No Kitting: 1974 Custom Card Car

Andrew TannerBy Andrew Tanner

Exploring the internet for obscure cars never gets old, and reader Pat L. certainly delivered on this one. Have you ever wanted a car that nobody else has? Can’t bring yourself to buy a kit-car? Now I know what you’re thinking: there’s no way something this funky isn’t a kit-car. It isn’t! This is a one-off, completely hand-built fiberglass creation of a former General Motors engineer by the name of John Card. There comes a point in their career where many automotive engineers and designers feel the need to make something all their own. After working on it for several years, John Card made his dream come true. Utilizing parts from various vehicles, and 28 homemade fiberglass molds, the “Card Car” was born! Find it here on Hemmings for $12,500 in Michigan. 

While at first this car may seem like a hodgepodge of various parts, its actually quite the opposite. While very, very little information on this car and the gentleman who built it is available, it is clear that this car is well-made and put together properly. The fit and finish on the interior alone is enough to recognize that the person who built this car knew what they wanted and knew how to get there. Though it comes off as having a bit of a kit-car vibe, perhaps that is only because this is a car that most of us have never seen before. John Card took from various vehicles parts that would help realize his dream, even if that meant  mixing and matching various items. Its possible that the seats are repurposed from another vehicle, but the dash is all hand-crafted from teak wood. Though it may look vintage, this car was finished in the ’80s and is relatively modern. From the ad, “This car has power brakes, power windows, tilt wheel, radio and heater.”

Under the hood is a 2.8 liter V6 from a 1974 Mercury Capri, sitting atop a Chevette front end. There is no information on the transmission other than it is a 4-speed. A more traditional air cleaner would perhaps look more at home in place of the “triangle of death” currently installed, but the coolest part about this engine is that the valve covers say “Card” on them. The name Card, the letter C, and a royal flush emblem are present throughout the car, making this a uniquely branded one-off vehicle. All of the logos are the same font, evidently designed in the hand of the vehicle’s creator.

This car took John Card 5 years to build, from 1976 to 1981 and is now offered for sale for your enjoyment! Painted 1929 Pierce-Arrow Rubicelle Red with a modified grille insert from a 1938 Plymouth, this car is one truly unique vehicle. The seller states “Excellent craftsmanship throughout. Looks and drives factory built,” and I would not doubt it. If you’ve ever wanted to confuse people at car shows, this is likely one of the best opportunities you will get! I would love to know more about this car as far as where parts such as lights, bumpers, etc. were sourced. If anyone has more information on this vehicle, please drop us a line in the comments because we would love to know!

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  1. Hoos Hoos Member

    I like this car, although the interior looks a little kit like. I wanted to see a few more pictures of it, but it sold already.

    • Andrew Tanner Andrew Tanner Staff

      Agreed, compared to the quality of the exterior the interior could’ve been crafted a little better. A neat car though!

  2. glen

    It’s interesting a GM engineer chose a Ford engine!

  3. Fred W.

    Wow- impeccable engineering, style, good gas mileage, and the only one in the world . What more could you want? Except, as Howard said, a less “kit car” looking interior.

  4. Rob from Texas

    That Ford engine looks very narrow. Likely needed to fit the car.

    • scottymac

      I’m not sure GM didn’t copy the Ford design, but the 60 degree 2.8 liter V-6 from the Citation was available before this car was finished. Valve covers on my 2.8 Capri came from a 2.9 German Granada, and look very similar.

      • Gerald

        I’ve noticed that there are LOTS of visual similarities between the 60 degree V6’s from Ford and GM. I’ve often wondered if you took both apart and mixed the pieces together would they actually fit?

  5. DRV

    Incredibly well done. Now if you could just find a real grill surround…

  6. Barney

    The bumpers appear to be 33/34 Ford. The tail lights are pre war Chevy

  7. LAB3

    It’s wearing a historical plate which is rather confusing considering it’s probably got an “assembled” title if it has a title at all.

    • DweezilAZ

      It’s older than 25 years, which is usually the cut off for “historic plates” in many states. And it must have a title to be registered for plates at all assembled or otherwise.

  8. David

    Great write-up and clever title! Thanks!

    • Andrew Tanner Andrew Tanner Staff

      You got it! Thanks for reading!

  9. Bob Hess

    Taillights are ’39 Chevy. Liked them so much I put them on my ’48 Crosley so I’d have two lights in the rear. Still making them today for hot rods. If you think about it, the interior looks like everything the big three was putting in their cars in the ’70s and ’80s.

  10. U.K.OK

    Unvarnished mahogany dash & trim. Ugly. The boot bustle. Ugly. It has a very cheap cartoon look to it. The only one-off’s that ever work visually are small sleek sports cars. Pretentious pile of personalised fiberglass. ‘Carrozzeria Card’ not happening. That’s not a personal attack but what it cost in $’s and Hrs to make against what may be attainable in the market maybe should leave it for the grand kids and not find out.

  11. jw454

    The steering wheel is from a Pontiac and the steering column is GM too. Possibly Firebird/Trans Am. The placement of the gauges makes me think Fox body Mustang cluster behind the Mahogany.
    It’s not bad… I kinda like it.

  12. Jim Morris

    Hubcaps are ’58 Olds, the kind held on with spring clips and pop out (but not off) the rim to check pressure.

    Well thought out and appears to be well made also.

    I’d own it (if I didn’t have too many already!).

  13. Sam

    I think the car has a nice look…almost a “Car Craft” 50s ish mild custom.

    I don’t think I would do much…some minor interior dash/console tweaking. I think some 8 lug Pontiac wheels would look good with the wide whitewalls.

    Overall the look and quality is significantly higher than most bad Model A,Tri-Bird and Cord kits.

  14. Dickie F

    I cannot stop thinking, that a chrome grill surround would have eliminated a lot of the kit car look.
    And aged it a bit more.
    I would have been drooling if it was a 4 seater.
    still like it thou.

  15. MRE2ME

    Anyone have ideas for a replacement engine for that P.O.S 2.8. Ford engine? Like Fords, just can’t believe anyone crafting a car from scratch would pick that engine.

    • scottymac

      The V-4 and V-6 Cologne engine line, whether in 1.3, 1.5, 1.7, 2.0, 2.3, 2.4, 2.6, 2.8, and 2.9 liter versions powered millions of German Fords and Swedish Saabs. The V-4 was one of the first engines to use a balance shaft. In America, the 2.8 was used in many of Fords sub-compact and sporty compact cars. The 2.8 Cologne V-6’s big brother, the 4.0, powered millions of Rangers and Explorers, and provided great service for millions of buyers. You know what they say about opinions, they’re like sphincters, everyone has one. You appear to have a double dose.


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