It’s great to see restoration plans being put in place for another LaDawri Conquest – this one owned by Mike and Bobbie Machado of Gardnerville, Nevada. Recently, Mike bought the LaDawri from good friend James Long of California, and it’s a solid car to plan a restoration around. Here’s what Mike recently wrote to me:
Letter From Mike Machado
April 22, 2020
I just purchased a LaDawri Conquest project from a fella in Northern California. There is a Henry J frame with it, however the body is not mounted /attached to the frame. The body is just sitting on top of it. I believe this body was never really finished because most of the mold lines are still visible on the top surface. The body is in poor condition. Anyway, I am going to proceed with putting this together. Here’s a little story abut this car or more about me I guess.
I’m 64 years old,. I will be 65 in December. When I was ten years old, my dad and grandfather along with two uncles owned a trucking business in San Jose CA. One day while we were at the trucking yard in the office, a man my Dad knew walks in and says “Hey Ralph come on out and see my new Hot Rod.”
So they all go outside to check it out. I wandered out along with my pops. WOW! What a fantastic looking car this guy had. They were all drooling over it. At ten years old I was drooling too! I remember him telling them the name of the car. But I just realized when I saw the one I bought this last Monday night I had the name wrong.
I have been searching all of these years for a sports car that I thought was called a “Dollie” or “Dolly”. When I saw this car in the sales ad I fell over, realizing that this is the car I saw that day 54 almost 55 years ago. It’s a “LaDawri”. When I was strapping it down to my trailer at a very dark parking lot of the shop, my wife suggests to go around the corner and pull into the Am/Pm (convenience store) lot which is very well lit so I could see what I was doing. Great idea.
So as I am strapping it down and admiring the car I have been searching for all of these years, a pickup pulls up to the gas pump. Out steps this little kid and his father. The little guy comes up to me and say’s ” hey mister, what kind of car is that?” I tell him its a 1957 LaDawri Conquest. He says “WOW that’s a cool; car.” I told him and his dad that I just bought it and am now taking it home.
As the little guy is walking away, I asked him, “hey young man, how old are you?” and he answers, “TEN years old” The goose bumps are still on my arms. So now his journey/search begins….
Thank you for any help you can provide, I really appreciate it. Actually your website is fantastic! Keep up the great work.
Carson City, Nevada
Mike and Bobbie Machado’s LaDawri Conquest
Let’s check out some of the photos Mike sent in and see what will need to be addressed:
Additional Information From Mike
Mike and I chatted a few times about his car, and he sent me additional information as follows:
“This is the picture (below) I found of my car surfing the internet one day about a week after I purchased it from James Long. Notice the license plate confirms this is my car. I believe it shows it sitting in the backyard of Alan Smith who had sold it to James. It did have a Studebaker V8 in it with a 3 speed overdrive tranny.
When I purchased it from James the motor and tranny were removed from it. When I picked it up, James did have the 3 speed which he sent along with me. The motor was long gone. I believe Alan Smith told me via your LaDawri Facebook page that he had the Conquest for about 15 years and had done nothing with it. So it sat in his yard for quite sometime.”
Here’s the photo Mike sent to me along with the information above:
The Henry J Chassis:
Since Mike’s LaDawri Conquest utilizes the Henry J chassis, I thought I might expand on that a bit. Mike’s Conquest was built on one of the more popular frames that Les Dawes of LaDawri suggested using – Kaiser’s Henry J – and this was an excellent choice.
From 1951 thru 1954, over 100,000 Henry J automobiles were produced by the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation and by 1957 when the LaDawri Conquest was born, this was an excellent platform to build on. The wheelbase was perfect for a sports car – 100 inches, and it was set up with independent front suspension and longitudinal springs in the rear. The only issue that had to be addressed was the width of the car – it was narrow like an MG.
Many builders overcame this with replacing the rear axle with another axle (often Ford) from a standard sized car which would be the normal, larger width. Front wheels were often “reversed” which meant taking out the center of the wheel and flipping it. This gave more offset to the front wheels for working a solution. Of course this could be done for the rear wheels too so that was another trick to make Henry J chassis work.
We wish the best of success in restoration plans and action to Mike and Bobbie Machado. We’ve already helped a bit and have shared more of our LaDawri “John Gulow” archives on our website for all LaDawri owners to use. Our most recent additions and “build instructions” and you can visit these new additions via the link below:
Click Here To View The LaDawri / Victress Instruction and Assembly Manuals Section of Undiscovered Classics
Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember…
The adventure continues here at Undiscovered Classics.
Many thanks go out to Mr. Geoffry Hacker for helping me in many ways he does not know about just yet.
I am so excited to have found this LaDawri and to be able to start on its restoration/build with some oversight from Geoff and this group of mighty fine people.
Thank you all so much.
Thank you Geoff.
As I have said before, keep up the great work in finding these wonderful classics. Keep them on the road.
Funny, I know a Mike that has one too.
What kind of condition is his LaDawri in?
Do you have any pictures of it?
I would like to see a few more Mike’s with these cars.
Ok, I would like to see anyone with a LaDawri.
Keep them on the road.
Mike and Bobbie; I have a conquest that I put on a Henry J frame and has HJ drive train. After driving this car for few years I now know the things that should of been done at the start. The frame has too much flex for the glass body (glass stress cracks) The frame kick up is such that comfortable seats is almost impossible (ok short drives). Has 4;56 gears in the rear (ok with 30% overdrive trans. Engine heat caused hood to sag. These are some of the problems I have had to deal with and do-over. My suggestion would be Mustang II front end and rear with square tube frame. I would also do a 4 coil over. Body will need to be raised for under hood clearance and drive shaft angle. I also have instruction manual and blueprints for this kit. Over the years of building cars I have always said that todays experience is from yesterdays mistakes. Hope this information gives you some ideas about this project. If there is anything I can help you with feel free to e-mail. Geoff has my e-mail and cell #
@ Tim – Great comments here Tim and thanks for sharing. Hope you’re doing well. Sounds like we should do a story on your car. I have much of what you sent me before. Do you have time to help with a story? Please contact me via my e-mail at Geoffrey.Hacker@Gmail.com Thanks Tim. Geoff
Geof; I would like to do a story on my conquest. I have a lot of pics from the build project. I dont know if I told you that I have the hard top for the conquest and the Kelsey Hays spoke wheels. hope to talk to you soon. thanks Tim
@ Tim – yes let’s do a story. I’ll e-mail you tonight and we can get it going. Should be fun. Best, Geoff
Tim, thank you for your reply and the heads up to potential problems.
Looking at the frame, I agree it looks to be somewhat weak. I will be adding additional cross members.
My Henry J frame has been modified and kicked up more in the rear. I believe it was possibly done to provide more room (depth & width) for the seats?
However, the kick up was done very poorly. I will have to redo it if I wish to keep this chassis.
I do have another unmodified Henry J chassis on hand that I may use.
I’m very interested in any and all literature, plans, instructions, drawings you might have available for me to purchase from you.
Like Geoff, I’m am putting together a library for anything LaDawri.
Again, thank you. I feel so blessed to have found the car I have been searching for for the last 54 years.
I am so blessed to be part of a group of LaDawri enthusiasts that know so much about these cars.
You all will be such a help to my new and exciting adventure put before me.
Mike, Yes I would like to help you all I can on your conquest project, weather it be advice, suggestions or literature. I have photos of my conquest over the years of building and updating. It will always be driver in progress The more I drive it the more things I think about changing. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Look forward to hearing from you, Tim
Wow, I have a 59 LaDawri Conquest that I plan to finally start restoring this year. My dad gave it to me when I was 14 and I am now 57. I have never driven it, but will never sell it. I hope to have it on the road next summer.
Hello Shane, not only do you have a great car, you also have a great name.
Shane is my middle name.
Please keep in touch during your rebuild of your LaDawri. I’m very interested in what your plans for it might be.
Thank you for the reply.
Now THERE is a truly unique car worth the time a money to save. Great lines and super potential! I hope we get a chance to see it finished. I do believe I would choose a later model chassis with many more amenities though. Totally cool!
Thank you Jim, it is car with great potential.
I’m in the planning stage right now. We will see what I come up with.