Frank Cornell Archives

Frank  Cornell  Archives
Woodill  Wildfire  Historian  Emeritus

From The Desk of Frank Cornell:
December 25, 2019

I’d always been a “car guy”, and mostly into sports cars.

I didn’t get interested in fiberglass until the early 70s when I purchased a ’63 Studebaker Avanti R2. Two Berkeleys shortly got added to the stable. I started looking at older kit cars, and liked the looks of the Woodill Wildfire and the Victress S1. I figured I had about as much chance of owning one as much as ever seeing one. Little did I know then, I would end up owning two.

I checked out two Kaiser Darrins for sale in the area, one red one white. Didn’t buy either one. I liked the concept but found them way underpowered. When I travelled for work, I got into the habit of visiting other car guys whenever possible. On one of these visits, in Wichita, my host and I were talking cars, and I mentioned liking the Wildfire and Victress. Turns out he had come across an estate sale the previous year, and had to buy three cars to get the one he wanted. He put the other two in his storage barn. One of these was a Wildfire.

We made a deal, I having no idea how I was going to get the Wildfire back to Connecticut. He called a month later and said he had an empty trailer going to Indiana and could bring the Wildfire that far. Well, I borrowed a trailer from a car club member ( I had to repack wheel bearings and rewire it in return for the use), and headed off to Indiana. The trip was not uneventful, however, as the empty trailer started to pull the hitch off the tow car. Stopped in central Pennsylvania and found a welding shop. That problem solved, got to Indiana, loaded the Wildfire and returned home.

Upon inspection at home, the engine was found to be sitting on the mounts but not belted down, someone had cut parts of the x member of the frame to run exhaust pipes. The good news was the body was in good shape. I started tracking down other Wildfire owners, and sent out postacrds to see if they wanted to communicate. Hence, the “Wildfire Registry” was born.

By the time I was done, over 30 cars had been located. I got to see several of them in my travels, and actually got rides in a couple of them.  The second Wildfire I ended up with found me. A good friend who I dealt with many times buying and selling British cars called me one evening. He had delivered a car to Maryland, and found a Wildfire that had been a dragster, just a roller. He brought it back and I swapped him an old XK120 I had in storage.

This Wildfire now had a tilt nose, and a hole in the hood cut to clear the drag motor. Never did find a Victress to purchase, but also ended up with a Glasspar G2 and a FIAT based fiberglass coupe of unknown origin along with a British Tornado and a second Avanti before I was done with fiberglass.

From  The  Frank  Cornell  Collection

Registry Papers (Howard Miller)

B.R. Woodill Communication

Vintage Photos

More To Follow


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