Sheep In Wolf’s Clothing: 1967 Fiberfab Avenger GT-12

We don’t usually think of kit cars when we discuss neglected classics, however one of our readers found one that’s worth a quick look. It’s a Beetle-based machine and it’s listed for sale here on craigslist in Hickory, North Carolina. Let’s look closer – but not too close – the shape it’s in is not pretty. (Thanks go to Troyce W for the tip)

The story behind Fiberfab is a lot more complicated than one might think, and just researching for this article discovered some inconsistent information. We don’t have time or space to go through the whole thing, and we don’t want to bore you to death, either. Suffice it to say that it includes multi-million-dollar big business, divorce, a love triangle, and manslaughter – but we’ll let you do your own research on those. The company itself, Fiberfab Velocidad Inc., was founded in California by a Wisconsin native, Warren Harding “Bud” Goodwin, in either 1960 or 1964. He had been successfully selling a handful of fiberglass-bodied, lesser-known cars like the Mistral after the Second War, but wanted to go where the real “action” was.  The making and selling of fiberglass parts and car bodies was a sure-thing in the time when customizing your car was all the rage, and body shops and hobbyists were still wrapping their minds around the then-futuristic material. Goodwin sold his existing business to follow the market and, ostensibly, the money.

Long story short: As the kit-car scene heated up in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Goodwin and Fiberfab were at or near the forefront, selling many VW- or Corvair-based kits, components, and even complete cars, to whoever had the cash and replied to the scantily-clad-lady adverts in the men’s magazines. They continued full-steam into the ’70s, despite Goodwin’s 1967 misconduct in his private affairs and his passing away in either 1968 or 1969, however they fizzled out for a long time when the public’s interests shifted in the ’70s and ’80s. The whole kit-and-caboodle was bought up in 1983 by Classic Motor Carriages a.k.a. Street Beasts. There’s actually a modern-day company offering new cars, parts, and kits for the later Valkyrie cars, although their website is woefully out-of-date, so we’re not 100% sure what that deal is. If you know something that we don’t, please do fill us in.

As for this particular car, we’re given enough pictures and information to have a reasonable idea about this car – and it’s nowhere as nice as the others that we have featured here over the years. We’re told that it’s a one-owner vehicle that comes with its original 1968 Bill Of Sale and a supply of parts and documents. We’re also told that it’s been in storage for more than 20 years. The seller says that “The vehicle will need to be finished” and that suggests that it may have been a project that never made it to fruition. Other than that, we have to let our eyes do their thing – and what a sad sight it is. We probably don’t have to even bother going into detail at this point – you can get the idea just by looking.

Generally speaking, this car is in a bad way. Without further information, though, I can’t really say for sure whether or not this is worth its $2,200 asking price. Old kit cars are a rather niche market, and many automobile enthuisasts shy away from such things nowadays. That’s not to say that it won’t change, though. Given the successes of kits like Factory Five Cobras and the surprising recent surge in popularity of ’80s and ’90s machines that were never meant to have fan clubs, it’s entirely possible that something like a Gazelle kit from 1984 will one day demand respectable prices. Taking all that into consideration, do you agree or disagree with me about this car, Fiberfab cars, or about older kit cars in general? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Comments

  1. RoughDiamond

    I think the body lines on this kit car look much better than some others. I think the only running this car has done is by tow rope power. That wiring harness is not for the faint of heart.

    Like 4
  2. john s

    Could be an interesting kit. Subaru swap, upgraded suspension parts. Would need custom…everything.

    Like 5
  3. Tim Dwyer

    At the end of a fairly ambitious thrash, you’ll have a 60s vintage VW with a 40 hp motor. Weird VW wiring, no heater to speak of and no AC. Who cares! You might have said that at 20 years old. How about now? A nice interior in 1968 might have been 1000.00 tops. Now? 9000.00 or more. Paint? 5000.00 for basic one color. Hard no.

    • carbuzzard Member

      If you have a 40 hp motor, you deserve a 40 hp motor. You’re going to spend $9,000 on an interior but have a 40 hp motor?

      That said, if you try to make a kit car with an ultimate concours interior and paint, you’re not being true to the original kit car concept, an “exotic” at blue-collar budget that could be built in a mid-level mechanic’s garage, the proverbial champagne on a beer budget. If you’re going to restore a Model T, do it to Henry’s standards, not to that of Misters Rolls and Royce.

      A hard pass for you, then. It’s the journey, not the destination.

      Like 2
  4. Camaro Joe

    RoughDiamond, the wiring harness is an easy decision. It shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to take it out and throw it away. The hot rod people use a universal Painless Wiring kit all the time. They’re a few hundred dollars, not real expensive. It’s way easier and cheaper in the long run to start from scratch than it is to try to figure out that mess.

    I deal with it on used equipment that we buy at work. When I see something like this mess, I get out the power screwdriver and wire cutters, remove it all, make a drawing, and start with something known good.

    Like 13
    • John Valdez

      I totally agree with you. I also think that there is an element of how much work you intend to do yourself on a project like this (and how much time you have). This project is still a commitment, so you would want to have a plan of attack to meet a budget, a time table and an end goal.

      Like 1
  5. Camaro Joe

    Another problem with this one . . . . it’s the dreaded “Bill of sale only.” If you have a title that matches the VIN number on the chassis you have a pretty good chance of getting it registered in a lot of states.

    With only a bill of sale and no title, a potential buyer needs to be really sure you can get it registered in your state. If your state recognizes the VW chassis they might want to know where it came from, and without a title you can’t prove
    where it came from.

    I’ve known of people who bought and finished a partial restoration without knowing for sure they could get a title. It eventually worked out OK, but it took a friendly state employee looking past a “Catch 22” situation to get it done. You don’t want to spend money to get there and depend on that.

    Like 2
  6. Gerry Member

    More interested in the Plymouth long roof in the background
    And I’m always up to play with old analog VW’s.
    The subie swap idea could be fun though if you have a wrecked one to use for parts. Title is as easy as buying a beat up rusty VW beetle with clear title and swapping it on to that chassis

    Like 1
  7. Vegaman Dan

    I think I’d be tempted to say forget the VW setup and look at something like a Fiero or even an Olds Toronado V8 transaxle setup. It has the looks, surely some better drive train could be modified to work.

    The Corvair might not be a bad start either.

    Like 3
    • Dave at OldSchool Restorations

      @Vegaman Dan

      You would have to buiild a complete new chassis. The GT12 is on a VW pan. Hanging a Kennedy setup on the back of the transaxle has been done, but the front wheels lift off the ground due to too much rear weight
      Also, the wheel wells are not the right length wheelbase for a mid-engine application…you would need their Valkyrie body to do that..
      We have restored many Fiberfabs. this one does have a few positives… the Mustang rear window and the doors look to be pretty good, and it has the later nose with the molded lower air
      intake

      Like 2
    • Sam Orez

      Once upon a long time ago,the bodyshop where I worked had one of these in their ‘boneyard’. we also had a front end half of a 1967 Olds Toronado that the back half had been used for a major rear end repair. Using the original VW floorpan,I built a half frame to mate with the frame horns of the Toronado. Using the complete front suspension from a Corvair,I had a rolling chassis. Long story short,it took about a year and a half to build a complete running car out of this scrapyard collection of parts.
      Bear in mind,I was a skilled body repair tech and also welder and painter,etc.The car was scary fast and a real hoot to drive,because everyone just KNEW it was a Volkswagen!
      People with the skills do do this sort of project more for the hobby part of it that to make money from it. Such as the one a man built down New Orleans way with 2 Toronado powertrains in it. Katrina submerged it and ruined it.

      Like 1
  8. ccrvtt

    The back window looks like a 1st gen Mustang fastback window. Last I heard they were worth about $600. Offer $300 for the car, make $300 easy profit.

    Like 2
  9. chipsbee

    I was the last civilian to have seen Bud Goodwin, visited him in jail to get a shop key allowing me back in to F-Fab to get a “manufacture” license plate. It was nearly Christmas in 1968. My brother and I worked at F-Fab, designed many of the later car bodies and did the pamphlet drawings. I needed a manufacture plate to drive my Jamaican to the Detroit Auto show in January where I was asked to display my vehicle. Bud, without my knowing, died the next day after my visiting him, but didn’t learn of his death until returning to California in January. My brother and I are credited with having designed the Jamaican, Banshee, Avenger GT ll and several other shapes. Albrecht Goertz admits his having copied our design of the Jamaican into his Datsun 240 Z, we watched as he and his crew photographed, measured and scaled-out our ‘buck’ as the shapes were nearly complete. I still have the 1st body removed from the Jamaican mould, built the car using a Austin Healey 3000 in 1969, drove it to Wisconsin where I still live. Bud was a family friend to our father in the 50’s.

    Like 16
    • JMB#7

      Thank you for sharing this. This is what Barn Finds is all about.Great history lesson, and from someone who really knows the whole story. Thank you again.

      Like 7
    • Nick

      I have some old photos of fiberfab work on my computer and have always loved the Jamaican and the kits for 60s mustangs I have seen. I thought I had heard someone in the family had repurchased the company recently but can’t find anything about it. Had never made the Z connection but immediately see it now that you mention it. Amazing work you should be proud of.

      Like 1
  10. carbuzzard Member

    Yeah, the thing to do is find a titled VW floor pan and move everything over to it. It looks like the body itself is in good condition, so treat it like the kit car it originally was. And so that its performance lives up to its appearance, a high-performance VW engine would be fitting to the car’s heritage and not throw off the car’s balance, or already rear biased, as much as a water-cooled modern engine (e.g., Subaru) would.

    It would also make sense from the standpoint of ease of installation, not requiring massive reengineering to adapt a new engine, both to mount the engine to the chassis and drivetrain, and to figure out how to rig a radiator and coolant hoses, etc, etc.

    I guarantee that a well-sorted Avenger would be a hit where any kit cars are allowed.

    Like 3
    • Nick

      These days if you have the title I would just start with a VW based custom pan from someone like Acme buggies. Even the newest us based pan is almost 45 years old now.

      Like 2
  11. Bruce

    A newer wrecked mid engined Porsche might provide the power needed to make this a respectable car especially if you can also source the suspension system and braking system and add some tubular framing structure. I think the biggest problem with the Fiberfab products could have been easily fixed by minor changes. It was far too long a process for most to hang the doors properly and get the windows to work. If the factory had done that for the customers I think sales would have been far better.

    Make it more like a scale model where you put the pieces together as supplied by the maker with parts from other makes the factory knows will work is how Lotus got started. Fiberfab could have easily been the same thing but the product was not finished enough.

    Chipsbee I had a Jamaican in the day and I can imagine the looks you got driving that across the country. You might as well have been in a flying saucer. LOL. Mine was also set up for an AH3000 and had all the vices but such a better look. Was yours like an oven in the summer as mine was. The cockpit heat from the exhaust and transmission heat was amazing.

    Like 1
    • chipsbee

      I insulated as much as I could and found it reasonable in the heat of summer. Mine has the tri-carb set and the usual over-drive which made for a fine touring car. Leaving Santa Clara at 10 in the morning, we drove to the top of the Sieras but were made to turn around due to not having chains for the driven tires. We returned to Sacramento and went south, entered Arizona way south and were met by a road block, 9 police cars having barricaded the highway down near Needles, at the border, lights flashing and guns pulled. I slowly came to a stop to see what the matter was. Apparently a sheriff had been ‘chasing’ us for 35 miles. We only had oil, water and taco gauges working, no fuel or speedometer, just the basics, so I didn’t know what our speeds were. There was no traffic to gauge by. Luckily it was Christmas Eve, nearly midnight and my birthday, they ALL took a turn to sit in the car, look at the engine and talk about it, … let us go but asking us to slow down.

      Like 8
      • chips

        I just looked up the sight suggested in this writing, was delighted to see the fun and inspiring drawing we did under the “Avenger GT 12 early model manual”. It is thrilling to see what fun we had drawing, someone must have somehow saved that inspired version and kept a copy. I also saw the dreary work that went into the manuals. Assembling a car and making notes along with the effort, keeping track of what you, the builder might face. AaaaaRG ! Disliked that portion. Remember, this is before Fax machines, just an exotic ‘Polaroid Land Camera’ if we were lucky.

        Like 3
  12. Gsuffa Gsuffa Member

    Could a VW guru comment on the wheels/hubs I am looking at here?

    • hsrcd

      They are standard early VW “five-wide” wheels and drum brakes. Not exactly sure of the year of the changover to 4 bolt but 66 is a good guess.

      Like 1
      • chipsb

        In 1966 the VW was a called the 1300, (upped the displacement a bit) and it came out with these slotted wheels, stronger drums and lugs that have a deep depression in the center of the nut portion. These lug-nuts and wheels are sought after for the Formula Vee race cars as they are lighter, a tad bit stronger than the solid wheel and offer air to transfer sides to help cool drum brakes. 1967 the 4 bolt wheel came with a 12 volt system. Soon after the ‘super beetle’ arrived.

        Like 1
  13. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    The correct wording here is “abandoned for 20 years”,

    Like 1
  14. nick

    I always thought one of these on a built up dune buggy/baja bug chassis and suspension with anything suitable for motor and tranny would be a great run about/beach cruiser (especially with the recent “safari” craze). Although i had a hell of a time trying to get a beach permit for my baja bug here on LI and eventually gave up.

  15. Rob

    This has been pretty informative but I think I may have a solution that is far better than dealing with the Volkswagen crap I have a 1986 Supra with the independent suspension rear end it is a unibody vehicle and is a little heavier than it should have been from the factory with modifications to the metal work and using the existing wiring taking out the inline 6 which wasn’t a bad motor other than head gaskets you could easily take out the back seat section and use that as a firewall and install a mid-engine with a stub shaft for the transmission to the rear end modify the body to incorporate the Supras hatchback so that the engine is in view for the onlookers this car came with zed rated tires for performance purposes and slides in and out and around traffic at very excellent speeds I have not figured out everything just yet but I am going to put the kit together in the spring of 2020 here
    1986

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