Unfinished, primered Almquist bodied sports car ready for testing. License plate was borrowed from my father’s ’57 Caddy Eldorado.
Part I covered the purchase of the used 1952 Crosley (in 1957) and alterations to the frame and drive components to lower the center-of-gravity and make the engine fit the hood opening. Now comes the installation, finish of the Almquist Saber body and testing . . . Winter/Spring 1957/1958.
To make the body “bolt-on” as the advertisement claimed, body mounts (not included) were fabricated by setting the body on blocks over the completed frame and carefully fiber-glassing short pieces of angle iron to the body and then bolting these to the frame. The problem was finding a level spot – the garage floor being sloped to the center drain and the driveway had some undulations. I didn’t own a level, so it was all eye-balled.
The seats were made by cutting down the originals, after removing all springs and upholstery, then forming the back and bucket using chicken-wire and fiber-glass cloth. The taillights had been salvaged from the original Crosley body and ‘frenched’ to the Almquist body. The hood was held in place with leather straps and buckles purchased from a local luggage maker.
After arduous sanding and filling of mold imperfections - there were many – the body was painted in yellow primer. However, before the finish paint was to be applied by a fellow hot-rodder, I needed a final test run even though my 16th birthday and driver’s license was a few weeks away. A buddy – one with a driver’s license – agreed to drive while another race-fan handled the 8mm Kodak as we drove through portions of Amberley Village and French Park. The test drive:
All’s well. Now comes the final treatments, body work and paint. I removed head lights ‘cuz they looked dumb and glassed over the door shells because the car was so low, you could just step over the side.
It really looked neat with its Ferrari style low, open-mouth front end and its rounded smooth fenders that were higher than the hood. There were no bumpers or headlights and only one small plastic windscreen on the driver’s side that was barely higher than the steering wheel. The black wall tires, mounted to the hubcap-less silver painted wheels, contrasted nicely to the deep red of the freshly painted body. Void of all exterior chrome and extraneous moldings to cause air drag or otherwise disturb the lines of the smooth, the plastic body really looked cool. The doors were even glassed over, which not only added rigidity, but also gave an unbroken line for the entire side of the car.