I love mysteries. You know that. And when someone sends in a mystery that looks like an interesting riddle to solve…..who could resist?
I know I can’t.
Enter Frank Cornell. Frank has owned specials for 30+ years. He has taken the time to school me in the history of Woodill Wildfires and other cars, and I have helped others learn what Frank has taught me. So when Frank speaks…..I listen.
Recently, Frank sent in a mystery car to share with our group. It’s a mystery in terms of who built it, when it was built, and if it is metal, fiberglass, or a combination of materials. I’ll leave it to you to determine what you think it might be.
Let’s turn the story over to Frank….
From the Desk of Frank Cornell…
“Geoff….here’s another mystery for you.
It was around the late 1970s, and I unexpectedly came across this vehicle. I stopped off I-84 in Port Jervis, New York for fuel, and pulled into a Citgo station. While stretching my legs, I wandered into the garage and found “The Sabyan Special”.
The mechanic on duty didn’t mind chatting about the car, or letting me photograph it. I believe the garage was called Prey’s. As you can tell, the body is Studebaker based, but highly customized in true sport custom style. Now a two-seater roadster with chrome wire wheels, and some fancy body mods, it was a striking sight.
The chassis had not been shortened, it was a large car, painted a bright sky blue. I have no idea when it was constructed, or by whom. I do know that the name “Sabyan Special” came from it being featured in a major motion picture and driven by the leading lady. I do not know the movie title or actress, but I’m sure someone can solve that mystery.
The mechanic stated the car was owned by the lady owner of the garage, and was basically being used twice a year in local parades. Unfortunately, it was blocked in by other cars, so it wasn’t possible to get a ride in it. I believe the bodywork was all steel and the metalwork high quality.”
So….anyone hear of this mystery car gang? Checkout the full set of pictures Frank sent us below – in the photo gallery.
The 1970’s isn’t that long ago, so I bet it survived. Maybe it’s in the same garage where Frank Cornell originally spied it. Anyone want to take a scouting trip out to Port Jervis, New York and have a look? If you do, be sure to let us know what you find.
Inquiring minds want to know. And the next story about this car on “Forgotten Fiberglass” will be from the desk of…..”you.”
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…
Click on the Images Below to View Larger Pictures
Re: Sabyan Special, As one of the builders of this car I can fill in the Blanks .
I would like to discuss the sayban if you have time
I have the car now and need help getting parts
Alex, i rarely follow this page, but if your dad owns the Sabyan i’m sure my father , who is 85 years old can tell you more about the car.
My dad actually drove it from Canada to NJ back in the day.
Hi, my father currently owns the car and would love to know more information about its origin: any pictures and videos would be great! It currently has a Ford engine and we are wondering if that was the original or if it was installed when it was remodeled? If so, what was the original? Thank you for sharing this information.
Alex, my father can tell you more about the car. contact me if you are interested. My dad actually drove the car from Canada to NJ back in the day.
My Dad, Vernon Kramer of Fargo, ND HAS A 1953 Woodhill Wildfire. He’s had it since the early 60s. Not being a computer user he was wondering if there was a phone# for Frank Cornell.
I AM PLEASED TO SEE PICTURES OF THIS CAR ,AFTER MANY YEARS.MY FATHER TOOK ME TO VISIT MR. SABYAN,WHEN I WAS ABOUT EIGHT YEARS OLD,TO SEE THIS CAR BEING BUILT.MR .SABYAN WAS A STUDEBAKER DEALER AT THE TIME.
HE HAD A ONE CAR SHOWROOM,WHERE HE DID MOST OF THE WORK ON THE CAR.
The car was built by my father’s Uncle, Bill Sabyan. It has been around the NY state area, my dad might know it’s whereabouts. Years ago he found the owner and had his picture taken with the car. We would love to get it back in the family.
I am the son of the second owner of the Sabyan, Stanley Terwilliger. I have a video I believe it documents the making of this car. When my father owned it, it was cherry red. He found it abandoned in a field, I belive in PA. Mr. Sabyan did come to my fathers home in Sullivan county to take a picture with the restored car. When my father passed away my mother in law, unkowing to me sold the vehicle. Not sure of its whereabouts.
I know the car was built in the 50’s by a man named Bill Sabyan who was a Studebaker dealer in Oshawa, east of Toronto. Bill gave the car to his nephew & later it went out of sight. Bill was contacted many years later by someone in a small village in upper NY State & he was invited down there to view the car after it was re-built…I am in the process of getting more info. on the car & if you’re interested, please contact me & I will be very happy to relate any further info that I can obtain…