State of the Fiberglass Industry: Motor Life, July 1956


Hi Gang…

I love the “overview” articles sprinkled throughout the automobile enthusiast magazines in the ‘50s.  They give us a good view of the industry at a point in time – as seen thru the authors of the era.  For the most part, they are accurate, but we still have to meld “fact” with “fiction” to come up with a more precise picture of the times.

For example, in this article there are a few bumps in the road as follows:

  • The Glasspar G2 was not offered in ’56 – and probably not in ’55 either.  By late ’54, Glasspar was well on its way to building quite a bit for Disneyland and the “Ascot” was being prepared for rollout.  G2’s were no longer offered for sale much after the Fall of ’54 (as related to me by Bill Tritt and Frank Hecox of Glasspar)
  • The Woodill Wildfire Roadster was still available, but considered an older style having been rolled out in ’53.
  • The Woodill Coupe was never offered – only the initial prototype was built
  • There was no such thing as the Victress C6 with wheelbase of 112-116 – unless Merrill Powell thinks this was Bill Powell and Bill Quirk’s dragster.  Merrill….what do you think?

The rest of the information seems “spot-on.”

What makes this an interesting article is that ’56 was a transition year as follows:

  • Devin was in the process of releasing his new body which would make him famous in fiberland lore.
  • LaDawri had just debuted their car in Canada that would soon be known as the “Conquest
  • and Kellison would make a splash in ’57 with his new coupe.

Things were about to change – and we would enter what Rick D’Louhy and I call “Generation 2” of early fiberglass cars which lasted approximately from 1956 thru 1970.  Let’s take a look what Motor Life had to say about building your own fiberglass sports  car back in July 1956:

The Kit Sports Car
Motor Life, July 1956

The sports cars shown on these pages are the painstaking results of mechanically adept enthusiasts who “assembled” their own individually styled machines.  The firms, listed below, are in the business of building special fiberglass bodies that will fit nearly anything from an MG to a large stock car chassis.

Available in kit form, they usually include the body, floorboard section, windshield, doors, and panel ready for instruments.  Running gear – wheels, brakes, engine, etc. –  is obtained from a used car.  Upholstery and paint of course, are up to you, and can make or break the final appearance.  (click on the picture below to make it larger on your screen and review the detail).

Photos And Captions From The Article

Let’s take a look at the photos and captions from the article.

Note that both Glasspar G2’s shown in the article appear with names of the owners and builders – Ranny Walrod of Los Angeles and Val Haefs of Sunland – both of California.  Anyone out there want to help find these guys or their families?  This is how I usually begin the research process that leads to uncovering great information and often some unknown cars.  And…one or two of you might own these exact cars today – and be missing their heritage (until now….)

Also of note, the Victress S5 shown on an MG chassis was the one built by Art Evans and raced one or two times before being retired (body retired – not car).  More about the Art Evans Victress S5 in future stories here on Forgotten Fiberglass.  The Victress S1A shown is the one built by Grant McCoon and called the “Bronze Bomber.”  It’s shown in color on the front of this magazine.

Finally, although the McCormack and Sorrell are discussed in the table of cars above being available, no pictures of them are shown.

Let’s have at the photos, gang!

Summary:

So much information to share with all of you from the ‘50s….wait ‘till you see what’s coming up next!

Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…

Glass on gang…

Geoff
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Comments

State of the Fiberglass Industry: Motor Life, July 1956 — 4 Comments

    • ~ hey Ted, generally when there is a lapse in Geoff’s articles he is off an adventure and soon we will be in for a flurry of interesting posts. and like you my patience grows short. 😉 hang in there, the wait is worth it. -sc

  1. “The Victress S1A shown is the one built by Grant McCoon and called the “Bronze Bomber.” It’s shown in color on the front of this magazine.”

    The McCoon family owned the Grant Piston Ring and Grant Steering Wheels companies.
    This may be a lead for anyone out there to follow up on this story.

    I had dealings with them many years ago with FoMoCo in Detroit.

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