Glasspar G2

Finishing one of the first Glasspar G2 bodies.

Finishing one of the first Glasspar G2 bodies.

It's the early 1950s and innovative boat maker Bill Tritt had been noodling around with an experimental material, fibreglass, for his friend's hot rod. Neither man knew it yet, but Tritt was just the right guy for the job. As an excellent writeup in Hemmings says, "He was unique—a talented boat designer, a hard-working and industrious entrepreneur, an innovator, and he was the right person at the right time in the right place."

Having the power to form complex shapes and bodywork is, as I've said before, a groundbreaking thing. Until fibreglass, the only way to approximate bodywork was by tightening a fabric skin over a steel frame—a la the Czechoslovakian Velorex, a three-wheeled contraption that looks quite like a wheeled scrotum. 

Anyway, Tritt showed his creation at the 1951 Petersen Motorama—Petersen being the then-publisher of Hot Rod, Motor Trend, and others—joining a few other fibreglass creations. Thanks to his boat building expertise, though, his friend's hot rod, known as the "Brooks Boxer," would become the first production fibreglass sports car.

His second piece from the mould was the Alembic I, a car built after an exhaustive search for polyester resin—supply had been curtailed by the Korean War. After seeing the impressive Brooks Boxer, the car convinced Naugatuck Chemical to help Tritt…just as long as they could have their own car for promotional purposes.

And before Tritt knew it, he had a production commitment with Nantucket Chemical to subsidize the production of four prototype cars, an order to complete a second full car, the need to create new moulds for production, and a photo shoot planned with LIFE Magazine!

The LIFE Magazine photo shoot was exceptional, with pictures of the unfinished Alembic I body lit from underneath, showing its translucent skin (a trick the Porsche Museum uses in its 908 display.) 

In the context of usual #bcotd vehicles, early fibreglass vehicles are somewhat unique: often just bodywork for existing chassis and engines, the name of many cars is more about protecting the production methods and shape of the bodywork from copycats. In this way, the Glasspar G2 can be both the Brooks Boxer and Alembic I, though after delivery of a body, a customer could have modified it to suit.

Though the first car completed, the Brooks Boxer, was designed around a Willys chassis and 4-cylinder engine making a hopped-up 66 or so horsepower, Glasspar bodies have been used as the basis for several different styles of sports car—the numbered one below with taped headlights was a quick race car powered by a flathead Mercury V8.

That particular race car has been fully restored—the blue car below, first shown restored in 2012—and is the subject of its own lengthy piece in the New York Times.

Glasspar themselves offered a G2-based car featuring mainly Ford mechanicals and optional interior, at an asking price in 1953 of about $3000. There were a few takers, with many customers preferring to use the G2 bodywork as the foundation for their own creations.

If you're interested in early fibreglass sports cars, information on the topic would be likely nonexistent without the amazing community over at forgottenfiberglass.com

Luckily, we can appreciate the incredible photos taken of the first production Glasspar G2 bodies, and remember that, sadly, Tritt left Glasspar after his next car proposal, the Ascot, was rejected: after all, Glasspar was a boat builder, not a car manufacturer.

 

Sources