That darn ‘ole Erich Schultz. Every time I tell him about a car that needs “saving”, he’s off faster than a speeding bullet…..down the road….with Michelle and his son Kenny and on his way to his next “adventure” to save another car.
I never have understood people like that 🙂
I had a call from Tom Redel last year and he had an interesting story to tell – one of his lifelong friends, Jack Hilbig, had built a Victress S1A roadster from scratch back in the 1950s. Tom’s family had acquired the Victress back in the 70s, and still had the car. Did I want to know more? Well of course! Now that’s my favorite kind of story.
According to Tom, Jack had begin building his Victress in 1953 and finished it around 1955. We can help to confirm the story since the title/registration was still in his possession (see below).
What’s neat about the title is it confirms the “finish” year as 1955 as well as the chassis/donor car as well. And I like the fact that the “body type” is a Sport Coupe – not a bad modified name for a Victress back in the day.
When Jack was driving it in the 50s and 60s, he would drive it between Los Angeles (San Bernardino / Riverside area) and down to San Diego (Crest, California). No doubt this Victress was seen all over Southern California back in the day.
As far as we know, Jack’s Victress was not featured in any shows, races or magazines. He drove it and loved the experience of driving it as its design suggested – a sports car in every meaning of the word.
Tom remembers that the car originally had a 1940s’ Mercury frame and most likely the same engine from the donor vehicle. But somewhere in the mid 1960s Jack upgraded the drivetrain to a mid 60s Buick – when he had a chance to do so.
But original owners/builders are a restless sort, and in the 1970s, Jack Hilbig once again wanted to make some changes to his Victress. This time, though, it would be significant. Jack was going to create a special tubular frame with Tom’s help. He wanted a chassis that would give him even greater sports car performance on the streets of Southern California.
Although it sounded like a great idea to both Jack and Tom at the time, “life” got in the way of completing the project and Jack decided he didn’t want to finish the car – so Tom inherited the project in the mid 1970s. And although Tom and his family started working on it several times over the years, other projects and life demands intruded and in 2012 I received a call from Tom and the special history of the “Jack Hilbig Victress S1A Roadster.”
Enter Erich Schultz stage left.
I shared the story with Erich and he was rarin’ to go and save the car. I put both Tom and Erich in touch and with a bit more effort, the Victress was secured and brought to Erich’s home in Altadena, California. The chassis had long since been discarded, but what remained was excellent. The body was in great condition for being nearly 60 years old, and included all parts including the coveted hardtop and a toneau cover too. How cool!
Let’s have a look at the Victress – a body without chassis after so many years.
I started writing this story in 2012 – and “life” got in the way of my own plans until today – nearly summer in 2013.
Our good friend Jim Lattin and Glasspar G2 owner has since acquired the car and has placed the Victress on a custom chassis especially built for this car. I think Jack Hilbig would definitely approve, and we’ll feature more about the restoration and completion of the “Jack Hilbig Victress S1A Roadster” in a future story here at Forgotten Fiberglass.
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…
I’m John Hilbig, Jack’s eldest son. So glad to see that the Victress has a second life. Jack loved the era, the car, and the designs produced in this era. He was a significant mechanical engineer and well acknowledged propulsion expert within jet turbine propulsion field and held/holds several patents.
I’ve driven the Victress at its prime so many times and was untouched by all challengers as a teenager. The only issue were torque vs chassis issues. He only had an old stick welder, but did exceptionally well. Our other welded dune buggies never broke a weld, nor have mine under his training and numerous Baja treks with my own 4wd vehicles ans survived some brutal challenges.
I hope the one lives on. Please, Jack’s first kit build of several and the most elegant.
His son, John
Great to see another Victress being saved. Thank you Geoff, Erich, and Jim. Will look forward to progress reports.