‘Glass rarity arrives at Amelia

Most people realize that the sports car burst into popularity in the United States following World War II, due in large part to repatriated servicemen who’d seen their first MGs. We also know that Detroit got in the act, sort of, starting with the Corvette. What’s less widely known is that around the same times that British crocks first wobbled onto these shores, a significant cottage industry sprang up offering kits that gearhead types could piece together in their driveways to create a sports car, usually with a fiberglass body. This was a significant of the postwar American car craze that would be largely forgotten today if not for the efforts of longtime Hemmings cohort Geoffrey Hacker, who is arguably the country’s foremost expert on low-production fiberglass cars through American automotive history. His website estimates that something around 1,000 small firms offered these sorts of kits between the war’s end and the mid-1950s, most all of them in very small runs, usually meaning zero surviving examples today. When one does surface, it’s now big news, thanks in large part to Geoff.

This car is a Maverick Sportster, one of seven such creations known to have been built, beginning in 1953, by Sterling “Smoke” Gladwin Jr. – you gotta love the nickname – who, according to Geoff’s site, was a retired aeronautical engineer from Mountain View, California, who had worked for Boeing and Lockheed. Most of the cars used discarded postwar Cadillac frames and the new 331-cu.in. OHV high-rev V-8 for power. The most notable feature was the car’s boattail rear styling, a theme from the prewar coachbuilt era, which Geoff believes makes the Maverick the last American automobile so designed. The flyweight fiberglass body shell gave it an estimated power-to-weight ratio of something like 12:1, which Gladwin conceivably likened to Lockheed fighters like the twin-engine P-38. The restored Maverick Sportster will make its debut two weeks of now on the show field at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Nassau County, Florida, which is quite simply one of the world’s great automotive events.

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