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No Reserve Royalty: 1975 Excalibur Phaeton

The Excalibur Phaeton is one of the more enduring of automotive curiosities, as it always seems to have followers even as its controversial styling becomes even more ancient. At the core of it, this is a tribute car that doesn’t really fool anyone – and while it was meant to emulate the Mercedes-Benz SSK, the proportions were never correct and details like the Volkswagen Beetle taillights were a dead giveaway that this wasn’t the real deal. Still, later cars were increasingly refined and loaded with desirable features like Recaro seats, so they could certainly be interesting, at least. This is an earlier 1975 model that runs but needs a “…total cosmetic makeover,” according to the seller. Find it here on eBay with bids to $3,900 and no reserve.

The Excalibur was meant to be a luxurious automobile, in keeping with the spirit of the car it was built to resemble. Leather seating surfaces and thick carpeting were standard features, and the other details are hard to miss: the spare tire mounted on the fender; the exposed exhaust tubes (which were actually functional!); the wire wheels; and the removable hard top were all features that helped to make the Excalibur like nothing else on the road. The car was also supposedly quite well constructed, with a hand-laid fiberglass body and heavy-duty frame. While there may have been some evidence of parts-bin raiding, the cars were said to have been built to a decent quality.

I just can never get over the obvious taillights; fortunately, these were swapped out for a more elegant design on later models. The Excalibur was powered by a respectable GM-sourced 454 engine and a Turbo 400 automatic transmission, and despite the goofy looks, the Excalibur could pick up its fender skirts and move right on out when pressed. The seller’s car is said to be mechanically sound but in need of cosmetics; truth be told, the cosmetic flaws aren’t immediately obvious to me, but I’m sure there are plenty of details up close that reveal how unkind years of poor storage and inactivity have been to this oddball luxury car. You can see in this photo that the removable top headliner has clearly seen better days.

The bumpers always drove me nuts on these, as if they couldn’t figure out a better way to integrate the necessary safety features into the unusual design. The wire wheels, though real, also looked far too small on the earlier cars. Fortunately, in addition to the taillights, the wheels and the interior were both improved dramatically on the later editions. The Excalibur is a popular choice for fans of the neo-classical look or the Great Gatsby-era of car design, as I like to say, but some enthusiasts just like it for the place the Excalibur maintains in automotive history. The mechanical refresh on this car will be pretty straightforward; it’s the fiberglass and top repairs that are more daunting. Would you ever drive one of these?


  1. Howard A Member

    39 BIDS and only $3,900? Something is loony in this cartoon. Okay, say what you will about these cars,, that’s peanuts, nay, an insult for one of the best HANDBUILT cars in America. Fact is, if Alice Preston, former head mechanic and was very much still involved with the preservation of these cars( everyone is documented), is still alive, she’d buy it back. She was devastated that 2 cars were lost to “Cash for Clunkers”. The brainchild , and subsequent “Swan Song” of Brooks Stevens, these cars were designed and built from the ground up. It had the best components offered in the auto industry. Mr. Stevens was no idiot.
    Some may remember, in the 70’s I worked for a paint supplier and we had the Excalibur account in West Allis, Wis. Although I never met Alice, or Mr. Stevens, the paint manager let me walk through the facility. I was impressed that you could eat off the floor, and the employees obviously loved what they did. I don’t remember the 454,( ’75-’79) I just remember seeing stacks of 350 Corvette motors to the ceiling. Some big names owned Excaliburs, and many, I read, are still with their original owners. While the tail lights will always strike a nerve, it’s unfair to relate that to what a fantastic car this is. Like my grandpa would say, “Such a deal”,,

    Like 10
  2. Ben T Spanner

    Best componets; you bet VW taillights. Just the chariot to drive to your hair implant appointment.

    Like 9
  3. Gary

    Back in the 70s, many off these 1920 styled cars around. I recall many made with Pinto engines. One company made something similar to this and also a knock off Model A with a Pinto engine. Always wanted on of those. At least these were not as gaudy as those goofy slightly restyled Pontiacs that sold for a bunch but held no long-term value at all. Can’t remember the name on those, but I remember Elvis bought one. That alone should tell you how awful it was as the man had no automotive style at all.

    Like 1
    • Frank Sumatra

      Except for the Pantera. Yeah, the one he fired a few bullets into after it wouldn’t start.

      Like 0
    • A.G.

      You’re thinking of the Shay roadster

      Like 0
    • Dave

      Elvis’ Pontiac based car was called the Stutz Blackhawk. They were extremely expensive at the time as the obvious GM parts were literally 14karat gold.

      Like 1
      • Gary

        Yes, that is the name. Thank you. I can not believe people paid good money for sure gaudy junk.

        Like 2
  4. Ike Onick

    Front bumper is an abomination welded to a debacle wrapped in bad taste.

    Like 3
  5. J R Jones

    I worked there briefly about the time this Series II was built, and have a Series I with the 327ci SBC. The SSK (K for kurt or light) applied to the 28-29 step over roadster, not this behemoth, more representative of a 36 Mercedes.
    Quality and durability is appropriate for a neo-classic collector car, but a little embarrassing for purist car guys. Geriatric prostitutes are not hot.

    Like 4
  6. Joe Haska

    I drove a 67 Excalibur from Denver to Seattle and shipped it, to the buyer in Alaska. The trip was a blast because the car created allot of attention at that time. Also, I was being paid to do it and I took my wife. The car was already registered in Alaska and had the licence plates to prove it. So that even caused more question and fun. As for the car, it was about as good as a “T Bucket” for comfort , handling , safety and reliability ,but we were young and it was a free adventure , more about the journey than the destination.

    Like 3
  7. Jeff Quintrall

    Cathouse owners pimp -mobile! Who would drive such a monstrosity?

    Like 3
    • Mike

      A pimp-mobile for people who wear sans-a-belts and live in FL. The front bumper set up is ridiculous.

      Like 4
      • Steveo

        No self respecting pimp would be seen in anything like this.
        I seriously don’t know of anywhere you could go, or what you could wear that this thing would be appropriate transportation. Outside maybe some clown show, but even then it would be an affront to clowns.

        Like 3
    • Kenn

      I would.

      Like 1
      • Howard A Member

        Me too, Kenn, we would be among some big names. Tony Curtis, Phyllis Diller ( had 2), Jackie Gleason, Dean Martin, Tony Randall, Pernell Roberts, Ronald Reagan, Steve McQueen, Dick and Jerry Van Dyke, George Foreman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, even Roy Orbison( why he would need one is a mystery), and of course, Brooks Stevens, to name a few. I think the Shah of Iran had a couple too. Point is, these people that are naysaying the Excalibur, they clearly don’t know Mr. Stevens contributions to society, and the Excalibur was his( and his sons) biggest venture. It’s a classic American tale that has yet to be matched. Pimpmobile indeed, what’s wrong with some of you?

        Like 0
  8. Howie Mueler

    A even $4k now, with time left.

    Like 0
    • Jeff Quintrall

      I respect your opinion, but it’s still a pimpmobile!

      Like 0
  9. Dave

    As driven to spring training by Cleveland Indians third baseman Roger Dorn in the movie “Major League”.

    Like 2
  10. Kenn

    It’s too bad the body wasn’t designed with a hood long enough to be ahead of the front tires so the awkward bumper mounts could be eliminated. In fact, I can’t recall seeing a car with the grill so far rearward from the tires.

    Like 0
  11. t-bone BOB

    Located in:
    Mentor, Ohio

    Like 0
  12. chrlsful

    “…Would you ever drive one of these?…’

    Like 1
  13. Kirk K

    Put a roll bar in it jack it up put some 33 inch mudders on the back H78s on front maybe skid plate or 2 and head off road to see what that 454 will do ! ! Youd have the classes mad max dunebuggy on the trail. What?! They started it putting them Vw tail lights on it .. keep it goin I say. Oh yeah and cut all that crap off the front. . Well leave a little to mount the winch I suppose

    Like 1
  14. Frank Sumatra

    The new image is worse than the first one. It looks even more foolish to me now.

    Like 0
  15. AlanBob™

    @Howard A, Roy Orbison wasn’t blind. The dark shades were a style thing. Here’s a picture of him behind the wheel.

    Like 0

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