1963 Victress S5 (LaDawri Cheetah) VW Special

Alex’s Father Built One Beautiful Victress S5 Roadster

Hi Gang…

We’re still working on gathering the story of this Victress S5 VW Special to share with everyone here at Undiscovered Classics, but I thought we would start out with a bit of history on the car and the body.  We can get into more details of the build in a future story.

And away we go….

This Victress Catalog Debuted in 1955. The Victress S5 is the 3rd car from the top.

Victress came out with the Victress S5 in 1955 and it was targeted at the MG as being the primary donor car – specifically  the MG TC, TD and TF.  But as you can tell with today’s story, some people saw other opportunities.  Here’s what the Victress catalog had to say about the S5 in 1955:

The Victress S5

Filling a definite need in the motoring world, the S5 makes the TC or TD or TF MG as pretty as a picture….notably improves the performance too!  The Victress Company, an ardent admirer of the superb performance and handling characteristics of the MG, has designed a body with beauty to match this performance.

The addition of a Victress S5 body to an MG produces one of the finest acting and finest looking sports cars in the world, gives you a car with the looks of the expensive sports car class instead of the lower priced look.  Performance, too, is obviously increased.  Not only does the highly streamlined S5 body offer a great reduction in wind resistance and thereby appreciably increase top speed, its lower weight – (fiver hundred pounds less than the stock member) brings the center of gravity closer to the ground for better four wheel stability, and, naturally, gives you more HP per pound of weight.  This translates directly into more power at the wheels, gives you greater accelerations at all speeds.

All of which adds up to handling qualities superior to the already superb characteristics of the stock car.  The S5 uses standard MG seats, or you may design your own interior.  The body fits the stock MG chassis with no difficulty, requires a minimum of effort.

The engine compartment is roomy enough to accommodate most V8 engines.  Frame kits and cut down axles – for those desiring to build a smaller sports car from scratch are available.


  • Wheelbase: 94 inches
  • Height above ground: 34 inches
  • Width: 60 inches
  • Seats: 2
  • Engine: MG – most V8’s
  • Frame: MG-94 inch wheelbase
  • Overall Length: 158 inches
  • Hood Opening: 48 inches

Here are the corresponding Victress catalog pages for the above written material:

Victress S5 VW Special Surfaces

Recently I heard from Alex about a family car that is now in his possession.  He father had built this Victress S5 in the early 1960s on a VW chassis.  That means this Victress S5 is powered with a rear engine VW engine and transaxle.  Pretty cool, and the only one I’ve heard about since beginning our research.  Alex shared some vintage photos first and let’s review these below:

Alex also shared how his Victress looks today.  Restoration is needed but what a great starting point gang.  Let’s check out the photos:


LaDawri acquired Victress in 1961 and continued to offer all Victress models.  The Victress S5 continued to be offered but now was newly renamed the LaDawri Cheetah (wheelbase: 92-96 inches).  So we give honor to Victress for creating the S5, but based on the year of this build, it may very well be a 1963 LaDawri Cheetah.

We hope to be getting some additional photos soon of how the engine fits in the back of the Victress S5 – that and some shots inside the cockpit and under the front hood should be quite revealing too – and fun to share in the near future.

Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember…

The adventure continues here at Undiscovered Classics.



1963 Victress S5 (LaDawri Cheetah) VW Special — 5 Comments

  1. I worked at Victress between 1959 and 1961, when the company was sold. The car would have to be a LaDawri Cheetah, because no S5’s were built by Victress between 59 and 61. Several C2’s and C3’s coupe were built during that time period, but I don’t remember any S5’s being built.

    • Tom….nice to meet you and thanks for your post. You might want to know that both Merrill Powell and Bill Quirk are doing well. Call me at 813-888-8882 and I’ll share the contact information with you if you want to speak with them. Best, Geoff

      • Any word on Alton Johnson? The last time I saw him was at his Corvette Repair Shop on Lankershim Blvd, N. Hollywood in Novem1972. He had painted a Sunbeam Alpine that I’d grafted a fiberglass top on, making it into a coupe. I have a picture of Al then if you’re interested. I also have pictures of Al’s 2nd Le Mans car he built after the first one went over the cliff in Malabo canyon.
        Last time I saw Bill, Doc, or Merill was, I believe, in1962. Bill and I took over some of Victress’s small accounts when the company wen the car molds were sold. Among them 1/4 midget bodies for Frank Kurtis. However, Bill broke an arm shortly after that and that dissolved our partnership. I worked out of my garage, with Kurtis, for another year or so after that.

        • Hello Tom and Geoff,
          It was good to hear about Alton again. I was a friend of Alton too. We knew each other from the days when He worked at Victress. I also worked with him at Bruno’s Corvette. I remember the additional cars he designed & built, such as the mid engine Corvette powered targa styled coupe, and the beautiful Corvair coupe. The mid engine car did get finished to having an orange paint job, and the Corvair car was drivable & had a complete body but no paint. I have found several pictures of the Corvair coupe & will be happy to share them with you. I think I have sent them to Geoff a few years ago.
          The last I heard about Alton was that he was living in Kingman Arizona & had sadly fallen on hard times, and had passed away. I believe that was in the early to mid 1970’s.
          Respectively, Doug Ward dougward2@socal.rr.com 714-624-9044

  2. It looks like this will be not too hard to restore. I noticed the Austin Healey 100 fold down windscreen. It even has the forward brackets for the windscreen to be positioned to the “down” position. The top is super ugly and it needs the wire wheels that an MG would have provided.
    Thanks for the write up Geoff. Doug Ward

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