Tag: Fiberglass

From the Cover of Road & Track to Decades of Languishing, One of the Few Remaining Strother MacMinn LeMans Coupes To Be Resurrected – @Hemmings

From the Cover of Road & Track to Decades of Languishing, One of the Few Remaining Strother MacMinn LeMans Coupes To Be Resurrected – @Hemmings

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Editor’s Note: We recently heard from Dennis Kazmerowski, who has decided to resurrect a never-finished fiberglass body based on Strother MacMinn’s concept for an American coupe to compete at Le Mans. He’s making headway and wanted to share with us exactly how he got started with the project in the first place.]

It started in August 2021, still in COVID-19 lockdown with much time to think about the past, present and future. I was talking with my good friend Geoff Hacker (founder of Undiscovered Classics and auto archaeologist) and shared with him a dream of my youth: the car on the August 1960 cover of Road & Track, the LeMans Coupe. While the car may have been beautifully designed and was ahead of its time in styling (that’s one of the reasons I fell in love with it back in 1960), the LeMans Coupe is far more than a design study. The original project was the brainchild of John Bond, the publisher of Road & Track magazine.

Bond was not just a publisher, he was also a designer and engineer. For years he penned a column in his own magazine, Sports Car Design, where he talked about independent and production sports car development. It was toward the late 1950s where he challenged himself and his readers to design and build a car that would win the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, something his friend Briggs Cunningham had nearly done in the early 1950s. Bond pulled together a team which specialized in design and engineering, and over a series of articles in 1957 and 1958, the LeMans Coupe project emerged. The lead designer of the shape of the car was the legendary teacher, mentor, and stylist from the Art Center in California, Strother MacMinn. Looking back in history, this makes the LeMans Coupe one of the talked about and recognized “specials” back in the 1950s.

While the design and history of the car is significant, it was always the visual impact that the car made on those seeing it that, too, caused me to remember the car for nearly 60 years. Sadly, Geoff, who has tracked down the surviving coupes built from MacMinn’s design, shared that the car shown on the cover of Road & Track magazine had been destroyed early on in an accident. But he knew where a virgin body was that was produced from the original molds. He shared the contact information with me and the wheels started to turn. I talked with the owner and after a few phone calls we agreed on a price, and my project began. Little did I know what I would be getting into.

So the project began when the body arrived at my New Jersey home in July 2021. I immediately re-read the Road & Track LeMans coupe articles, and I noted that one of the articles shared that production bodies were made very thin to keep weight down for racing purposes. This may have been good 60 years ago but over the years, with no inner structure, the sun had taken its toll and weakened the body. What I started with was a body shell with no doors, windows, wheelwells, or hood cut out. Just a shell. This project was and is going to take a lot of work

As I read the articles, I tried to hold true to the original chassis ideas but even they changed by the time I read the last article, so I went with the original dimensions and worked around what I had. It’s a long, thin car built for a V-8 engine. Could it have won at LeMans? That’s the subject for a different story. With Geoff’s guidance and my persistence, the car started to come together. Everything has to be made for it and when you think you have a problem solved – it’s not. The car is a work in progress and should be very fulfilling in the end, and I imagine that’s how Alton Johnson felt when he was building the first LeMans Coupe at Victress in North Hollywood, California.

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1955 Woodill Wildfire Wins “Car of the Exhibition” at Stuttgart Retro Classic – Geoffrey Hacker @UndiscoveredClassics

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1955 Woodill Wildfire

I first wrote about this Wildfire when it was spotted at the 2014 Retromobile Show in Paris, France.

Click here to Read About The Woodill Wildfire Discovery in Paris France

Since then we have become friends with the new owner, Jiri Jirovec, and he has brought his Wildfire home to Pizen in the Czech Republic.  I bet it’s the only Wildfire in that country!

I’ve Always Loved The Look of this Wildfire

Jiri has kept the car in its original Euroean barn-find condition.  He bought it back in 2014 from someone who had brought it to Europe in the late 1980s, and it looks like a perfect barn-find from that era.  To me, this Wildfire has some styling points that really made the car “pop” back when it was built and even now.  These include:

  • 1939 Lincoln Zephyr front and rear bumpers
  • 1935 Ford Wire wheels (16 inch)
  • 1953-1955 Corvette windscreen
  • Dashboard layout is perfect – large (not small) period gauges
  • Stylish Lincoln Zephyr outside door buttons (I’ve only seen this on one other Wildfire and all Allied sports cars of course)
  • Woodill appropriate rear seat (full back) with seat cushions as intended
  • The stance on the car is perfect – body is low and close to the wheels (maybe a bit too close) but it looks hot
  • Steering Wheel – large and flashy but I don’t recognize it.  Any thoughts here gang

1955 Woodill Wildfire

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Related – FORGOTTEN FIBERGLASS: 1955 REPLAC DEBONNAIRE AND VENTURE

The 1958 Tom Simmons Meteor SR-1: A 60 Year Legacy – Geoffrey Hacker @UndiscoveredClassics

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The 1958 Tom Simmons Meteor SR-1

Meteor SR-1 sports cars are few and far between so when someone who owns one contact me I’m always interested to learn more.  Especially when the ownership story goes back to the late 1950s.  That means we can get the story straight from those who found it, repaired it, drove it, raced it, restored it, showed it and more.  How can you beat that!

A New History Begins For The Meteor

Gene and Sonny kept the car for a few years but sold it to their friend Joe Simmons in the late 1960s.  In 1969 when Joe’s brother Tom came home from Vietnam, Joe asked his brother to help with mechanical repairs and service.  During this time Joe decided to glass in both doors to give the body added strength.

Both Joe and Tom co-owned the Meteor and had fun with it until around 1973 when Tom became full owner.  Tom continued to drive it for a few years but retired the car into a garage in 1975 with a blown headgasket.  There it would sit for 20+ years until Tom retired and it was time to take out the Meteor and have some more fun.

The 1958 Tom Simmons Meteor SR-1

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Related – FORGOTTEN FIBERGLASS: 1955 REPLAC DEBONNAIRE AND VENTURE