class concours.  The cars and their history have a compelling story to share with the public at large and we are honored to be able to fan the flames of this interest here at Forgotten Fiberglass.

But it’s not just stories and history that we “do.”

The folks that comprise our group bring an amazingly divergent skill and interest level to the table.  In recent years we have combined the talents of two unique individuals in helping us plan the restoration of cars in our group at the highest level.  These individuals are Raffi Minasian and Dan Palatnik.

Raffi’s unique contributions encompass not just a passion for cars, but an operational understanding of design, and an appreciation for the role each car plays in history.  Click here to learn more about Raffi’s background.  Dan brings digital expertise to the team and an artful and scientific way of translating a 3 dimensional shape into a 2 dimensional world and expressing it in 3 dimensions, again, in his renderings.  Click here to learn more about Dan’s background.

Increasingly we have called on this dynamic duo to help lead the efforts in restoring a car – inside and out – before the restoration begins.  We did this with our 1962 Shark Roadster in 2012-2013 leading up the Shark’s debut at the 2013 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.  And….we have called on Raffi and Dan in three more recent projects too.  Today we’ll review one of those projects – Craig Johnson’s Piranha Speedster.


The Process Begins:

I first wrote about this car in 2011 – some time after Rick & I brought it home from where it was hiding in the San Francisco Bay area.  Click here to review an early story on this car.   While we have continued to search for its history, we have only been able to trace ownership back to about 1970 leaving an estimated 20 year gap in what is known about the car and who made it.  While researching can be challenging, planning for the restoration can even more so.  Enter Raffi and Dan.

Dan Palatnik usually kicks off the process by modeling simple shapes and lines on the car and looking at different changes that may be needed to show off the lines of the car as handsomely as possible.  Raffi jumps in soon afterwards, and it’s during this process that we begin to look at wild changes and radical options – but this is purposeful.  We are looking at the car in the widest way possible in order to bring our thinking in line with making the fewest changes necessary to accomplish a beautifully finished product.

Here are some of the initial renderings of this car made by Dan in collaboration with and guided by styling changes made by Raffi.

1 2 3 4 5 6

Changes begin more rapidly in stage 2 where we begin to focus on styling issues, interior options, the stance of the car (relationship of wheels and tires to height of body and chassis).  We often look at different windscreen, taillight, wheel, and other options during this stage too:

7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Next, subtle design transformations are worked out from hue in color to texture in upholstery.  Cockpit and instrumentation is addressed, and additional refinements in in the styling and shape of the car are considered too.  Overall, styling issues continue to be refined:

14 15 16 17 18 19

And finally the team which includes those who will be doing the work on the car make their final choices, recommendations, and express their final opinions.  Then, we agree on a set of renderings that can be used to guide the restoration of the car for the entire team.

20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30


We first began this process with the Shark in 2012, as mentioned earlier in our story.  Since then we have asked Raffi and Dan to lead this process with three other cars:  Our 1952 Maverick, 1954 Chicagoan, and the story today – Craig Johnson’s 1952 Piranha Speedster.

Now that we know where we are going with this car, we can plan on scheduling the restoration more easily.  Craig hopes to begin restoration of the Piranha Speedster later this year, and we’ll keep you posted on his progress as he begins.

If you like what you see in today’s story fiber-gang, let ‘em know what you think in the comments below.  And…if you wish to see the back story and images of the Shark, Maverick, and Chicagoan, let us know too.  There’s always a lot to share here at Forgotten Fiberglass 🙂

Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember gang…

The adventure continues here at Forgotten Fiberglass.



Introducing The Piranha Speedster – The Digital Restoration Begins — 5 Comments

  1. Keep the wire wheels. I like the use of the ’48 Pontiac tail lights either side of the license plate connected by the chrome. The “E-type” style grille bar is nice also.

  2. I’ve always liked digital representations such as those that Dan produces (his site is worth a visit), and Raffi is also a creative genius as well….and I know that first-hand. I was wondering what software Dan uses to create the models? Good story and look forward to seeing the restoration.

  3. Awesome love the concept and would love to see the images of the Maverick,Shark and Chicagoan. Great web sight just love the enthusiasm you have.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.