Note: This is the third in a series of articles here at Forgotten Fiberglass that showcase a story called “The Glassmakers 1960” published in Sportscar Graphic in May-June 1960. In this 1960 article, Almquist, Devin, Kellison, LaDawri, and Victress were showcased. We have separated the full article into “five” more readable stories – one for each of the car marques discussed.
Click here to review all articles published in this series
If only we had an article in 1960 that told us what fiberglass companies were in business and going strong…..
Wait! We do! This 12 page tome appeared in Sportscar Graphic in June 1960 and included two pages or more on each of the following cars: Devin, Kellison, LaDawri, Victress, and Almquist. And those were the “Big Fiber Guns” of fiberglass then, and it’s a very respectful review of each of these companies and what they had to offer.
I’m going to break this up into 5 separate articles with each one focusing on a specific fiberglass sports car company from this article. Today’s story, the third in the series, will focus on the sports cars built by La Dawri Coachcraft.
So sit back, grab a coffee, turn on some music, and let the fibers fly free…
Off we go gang!
The Glassmakers…1960: La Dawri Coachcraft
Sportscar Graphic, May-June 1960
By Bob Rolofson
Photos by Rolofson, Bob D’Olivo and the Inman Co.
Want A Sportscar? Have Budget Problems? These Fiberglass Companies Have Economy-Minded Answers That Range From Bodies Fresh From The Mold To Completed Cars Ready For The Street Or Race Course
La Dawri Coachcraft:
A relative newcomer in the glass body field, Les Dawes has made La Dawri Coachcraft, Box 2501, Long Beach, Calif. a name to reckon with. His shells feature some of the smoothest, and certainly the most original lines of bodies available to special builders.
The La Dawri Conquest can be compared in size to the Corvette, and can actually be laminated to a Corvette chassis, using the existing floor, bulkheads, dash and interior decor. It fits wheelbases from 98 to 104 inches, and tread widths from 49 to 52 inches. Its younger brother, the Quest Q.T., is a miniature version of the Conquest.
It is comparable in size with the 300-SL, and will fit wheelbases from 90 to 97 inches, and tread widths from 48 to 52 inches…i.e., M.G., Austin Healy, Triumph TRs, etc. The windshield frame is laminated over a steel roll bar, and is designed to take a stock late-model Chevrolet or GM windshield complete with chrome trim and frame.
The Q.T., also with hidden roll bar, uses a stock Vauxhall unit. Bubbles cast into the shell, just forward of the windshield, need only to be drilled to accept a stock Studebaker electric windshield wiper assembly, with the motor bolted to the forward bulkhead.
These units are offered in various states of completion beginning with kit 1A, which is the bare body shell along with templates for cutting the doors, trunk and hood. This unit requires some sanding along the seams where the 17 molds used to cast its sculptured shape meet.
Otherwise, it is as sleek and glossy as a new refrigerator door! In this form the shell is priced at $395. Although La Dawri will build a complete car, ready to run, these orders are handled on a custom basis. Their new ID kit is very close to being a completed car, however.
It includes the finished shell, with trunk, hood and doors cut and hinged, rear bulkhead, door moldings, bench-type dash, and the whole works mounted on a Henry J tube-type frame and independent front suspension. The car is complete with floorboards, ready to be fitted with rolling gear. This kit is priced at $895.
The Quest Q.T. is offered in two kits.
- Q.A. is similar to the Conquest 1A, with basic shell and its combination windshield frame and roll bar, independently molded hood, trunk and doors, which include molded door jambs and unique stiffening bar which holds the shell in shape until mounted, molded headlight bucket, and trimmed flashings. It is priced at $395.
- Kit #Q.B. includes the features of the above, plus hinges and locks mounted on hood, trunk and door units, a rear bulkhead, and the bench-type dash. It sells for $520.
Accessories include a detachable hard top in kit or finished form, two dash designs; one for use with a three-seat bench which has a flat surface to accommodate any type instruments, and the other for two seaters, with the driveshaft tunnel sweeping up from the floor into the dash.
This unit accepts Stewart-Warner speedometer, tachometer and four service gauges. A contoured airscoop is offered for carburetor clearance with forward-mounted, or extremely high motor positions. Several types of seats, including buckets, are also listed.
La Dawri Coachcraft, started by Les and Joan Dawes in Burnaby, Canada in ’56, came to California in ’57 and successfully established and grew a business which continued to thrive thru ’65.
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…
Click on the Images Below to View Larger Pictures
I have a 1955 LaDawri Conquest, On a 1955 ford frame, with a 228 Y block
1528 Canal Ave. in Long Beach is the location of the “Fiberglass Arts” body shop now. They are at 1540 but appear to have absorbed the 1528 address as well.
I wonder if that name is a coincidence?
Geoff you have done it again another great story with great pictures.
Boy how times change,if you got caught spraying a chopper gun today without a mask or a space suit and not in a spray booth the feds would shut you down….
Hi John…thanks for the kind words, and I look forward to seeing pictures of your Daytona. Should be fun! Best…Geoff
I know how hard you work on this wonderful site, finding all these interesting articles putting it all together. It is a great challenge and lots of planning goes into it to make it interesting as well as not being redundant. Though I delight in all kits and reproductions, of late you have outdone yourself in finding things that have special meaning for me… The LaDwari has been on the top of my love list for so many years, as I have been hauling mine around from one place to another. Some day, I hope to find the time to finish it, as there are not that many Daytona’s around. Next time that I go to Michigan, I will take some extensive pictures of mine, so that others also can appreciate the wonderful craftsmanship in this vehicle. The rolling chassis I have is pictured on my intro page and I look forward to seeing it completed one of these days.. john….