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One Of Six: 1955 Replac Debonnaire

If any of you reading this have a copy of the July 1955 issue of Motor Trend, get thee to a scanner and put some images into the comments of their road test of the Replac Debonnaire—it’s this fiberglass-bodied Sportster’s lone moment in the sun. Despite that early publicity boost, only six cars were made before a fire destroyed the body molds. A sad story, but one that could have a happy ending if you happen to be the winning bidder on this rare survivor, shared with us by reader Craig J.! It’s here on eBay out of Tampa, Florida, with bidding at $7,200 and the reserve not yet met.

As Craig pointed out in his submission, the Debonnaire has a connection to another ill-fated, though much more famous, postwar automotive startup: Tucker. That comes by way of the roadster’s designer, Philip S. Egan, a member of Alex Tremulis’s design team on the Tucker and many years later the author of an interesting insider’s account of the Tucker’s design. The selling dealership makes much of this connection in their listing, although, interestingly, they also rather ignore Egan’s design work by also including several renderings of what they think a finished Debonnaire could look like that differ dramatically in trim and even the shape of the windshield from the real thing.

That said, much will be left to the new owner’s imagination. There’s really very little here beyond the fiberglass body built off of Egan’s design by the Replac Corporation—which “is in excellent shape for being over 60 years old, but needs full restoration”—sitting on a standard Ford frame, circa 1950, with four wheels and tires attached. As you may deduce from the car’s high stance, there’s little else weighing it down: no engine, no glass, no seats—not even floors!

The seller seems to think that at one time this car was completed, so perhaps more parts are stashed away that will come with it, but if so, they’re not mentioned. If it was completed, there’s a good chance it’s one of the cars in the photo above; that represents 2/3 of total production, after all! Contemporary fiberglass sports cars like the Glasspar G2 and Woodill Wildfire are mentioned in the ad and seem to have been used as yardsticks in assessing the Debonnaire’s value; frankly, the Debonnaire lacks the grace of either of those competitors. Its great advantage was that it was designed to fit on the Ford frame without any modification, whereas most other do-it-yourself sports cars of the era involved shortening the donor frame.

While there’s a lot missing, what this car does come with is some interesting original documentation and research—and rarity that even the Glasspar and Woodill can’t touch. Do you think you’d be up for the adventure of going from those research materials and seeing if you could resurrect this forgotten postwar dream car?

Comments

  1. doug

    Very good looking. Hope it gets finished.

    Like 2
  2. CS

    This is one E36 M3 donor away from being thoroughly epic.

    Like 4
    • Nathan Avots-Smith Member

      DO IT.

      Like 2
  3. Fred W

    Anyone see the resemblance to a ’55 Merc?

    Like 17
    • Beatnik Bedouin

      As a matter of fact, yes… ;-)

      I have been fascinated by these kit cars since the 1950s, and I’m amazed that so many still exist, especially as most were said to have never been finished.

      Hopefully, someone will buy this example and restore it.

      Like 2
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        B. B.,

        I think that many kit cars of the 1950s were set aside because of either time or money restraints, and just forgotten. Over the years they were looked down upon as not being worth the time & effort. All that is changing now, with an upswing in interest in early kit cars, some of the better ones are now starting to bring decent money when correctly finished.

        Like 1
    • doug

      Absolutely, the side view has Mercury written all over it.

      Like 2
  4. Will Fox

    Yes, I caught the headlamp brows that reminded me of a `55 Mercury, with a touch of `55 Plymouth in the front end as well. This is basically a ‘blank sheet of paper’ if you will, to design the car any way you want! If you put a `57 DeSoto grille on it, It starts to look like a `57 DeSoto Firedome! But as it is, there’s way more work needed that I wouldn’t want to deal with. Not even a floor? I could see $130K put into it and for what? No thanks.

    Like 3
    • PatrickM

      I just had my eyes operated on and I think I need to go back to the ophthalmologist. This looks too much like photo shop to me.

      Like 0
  5. AF

    looks like a over sized pedal car.

    Like 3
  6. Wayne

    I dig it man! (B.B., how is that for beatnik lingo?)
    If I had no other projects I would tackle this one. It has good lines and is different enough to be an eye catcher. I would go the pre-production T-Bird route! (lol)
    Install a “Y” block engine with a 3 speed on the floor, add some T-Bird wheel covers, period Lincoln vertical tail lamps, white with red interior.(T-Bird style seat)
    If you could sell that, you could really make some money!

    Like 2
  7. Clay Bryant

    A set of new real wire wheels would really change that car’s complexion….

    Like 1
  8. Steve H.

    Won’t see another one of these at the local shine n’ show.

    Like 1
  9. Ron

    I’m with you Wayne, maybe 56 Lincloln rear quarters or 57 Lincoln with the fins and the brimmed eyebrows, same full wheel covers or Kelsey Hayes wires!!!

    Like 0
  10. KevinLee

    The back half looks a might disjointed from the rest of the car.

    Like 0
  11. dweezilaz

    Nice looking. I think it’s a lot better than the Woodill Wildfire. It actually looks like something that might have come from Ford.

    Like 0

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