The LeGene “Californian” Roadster – Designed and Built in San Bernardino, California: Part 1

Hi Gang…

We’ve been researching this car since 2008, but it took our appearance on Ray Evernham’s Velocity TV show “AmeriCarna” in 2015 for us to finally learn what it was.  We’ve had many “adventures” here at Undiscovered Classics, but this was one of the longest, challenging, fun and most rewarding of all.

Let’s talk about the adventure, the car, the story and the people involved, and we’ll do this over a few stories.

And away we go 🙂

Here’s the Car When We First Saw It – Jim Giles is Sitting Near The Driver’s Side

The Man and the Car

Jim Giles was a friend from the start of Forgotten Fiberglass.  He had owned what turned out to be the lead car from the movie “Johnny Dark” – a Wildfire – and other important “Specials” over the years.  Jim had started the restoration of his “Atlas” as he called it some 15 years before we met.  The motor, wheels, tires, and many other parts were restored but the project needed to be assembled, restored and sorted – still quite a bit to do.  Jim wanted to sell the car, so we struck a deal and bought it.

Some of the LeGene Sports Cars Had the Spare Tire in the Trunk – Some Did Not. We removed this feature during restoration.

Jim always thought that there was a similarity in body design to the Allied Falcon.  He theorized that Bill Burke and Mickey Thompson may have made a variant of the Allied Swallow, Falcon or Blackhawk that was undocumented.  That was the reason Jim named it the “Atlas” – which was the first name of the company before they changed it to “Allied.”

It was a good theory, and I tested it in 2009.  When I saw Bill Burke about the Belly Tank we had built under his guidance, I showed him photos of Jim’s car.  He looked at them closely and pronounced….”Nope – not my car.  Never seen it before.”

That was good enough for me so research continued….

Here’s Bill Burke with the re-creation of his first belly tank in 2009. Thanks Bill for a great time building this under your guidance.

So…after purchasing the car, I flew out to California and made preparations to pick up and store it.  Good friends Ron and Sonya Kellogg had volunteered a storage space for us so when I arrived the three of us coordinated picking up the car which was at Jim’s house in Calimesa, California.  Great memories and great times that day as we headed east, met Jim, talked about the car and had it loaded for transport.  In short time we were back in Whittier, California and storing the car with one of Ron’s friends.  It would be a year before I would return and pick up the car.

Here we are dropping off the car at Ron’s storage location. Ron and Sonya Kellogg are the second and third from the right.

Transporting the Car: 

In 2009 I trailered our Burke Belly Tank to Bonneville and later dropped it off for a long-term display at the NHRA Museum in Pomona, California.  While I was there, we made plans to pick up some recent purchases including the car we had bought the previous year.

A few days after I arrived, I dropped off the car at Erich Schultz home and loaded a Byers SR100 body we had purchased – the last known uncut Byers SR-100 body known to exist.  Erich and I had the challenge of loading the car, the body and more for my trip back to Tampa, Florida.  And with his help I was ready to go and on my way.

On the way to California I had the finished Burke Belly Tank in tow. On the way home to Florida we had the “LeGene” sports car and a Byers SR100 body behind us. Very rare to see an empty trailer behind us when we’re on the move 🙂

Along the way I stopped and visited with Dennis Gerdes and Rodney Packwood in Idyllwild, California and Mel and Steven Keys in Sulfur, Louisiana.  A few days later I was home – 6 weeks on the road…8000+ miles…not bad for an ole guy and and Suburban too.

Here Dennis Gerdes is Showing His Father’s Sports Car Jacket from the early 1950s. Dennis’ father was Warren Gerdes who was the Foreman at Glasspar responsible for supervising the “build” of all Glasspar G2 bodies. He loved his sports cars too 🙂 Thanks Dennis.

From Left To Right is Geoff Hacker, Dennis Gerdes and Rodney Packwood. We spent some time in Idyllwild, California were Dennis and his wife Darcy live.

Summary:

What we found and took home to Tampa, Florida would take nearly 8 years to learn its history.  And the journey in this case was as much of the fun as the destination.  Stay tuned for part 2 and more gang.

Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember…

The adventure continues here at Undiscovered Classics.

Geoff


Click Here To Review All Stories on the “LeGene Californian Sports Car”


I passed through Flagstaff, Arizona and visited with Merrill and Gerianne Powell of Victress Sports Car Fame.

 

I also stopped to visit Mel and Steven Keys in Sulfur, Louisiana. Mel was good friends with the folks at Victress and it is always good to see him and his family.

On the road for 6+ weeks, 8000+ miles – all one trip in 2009. I took this photo when I got home and before I stepped out of the car. I probably shouldn’t have.

 


Comments

The LeGene “Californian” Roadster – Designed and Built in San Bernardino, California: Part 1 — 16 Comments

  1. Geoffrey, can you tell me history of Kellison you have for sell. I will get to see the Wildfire I bought in person in a couple of weeks after Amelia thanks rich atwell

  2. Wow! Sounds like a full-speed fun adventure! Keep the great stuff coming, Geoff. By the way… that windshield looks very familiar… what is it? Thanks again…!

    • Hi Leon….glad you enjoyed the story. They used a 1955 Ford (not Crown Vic) front windshield sectioned in the middle by about 4 inches. It’s a nice look for these cars.

  3. Geoff
    Is that the same Ron and Sonya Kellogg pictured in the group shot who owned the incredible flying fender Bugatti one off creation that was designed by GM design chief the late great Dave Holls and built by Chuck Rahn? See http://www.deansgarage.com/2009/kellogg-bugatti.

    And I checked out your cars for sale page(s). Wow, you have a lot of neat stuff for sale at great prices. Hope to see you at Amelia. I’ll have my Maharaja Doozie in Cars n’ Coffee Sat and be outside looking in with it on Sunday! I may be coming through Tampa on Thurs Mar7. should I stop by and see your cars in person?

    • Hi Terry. Yes Ron and Sonya were great friends for many years. Sad that Ron passed away last year but I had a chance to visit with the family shortly afterward in California. A substantial loss, but great family. You’re right about the cars we have for sale – what most people don’t realize is that they are so rare that when sold, they’ll be hard to find again. Most of the cars I’m selling have been unavailable (even the marque unavailable) for 50+ years. E-mail me about March 7th and I’ll confirm with you for Tampa. My e-mail is: Undiscovered.Classics@Gmail.com Thanks for your support Terry. Geoff

  4. GEOFF I always love to read these stories—your adventures are just amazing —KEEP THE THROTTLE DOWN MY FRIEND —-DENNIS KAZ

    • Dennis….I’m trying to get more into the “story” mode again as we make progress on the re-design and re-emergence of what we do. There’s quite a bit still to share so we’ll see how many stories I can post as we move forward. Thanks for your friendship and support. Geoff

  5. Good to see activities on the Atlas. My Atlas is as far as I know still with Bob Duell in New York, Do you now have the mate to tis car? this was shown as the “Californian” some time ago. When I was putting my Atlas together Jim Giles had the mate and was looking for buyer Are you aware of any others surfacing?

    I now have a Glaspar G2 in the works. The original fiberglas is cleaned up and the body is being fitted to the chassis. Have fited a 47 Ford pickup frame, an early Ford Y-Block engine and a 4-Speed T-ten. I have traced this body back to Ray South in the Gresham Oregon area.

    I am finding that my restorations are slowing down and my birthdays are speeding up.

    Looking forward to your messages and keep it up.

    Paul

    d

    • Hello Paul
      I just came across your email to Geoff.
      My name is Christian Reichardt and I bought your “Atlas” from Bob Duell earlier this year.I saw a picture of the car when you were racing it in Oregon years ago and fell in love. When Bob offered it for sale I could not resist. It now resides in Joshua Tree, California.
      When you get this message, it would be great to talk with you. My number is 310-600-8872.
      Thank you!
      Christian

  6. What a journey!! I’m the daughter of Gene aka LeGene. Our family has enjoyed discovering some of his cars. So glad they are still around.

    • Hello Mrs. Dodson Prentice
      I currently own one of the LaGene cars. Saw it first about 15 years ago and fell in love.Then was lucky enough to by it from Bob Deull out of Georgia earlier this year.

      And it now resides in Joshua Tree, California, not far from San Bernardino!

      Would you still remember the address where the cars were built?
      It would be a hoot to take it by there and take some photos.
      Thank you for your help!

    • a beautiful car… we were just talking about (my Great Uncle) Gene Dodson’s Legene Roadster. Loved looking at the pics – would love to keep Uncle Jay’s LeGene in the family (if he chooses to sell it)

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