Rare Roadster: La Dawri Project Car

In the history of the Automobile, many nameplates have come and gone, some with more notoriety than others. The name La Dawri is rather unknown to many, but we present to you today a rough example of one, and it’s available right now here on craigslist from Oswatomie, Kansas. If you want to know more, read on – and big thanks to reader Darrun for the tip!

La Dawri Coachcraft was a manufacturer of fiberglass body kits early on, starting operations in Canada in 1956. The following year, they picked up and moved the whole shebang to California, spending the rest of their short time in business there but selling quite a few units from then until either 1965 or 1969 (sources differ on the exact year), throughout the fiberglass-body-swap craze.

They offered many different models, at one point offering such names as Quest, Conquest, Daytona, Del Mar, Catilian, Sicilian, Cavalier, Vixen, Cheetah, Firestar, Centurion and Formula Libre,  which could be fitted to a number of different chassis.  For what it’s worth, La Dawri is credited with making Canada’s first fiberglass-bodied sportscar.

We see before us a car that looks like it has definitely seen better days, but that doesn’t necessarily make it hopeless. We can see in the pictures that it appears to be on Volkswagen underpinnings but has no engine and not much in the way of an interior. The seller tells us that it has no VIN plate nor paperwork, so they can’t tell us an exact year.

They seem to think it’s a Cavalier, but it looks a lot like a Conquest, and if we are reading the advert in this Cartype article correctly, it might even be a Quest Q.T. Obviously, it would need absolutely everything if someone were to restore it, but with potentially very few left in existence, it might be worth the effort or expense.

It took quite a while to research this vehicle, even though we have featured a handful of them before (click here to see the others). It seems as though there were a few people working on gathering and preserving information on La Dawri at one time, but it appears as though a lot of it has just been left sitting. There was apparently an owners’ club and webpage at one time, and some of the company founder’s family is still alive, but there’s just not a lot of solid information out there right now that I could find for you – and anyone who has read my previous work knows that I do my best to bring you interesting information about these lesser-known names. Anyway, I hope the next owner gives it a proper fix-up. What do YOU think?


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  1. Will Fox

    Kit cars have skull/cross bones on them. Cobbled together projects that never fit or run right. Good luck to whoever gets this–hope they have deep pockets.

    Like 4
    • RB

      Thanks for introducing me to that website

      Like 1
    • Lee

      What an abortion of a car! Call the trash man!

      Like 4
      • Lowell Peterson

        Hey Lee! Criticizing someone elses dream is easy. Show us your scratch designed homebuilt legit sortscar,please?Can’t wait to see i

        Like 5
  2. Kenn

    Looks like it was too close to the fire in that house between the semi-trailer and RR tracks.

  3. David Larison

    Kit Cars or Replicas have an undesireable reputation in the US. Having said that there are some Hand-Built cars out there that are very well built. The Aquila GT Kit Cars are one example with only 1 drawback, they were slow and handling was marginal. I purchased the Aquila Kit Car Company and I intend to correct the Aquilas’ shortcoming with a Mid-Engine balanced Chassis and a strong drivetrain. If people here in the US want to see what Kit Cars can be so they can accurately judge, I would suggest they google (Kit Cars UK) and look at the cars produced across the water. Just an observation, David.

    Like 5
    • Russell Glantz Staff

      Sounds cool, I’ve always wondered about buying that kind of company and restarting it with modern-day improvements. I’m very curious to learn more about it someday!

      Like 2
  4. Solosolo Member

    Has nobody else noticed that the first picture of the car makes it look very sinister, like it’s spoiling for a fight! Where’s Christine?

    Like 1
    • Paul Z

      Nah looks like it’s smiling. Mauve Lightning McQeen’s brother. 😅

      • Russell C

        Perhaps a cross between the two facial expressions, hopeful, yet also uncertain if it should be concerned about its future.

        Like 1
  5. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    So did they push it across and into the middle of the road to take the photos?

  6. V12MECH

    Sheesh.! With all the rusted junk on this site , now fiberglass junk, the resin is baked out, save the wheels and start over.

  7. David

    I had two of these LaDawri bodies around 1970, both picked up in the Fresno area through newspaper ads for about $80 each. Both were new, unused, I sold them for something like $200 each.. . . big money in those days. A few years later I saw one of the bodies sitting in a backyard in a nearby town. Not in that yard anymore, probably sitting in another nearby yard ! ! !

  8. Bill McCoskey

    I know what this is. It’s a Quest G.T., the only LaDawri body based on the VW chassis. They are quite rare, as most LaDawri kits were designed for the Kaiser Henry J chassis or their own optional tube chassis. The reason I’m familiar with these is because I used to own one.

    The primary problem with the Quest G.T. was a lack of cooling air for the VW engine. This is why someone added the huge scoop to the rear engine cover of the featured car. The Quest G.T. was added to the LaDawri line rather late, and I don’t believe they really solved the lack of cooling air, hence only a few survive. On my car, even with the engine cover off the car, at speeds above 45mph, the engine started running hot.

    The other problem was a lack of any real body structural support where the doors are located. This means the VW chassis required had to be a cabriolet type, with the additional body supports added by Karmann, when the cabriolet bodies were attached. While it’s been 40+ years since I had mine, I recall the LaDawri paperwork did call for a cabriolet pan.

    This chassis doesn’t appear to be a cabriolet-reinforced version. That’s likely why the doors on this car have been fiberglassed into the body shell. One of the reasons for the success of the Myers Manx body was it had no doors, and could be bolted to a standard VW pan.

    As for a lack of a VIN, unless the stamped chassis/VIN has been ground off, the original VW VIN should still be on the pan, near the location where the shifting rods hook up to the gearbox. That said, this pan is shot, whoever tackles the restoration will need to source a structurally good VW cabriolet pan anyway. It is also possible to add the cabriolet structural reinforcement pieces if a cabriolet pan is not available.

    Like 1
  9. Bill McCoskey

    And one more suggestion;

    If you decide to tackle this kit, DO use a later 60’s & newer VW pan with the independent rear axle instead of the original swing arm suspension type. The body is simply too light to handle well in cornering.

    Like 1
  10. JEFF wasniak

    dont know why companies move to cal. worst laws & reulations plus high taxes

    Like 1
  11. Kenn

    Hey Jeff: Companies are moving out by the dozens, for the reasons mentioned and lots of others. Personally, all I’ve seen that’s good in CA is the weather. Well, that and the beautiful women, though if you’ve never been to Mississippi you haven’t seen wholesome beauty. (I live in Michigan but have traveled some…!)

    Like 1

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