Think back to the golden era of fiberglass sports cars…..
Anything was possible.
Enterprising young men could look to the future with a gleam in their eye and see so many possibilities. So could older and more experienced men like Paul Strassberger who saw the Glasspar G2 body as his opportunity to satiate America’s appetite for Sports Cars in a very big way.
Paul wanted to build a sports car and sell it – from soup to nuts – in his factory. There weren’t many bodies to choose from in early to mid 1952, so he must have contemplated the classic “build or buy” decision. That is, do we design our own body adding months to the process of building a car. Or…do we choose one of the finest fiberglass bodies available in mid 1952 and beat the competition to the punch and bring out a brand new sports car to the public.
He chose the latter.
Already in 1952, Allied, Frazen, LaSaetta, Maverick, Sportstar, Vale, and even Victress were bringing sports car bodies to market. And that wasn’t all – full sports cars were being built and sold too. Kjell Qvale in the Summer of 1952 had debuted his own BMC fiberglass sports car based on a Singer chassis. And even earlier in the year, William Vaughan in New York put together a Glasspar G2 based Singer that debuted at the International Motor Sports Show in New York. The market seemed ready to explode, and the public seemed willing to buy.
And it was most likely Vaughan’s Singer based Glasspar G2 that was the inspiration for Paul Stassberger’s idea. That is, to bring a sports car to market as fast as possible in 1952 – and use the nicely designed and professionally built Glasspar G2 sports car body. Paul described his car as:
“All New! All-American Sport Car With A Smart Plastic Body!”
And he named it….
“The Yankee Clipper”
To learn a bit more about Paul Strassberger’s Yankee Clipper, let’s take a look at a 1952/1953 newspaper article. Here it is for your review (the original article appears in the photo gallery below):
Palo Alto Vet To Turn Out New Plastic Sports Car
Plant Planned At Menlo Park
Production Soon For The Yankee Clipper
By Dick Harris
A young Navy veteran from Palo Alto has set out to cut himself a share of the rapidly growing U.S. market for sports cars.
Unawed by such distinguished competition as Jaguar, Allard, M.G., and Lancia, Paul Strassberger, 38 year old car dealer, has assembled a fiberglass body on a Ford engine/chassis.
Strassberger, who commanded an armed guard crew on merchant vessels during the war, presently is in the process of establishing an assembly plant in Menlo Park where the Yankee Clipper will be put together.
Shows Pilot Models:
He already has assembled four pilot models. He exhibited one at the National Automobile Dealers Association show in San Francisco last week and had another on display at the San Mateo County Auto Show at the Fiesta Building this past weekend.
Actually, Strassberger claims no credit for developing the car. He says he’s merely exploiting it. The body, the car’s most striking feature, is of fiberglass and plastic and molded in a single piece. It was designed by William Tritt of Santa Ana.
The Clipper is powered with a Ford V8 engine. In fact, its entire mechanical installation is supplied by Ford. Only things Strassberger has to furnitsh to produce the finished product are frames, paint, and upholstery. Frames are being built by Ray Wright of San Carlos and upholstery is is provided by Custom Craft Upholsterers of San Mateo.
Rick D’Louhy and I have collected quite a bit of information about the Yankee Clipper from the Strassberger family and are looking forward to sharing this information in future stories. As you’ll soon find out, the story about the Yankee Clipper makes great reading, and Paul Strassberger was quite an outstanding entrepreneur.
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…
Click on the Images Below to View Larger Pictures
Here’s Paul’s daughter driving one of the remaining yankee clipper cars – her husband found and restored it in the late 90s – this video was 2007 or so – car wound up in Florida last I heard, and that was 2005 or so.
I have the last Yankee Clipper built. My father did mechanical work for Mr Strassberger in Redwood City. It sat at Del Rae Garage all its life. When my father passed, I still had the car. I have moved to Ashland OR with the car. I am giving it to my son. I will be shipping to Denver Colo next spring. It is complete with ford flat head V-8 purrs like kitten. It was the last or close to last car built.
I had done some business with Paul Strassberger years ago, and he told me about the car. I would love to see a picture of it. Do you think your son could post one?? it’d be great to see. 🙂 Thanks in advance!
Great article! I was a neighbor of Mr. Strassberger’s in Palo Alto back in 1958-62. I was just a boy but was good friends with his son John. I remember one of his cars and talked to him a couple of years ago about an article I had seen lately about The Yankee Clipper. Always a gentleman, he sent me a thank you along with an original sales brochure from 1952. Great piece of Bay Area History.- Jim Johnson