Rick and I have scoured the country looking for vintage fiberglass history and stories. During this journey, we’ve met and befriended many people, but I knew I met my match when I met Steve Cowdin of Colorado. What a fantastic researcher extraordinaire Steve is!
Steve and I met on eBay – bidding on many of the same vintage fiberglass items. Back in the good ‘ole days of eBay, you could see who your competitors were and you could contact them as well. Steve and I quickly turned from competitors to collaborators and between his collection and mine – we have a great sample of brochures from the golden age of building your own sports car – 1952-1957. I’m sharing one of those brochures from our collection with you today.
One of the resources we plan to have on our website is an information nexus for vintage fiberglass sports cars – just like Jon Greuel and I had on the previous fiberglass website – fiberglasssportscars.com The strategy on building this is a bit different, though. As I write stories, I’ll be adding to the volume of information as a story – here on the “Forgotten Fiberglass” website that everyone can review and use.
At a point in the near future, I’ll also organize the information (these stories) within the website so that if you search out “Cars” on the “Menu Bar” and then click on Victress. When you take this action, you’ll see Victress stories and other Victress related items – like brochures too. I hope this works for everyone.
Ok….let’s introduce the 1954 Victress brochure.
1954 Victress Brochure:
In talking with Merrill Powell (Victress co-owner from 1954-1961) and Bill Quirk (Victress Production Manager from 1952-1961), the Victress S4 came out in mid to late 1954. The Victress S5 as well. Merrill had not yet introduced his small coupe – the Victress C2 or it’s larger C3 companion, and the Victress Dragster was still being built. We’d have to wait until 1955 or 1956 to see these models in their next brochure.
The 1954 brochure is actually the second type of advertising put out by Victress. Initially in 1952 and 1953, we see material put out by “Hellings” who was selling not only frames and Victress bodies, but building some cars for customers too. Hellings was the main distributor (and perhaps only) for Victress Manufacturing. Virgil Rice worked for Hellings and he was the one who built the Victress S1 roadster used in the movie “Johnny Dark” and driven by famous 8 time Indianapolis driver “Don Freeland” (as reported by Pat Boyce-Smith and Merrill Powell, personal communication 2007).
I’ve done close-ups of each picture in the brochure – this will allow you to see detail that’s hard to see any other way. You’ll see the mock-up of the Victress S4 while it was still being built in the halls of Victress in 1953-1954. You’ll also see Bob Powell’s Victress S1 – built to race and tear up the roads in Southern California in the early and mid 1950’s. The Guy Mabee Victress makes an appearance too. It’s really an excellent brochure. Although the Victress S5 is not shown, it’s mentioned as “available” at the back of the brochure, helping us date the release of this car.
Two additional features shown in the brochure are a nice element – blueprints of both the Victress S4 and the Victress S1A. The original S1 had a 102 inch wheelbase – the figures shown here for the Victress S1A are 99 and 1/2 inches confirming the release date of the Victress S1A in early to mid 1954. These are excellent drawings that those of you who are restoring these cars can use to guide your restoration.
Reminiscing About the Brochure…
Back in 2007, Harold Pace interviewed Merrill Powell concerning the Victress C2 and C3 – and his memories of Victress “back in the day”. One of the things he shared was his memory of this brochure – the first one produced by Victress. Merrill recalls the following:
” It was tough at first. We sold brochures for 25 cents and each day we would wait for the mail to get there so we could fish out the quarters to pay for lunch! We always knew we were going to build a coupe….it was just a matter of time”.
Merrill wasn’t a big fan of the “bomber girl” nose art for the Victress Logo. That came from Doc before Merrill joined on, and it probably resulted from Doc’s dry lakes experiences from the mid 1940’s – forward. Steve Steers recently recreated the “Victress” script for the restoration and build of his Victress S1A – without the bomber girl. It looks beautiful Steve, and complements your car well.
Let’s Review the 1954 Victress Brochure:
So gang…I hope you enjoy the 1954 Victress Brochure shown below – both the pages and the close-ups of the photos. Kudos to Merrill Powell, Bill Quirk and the rest of the Victress gang (you too Richard Russell and Mel Keyes) for doing such a great job with these car bodies back in the day. The brochure makes me want to stop writing and go outside and start working on my cars right away.
Hope you enjoyed the story and
glass on gang…
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