I love “Mysterions.” Doesn’t everyone?
“Mysterions” are a class of cars that Rick D’Louhy and I have so named based on their unknown history. They are truly “Mystery Cars” in every way. The 1950’s was a time when competent builders and talented designers could collaborate and build a sports car of their dreams. Many of these cars were never documented or if they were – the documentation, photos, and brochures (if they existed) appear to have been lost.
All the proof that exists of their dream is the car that’s left behind. It’s these “mystery cars” that match this criteria and – by our definition – are deemed “Mysterions.” We believe that until we discover the names of the designers and builders of these cars, we should celebrate what they accomplished, and bestow this title giving these unknown cars a “marque” of their own.
Click on the following link to learn more about how “Forgotten Fiberglass” celebrates Mysterions and the era that they represent: Mysterions – Establishing a Class of Forgotten Fiberglass Cars
Restoring A Car You Know Nothing About:
How do you go about researching – heck restoring – a car you know nothing about? Daniel Strohl of Hemmings Magazine was intrigued by this paradox and wrote about a restoration that Rick D’Louhy, Scott Miller, Tim Masters, and I recently completed. Namely, Rick’s “California Special.” Click on the following link to learn more about Daniel’s perspective on these types of cars: Hemmings: Restoring a Car You Know Nothing About
Sometime in the near future, Rick and I will turn our “restoration” attention to a car that we lovingly call, “The Blowfish Special” – which is the topic of our story today. Let’s review what we know about the car.
The Blowfish Special – Mysterion Extraordinarie
I first heard about this car back around 2007 from good friend and Glasspar historian Pat Hoover. Pat was schooling me on taking over the Glasspar G2 club and was discussing a car he had recently located that looked – from the back end – a bit like a Victress (Merrill Powell from Victress assured me that it in no way is a Victress. He seemed quite emphatic about it based on its design).
I started talking with the owner of the car in hopes of learning more about its background, but he knew as much about it as we did. Upon closer inspection, we learned that the car was created using hand-laid fiberglass techniques and in every way was built – and designed – using early 1950’s approaches.
The shape of the car is also reminiscent of early – not mid – 1950’s, and for all of these reasons and more, we believe it is a very early fiberglass sports car. And one that appears to have been nicely done back in the day.
The wheelbase is approximately 100” and the car – like many of the cars of this era – has no doors and trunk (even though someone “rough-cut” a trunk – and then reattached it). The chassis is modified Ford and the drivetrain is – and was – Ford (Flathead). The steering wheel is Ford too.
There were at least 7 dashboard instruments, and most were early Stewart Warner. The manner of original construction in every way was careful and deliberate – someone spent a lot of time and money on this car, and through examining the method of construction – it showed.
Tracking Down The Builder:
So….where do you start on researching the history?
I was fortunate to quickly find that good friends, vintage racers, and collectors Bruce Glascock and Nancy Garner had once owned the car. Bruce said that the dashboard originally had an engine-turned aluminum face – and that he might still have it. How neat! And…that’s evidence of another piece of a high-quality build. Bruce also mentioned that he had bought the car from legendary hot-rod builder Vern Tardel of Santa Rosa, California.
About a year later, I had a chance to spend some time with Vern back in 2008 when I was on one of my research trips out West to discover more about lost fiberglass cars. Vern and I talked a bit about the car. He had found it around 1970 and bought it because it had a beautiful well-built Ford Flathead V8 in it, and he wanted that engine.
He bought it, took the engine out, and kept the car outside for the next 10-20 years. He never did learn who built it, but believes the car was from the San Francisco Bay Area which is near Santa Rosa. That’s all he was able to determine, and the next owner were friends Bruce Glascock / Nancy Garner. They sold it after owning it for just a few years.
So…that’s all we’ve got so far. Not a lot of history, but some intriguing details. If the car was built in the early 1950’s, we’ve still got an ownership gap from 1952 to 1970 – that’s a long time gang! Unless someone steps forward with information and pictures of the car, it’s doubtful we’ll ever discover it’s true history.
Naming The (And Your) Mysterion:
While we ultimately hope that the number of Mysterions we encounter diminishes each year with research, this will most likely not be the case. That is, as we discover more cars with unknown histories and as time increases from the point in which they were built – “Mysterions” will continue to grow.
So…Rick and I believe that the owners of “Mysterions” today have a special responsibility. That is, they need to give the “soul” back to the car that they have so carefully bought, saved, stored, preserved, and hopefully plan to restore. The first step in making this happen is by naming their Mysterion. By doing this, they’ll be on the way to bringing a life and history to their car – even if the actual history starts with the person who bought and saved the car.
In this manner, that’s how Rick and I came up with the name “California Sports Special” for his Mysterion (click here to review the story on Rick’s car), and that’s how we came up with the name for the car in today’s story – the now infamous “Blowfish Special.”
By the way, we came up with that name because of the animal-like qualities that the “face” of the car seems to possess. Rick and I have always been amused with odd looking cars, and the “Blowfish Special” is deserving of a name commensurate with its design. I hope we’ve achieved this goal with its new designation.
Plans For Restoration:
Not sure when we’re going to start restoration on this car gang. When we start, we’ll do our best to keep the restoration true to its early 1950’s heritage. In the meantime, Marshall Foxworthy came up with some interesting observations – and possibilities.
First, he pointed out that the “Blowfish Special” looks a lot like the Daimler SP250 roadster. I’ve included a picture of his comparison in the gallery of photos below. My guess is that at 100” wheelbase, the “Blowfish” is a much bigger car – but he’s right on the money with the comparison to the design of the Daimler.
He also suggested a new name for it which was the “Plecostomus Special” – after another form of fish. Not sure about that one gang, but his photo of one of these fish is in the gallery too. Marshall also quickly colorized one of the photos to show what it might look with a finished grill, bumpers, wheels, and uniform color (mostly).
Neat stuff Marshall. Thanks for your interest and suggestions. All help is welcome on this one.
Mysterions are an important part of our group, and one of the classes of cars that should be embraced – and celebrated – as part of “Forgotten Fiberglass.” I look forward to featuring more “Mysterions” on our website over time, and hope that some of these features will lead to their true history (like the Bohada Special recently did).
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…
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