This is the first in a series of stories on the Rollie Langston Byers SR100. Rollie is one of the only individuals we’ve found where the story, pictures, and person who built the Byers SR100 is with us and available – and the car has been found too. Lots to share about this exciting story and the men who built this car – Rollie Langston and via letters and advice – Jim Byers.
The Story Begins…
Back in 1958 Rollie Langston’s project of building his own sports car was already well underway. He had selected a body design in 1957, the Byers SR100 (probably after seeing the front cover of Road & Track in February of that year), and was communicating with Jim Byers – the man himself – about how to build the sports car that he would soon start in the summer of ’58.
Jim Byers was 34 years old in 1958 – a veteran of the fiberglass world given that he was older than most others in the industry at the time. By comparison, Rollie was just 16 and building his own sports car – younger than most who took on this task. But as you’ll see over the next several stories…..Rollie was just as skillful at building his own sports car as other young men who had age and experience over him.
We’re fortunate to have all written communication between Jim Byers and Rollie Langston available to us today. Our story here focuses on a letter directly from Jim Byers in 1958 with information personally addressed to Rollie about the purchase and build of his car.
Let’s peer back into time and see what advice Jim Byers was giving to Rollie back in the Spring of 1958.
Jim Byers Letter To Rollie Langston: March 5th, 1958
Fiber Glass Sport Car Bodies
J. E. Byers, Jr., Owner
118 Sheldon Street, El Segundo, California
Telephone: EAstgate 2- 1948
Dear Mr. Langston:
My apologies for not writing sooner. It is very difficult to answer all the inquires promptly.
I am currently restyling the hard-top and I will not have pictures for approximately two weeks. As soon as I finish the new mold, I’ll send you pictures. It will not have quarter windows, just one large rear window, ala T-Bird. Also, I do not make side curtains.
The crate is 14 feet x 6 feet x 3 feet and the railroad freight cost to Springfield, Missouri., is $8.83 per hundred weight or $40. Currently I am back ordered only for abut two weeks, which is a minimum. Your understanding of my prices is correct.
I would like to make a suggestion. Since you are using a Henry-J chassis, kit II would not be too practicable. My floor and firewall are not in the correct position for your chassis, therefore why not consider a modified Kit II. This kit includes Kit I plus hood, deck cut, hinges, locks, plus door hinges and locks, but doors are not cut.
Also, no floor or firewall. Actually, the doors should not be cut until body is mounted to a given chassis as the body shell has little or no strength at the door section. I scribe the door outline and cutting the door is really easy. The cost of this kit is $495.
Again, I am sorry to be so late in answering your letter and I hope we can hear from you soon.
J. E. Byers, Jr.
Some of you “Jim Byers aficionados” out there may have focused in on the name and address of the letterhead. How astute you are!
Jim’s first name for his company was “Fiber-Craft.” It changed to “J.E. Byers Fiberglass Company” within about a year. And…his first location was as noted on this letterhead – 118 Sheldon street. Within about a year, besides changing the name of his company Jim also moved his shop about a block away to 607 E. El Segundo Blvd – still in El Segundo, California.
Lots more to share soon, gang, concerning the Rollie Langston Byers SR100. Treasures and tales that will surprise and amaze you – of that….I’m sure.
Thanks again to Rollie Langston for saving these materials for 50+ years – just so we could share them with you here at Forgotten Fiberglass. Rollie….you’re the best, and I can’t wait to share the next article with everyone.
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…
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