Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance 2010: The 1955 California Sports Special – “The Californian”

New Interior – Restored Back to 1955 Era

Hi Gang..

Rick D’Louhy’s California Sports Special is one cool build.  Think unique.  There are only three bodies of this style known to exist.  Rick’s California Sports Special is a streetworthy vehicle with racing history (that’s still being researched), apparently built in the mid 1950’s, combining American Hot Rod attributes and European sports car flair.

One of the other bodies has been made into a race car that runs Northwestern vintage events, while the remaining body has never been  mounted on a chassis.  Neat car Rick!  And great addition to the field of “Forgotten Fiberglass” cars that appeared in the March 2010 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance event.

Meteor, Glasspar, Victress ….these are some of the rare early American Sports Cars.   This car is even more rare.  It  was built on a 1940’s Ford frame with dropped front axle, and features a 239 cubic inch Ford Flathead V8 with Offenhauser speed equipment.  This Special has vintage wire wheels and unique style combining European and American elements.

Rick’s California Sports Special Looked Stunning on the Lawn at Amelia Island in March 2010

Styling of the “California Special” appears to have been heavily influenced by late 1940’s / early 1950’s European sports cars.  It’s similar to the Cisitalia 202 Pininfarina Coupe, Maserati A6G, Allard K3 Touring Car, and/or Aston Martin DB2, and has a hand fabricated stainless steel grill that uses an early Maserati theme

Several accessories were installed and help date the car including a voltage drop installed on the firewall and a spindle nut keeper system.   I recently wrote about these in a story on our website focused on “Vintage Accessories” for your Sports Special.

Postscript:

Rick and I are finishing up the restoration on the California Special, and our good friend Scott Miller is leading the way completing most of the work on it for us.  We look forward to some final tweaks to bring the special back to its original condition, and then it’s off to be displayed at the Sarasota Car Museum this summer (2010). 

European Styling and Grace Reveals Itself From the Front of the Automobile

We appreciate those who participated at Amelia Island and thank the folks at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance again for letting us host our “Forgotten Fiberglass” class this year to a receptive and enthusiastic audience.

Great car Rick and….glass on gang…

Geoff

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Technical Specifications
Body
  • 1955 California Sports Special
Body Work and Paint
  • Jonathan Rucker, St. Petersburg Florida
Upholstery
  • Tom Jaudon, Bay to Bay Upholstery, Tampa Florida
Restoration
  • Scott Miller, Brandon Florida
Frame
  • Modified 1940’s Ford Chassis
Suspension
  • The front suspension features a hand-forged dropped axle, de-arced front spring with some leafs removed and eyelets reversed
  • Intact/not split front wishbone keeping integrity of front end in place
Engine (make/year)
  • 1948 59A Style Mercury Flathead V8
  • Offenhauser aluminum heads and dual carb intake
Carburetion
  • Two Ford 94 carburetors
Displacement
  • 239 cubic inches
Horsepower (estimated)
  • Estimated: 120 HP at 3600 RPM (stock is 100 HP at 3600 RPM)
Transmission (type/year)
  • 1940’s Ford 3 speed
Rear Axle / driveshaft(open/closed driveshaft)       

 

  • 1940’s Ford Banjo
Wheelbase
  • 99 inches
 Track/Tread (front/rear)(distance between center line of tires)       

 

  • 58″ inches
Tire Size
  • 6:00 x 16 inches
Wheels / Rims
  • These are straight spoke Kelsey Hayes (KH) – not bent spoke Ford or K-H
Curb Weight
  • Approximately 2000 lbs
Top Speed (0-60)
  • Fast
Special Features
  • Hand fabricated stainless steel grill nicely compliments stainless steel dashboard pod
  • Transmission tunnel is also hand worked and pleated every half inch to maintain fit
  • The windshield channel is also custom, and the windshield (glass) is sectioned from a 1955 Ford Standard Victoria – not Crown Victoria
  • Body is properly fastened to the chassis with the outriggers made of round tubing – not angle iron which was often used
  • Firewall and trunk have been professionally finished, and the inner fender liners are in place and properly constructed

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