Ford Glasspar Custom Roadster
The post-WWII “sporty car” scene in America was a time of great enthusiasm and a fertile ground for imaginative, talented designers who sought to take advantage of the new market for lithe, responsive alternatives to the big cars turned out by Detroit. It was a time before the division between “sports cars”, “customs” and “hot rods”.
This situation was tailor-made for talented entrepreneurs such as Southern California’s Bill Tritt. Starting a company called Glasspar in 1950 with two partners, he was a pioneer in the use of fiberglass for auto body construction years before Chevrolet’s Corvette appeared on the scene. The car he designed and built was as sleek and sexy as a Jaguar XK120, while boasting light weight and low acquisition cost for the custom sports car builder. The most popular powerplant for these bodies was the rodder’s favorite, the Ford and Mercury flathead V8. With a vast array of tuning parts available, it was relatively easy to build a car that went as well as it looked. These smart roadsters became a favorite of the Hollywood set, and no less than Humphrey Bogart and Gary Cooper were said to have been owners. The Glasspar roadster was featured in many auto publications of the period, including Road and Track, Motorsport and Motor Trend.
This particular example is powered by a Ford flathead V8 with triple carburetors. The engine boasts finned Offenhauser aluminum heads and a polished aluminum intake manifold. The interior is simple and clean in the best SoCal tradition, with horizontally rolled white leather seats and a central instrument panel with the original Stewart Warner gauges. Given the challenges of early fiberglass construction, the body is remarkably smooth with high gloss black paint, which is nicely set off by the minimal chrome trim on the grill, wheels, windshield supports and front and rear “nerf bar” bumpers.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August 2009 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.
175 bhp, 239 cu. in. L-head V8 Ford engine, triple carburetors, three-speed manual transmission, transverse leaf spring front and semi-elliptic rear suspension. Wheelbase: 101"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Simon Clay