Cruising along a deserted
beachfront you glance in your rearview mirror and realize
that you are being overtaken by an elegant old car
a 1937 Jaguar SS-100 Roadster. Or is it?
Further down the road
you catch up with the car when it stops at a service
station to fill up and you get a chance to talk with
the owner. She graciously opens doors and pops the hood
and talks with you about the fiberglass bodied Squire,
a 1937 Jaguar SS-100 replica car sold by Auto Sport
Importers, Inc., in the 1970s.
According to Arthur
Stahl, on "The Squire SS-100 Registry" home
page, "The Squire SS-100 is an almost exact, full
size replica of the 1937 - 1939 Jaguar SS-100. The car
was commissioned by Auto Sport Importers, Inc. of Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania and made by Automobilli Intermeccanica
in Trofarello, Italy between 1970 and 1975, reportedly
by Fiat technicians who were moonlighting evenings and
Replica cars were
assembled by the manufacturer and you purchased a completed
car which was made to look like a vintage car model
such as a 1937 Jaguar SS-100, 1927 Bugatti 35B, 1929
Mercedes-Benz SS, 1939 Alfa Romeo, 1935 Auburn Boattail
Speedster, 1934 Frazer-Nash or any one of a number of
replica cars that were produced.
On the other hand,
a "kit car" was exactly what it sounds like.
It came disassembled and you put it together yourself,
usually using an engine and frame that you already owned.
Volkswagen "Beetle" engines and frames were
inexpensive and very easy to obtain. For higher powered
models you found a wrecked Chevrolet Corvette and pulled
the engine. The kit came with instructions on how to
modify nearly any engine and frame to accept the body
and a few weeks (or months depending on your level of
expertise) later you were showing off your new car.
Companies such as Almquist helped you with advance preparations
with their "Plan-A-Car" information packets
Kit cars might look
like vintage classic cars, but they also showcased designer's
concepts of what a luxury sports car should look like.
Names such as Aquila, Astra, Auriga, Banjo, Condor,
Fiberfab, Gazelle and Invader, among others, bring to
mind low slung roadsters, many with gullwing doors,
the dream cars of many young men and women.
In the 70s, when
sportscar prices were rapidly rising, people who dreamed
of owning one suddenly found that they could not afford
to buy, or drive, their dream cars. Kit cars which were
sold on a small scale in the 1950s and 60s suddenly
became a very popular means of driving a "look-alike"
and having a lot of fun.
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Literature on kit car and replica car models is available