Blank Canvas: 1952 Piranha Speedster

UPDATE 7/25/2019 – It’s been almost a year since we originally featured this fiberglass custom and the seller still hasn’t found a home for it. Rather than auction it, they’ve set a reserve price of $9,750 and the option to make an offer this time. The price still seems a bit high to us, but perhaps the seller will take less to get it moved along. You can find it here on eBay.

FROM 8/15/2018 – This car is something a bit different and gives the new owner the opportunity to express their individuality without the fear of destroying the authenticity of a classic car. Located in Tampa, Florida, and advertised here on eBay is the 1952 Piranha Speedster. Offered with a clear title, bidding has reached $7,200 but the reserve has not been met. A big thanks must go out to Barn Finds reader Craig Johnson for bringing this little gem to our attention.

This car hails from a bygone era. An era when people with ability and ingenuity created unique and interesting cars in their workshops using existing chassis and drive-trains. The owner of this little Speedster doesn’t know where it originated from but has been able to trace its history from the early 1970s. Apparently, at around that time it was purchased by hot rod builder Vern Tardel for the Ford flathead engine. Since then the body has been removed from the frame by the current owner, and both have undergone restoration. The body, in particular, was suffering from all of the usual issues that afflict older fiberglass construction, but all of these have been repaired and additional strengthening has been added to prevent further issues. It was also the current owner who christened this the Piranha Speedster.

The body has been sealed with Duratec to prepare it for final finishing. Because the new owner is working with a blank canvas they will be able to choose the type and color of the interior trim, coupled with the external paint color. The Piranha rolls on freshly powder-coated 16 inch Ford wire wheels shod with new tires. I really like the look of those and would be sorely tempted to follow a retro look in build appearance if this were mine. The seller has also included some professional concept renderings to allow any prospective owner to gauge how this car could be finished.

It would be very easy to categorize this Piranha Speedster as just another kit car, but to me, it is more than that. This is a one-off special that has come from a fertile and creative imagination. The lines and proportions of this little car are rather nicely thought out. This is not a car that someone is going to complete, sell and hope to make money. This is a car that has the potential to be completed, enjoyed for what it is, and then become a legacy for the next generation to inherit and enjoy.

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  1. redwagon

    might help to know what the curb weight is as it sits. that might get someone’s juices flowing.

    much better proportioned than the earlier one-off fiberglass car from the same seller.

  2. chrlsful Member

    Where do U get all the trim shown in the renderings inc windshield? What is it sitting on now (all the sq rods have to go) ie chassy, ster gear, rear chunk? Lotta Qs to answ 1st. Drop the price (in half?) as this will need alot of wrk to make driver. It might strike some1s eye, may B those who know the body co?

  3. Madmatt

    While this is a very interesting little machine,
    the poor body looks rougher than a washboard…maybe
    its just the sealer..??..This would be a fun one to build,I hope
    that it is put together nicely and driven and enjoyed..!

  4. John D.

    It would obviously have to be the focal point of your collection. I would probably hire the seller’s business to finish it. He and his crew have turned out some magnificent cars over the last few years. As far as the trim shown, they are just part of an artist’s renderings to give an idea of what might look good. It would take a modicum of talent and a ton of patience to create trim in metal. Probably the easiest method would be to airbrush it on. The next question would be is if I would want to equip itfor handicap use. My days of driving anything I could fit my generous backside into are in the rear view mirror.

    • JRATT

      John D – It will never be worth the thousands of dollars you would have in it when done. That is why it is for sale. If you got an estimate from the shop to complete it, you would have a heart attack. $9,200.00 Reserve not met, 4 hours to go = no sale!

  5. Ike Onick

    I’m glad I was born in 1953 so I never had to see one of these.

  6. AF

    This appears to be a clown car. Put a clown in the driver’s seat and have other clowns push for the next parade.

  7. half cab

    looks like something them lil golden books might have been inspired to wright about.

    • AF

      you’re write!

      • Al

        Looks all wright to me. A clean-slate for a dash, guess you go just as fast as the cars around you. I’ve done that! Gas gauge ?? hmmmm I had one of those two. The firewall’s a little sketchy, it must be clear like on a dual-cowl phaeton’s divider.
        No …I’ll pass on this one.

  8. Poptheclutch

    Looks like a waste of time and money.
    Fiberglass body looks wavy in a lot places.doesn’t look rigid at all.
    Nice looking wheels and tires though.

  9. Coventrycat

    Looks more guppy than piranha.

  10. carbuzzard Member

    A lot of people will ridicule this car. Well, goody for them. I’m sure the cars they’ve designed at much more sophisticated.

    But that’s OK. Those people won’t buy this car. Nor will the usual commenter who comes up with modern engine transplant.

    No, this car will go to the person with the appreciation for what it is, the product of a creative–if not overly artistic–mind working in a completely new medium. I hope the new owner will bring it to full mid-century modern glory, with found and adapted parts, windshield wipers from a period car…maybe even a vacuum-powered Nash, so they’d slow down at full throttle.

    I’d go with a bench seat with a contour backrest, and a vintage war surplus aircraft lap belt. A flathead came out of it; I’d put a flathead back in it. And I would make it period-correct as possible, from drivetrain to suspension, even keeping the wire spoke wheels.

    One question, however: What chassis is under the car now?


    It looks like the guys at “FORGOTTEN FIBREGLASS” are thinning out their herd of collectibles? Pretty sure all these glass cars listed are from there garage? They are on You Tube and are at least saving some of our history! Just what arte the naysayers doing for anyone? I once found and purchased a 55 Thunderbird replica that was built on a 39 Ford chassis, pretty crude with the bracing and lines, the bracing was done with old hydraulic hoses believe it or not, But this was believed to be the very first thing Bruce Haines of HAINES HUNTER BOATS fame built, had a stink hot flatty in it, the motor was all I wanted out of it, gave the rest away to a friend

  12. Wrong Way

    Wow, this honestly got imagination going! This really is a blank canvas! Hope that the next owner just goes wild on the finish build! I am speaking of the drive train of course!

  13. Mark

    Death trap

  14. Rik

    Is that Benny the car from Who Framed Roger Rabbit??

  15. B-rad Jeepster

    seams like the green eyed monster has run ramped. if you don’t know where to get the parts to finish you should just move on to the next car. I think the fiberglass car of the fifties are some of the sexiest car made i.e. woodill wildfire.

  16. Karl Sisson

    why not just restore a Triumph TR3?

  17. Bill.

    Looks like the 1930’s-1940’s bat mobile

  18. Don Cicchetti

    At this point, it’s a Whozit, and I’ve never seen one of those sell for 10K.

    Who made the body?
    Who made the frame?
    Who made the suspension?
    Does it even steer?
    Does the steering column rub on the dashboard?
    Are there brakes?
    Is there enough fiberglass in the body to sand it smooth without going through?
    What drivetrain was intended to be used?

    And much more.

    At this point, one has to consider that this was intended as a styling exercise, not a car, and it may never be a car. 10 minutes with it would be revealing, and likely depressing. None for me.

  19. Bryan W Cohn

    I love old kit cars of the 50’s and when I see unfinished version like this I always think, “That’s make a cool vintage race car!” Add a narrow hoop roll bar, an aluminum seat that looks like it came from a 50’s era fighter jet (they make repo’s), a Brookland’s windscreen, a couple vintage Smith’s or Jaeger gauges and a Brooklands 4 spoke steering wheel and hit the vintage circuit!

    Of course it would need proper racing prep of the suspension (Koni’s anyone?) and some new period correct racing tires (Englebert’s or Longstone’s would do) and the brakes are likely not up to the challenge just as they weren’t in the 50’s but hey its all part of the charm, isn’t it?

    Now if I just had the time, the funds but most importantly the spousal support for such a project…..

  20. carbuzzard Member

    I was on a media trip in Korea for the introduction of the Kia Rio, an international event where there were auto writers from all over the world. I was sitting with another American when a young lady identified herself as being from Yugoslavia, and started the conversation with “You know, we made a car named the Yugo.” Pause. We were both thinking, how to be polite. What did we say that was politic.

    We needn’t have worried. She continued, “It was a terrible car. On a rough road, the doors would pop open.” Whew, there is a God.


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