As we explore the history of early fiberglass sports cars, time and time again you’ll see me discuss the heritage from which they came, and that was Sport Custom Cars from postwar America.
The Sport Custom genre was an outgrowth of the 1940’s when the terms “sports cars” and “custom cars” were still being clearly defined. During this era there were “sports cars,” “custom cars,” and “sports custom cars” which represented a blend of both. The “Sport Custom” genre lasted at best through the late 1950’s.
The Templeton Saturn fit the “Sport Custom” category perfectly. It was a 2 seater, yet it had an overall length of 210 inches – which clearly took it out of contention for being a sports car. In fact, the front seat of the car was where the back seat had been. Quite remarkable – but it does throw off the proportions of the car a bit. Check out the hood and engine placement in the pictures below. You’ll see just how long this car appears to be!
It was from this era of experimentation that our favorite fiberglass sports cars came to be designed and built. Some Sport Customs of the era were smartly built – others could be outrageous – which is more the case with Templeton’s Saturn. Good for Lloyd Templeton and his crew!
Another reason for writing about this car is serendipity. Recently, I found out that Lloyd Templeton’s Saturn Sport Custom was located about 10 miles from my house. That’s amazing when you think about it because there were so few nice Sport Custom Cars built – and still fewer left. So I had to visit it as soon as possible.
To introduce this fine example of a Sport Custom, let’s review an article that appeared on it in the January 1953 issue of Motor Trend:
Off we go!
Lloyd Templeton’s Saturn:
Sport Custom From Ames Iowa (Motor Trend, January 1953)
Lloyd Templeton of Ames, Iowa, has gone all out on customizing as a hobby. Speaking for himself as well as for Don and Bob Templeton, he said, “We feel that we have been well repaid for our efforts – pride of ownership means a lot to us.”
This sleek creation features a completely handmade sheet metal body on a modified ’48 Mercury chassis. Overall length is 210 inches and, with the top on the car stands 48 inches above the roadway. Road clearance is 5 and ½ inches and the weight is 3500 pounds.
The drivers compartment is located where the back seat was in the original body. This accounts for the exceptional 90 inch length of the hood. The instrument panel has an amazing array of no less than1 15 separate instruments.
Individual bucket-type seats are provided for driver and passenger. Upholstery is luxurious black leather with white trim. The car required 2 and ½ years of spare time to build, cost an approximate $12,000, and is the only one with its particular styling in the United States.
Car was built by the owner.
Recent Visit to Templeton’s Saturn in Clearwater Florida:
I contacted Rick Elkin of PJ’s Auto World where the car currently resides, and Rick kindly invited me over for a recent visit. The pictures below are a result of that visit, and I owe great thanks to Rick Elkin for allowing us to spend the time with the Saturn that day.
Let’s see some pictures!
There are more pictures of the Saturn for your review in the photo gallery below. As with every picture on our website, click on it to make it appear larger on your screen.
For additional information about the Templeton’s Saturn, visit good friend Sondre Kvipt’s Kustomrama website by clicking here. Sondre has more information to share about this very special Sport Custom. And now that I think about it, the “Saturn” isn’t the only Sport Custom from Ames, Iowa. Remember the recent story on the “Smith Six” – a car I call “Cinnamon Girl?”
It’s from Ames, Iowa too. Click here to review the story. It seems that Sport Customs were blossoming for some time in Iowa. I wonder what else might be lurking out there in that part of the country 🙂 Bob Cunningam….let’s hit the trail across Iowa next summer when we’re there for the Salisbury Concours d’ Elegance!
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…
Click on the Images Below to View Larger Pictures
I have a personal connection to Lloyd Templeton and to his Saturn custom car. Lloyd Templeton owned the Boone Bus company in Boone Iowa. I worked there as a teenager in 1954 and 1955 cleaning buses and working as a mechanics assistant. The Saturn car was stored in the bus barn in Boone along with some other classic cars owned by Lloyd. I spent many hours sitting in the Saturn and dreaming of owning a fine car like that. Lloyd Templeton was a very kind and a very generous man. He would help anyone that came into contact with him. He had scrap books full of pictures of very famous people with Lloyd and his car. I wonder what happened to all of those scrap books? Through the years I have often wondered what happened to the Saturn. I am thrilled to know that it has been restored and has won many honors in many car shows including Pebble Beach. It is currently for sale in Clearwater Florida for $350,000.
Great pictures Geoff..Great to see that it’s still around and in such fantastic shape.How often does that happen?? Love the rear view. It’s really great craftsmanship.
WOW – The car seems to have remained in original condition after all these years – I’m guessing that it has been restored at least once. You didn’t mention the Bob Hope connection, but if he were alive, I’m certain that he’d enjoy a drive in it.
Very cool story on a very cool car and it is great to see that it too has survived.
My sister and brother-in-law attended school in Ames, and he is originally from the area. When I see them at Christmas I may ask him if he/his family know more about the car and the Templetons. Cars like this have a tendency of creating their own folk lore in areas like Ames. 🙂