My Car Quest

September 22, 2014

The Glasspar G2 – The First Fiberglass Sports Car?

by Mike –

Today someone commented on Facebook about The First Fiberglass Sports Car – The Kaiser Darrin where I said the Kaiser Darrin was the first fiberglass sports car – it’s right there in the title.

Glasspar G2

Glasspar G2

My first thought is that I could not have been wrong but then I realized that I have been wrong plenty of times before. So, I did some more research and it is not entirely clear to me if the Kaiser Darrin beat the Glasspar G2 car to market. It may come down to the definition of a “production sports car”.

The Glasspar G2 was a sports car body first produced by Bill Tritt in 1949. Bill Tritt was a fiberglass boat manufacturer in Southern California when he built his first car body for a friend’s hot rod. This first car was called the Brooks Boxer and was completed in mid 1951. Some design changes were later made and the result was the Glasspar G2 also sometimes called the Yankee Clipper.

 Glasspar G2

The Glasspar G2 is certainly made of fiberglass but initially it was sold as a body only and I have found conflicting information on the Internet about when a real car was introduced and if it was sufficient enough to classify it as the first production fiberglass sports car rather than a kit car.

Supercar.net has this to say:

“The Yankee Clipper has been called the world’s first fiberglass-bodied car. The engine was positioned far back in the chassis to achieve good front-to-rear weight balance. Because of the car’s neutral handling, many were used as race cars.

These roadsters also became a favorite in the Hollywood circles and attracted owners such as Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper and Rosemary Clooney. This was due to the car being featured in many auto publications of the period, including Road and Track, Motorsport and Motor Trend.”

Notice the quote above says “The Yankee Clipper has been called the world’s first fiberglass-bodied car.” – not that it is the world’s first fiberglass-bodied car.

Some sources claim the Glasspar G2 was the first fiberglass sports car and others like the Forgotten Fiberglass web site are not entirely clear on the question. Forgotten Fiberglass is a great resource for anyone interested in the fiberglass car culture.

Maybe whoever is writing the history tells it like they want to or maybe the low production numbers of the Glasspar G2 (around 10 complete cars made by Glasspar not counting the customer built cars) do not compare to a much bigger company like Kaiser which made 435 Darrins.

 Glasspar G2

Either way I like the Glasspar G2, or Yankee Clipper, it is a beautiful design that apparently was also a fast car.

The photos above are from Supercars.net and the old ad and movie star photo below are from Forgotten Fiberglass.

Glasspar G2


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Glasspar G2

Comments

  1. ~ i consider Geoff Hacker’s Forgotten Fiberglass data base the evolving source for information on the early post war sport custom auto segment. i haven’t read every article but i am working on it.
    the Nash grill on the Mike Ricker G2 is about my favorite looking Glasspar.

  2. Bill Tritt also made the Autopia cars at Disneyland :-)

    • Yes. He also designed and made the first series Woodill Wildfire, the Glasspar Ascot and the Volvo Sport. He did not design the Autopia bodies (thank God!), but built them, using the same chassis supplier (Mameco) that he did for the Glasspar competition G2.

  3. Luis Joaquin Gonzalez says:

    What about the Kurtis Kraft of late 40’s, made out of fiber glass? Those are to be considered…

  4. Wish I could find a Glasspar for sale

  5. For those of you that don’t know it, the KD isn’t even the first production fiberglass sports car. Even Corvette fans give that award to the Woodill Wildfire which originally used a Glasspar manufactured body. So I guess the puts the KD as the first production fiberglass sports car put out by a major manufacturer! Oh, yes, and by the way for your further information, Bill Tritt built the prototype KD for Dutch and according to Bill when I spoke to him in 1996, he never got paid for it!! Fred Roth Americansportscars.com

    • Thanks for the info Fred. I need to research the Woodill Wildfire.

    • I feel compelled to add a little to this discussion, being one of the few subjects I’m pretty familiar with!

      Dutch Darrin never DID pay dad for his help, which was a hell of a lot, considering that Darrin knew Zip about fiberglass construction. The KD was a pretty unusual car. The first series Wildfire was a modified G2 that shared most sub components with the standard Glasspar. The second series was something else, and I personally don’t find it all that great looking – but that’s just me.

      Thanks for setting the record straight, Fred.

      Matt Tritt

      • Ernst P1900 says:

        Hello Matt, untill I did read your comment I wasn’t aware of your existence, sorry for that.
        As owner of a 1957 Volvo P 1900 (#63) and a 1954 prototype (only running chassis) I am very interested in all possible information on the P 1900. Please check out my site: volvomuseum dot nl in Holland where you can find some information and pictures.

        Might it be possible that you have some (family)info about productieon, contacts with Assar Gabrielsson or even pics?

        Please let me know, Best regards, Ernst Haselhoff Lich Kasteleijn of Loosdrecht, Holland (info@haselhoffbv.nl)

  6. I agree on the type one Wildfire being better looking but hey I’m a little one sided on that matter!! Your dad didn’t like the changes Woody made on the base G2 but I felt the MG-ish dash and squared off rear really added a little extra “Bling” to an already beautiful car.

  7. Ernst P1900 says:

    To my knowledge the USA magazine Life 1952 spent an article on Bill Tritts Glasspar, beiing the first polyester bodied sportscar. The exact date I must look for.
    As owner of a 1957 Volvo P 1900 (#63) and a 1954 prototype (only running chassis) I do have a lot in my archives. Please check out my site: volvomuseum dot nl in Holland where you can find some information and pictures.
    Best regards, Ernst Haselhoff Lich Kasteleijn of Loosdrecht, Holland

    Maybe Matt Tritt knows when the first Glasspar was produced…

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