Today is a special day in the history of the “Kit Car”. Eighty-four years ago, on this day (04-12-2014) Merrill Powell came into this world and in 1953 he along with Doc Boyce-Smith started Victress Manufacturing ; one of the earliest component car companies. Victress only lasted 8 short years but out of its shops came many highly collectible car designs. Many of their designers went on to design many of the other cars that began our industry. While crude by today’s standards, Many Victress cars were completed and now are restored, touring councours all over the world along-side the great cars of the day.
Merrill Powell is one of the special guests at this year’s edition of The Carlisle Kit Car/Import Festival. (http://bit.ly/1qpozm6) He will be there as should some of his legendary cars. I hope Carlisle was already on your to do list this year, if it now start booking your hotel now. Our hobby owes thanks to these pioneers and there will not be many years left to thank them in person. If you cannot make Carlisle this year don’t fret much, I am scheduled to sit down with Mr. Powell to see what stories I can extract. They should be great and I look forward to passing them along.
Various Victress over the years.
picture from www.americansportscars.com
Here is one you do not see everyda. The Victress S4 was produced by Victress Mfg Company in California. It goes on to say that the LaDawri was a modified version of this body. The body was designed to use a 1950s shortened ford chassis and chrysler drivetrain.
It is definitely a cool and unique body, wouldn’t you agree?
One-offs, Victress | Fri, 11 Jul 2008 Posted by : Shannon Larratt
A number of individuals came together to build this beautiful late fifties one-off sportscar. John Bond, publisher of Road&Track begun the process, wanting to build an American car to compete in Le Mans. Marvin Horton, who worked for a ram-jet manufacturing corporation, and later Alton Johsnson of Victress Manufacturing (giving him extensive fiberglass experience), joined forces to complete the project. They tossed ideas around in the magazine through 1958, and then began working on the chassis and finishing the body design.
After the drawings were complete, a wood and plaster plug was built for the body, which they finished over about three months of grueling grinding, priming, and puttying. This is when Johnson joined them to complete the plug and make a mold, taking the first body in trade. By August they had it assembled, after which they fine-tuned the aerodynamics.
The sleek body which eschewed trim in favor of recessed features was low, about four feet to the roof, with gullwing doors to ease entry. The tube frame chassis included a ’57 Corvette V8 and a Merc 3.50 rear end, steering out of a 1950 Ford, brakes from a Lincoln, and Monroe shocks. The wheelbase was 90″ and the tread 50″. Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge this car did not make it into production other than this one prototype, although Victress of course produced many other fiberglass bodies.