LOST CAR: Another 1956 One-off Handbuilt SoCal Sports Car – Let’s Find This American Special

Hi Gang…

Recently I’ve been peering deeper into the mysterious and never-ending Petersen Digital Archive.  Last time I found a very interesting unknown car from 1956.

Click Here To View the Last Mystery Car I Found and the Story About It

The car I recently found is a 2-seater sporty car but more of a sport custom than a sports car.  Let’s take a look in more detail.

Petersen Archive Photos:

The photos are part of the Petersen Archives  and there is some good information that was shared along with the photos as follows:

  • The caption for the photos is just “Custom”
  • In several of the photos they are classified for the periodical “MLF” which probably means “Motor Life” magazine – perhaps it’s in an issue of “Motor Life” that I’ve missed (or yet to acquire). 1956?  1957?
  • The photographer is identified as Dean Batchelor – famed racer, builder, editor, photographer and more

Let’s check out the 11 photos of the lost sports car first.  Then, we’ll discuss the car and reasons why I think both of these cars may still be out there.  And away we go:

Photos of the Mystery Sports Car: 

What Do We Know About The Car?

What do we know about the car?   Well at this time, only what we can see in the photos above.  Let’s check off some of the things we see in the photos:

  • The steering wheel is from a 1946-1948 Lincoln V-12 car
  • The radio (rarely seen in these types of cars) is a wonder-bar radio and is from a 1946-1948 Ford or Mercury
  • I love the dual rear antennas
  • Not sure what the front indicator lights are from
  • Nice wheel opening shapes for front and rear but short door with unappealing rear vertical line
  • 1952-1953 rear Kaiser taillights
  • Car had hood, doors, trunk – not all handbuilt cars from this era had all of these.  Nicely included
  • Hubcaps could be aftermarket accessory for the time or something that one of you recognize

Why Cars Survive:

I mention at the beginning of the article that we’ve been lucky at finding so many cars we’ve been searching for, and that this is for several reasons besides being hard working researchers.  Some of these reasons include:

  • Fiberglass bodied cars had little scrap value.  Many times they were just pushed to the side and abandoned – or nearly so.
  • If brought to a junkyard, the owner could easily find someone to purchase an unusual car.  They could get more than scrap value for a fiberglass car.  There are – or were always – people like me and you who wanted something different and I’ve taken many cars out of junk yards over the years.
  • It’s not unusual for a family to keep a heirloom in the family for generation after generation.  There are many cars I’ve seen that have been in a family for 100 years (which is amazing if you think of it).  Just recently we found two cars – a LaSaetta and a custom one-off car called a Lasley that have remained in the family since the day they were started and built.

So as my friend Rollie Langston says about bad news / good news is….

“The bad news is that they made very few American Specials in fiberglass, steel or aluminum.  The good news is that many or even “most” are still around, and those that are missing like this one may very well be found by you”

Go get ’em gang 🙂


So go forth and let’s find this car.  And remember what I’ve shared about lost cars in the image/poster below:

Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember…

The adventure continues here at Undiscovered Classics.



LOST CAR: Another 1956 One-off Handbuilt SoCal Sports Car – Let’s Find This American Special — 4 Comments

  1. In addition to referecing the 1952 and 1953 Kaisers…the tail lights are also the same as the 1954 Kaiser Darrin, only without the metallic surrounding trim.

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