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No Reserve! 1977 Excalibur Series III Phaeton

Here’s a niche of the car industry that defies categorization: it’s not a kit car, it’s not a replica, and it’s not really a production car – the Excaliber is more of a handbuilt special made in large-ish numbers originally based on a Studebaker chassis. About 3500 examples were made, starting in 1963 through the early 1980s, and then in fits and starts until about 1997. Today, the intellectual property from the Excalibur manufacturer, SS Automobiles, is owned by Alice Preston, who is winding down operations. Here on eBay is an example of this singular car, a 1977 Excalibur Series III phaeton, bid to $12,500. The car runs well and it’s located in Phoenix, Arizona – not a bad trip in the winter.

The Excalibur sprang from the mind of Brook Stevens, who was tasked with producing a showstopper to heal Studebaker’s ailing fortunes. Enamored of the Mercedes SSK, Stevens settled on a “neo-classic” design – old-time details clothing modern mechanicals. Studebaker rejected the car, prompting Stevens to start SS Automobiles in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to produce it himself. The Excalibur remained true to its neo-classic roots throughout several series. The first chassis was the Lark’s, and the first motor was Studebaker’s 289 cu. in. V8, but its exterior was straight out of The Great Gatsby. Some dozen cars were sold by a single dealer, Jerry Allen, in New York. Allen’s showroom was near the offices of General Motors, however, and he requested that the Studebaker engine be swapped out for a GM mill. Stevens used a 327 cu. in. V8 until 1970, when the 350 was installed. By now on a more robust chassis, the car was known for its luxury appointments and scorching performance. This car, part of the third series, received a 454 cu. in. big block – unfortunately down on power thanks to emission controls. The transmission is an automatic, and the car has new brake calipers and new tires.

The interior is upholstered in tan leather and looks nearly new. The somewhat antiseptic instrument panel will nonetheless track every iota of the car’s systems. Power steering and power brakes are oddly anachronistic in the true “roadster” configuration, which supplies only side curtains for weather protection. The phaeton body style is a four-place convertible; the rear seats are just as nice as the fronts.

Those side pipe exhausts were functional until the Series IV was produced (safety nannies, y’know). This example sports two-tone paint and dual side-mount spares. Befitting the drama queen styling, the front end is festooned with horns, lights, and a majestic grille – can’t miss this one coming down the road! We found this early two-seater for sale for the princely sum of $70k; this phaeton has no takers yet at $31k. I’m going to hazard a guess here to say that buyers for Excaliburs are few and far between, so this seller is making a wise choice running his auction at no reserve.


  1. Howie

    $15,600 now, ends soon, with a 454!!

    Like 3
    • M vickery

      Never really my thing, but at this price, hard to argue that it’s not a steal if it’s something you want.

      Like 0
      • Jay McCarthy

        I have loved Excaliburs since first seeing them, then at 19 a Series ll pulled up where I worked as a doorman and was asked if I’d mind parking it for him
        I had to jam my hand in my pocket to hide my glee

        Like 0
  2. Evan

    I always thought it hilarious that this bespoke, high-dollar car sported front signal lights and tail lights from the most pedestrian car, a Beetle.

    Like 5
    • LCL

      OMG so it does!
      Good spotting.

      Like 2
      • Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Member

        A lot of the neo classic replica cars have VW parking lights/turn signals.

        Like 0
    • Elbert Hubbard

      Another car made from VW parts . . . so it wasn’t only Porsche who went this route.

      Like 2
  3. MrBZ

    Had a chance to sell one of these at Midway Chevrolet in Phoenix in 85-86. It was a couple years old and still sitting in the showroom. Had a wheezy 305 sbc and an early 700R4, not good. When the potential buyer backed out I was kind of relieved. 155 hp and 4300 lbs is not a winning combination.

    Like 2
  4. GearHed

    Festooned… love it. Perfect word for this car’s personality.

    Like 1
  5. Brian Pinkey

    There was a restauraunt in Tulsa, Ok that had one of these inside; used for their salad bar! The hood had holes cut in it so containers of veggies could be inserted, ice tub on top of the engine. They closed down later expect some one got the car.

    Like 3
  6. EJ

    The second generation didn’t receive any 350. It was an LT-1. My neighbor had one from the early 70’s until the 2010’s. He may still have it, as he moved.
    Sounded great.

    Like 1
  7. Jamie

    $16,100 with 11 hours to go. I think it’s a steal at that price.

    Like 2
  8. HoA Howard A Member

    I can’t add much to the authors well written post, except, I delivered the paint used on Excaliburs in the 70s. The plant in West Allis, a suburb of Milwaukee, was spotless. It was clear the employees loved their work, and every car was handbuilt with pride. Can you say that about a Ford Fairmont? Stevens was no schmoe, obviously thought outside the box. His accomplishments are many, from toasters to Harleys, but the Excalibur was his Swan Song, and to demean that with what tail lights were used, well, that’s pretty shallow. Aside from the full classics of the 30s, I DARE ANYONE, to compare any US made car to these. A handmade full classic with Corvette guts, sounds pretty cool to me.
    Interesting story about Ms. Preston if you care to read it. Briefly, she took the job as head mechanic back in the 70s. Stevens, unaware she was a woman, said, who is that long haired hippy working on the, something. He was assured they were competent. Stevens, said, okay, but tell them to get a haircut. You can imagine his surprise when Alice turned around to meet him. She’s been with them ever since, and treats the cars like her own. She was devastated 2 were lost in the Cash for Clunkers program ( what kind of idiot would do that?) I question the “salad bar” one, I wonder if she knows about that, one of her cars as a freakin’ salad bar, but maintains a strict service/parts network for the owners, many of which, are the original ones. Say what you might, some prominent people drove Excaliburs, from Shahs to Jackie Gleason, to Phyllis Diller that had 4. Ford Fairmonts, not so much. What a cool car, and like all of Milwaukees products, it was made right here, in my hometown, and I helped,,kind of..

    Like 1
  9. Ed

    Great car at that price. Wish I had room. Someone is getting a nice distinctive cruiser to ride around in.

    Like 0
    • jwaltb

      A nice distinctive fake.

      Like 0
  10. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $25,200.

    Like 0

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