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Fiberglass Rarity: 1956 La Dawri Conquest Project

La Dawri Coachcraft was a maker of fiberglass sports car bodies, including the Conquest (aka Cavalier). You could think of them as a kit car, but if you bought one, all you got was the body. The company began in the 1950s in Canada, then moved to the U.S., and eventually ceased operations in the 1960s. This Conquest is a rolling project in that the VW chassis is rusted out and the body needs a lot of work. Located in New Palestine, Indiana, and available here on Facebook Marketplace, the seller is looking to make it go away for just $500. Thanks for another tip, Kenneth Athon!

The name of the company and its cars was derived from combining parts of the founder’s name (Les Dawes) and his associate Don Wright. The first car body was produced in 1956 and the final in 1965. The reason for the demise of the company is uncertain. Some say it was due to a fire that destroyed all the fiberglass molds, while others say the IRS was looking to collect back taxes. Dawes got his start in fiberglass by making body shells for golf carts and then took a leap of faith by doing one for a sports car that was shown in Vancouver in 1956. First called the Cavalier, when the “car” when into production, it became the Conquest. It was featured on the cover of Road & Track in July 1957.

History-wise, the background of this ’56 Conquest is sketchy. Because it has a VW chassis, we assume it also has a VW drivetrain. The seller says that more than 100,000 miles have been put on the car over the past 65 years. The VW pan is rusted out and the body has seen better days, as well. It rolls and steers and has just one mag wheel along with three steel ones. The photo in the garage is likely the most recent one, as another has a stamp date in 2009.

If you had a VW chassis, motor, and engine looking to be converted into a dune buggy, this could be a good Plan B, as long as working with fiberglass is a skill you possess (or you know someone who does). The seller suggests thinking of this purchase as buying just a body because there is no title and the one that you would get would be based on the chassis ultimately used. We’re told the car is all there, so it becomes the question of what would you do with it once you got it.


  1. Avatar photo ChingaTrailer

    I’ve owned two LaDawris, one had a 392 Hemi, the other a 409. A bit faster than this VW powered car I think . . .

    Like 2
  2. Avatar photo Kenn

    Working with fiberglass requires much less skill than working with metal, assuming any mechanical / woodworking skills at all.

    Like 2
  3. Avatar photo Little_Cars Member

    The one with the satin Torque Thrust wheels looks (or looked) pretty good. Someone attempted to make it look like a Vette, which went nowhere. Wonder how many of these bodies broke in two just above the rise of the rear fender arch and door latch panel. Seems like a fail point.

    Like 2
  4. Avatar photo Kent Weinstein

    This is not a Conquest. It is a Quest QT, which was smaller than the Conquest, and more suitable for European chassis.

    Like 1

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