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Rare Fiberglass Time-Capsule: 1960 La Dawri

This is a fantastic and almost unique offering. When did you last see a La Dawri Conquest, let alone one in largely time-capsule condition (albeit with a seized engine)? This one can be found here on eBay in Alvaton, Georgia, with bidding currently at $8,200, but sure to go higher.

To understand what we have here, it’s necessary to travel back in time to the very early 1950s, when American servicemen wanted something akin to the sports cars they saw in Europe, but with American oomph. The Corvette wasn’t out yet, let alone the Ford Thunderbird. The vacuum was filled by companies like Kellison, Devin, Bocar, Glasspar, Victress, Byers, and more. They supplied fiberglass sports car bodies that could fit on a variety of chassis. It was a thing for a brief time.

The owner describes this La Dawri as a 1960 model, and that’s plausible because the car (out of British Columbia originally) existed from 1956 to approximately 1965—by which time fiberglass kit cars were old hat. The car model in question isn’t actually identified in the ad, but it’s a Conquest (originally called a Cavalier) with early Corvette design cues. The car was introduced in 1957 and was featured on the cover of Road and Track that year. There was also the prettier Daytona model, sold in smaller form as the Sebring. The Conquest body cost $395 new.

This car is accurately described as coming our way via a time machine, it’s that well preserved. The engine bay needs work, though, and the V8 (currently soaking in oil) is seized.

The La Dawri sits on a stock Henry J chassis, with a modified ‘49 Oldsmobile Rocket V-8 and a Ford rear end from the ’49-’51 time period. The engine boasts Fenton headers, Gotha rocker arms, Jahns pistons, and a dual point distributor—all presumably period. It would be worth getting that motor going again for the vintage cred. A LaSalle three-speed manual is floor-shifted and connected to a shortened Olds driveshaft.

It’s unclear how long it was actually on the road (the ad says 1,075 miles, a figure that’s confirmed by the odometer but TMU), but since being taken off it was safely stored inside.

Inside storage for decades means the original paint still sparkles, as does the chrome. The turquoise paint nicely sets off the swoopy lines of this outlandish creation. A new owner could just polish it up, take off those hideous wheel covers and ancient whitewalls, and soon be in the business of wowing the neighbors.

The interior features a lot of still-viable dark brown vinyl, and Stewart Warner gauges with slightly rusty chrome surrounds. Very little to do there. The carpet needs finishing, but it’s there in good condition. I’m not sure if these cars came with any kind of top, but this one doesn’t appear to have one—or any way to attach such a device. Maybe that was optional. The brochure that comes with the car explains that “aero-dynamics” ensure “closed car comfort” and hardly any wind noise. There’s no trunk floor, but that shouldn’t be too hard to fabricate–or maybe it’s in a box of parts.

A bonus with this one is that it comes with all of its original paperwork since new, including the original bill of sale from La Dawri Coachcraft, engineering drawings, blueprints, detailed mechanical specs, receipts, and period photos.

For more on this interesting period in sports car history, check out Forgotten Fiberglass. So what’s stopping you from bidding on this lost classic?

Comments

  1. Avatar photo bobhess Member

    Aw… you have insulted J.C. Whitney’s fake ’55 Olds spinner hub caps. Don’t blame you. The factory units were clean, good looking pieces while these with the checkerboard background just didn’t cut it. The short wheel base doesn’t help the looks either but there is some good design work scattered around the car. At least it’s a complete piece of automobile history not available to a whole lot of folks until now.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo RayT

      Dunno, bobhess. I think those cheapie spinners MAKE the car! Probably add $1500 to the asking price, too!

      Though I didn’t care much for these when they were new — and I was newer — they have grown on me. I once drove a “kit car” from the same period with the same basic make-up (Big engine in smaller, basic chassis with an inexpensive ‘glass shell laid on) and it was, to say the least, no Ferrari. But it looked cool, sounded neat, and people stared.

      So I’d make it run, make it safe, and clean/polish everything. And add a trunk floor. And I’d keep the spinners….

      Like 5
  2. Avatar photo Cadmanls Member

    Love that tail pipe! Seriously has some potential and what a time capsule, was somebodys hard work, time and money in the day to create this beauty.

    Like 2
  3. Avatar photo Little_Cars

    That would be the expandable JC Whitney tailpipe, which provides something for your newly fabricated trunk floor to sit on, along with the rear axle and pumpkin. LOL I’m glad to read this car comes with some sort of documentation because with all of those components, the people that stitched it all together to make a running car wouldn’t be around to tell you what propels this down the road. Olds engine and driveshaft, Henry J chassis, Lasalle tranny and shift gaiter, Ford rear, etc etc. Those seats look akin to the ones on old school buses and probably give as much support. I would shorten the steering column so that “Impaler” doesn’t loom upon the driver each time he stomps on the drum brakes.

    Like 0
  4. Avatar photo bone

    Its funky cool looking, and the right set of wheels and tires would make a huge difference . My only issue with the car would be the fuel door, or lack of it , cut into the rear quarter .It looks awful . IMO. . I’ve seen other Conquests that did not have that cut out and I’m assuming had a filler neck under the trunk lid. repairing the hole would require a paint job which is too bad, as the original paint looks really good.

    Like 1
  5. Avatar photo Mark

    I could see Wayne Carini buying this.
    Original, odd, rare and cool.
    GLWTS.

    Like 3
  6. Avatar photo chrlsful

    these all ways had the beautiful 50s/early 60s ‘european curves’ I liked. Yes, kit car dash and other accouterments (bumpers follow contours better, frm much closer in too) to work out – but great starts. No wonder we hada SoCal DIY glass car evolution.

    Thanks, Jim !

    Like 0
  7. Avatar photo bobhess Member

    bone… The La Dawri that was for sale a few months ago I think had the filler cap under a lift up cover in the same area. With the tank where it is it does sound logical.Notice the edges are rounded nicely so all it needs is a replacement cover and matching paint. The Olds/La Salle combination was quite common in those days and worked real well, especially on the drag strip.

    Like 0
  8. Avatar photo stillrunners

    Newer Tach might have it running in the 70’s……..

    Like 1
  9. Avatar photo Morley Member

    What a beautiful car. AND it has the perfect engine. I think I have a three two intake for that. Nose heavy, tons of torque. This is a car for a real driver, Much preferred over the sissy boys and their computer controlled everything I want, but have no room in the garage I anyone takes this car apart, that would be sad.

    Like 0
  10. Avatar photo Dave at OldSchool Restorations

    We have done several of these… need SHORT legs to drive this… there is VERY little cockpit legroom room and also a high seating position due to the HenryJ/Ford chassis frame kickup being right under the drivers seat……….but LaDawri built the strongest ( and heaviest ) bodies, consequently there is little warping, except for the trunks and decklids, and they had the best door hinging system of the 50’s / 60’s , so door gaps are pretty good on most old LaDawris, if the builder followed the Factory plans.

    Like 1

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