1969 EXCALIBUR Series 1View vehicle description
1969 EXCALIBUR Series 1
The concept of a neo-classic car, or a new-production model fitted with coachwork inspired by automobiles of the 1920s and ‘30s, was first imagined by a very forward-looking man.
A pioneer in the field of Industrial Design, Brooks Stevens was a cultural force in Postwar America, and his vision greatly contributed to the look and feel of the 1950s–not only its cars, but its appliances, tools, logos, and advertising.
The world’s first “contemporary classic”, as Stevens termed it, was a Studebaker show car. Built atop a Lark Daytona convertible chassis and featuring fiberglass bodywork inspired by Ferdinand Porsche’s 1928 Mercedes-Benz SSK proto-supercar, the 1963 Excalibur was like nothing else on the road.
Despite overwhelmingly positive reception, Studebaker declined to produce the Excalibur, but within a year Stevens had formed his own company to satisfy demand.
These early Excaliburs are a world away from the sea of neo-classic imitators they inspired, and were built to a very high standard in a small facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
While subsequent Excaliburs and their imitators placed a higher priority on luxury, Series 1 Roadsters are lightweight, hardcore sports cars with solid-mounted, Corvette-sourced V8 engines. Capable of sub-six-second 0-60 mph times, they were also among the quickest production cars in the world when new, with agile handling to match.
One of just 41 Roadsters (and 44 Phaetons) built for the final year of Series 1 Excalibur production, the auction example displays fewer than 38,000 miles and includes original top, side curtains, and luggage.
On the Outside
Styling is highly reminiscent of the SSK, including the external exhaust pipes which remain functional here.
Bodywork is primarily made of fiberglass. Note the leather hood straps, cowl-mounted Excalibur script, low-cut doors, and spare integrated into the decklid. A folding top and side curtains are included, as is the matching red luggage seen in photos.
On the Inside
The narrow cabin recreates the atmosphere of early sports cars with a good degree of accuracy, regardless of 1960’s gauges and switchgear. Driver and passenger sit close, elbows touching or hanging in the breeze, peering over a high dash and cowl, side exhausts blaring into the rushing wind.
On the subject of pipes, be sure to exit carefully so as to avoid broiling your calves!
Power comes from a 327 ci, 300 hp V8 sourced from the Corvette, which in combo with a ~2,300 pound curb weight made for very strong acceleration–most sources claim Series 1 roadsters could hit 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, onto a top speed of 134.
Note the fully functional side-exit exhausts. These necessitated solid engine mounts, as rubber-isolated items would allow flex to a degree that the trio of pipes exiting either side of the engine bay would collide with surrounding bodywork, damaging it in short order.
Said mounts make the sharp-tuned ‘Vette motor even more responsive than normal, while careful suspension tuning and disc front brakes work in conjunction with the car’s lightweight to provide handling easily on par with straight-line performance.
The auction car is sold with limited historical documentation.
What We Think
These Series 1 Excaliburs hold a special place in the history of American sports car development, and offered one of the purest sports car driving experiences available anywhere in the world when new. This one’s early build, colors, and state of preservation are particularly impressive.
Estimated $45,000 - $55,000.
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- Location: Palm Beach, FL, United States
- Seller Type: Private
- Odometer Reading: 37151
- Chassis Number: 1151
- Engine: 327ci V8
- Gearbox: Manual
- Steering position: Left-hand drive
- Colour: White
- Interior: Red Leather
- Estimated Price: $45,000 - $55,000