What an interesting time it must have been back in the 1950’s with the birth of modern sports cars.
Today’s article focuses on another automotive dealer – this time a Buick dealer – building a fiberglass sports car with components from the cars they are selling new – yearning for their namesake to provide them with a sports car they can sell to an excited, willing, and ready public.
We recently talked about the Nash Dealer – Ricker Motors – building a Glasspar G2 with some Nash components – most notably a grille. We’ve also talked about two Ford dealers who built Glasspar G2’s they could show off: J.A. Wright of Covington, Virginia and Modern Motors of St. Joseph, Missouri. And of course you can add “Woodill Motors” to this list.
Paul Strassberger of “Strassberg Motors” also “created” a sports car using a G2 body and his intentions were to sell completed cars from his dealership. A number of other companies were also following the lead of those above.
When you take what was happening at auto dealers across America into account… you don’t have a trend….you have a phenomenon. A “coachbuilt” fiberglass sports car phenomenon. And an exciting one to boot!
Automotive dealers were taking it on themselves to create their own sports car and sell them from their dealerships. They weren’t trying to sell Glasspar, Wildfire, or other based “specials” to the public. They were branding the car “theirs” with the right mechanicals and outward styling cues, and they were taking these to the streets to advertise, promote, entice, and sell.
Which leads us to today’s story about a Buick dealer doing the same thing in 1953 – this time creating a “Wildfire-Buick” for his customers to behold. Frank Hecox, Glasspar G2 employee from 1952-1956, was there when the body for this dealership was built, and he discussed this with me during several interviews. I’ll share Frank’s memories on the building of the “Wildfire-Buick” in future articles here on Forgotten Fiberglass.
And now….on with the article:
The Wildfire Buick: Motor Life, October 1954
By Robert Lee Behme
The Wildfire, A Popular West Coast Home-Assembled Plastic Car, Is Now Modified To Accept A Wide Range of Stock Detroit Components
Long before Chevrolet’s Corvette, plastic cars were produced in the west. One of the more famous is the Wildfire. The first bodies were modified Glasspar G2’s. Last year, Glasspar’s Bill Tritt designed a special body for Woodill Motors, producers of the car.
Sold either factor assembled or in build-it-yourself kits, most Wildfires have been built of Ford components, which makes this Wildfire Buick a notable first. Assembled by Jim Twombly, a Compton, California Buick dealer, the car cost slightly over $4200.
Wildfire’s general body design has now been modified to accept headlights and trim accessories from Dodge, Buick, and Chevrolet. Underneath, all cars are built on a special sports car frame using either transverse leaf springs or independent springs in the fear, for top road handling.
I think the auto dealerships in the ‘50s were giving the average car guy a run for their money in building some of these specials.
And once you realize this, the chips start to fall into place. Many of the cars we hold precious weren’t just the product of the imagination of young men and their love for automobiles. We can extend this now…..they were also the product of professional teams of individuals who maintained and built cars for a living, and in every way, “coachbuilt” many of the specials we see today at Concours events across the nation.
These are some very special cars ….built by extraordinary people during the birth of modern sports cars in America. And we salute their vision and their efforts in our respect for their accomplishments today.
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…
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