Custom 1950’s Road Race Coupe Special

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In the world of custom builds, you’ve got a spectrum going from things like a rebodied Beetle to the wild creations of George Barris. Our feature today lies somewhere closer to George Barris, but with the apparent usability of something more pedestrian. If you’ve wanted to get into the world of custom builds, now’s your chance! Although, it’s worth mentioning that the seller would prefer to keep the car, so keep that in mind. We’ve all been in the position where we have to sell a car we really don’t want to, and it can be painful. If you know anything about the car, maybe you can make some money selling information about it! You can find it here on craigslist. Special thanks to T.J. for letting us know about it!

There’s precious little information available about the car in the advertisement, but the seller says that it has a “Manning style tube chassis,” which is worth the price of admission right there. Crash course in Manning history: Chuck Manning was an aerospace engineer whose hobby was designing race cars. His “Manning Special” used an exceptionally lightweight and strong tubular spaceframe of his own design, coupled with a Mercury flathead V-8 engine, and was well-documented in various issues of Road & Track magazine, meaning anyone who read Road & Track and was good with their hands could make their own expertly-engineered Manning Special.

At any rate, the body is fully-enclosed, although appears to be missing windows in the doors; that’s never been a problem for Jeep owners, though, so you’ll probably be fine. Unless you’ve got a mind for the absurd like I do, then you probably won’t be driving this in any inclement weather. Personally, though, if this was my car…I’d daily it, rain, sleet, snow, or shine.

You can get a glimpse of the interior in one or two of the pictures, and a large steering wheel with appropriate horn ring is visible, but not much else. Part of the appeal with custom cars is that they can reflect their owners’ and/or builders’ personalities to an extent that mass-produced cars simply can’t. With gas prices being what they are, maybe this small, lightweight, two-seater would benefit from a smaller-displacement engine like a Honda K24 or Toyota 4AGE or 2ZZ. Maybe you want to go electric and it could benefit from a NetGain HyPer9 swap. Or maybe you don’t care about any of that and want to keep whatever undeniably 8 cylinder engine is in there now…or do a Hellephant swap. The world is yours.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    Maybe designed by the same guy who did the Graham? No information means no interest from this garage. How ’bout an Ugly Runoff between this and the Graham? Winner gets a rusty hubcap signed by Micky Mouse.

    Like 4
  2. nlpnt

    Is it covered in brown vinyl? Looks like it. A cross between a Lotus 7 and a Velorex.

    Like 6
  3. jnard90 jnard90Member

    The listing is confusing. Buying or selling?

    Like 1
    • RLO

      I’m guessing that he wants to compete in vintage racing, but can’t do so unless he can establish the required history to make this care eligible. So, he says he’ll pay anyone that can help him out, but he’s willing to sell it in the meantime. I suppose that means he’s not interested in/able to drive it on the street (he never mentions anything about a title, for example)?

      Like 0
    • Rj

      Until I had time to look it over in my shop for a week to identify everything I would look into putting 20lbs of air into the frame and check for leaks, build a jig to square it up. But first I’d like to fire it up and make it move. It looks like it could be one of two things.

      Like 0
  4. Mike

    Looks like it’s made of clay. Is that a pool noodle on top of the door? Why two different hubcaps? So many questions…

    Like 1
    • Melton Mooney

      Gray water pipe insulation, yes.

      Like 1
  5. Melton Mooney

    Big guys need not apply. If the nose is long enough, a tricked out punyac OHC 6 would be pretty boss.

    Like 0
  6. Frank

    Wouldn’t it be beneficial for a seller to include contact information?

    Like 1
    • Howie

      Frank, in the upper left corner is reply to contact, on this 4 pictures is enough.

      Like 1
  7. tom

    I get a VW vibe, anyone else think the front glass is super beetle?

    Like 3
    • Marko

      VW glass is exactly what I thought too.

      Like 1
    • PairsNPaint

      Super Beetles didn’t get curved front glass until ’73 IIRC.

      Like 0
    • Melton Mooney

      Maybe the rear glass too? The whole top might be some sort of vw shortened/narrowed chop job.

      Like 0
  8. DeeBee

    My first guess is a Lotus 7 and a VW Superbeetle had a wild night and this is the result!

    Like 2
  9. Carmanic CarmanicMember

    It hurts to look at it.

    Like 0
  10. Steve RM

    It kinda feels like the seller(?) is looking for history. But then you look at the price and depending on a lot of things that get no mention or picture, it might be a good deal. But his ad totally sucks.

    Like 0
  11. scottymac

    The grill has the feel of a Nash-Healey, America’s first post war sports car (beating Corvette by two years).

    The nose is certainly long enough for the Nash straight six. Wonder if someone came across a derelict N-H and used the leftover parts to create this? I think this is a sweet little bug, love the cutouts in the roof to ease entry. Definitely Beetle glass, thought the rear might have been sourced there, too, so means construction in Sixties or Seventies. There are so many stickers on the back glass, one would think tracking down its history would be easy. Gotta appreciate the diaper on the rear axle.

    Like 0
  12. Frank DMember

    Looks like a back yard garage built with a V8. I see Lotus 7 type fenders. If the owner only took the hood off and provide some interior pictures. Maybe this has a Halibrand QC rear end used in oval Sprint/stock car racing.

    Like 0
  13. CeeOne

    I actually find this interesting. If I was closer, I’d like to have a look. The front end looks like a 50s Indycar.

    that Graham, however, is hideous to me.

    Like 0

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