Founded in 1951, Victress was a Southern California body maker in the early days of fiberglass. They produced unfinished body shells and offered a simple frame manufactured by Mameco Corp. in Los Angeles. Hinged doors, hoods or deck lids cost $5 each. None had bulkheads or floors. Most were purchased by amateurs who wanted to build their own sports car or racer. Although it's swoopy streamlining was advanced for the day, Victress only produced bodies a few years and today, a Victress is a rare find.
The current owner's father of this vehicle built a Victress in 1958 and road raced it in California. Always wanting one, Steve scoured the country for two years and finally found a long-abandoned project in El Paso, Texas. An almost new body shell was hanging in a shed and a Mameco frame was laying across the yard.
Led by famed CanAm builder Bob McKee, the project underwent a four-year restoration at McKee Engineering where it was fitted with a vintage Dodge Hemi engine. Restored for high-speed touring, the car just completed 1,000 miles through the mountains on the Colorado Grand.
The Victress Manufacturing Company of North Hollywood, California, produced kit bodies and racers during the early 1950s through 1961. The company was formed by William 'Doc' Boyce-Smith who had studied engineering at UCLA. His expertise included fiberglass construction and his experiences included circle track racing. He was not alone; he enlisted the help of Merrill Powell to serve as the company's chief of design. Bill Powel, of no relation to Merrill, worked as the company's production manager.
Victress manufacturing used a wind tunnel to form a very aerodynamic fiberglass roadster body which they dubbed the S-1A. One body was outfitted with a Chrysler powerplant and driven at the Bonneville Salt Flats where it achieved a top speed of 203.105 mph.
There were around six body-styles to choose from, which could fit wheelbases ranging from 94 to 118 inches. The S-5 was a small roadster version of the S-1A and could accommodate 94-inch wheelbases.
By 1961, the company had gained many government contracts and had moved away from the sports car business. They sold their interests to LaDawri.
By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2010
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