Home Brew: Custom Excalibur Roadster

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I’ve never thought of building my own car, but I have considered what it would be like to bring my favorite aspects of multiple vehicles into one chassis. The builder of this custom Excalibur here on eBay certainly had varied tastes and managed to do much of the work himself. That’s a major achievement, especially on a car with custom features that include hand-formed steel panels. Bidding is already over $16,000 with only a couple of days left. 

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The interior is surprisingly neat for a home-built project. The carpets look new and the wood dash applique appears to be in good shape. I’d want to install some updated bucket seats, perhaps some Recaros re-trimmed in tan leather? The wood-rimmed steering wheel looks appropriate for this kind of car and connects to a positraction rear-end. If you read through the listing,  recent maintenance includes suspension refreshes like new leaf springs and ball joints.

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It seems like everything was built on this car for ease of use and maintenance. Take the engine, for instance: the Ford 351 Cleveland is bolted to a 3-speed automatic transmission that should be plenty easy to find parts for while delivering an awesome V8 engine note. The engine is also set back 2.5 feet on the chassis for easy maneuverability, yet another feature reflecting the highly-technical previous owner.  I personally like the bronze engine cover as well.

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This car is definitely an oddball but also looks like a labor of love. It should be reliable mechanically, but given the custom nature of the body, you’ll want to be vigilant of traffic threats. I don’t think anyone will have trouble spotting you; more likely, they’ll be so distracted they’ll plow right into someone else! Do any of you know the builder, from whom’s estate the custom convertible was purchased? Let us know in the comments.

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Comments

  1. David

    So tasteful!

  2. Alan (Michigan)

    Merry Christmas, everyone! This looks like a big tree ornament, all shiny and colorful.
    Does anyone else wish for a photo showing how two of the headlights turn with the front wheels?

    Ribbing alert: Eh, Jeff…. We’ll need an explanation regarding how this makes sense…. “The wood-rimmed steering wheel looks appropriate for this kind of car and connects to a positraction rear-end.” You may have come upon an automotive first! (Or, system parts descriptions are being mixed in an unusual manner?)

  3. grant

    What Alan said…

  4. Blindmarc

    I like this one.

  5. randy

    A dealer I worked at sold these and Clenet’s. They are way too long in their original form to be fun to drive. This one looks perfect.

    • Rob

      @Randy.. I beg to disagree. I’ve owned my 1978 Series I Roadster for over 24 yrs, and at just a lil’ under 16ft in length, it’s a blast to drive, and for comfort, leather racing Recaros to sit in, with a Nardi wheel to hold onto.. :).

      • randy

        Just for giggles, how many miles have you put on it in those 24 years? Where do you drive it? To work and back, or on a Sunday cruise on a sunny day? This would never be your only car. That was my point.

        I should have also said as a DD.

      • Rob

        @Randy.. I’ve put almost 20k miles on her, not a whole lot as I live in MT, so Winter driving is kinda/sorta out, but you’re right, I have others.. a 2001 V12 BMW Sport that’s in ’bout the same condition, a ’40 Ford Pickup (ol’ school rodded flathead w/all the goodies), 2005 Dodge 4×4, ‘n a ’05 Escalade.. we drive ’em all when we can, i.e. ‘cept the ’40, which hasn’t been on the road since ’63, but I work on it when I can, ‘n I’ll get it finished someday, as I’m now retired.

      • Rob

        Oh yeah, forgot to add.. Clenets were never meant to be DD’s in the typical sense of the word, as 27k in ’78 was a chunk of change for a car back then, tho in my 1st few yrs of ownership, I did just that, back ‘n forth to work, from the mountains to the sea, ‘n back again each day when I lived in sunny SoCal, and it was always fun, fun, fun. :)

      • randy

        I like the cars, they have a special place in my heart, as they are quite unique. 20K miles in 35 years is very few miles. A fun car would be driven constantly in my world. Pardon my ignorance, is yours a Clenet or Excaliber or both? The Clenet seems to be more rare and nice units bring more than a similar Excaliber.

        Ok, so we can agree they are fun to drive, on a limited basis. I sure would not take one and try to park it at the grocery store. Merry Christmas, and you have quite the selection of fine cars. My current vehicles are: ’73 F250, ’65 F100, ’13 KLR-650. Just a poor boy here.

    • Blyndgesser

      This is not an actual Excalibur but a grotesque parody thereof.

  6. Vince Habel

    Looks awkward with suspension in front of the grille.

  7. Myron Vernis

    The ad says that this car is a tribute to the Mercedes SSK AND Brooks Stevens’ Excalibur. Now that people are building Excalibur tribute cars, the value of my original series one roadster has to be skyrocketing.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Myron, I have a personal interest in Excalibur cars. In the 70’s, I worked for an auto body and paint supplier in Milwaukee, and we supplied all the paint for Excalibur cars at the factory in West Allis, Wis. I was the delivery driver, and was told to always make Excalibur my 1st stop. After the delivery, I would walk around and watch all the Excalibur cars in various stages of completion. The workers there were very nice, and you could tell they loved what they did. I wonder what Alice Preston, Excalibur’s head mechanic, would think of this? She is quite a person, and is committed to keeping as many Excalibur’s on the road, even though, the factory is long gone. Did you know, they “lost” 5 Excalibur’s to the “Cash for Clunkers” program? Alice was devastated, as she would have easily bought them for restoration. She maintains an active list of all the Excalibur’s still running, and a large % of the original owners still have their cars. This is pretty cool.

      • Myron Vernis

        Hi Howard,
        Thanks for sharing the cool memories. Alice is a good friend and truly the keeper of the Excalibur marque. I feel very fortunate to have an all original first series car.

  8. 1969Deuce

    Overall, not my taste but if I had the money, I’d own it in a heartbeat. Very nicely done.

    I happen to like the featured frame and I love the cross-draw pistol grip door handles.

    I have to agree on preferring bucket seats – unless the idea was to keep a period flavor. I would absolutely replace the piece of wood under the dash on the passenger’s side with something that matches.

  9. hhaleblian

    this, makes my eyes hurt

  10. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Never though the Excalibur link would help sell. Remember seeing some early ad materials on the Excalibur and it was pictured with Brooks’s inspiration car the Mercedes. Love Brooks, but thought that the final product was poorly executed when the were pictured together.
    This could stand on its own but once the fake exhausts are pictured, it makes me want to know what other cliches were added or corners were cut. That doesn’t appear to be brass, but copper, and I’m not sure why?
    While the lines are a little simplistic for my tastes his execution looks great, he managed to get the details. The interior is finished nicely, the doors have seals. All the little things that take time seem to be addressed in a manner than seems professional.
    Think the car stands on its own more than the comparison to the Excalibur.

  11. Dan h

    those are real exhaust pipes, that’s all takes for me to be be looking even slightly further. Fake ones and this post would have been instantly deleted.

  12. Rob

    @Randy.. You have two nice trucks, ‘n a Kawasaki.. now I don’t know how old you are, but I’m now in my 70’s, and have owned over 50+ cars/cycles since I was 14, just never owned an Excalibur, nor ever wanted one either.

    My Dad bought the Clenet for me back in ’91 as a BD present, 4 months before he passed, as it reminded him of an SS Jag he once owned, ‘n so I became its 2nd owner. It’s 1st owner ordered it, but only drove it a yr, then got sick, ‘n later passed w/o fully enjoying his purchase; his widow keeping it garaged for the next 12 yrs, only taking it out once per yr for an annual service, so when I got it, it had less than 2000 miles on it… so yeah, the 20k miles I’ve racked up has taken me 24 yrs to do so, 8 of those being only in the late Spring/Summer/Fall. As it was his last gift to me, I could never part with it, ‘n it’ll be passed down in the Family.

    As far as using it as a grocery getter, or parking it at a Mall, yep, done that numerous times, afterall it was made to be driven, ‘n besides it’s insured for $35K, ‘n tho peeps look at it, they just seem to park well enough away, so I never give it a 2nd thought.

    • randy

      Great story, and I’d never sell it either, from my research, you only have 1/4 enough coverage to replace a Nice original Clenet. There were very few made, unlike the Excaliber.

      • Rob

        @Randy.. True, just a few under 500, here’s a bit of history.. there were 248 of the Series I Production cars (mine is #48), and one prototype built between late 1975 and on into 1979, 187 Series II cars starting in late ’79, then 52 of the Series III cars which were started in ’81. Unfortunately Alain Clenet’s dream closed in bankruptcy in ’82, but a former worker of his bought what was left, then resurrected the brand and production again resumed in ’84 with the building of the remaining Series II’s and III’s, and a few of his own design called the Designer Series, but he too closed the factory down in 1987.

        The Clenet brand was recognized as a Neo-Classic car a few yrs back by the Antique Automobile Club of America; personally I think it was/is a fitting tribute.

        You can find more info here if your curious, I belong to both the ‘Clubs’.
        http://clenetcorner.com/
        http://www.clenetclub.com/clenet-series-i.html

  13. Barry T

    Bah Humbug—-ugly.

  14. Charles H.

    I don’t know about anyone else…..but I think it would make for an interesting Hot Rod…..get rid of the rear fenders and add a set of extra wide Pro street type wheels and tires, maybe built up the engine more, maybe a blower poking through the hood…..etc.

  15. Mark S Member

    As a welder fabricator myself I looked at the chassie work closely, the builder of this car did a great job and clearly new what he was doing. This is no small task to move an engine back 2.5′. The body work is also well done it is one thing to form a body and paint over your your imperfections it is quite another thing to form a body and leave the metal exposed. There would be no room for mistakes. Some of you naysayers should give it a try and see if you can hand build a car. If I had the means to buy this I would, and save it from those that would want to modify a hand built car.

  16. Vince Habel

    i saw a Excalibur at a local auction and they call it a kit car. It was a real Excalibur.

  17. AMCFAN

    Read the sellers description. I’ll admit the car looks impressive parked on that street among the beautiful mansions. The idea is I have money and I want real money for it! Somehow cars parked in rundown areas just don’t bring that much.

    What I do not understand is that if the builder started this project in the 1950’s with a frame. Then it must have taken him another 20 years to choose the motor? Everything appears to be 1950’s 1960’s until it comes to the 1970’s smog 351 engine. Some may see that as a plus or a serious afterthought.

    I would expect since the previous owner/builder is a Ford enthusiast. (wheels look like vintage Motor Wheels) I would expect to see a period 312 Thunderbird Special under the hood. A true 1950’s custom would have a Cadillac or an Olds mill though. Nice build otherwise. I like the exposed frame.

  18. Joe Gotts

    Is there a shill or two under the bonnet $28,100.00 and reserve is not met?

  19. Jason Houston

    I had dinner at this guy’s house the other night. Besides being a sophisticated, talented builder with a natural flair for car styling, he’s also a gourmet chef. We had sushi topped with blueberry compote, chili dogs with cranberry sauce, angel food cake iced with sauerkraut, and boiled prime rib with anchovies. Mmm…mmm.

  20. ROB WESTCOTT

    Looks like the Roadster I designed and had built while I was stationed at Clark AFB in the Philippines, 1968-1969. I used the idea of the SSK Mercedes and Excaliber in my design as well.

    I started with a 1956 Pontiac, shortened and straightened the frame, moved and lowered the engine behind the front crossmember.

    All hand formed steel body by Cencio Turla in Angeles City. I’m sure he did a few others after mine.

    I would love to know where they ended up.

    Rob Westcott

    • randy

      Surely you have pictures.
      Don’t call me Shirley!

      • ROB WESTCOTT

        Hi Randy,
        I do have pictures and attached one. It didn’t seem to stick.
        I will try again. I have several I would like to post.

  21. ROB WESTCOTT

    will try this at 1/2 size and see if it works.

    • randy

      Wow! Very nice. I like the painted version better. It looks like those boys in the background are making plans for the wheels and everything else that can be unbolted!!

      Thank you for the pic.

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