1954 Victress S1 – Motor Trend Victress
Owner: Guy Dirkin, Clermont, Florida
History of This Car
The 1954 “Motor Trend” Victress S1 has a great individual history, but also quintessentially represents the history of the American Post-War Sports car. The Motor Trend Victress Special, has direct touch points with, George Barris, Wally Parks, Bob D’Olivio, Robert “Pete” Peterson4 and indirectly with Wunibald Kamm5 and others notable designers.
The car represents much of the Los Angeles, California scene in the early post war years. In understanding the Motor Trend Victress, you will understand an important period in American Sportscar history.
In early 1954, Fred Bodley, the Technical Editor of Motor Trend magazine, acquired a Victress body from the newly formed Victress Manufacturing Company, which was a partnership between Doc Boyce-Smith and Merrill Powell. In 1952, Boyce-Smith had asked Art Center graduate and friend, Hugh Jorgensen, to design a car body to “out Jag the Jaguar XK 120”. Jorgenson was inspired by the 1939 BMW 328 Mille Miglia “Bugelfalte”. The Victress used a slightly less pronounced, “trouser crease” (bugelfalte in German means “trouser crease”) on top of the fenders, but the lines of the side-profile and elongated tail were quite similar to the BMW. It is noteworthy that renown German aerodynamic expert, Wunibald Kamm, built a 1/10 scale model of the BMW and wind tunnel tested the cars shape as part of the BMW’s development.
Kamm, is best known for his truncated tail designs, but elongated tails were part of his work and the long tail continued into the early 1970’s with Porsche Le Mans cars. In 1953, a Victress bodied car claimed the title of the Worlds Fastest Sports car when it ran 202 mph at the Bonneville trials. This was an excellent attribution to the value of the long tail design by Wunibald Kamm.
Starting in the late 1940s, Fred Bodley co-owned a high-end repair shop for Rolls Royce, Bentley and other foreign cars in Los Angeles, California. In the early 1950s, he started working at Trend Inc., the umbrella company owned by Pete Peterson who owned Motor Trend, Hot Rod and other automobile magazines, and retained his shop too.
Bodley used a chassis from a mid-1940’s Ford, which he shortened and modified to fit the 100 inch wheelbase of the Victress S1 body. The front and rear firewalls cross-braced the chassis creating a relatively ridged frame, suitable for a sports car. Power was a Ford flathead engine, three-speed transmission, with a torque tube to a ford differential. The car had drum brakes all round, and Ford suspension and steering.
Build Dates: 1953-1954
Engine: Ford Flathead
Transmission: 3-Speed Manual Ford Transmission
Wheelbase: 102 inch
Interior: George Barris
Vintage Photos Showing Victress Inside Building / Showroom
Articles To Read
Sports Cars Displayed In The First Building of Trend Inc.
Undiscovered Classics: Coming Soon
Bob Petersen and the Start of Hot Rod Magazine
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Insider: 2019
The Petersen Photo Archives
Rodder’s Journal: Winter, 2017
Corvette In The Barn
The Lost Motor Trend Victress Special
Story Author: Guy Dirkin
Tom Cotter: Published 2010
The “Rise” of the The Lost Motor Trend Victress
Undiscovered Classics: February 4, 2010
Saving the “Motor Trend Victress Special”
Undiscovered Classics: November 29, 2009
Victress: Fred Bodley, Memoriam
Motor Trend, 1955
Victress Advertisements: 1955
Chuck Glover Remembers
Chuck Was….Worked for Motor Trend
Victress Brochure: 1955
Featuring Fred Bodley’s Victress S1A Roadster
Who Was Fred Bodley
Auto Speed and Sport: August, 1952
How Car Was Found And Research Came Together