Roadster in Glass – Joe and Henry Smith’s Fabulous Fiberglass Sports Car (Hot Rod Magazine, April 1957)


Hi Gang…

Here’s another beautiful fiberglass roadster from the 1950’s – it’s missing and no information has been found save for the wonderful article that appeared in Hot Rod Magazine in 1957.  This particular car was brought to my attention by good friend and researcher Will Silk – Associate Editor at Sports Car Digest (http://www.sportscardigest.com).

Here’s what Will wrote to me recently concerning his “find:”

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Hi Geoff,

I happened to stumble upon this when I was thumbing through the April of 1957 issue of Hot Rod Magazine.  I did a few quick searches on your site, but I didn’t come up with anything directly linked to the car.  I was searching as “Smith Roadster”, “Joe Smith”, and “Henry Smith”.

Just curious to know if the car is still around, and what knowledge you may have on it.  It looks like a real sweet little roadster.

Thanks for having a look and offering any insight.

Cheers!

Will Silk
Associate Editor | Sports Car Digest
http://www.sportscardigest.com

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Looking thru my files and checking with friends revealed no new information.   But 1957 is not that long ago (believe it or not) and Joe and Henry Smith – and/or their kids and families – may still be around.

So….as you read today’s story, read it as “Indiana Jones” would in putting together a plan on how to find the people and how to find the car.  Who is up to the challenge?  If you find the answer to this question (and perhaps the car)…..fiberglass enthusiasts across the world will celebrate.

And you will join the elite group of “fiberglass fanatics” in recanting stories of your research and find (and we’ll post the story here at Forgotten Fiberglass too!).  By the way….the two pages  in Hot Rod Magazine concerning this car didn’t contain an article.  Instead, these pages contained detailed captions for each photo that appeared.  And that’s how I’ll present the story below.

Here’s the story….have at it gang!

Roadster In Glass: (Hot Rod Magazine, April 1957)
Photos by Colin Creitz

Caption: This remarkable first-time effort in fiberglass took 3 and 1/2 years to complete. Joe and Henry Smith (brothers) built their own molds, did all body fabrication.

Caption: Henry Smith had to call for help from fiberglass company representative to learn mold technique. The result is one of the cleanest projects imaginable. Note fine detail around doors.

Caption: Despite small 102 inch wheelbase chassis (1951 Ford frame with 12 inches sectined from amidship), flathead appears lost in engine room. 1951 Ford gearbox, rear end, cut driveshaft used.

Proper front elevation achieved by cutting 1 and 1/2 coils from stock Ford springs. All crossmembers but front one were replaced. A short test ride in roadster proved firm but gentle. The Smith brothers are allied with hot rod industry, making adjustable pushrods for top speed equipment retail outlets in their San Gabriel Valley shop.

Caption: A U-joint had to be inserted in 1951 Ford steering column to effect good positioning of steering wheel. Fuel tank is just in back of rear axle. Body is mounted on frame in ten spots, is free from racking on corners. Custom windshield posts were cast to hold cut-down 1953-1954 Studebaker coupe windshield glass. Bumper bars were taken from Corvette, grille is original.

Summary:

What a great job the Smith brothers did on this roadster.  It must still be around, and if so….I hope it has been cared for well.   Will one of you find the car (and the brothers) and join the ranks of “fiberglass fanatics” in the near future?  Only the (fiberglass) Shadow knows….

Until next time…

Glass on gang…

Geoff

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Click on the Images Below to View Larger Pictures

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Comments

Roadster in Glass – Joe and Henry Smith’s Fabulous Fiberglass Sports Car (Hot Rod Magazine, April 1957) — 3 Comments

  1. I have rented shop space from your grandfather and uncle since 1985. Uncle Joe told me all about this car and gave me a copy of the HRM issue, which I still have. He still had all the molds stored in the back yard of his house on South Sunkist Ave. I grew up on North Sunkist from 1946… He had decided to send the stuff down the road and asked if I would be interested? I went and looked and decided to not… Do not know where it ended up – maybe a dumpster? Henry might know?

    I saw Henry about a week ago. Son Mark brought him by the shop. He was gonna have his 94th BD in a few days…

    The car had an oval name plate on the front that had the name GAJDA ? which was the original family name that was changed to SMITH by either Canadian immigration or an employer? It was pronounced Guy-da.

    Joe told me that they had sold the car along the way and did not know its whereabouts at that time. Maybe it went to Oregon? Very vague memory on this…

  2. Brian Smith- Your old post was just recently pointed out to me. It was a pleasure to read that your grandfather Henry Smith was “alive and well”. In re-reading old Hot Rod magazines, I was very impressed by the talented work of Henry and Joe displayed in their beautiful sports rod. Do you know any of the car’s history after they completed it?

    Yours truly,
    Jack Gifford
    Phelps, NY

  3. My grandfather and my great uncle built this car. I would be happy to supply you with all of the information you are looking for. Unfortunately Joe has since passed but my grandfather, Henry Smith is alive and well and would be thrilled to here that you guys are looking into this car once again. Please contact me for any info.

    Thank you,

    Brian Smith

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