1953 Victress S1A: American Special

1953 Victress S1A

After all the poorly made kit cars of the ’80s and ’90s, fiberglass kit cars don’t have the best image. They are often viewed as poorly designed death traps built in a barn by someone with no clue what they are doing. But in their early years, these fiberglass bodied kits were known as Specials! They were designed for speed and came in shapes that rivaled the best Italy had to offer. This lovely Victress S1A is one of only thirty or so known to have survived and while it is an unfinished project, has lots of potential. In recent years American built Specials have become quite sought after, driving prices up even for unfinished projects. This one can be found here on eBay with the reserve unmet and a BIN of $24,500. I love these early Specials and would love to finish this one, but I’m not sure I would be able to decide whether to leave it looking rough or fully restore it. Since it lacks an engine, you could install a more modern drivetrain and make it a serious track machine or an enjoyable street car. What route would you take it?


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  1. RayT Member

    Bidding seems to have surpassed $10K as of now, well beyond the point where I’d lose interest.

    I know people love the mystique of “classic” kit cars, but the reality is a bit different: body quality was, charitably, “variable,” while frames (if purpose-built and not taken from a donor car) often suffered from poor engineering and/or fabrication skills. It was a rare kit that came with everything the eager-beaver enthusiast needed to make a complete car, and I suspect there are still dozens (if not hundreds, if not thousands) of garages across the country holding the 60-year-old remains of unfinished kit cars….

    I don’t think I ever saw a Victress “in person,” so have to concede they may be better than I think. But I’d advise a prospective buyer to be very cautious, and maybe have someone with fabrication experience take a look before you buy.

    Were this a Devin — particularly a Devin “D” kit — I wouldn’t be cautious. I’d just grab it and run.

  2. Rick

    If you want to see a Victress driving around in all its resplendent glory on film, there’s an episode of the old Boris Karloff hosted anthology series “Thriller” from the early 60s, starring Susan Oliver (she drives the Victress), anyhow episode is titled “Choose a Victim”. Thriller is currently being shown on the MeTV network, that episode will be on again soon, is worth waiting for and watching, has lots of shots of the Victress, the one featured is a pretty car and impressive

  3. Scot Carr
    • Jose Delgadillo

      Great site that I have been linked to before. Please ditch the “Hi gang!” greeting, please.

  4. rapple

    RayT makes a good point regarding the “engineering” and construction of these ’50s specials. This one looks like someone commendably attempted to build a reasonably light weight space frame instead of using a stock frame from a contemporary American sedan. However, the construction looks a little fragile for the Desoto hemi the long-time owner had in mind. Given the non-robust appearance of the frame, I could see this being reconstructed using a simple and cheap 4 cylinder driveline (Triumph, Volvo, MG, Pinto, etc.) and finding a slightly more elegant solution to the front suspension – beam axles being archaic even in the ’50s.

    This car has interesting and fairly attractive lines with a Jaguar XK 120 look from the windshield (if it were there) back and a bit of AC look at the nose. It could be a cool little runabout and great conversation piece. BUT…. $24k as a starting point is a non-starter.

  5. William H

    I’ve always had a weak spot for “kit” cars. There are a number of different models that have always struck a chord with me. This is definitely one of them but I’m going to have to agree with RayT as well on that frame. It doesn’t seem to be as substantial as what would be needed for any decent amount of power. It might be just fine but I’d really have to do the math on everything. That being said, I would still love to have this car and basically start over, putting a modern drive train under it then taking it out on the streets. I might have to leave the body “as is” for a little while but would eventually have to make it “pretty”.

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