Meet the 1954 Carl Luckenbach Special – Part 1

Hi Gang…

Acquisitions of special cars often take years to make happen – and this happens more than you think.  We try and track down all the leads – lock, stock and barrel and today’s story about the Carl Luckenbach Special continues to be written to this day.

Dan Strohl Meets Terry Frisch

Back in 2009, we had started sharing some of our fiberglass adventure stories with Dan Strohl of Hemmings.  Dan Strohl, in turn, heard from folks in his blog and e-mail wanting to share some of their fiber-stories and an occasional car or mystery too.  It was late in 2009, Dan received the following e-mail:

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Hi Daniel,

I have been thinking about sending pictures of a fiberglass car that I know of into you for identification and I see that there are two guys that are doing research on fiberglass cars and they may be able to help me.  Could you pass these pictures on to these guys and have them contact me?

Thanks.

Terry Frisch

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We love mystery cars, and after appropriate introductions here are the photos we received from Terry below.  We had a good starting place but we needed to talk with the owner and learn the car’s history too.  It was not a car we’ve seen before.

Meeting the Owner:

Each car has its own story and often times we have to travel to the location where the car is to learn the story and meet the owners.  Traveling to Michigan is easier than traveling to points west of the Mississippi for us Florida folks, so it took some time but in 2010 we were in Michigan and my good friend Stan Fowler volunteered (was volunteered) to join us on the hunt.

Want to go to Waterford, Michigan and check out a lost car?” I asked Stan.

He agreed and off we went.  Here are some of the photos we took that day:

During our visit, we did a short video which you can see below of this “mystery car.”  We also met the owner of the house where the car was located and made plans to contact her son who owned the car.  So many steps in tracking down the history of lost cars, and it may take time but it’s always fun.  You can check out the short video below.

Mystery Solved – A New Story Begins:

In short order, we were able to talk to the owner – Randy Bonneau – and he was and is a great guy.  He had purchased the car back in the early 1970s and had owned it now for about 40 years.  Randy was getting close to retirement and his thoughts were to move and restore the car in the near future.  That’s a great idea and we planned to keep in touch and offer help if needed along the way.  The more cars in this “niche” that are restored – the better for all of us.

Summary:

Randy did add one thing.  He knew that the builder of the car was a person named Carl Luckenbach who had designed the Pontiac Superdome.  I asked him if he ever contacted Carl about the car and Randy said “no.”

That was something we had to fix – and fix in the near future.  Which will lead us to Part 2 of the story.

Remember gang….the adventure continues here at Undiscovered Classics.

Geoff


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Comments

Meet the 1954 Carl Luckenbach Special – Part 1 — 9 Comments

  1. Of all the “undiscovered” cars you do find, are there any that the fiberglass is just too weathered to repair or replace? I know the outdoors is not kind to fiberglass over time. Thanks, and keep saving these beauties.

    • Hi Hal. Everything is repairable if the project is undertaken. The Voodoo Gardner was one of the toughest jobs yet concerning condition, and it has come out beautiful. Thanks for your interest. Geoff

  2. As good as any mystery around…maybe better. Definitely, I would like to hear about engine/motor & drivetrain. Thanks you for all the work. watso (currently S. Florida)

  3. LIKE WHAT U GUYS DO I HAVE THE MOLDS FOR THE DOMIUS FLAT BACK MADE WITH A VW BUG. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK AND HAVE A BLESSED DAY HAPPY HUNTING I LOVE THE THRILL OF FINDING THEM AND BRING THEM BACK TO MY SHOP THATS THE BEST PART I HAVE SEEN AFEW UTLA VANS AS IAM A CORVAIR GUY BEN IN HERNANDO

  4. An interesting find and story, thanks for publishing.
    It’s unfortunate that gems such as these are found in such a bad condition. Would have saved a lot of work (for someone) had the owner simply covered with a tarp. I do like the lines of the Luchenbach Special. I can see a bit of Austin-Healey 100 and perhaps Cobra in the design.
    The Lincoln engine is most certainly shoe-horned into the engine bay with very little clearance for the radiator. My guess is that Lincoln=Mercury=Ford, probably a Y-block engine. A Thunderbird engine would have looked great too. (The early Y-blocks were problematic due to a design flaw in regards to oil delivery to the engine). The engine found in my Venus is a ’51 Merc flathead V8, as per the numbers stamped on the crankshaft.
    This Luckenbach Special would be a great project for hot-rodding, depending on what engine you could fit under the hood. Do you know if the engine is seized? I’m wondering if there are any photographs of this car in its prime before it was parked and abandoned? I can envision a set of side pipes.
    Certainly a serious restoration project, but mechanical issues can always be repaired, replaced, or renewed. But the body is small enough to be able to be easily manhandled off and on. I would have concerns about how to mount the windshield properly. I would like to have seen the car first pulled out from the vines for a decent total view.
    Good story, looking forward to Part 2.

    • Hi Patrick…our teams down here are tried and tested on vintage fiberglass sports cars. This one is in better shape than many, and as the number of cars we’ve restored increases, we get better and better at learning how to do these “right” and bring them in at a fair restoration cost. The Luckenback is actually a big sports car – the wheelbase is just over 100 inches which is slightly larger than a Victress S1A roadster. Fun stuff. Glad you liked the story and keep the comments coming. Best, Geoff

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