The Bocars were produced by Bob Carnes during the late 1950s and early 1960s in Colorado. The vehicles were available in both kit or assembled form. The vehicles were intended for track use and competition but they could also be driven on the road.
Carnes entrance into the racing sport occurred in 1953 when he raced a Glockler Porsche Spyder in hillclimb competition and road races. The following year he piloted a Jaguar XK-120 to an impressive third place finish at Pikes Beak.
Within a few years, he was modifying automobiles to feed his need for speed. He transplanted a Cadillac engine into a Jaguar and dubbed it a 'Jagillac.' In his capable hands, he won the 1956 Buffalo Bill Hillclimb. In 1957, he began work on a car of his own design.
His first creation was the Bocar X-1. It was comprised of a Jaguar suspension and brakes in the front and a Lincoln live axle in the rear. The powerplant was a 283 cubic-inch Chevy engine. The body was fiberglass which aided in lightweight characteristics while maintaining rigidity.
The X-1 was entered in the 1958 Pikes Peak Hillclimb where it finished in fifth place in the sports car class. The car was promising, but needed more refinement and power. After several iterations, the XP-4 was born. These were available near the close of 1958 and offered as a kit car or as a complete package.
The fiberglass body sat atop of a 90 inch wheelbase. A Volkswagen or Porsche suspension could be found in the front and given extra modifications by Carnes. In the back was an Oldsmobile live axle with torsion bars. One vehicle was given Jaguar disc brakes, but most were outfitted with either Chevrolet or Buick drums. The engine were eight-cylinder units from either Pontiac or Chevrolet and matted to a Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual gearbox. Engines varied. A completely assembled example would set the buyer back about $6450.
The Bocar XP-5 was very similar to the XP-4. Main changes were to the brakes which now incorporated Buick Alfin drums. Weight distribution was improved; the XP-5 had a 44% of its weight in the front and the remaining in the rear. This was achieved by moving the engine back into the frame and offset to the right. This improved weigh distribution enhancing the vehicles balance and giving it better traction.
The Bocar XP-6 incorporated a supercharged version of a Chevrolet V8. The chassis was enlarged by 14-inches to accommodate the supercharger. Horsepower was around 400 which required changes to the suspension. The suspension was beefed up to include a solid axle with torsion bars in the front and a live axle with torsion bars in the rear. The car was quick, but never really gained much national attention. Only one example was ever created.
The Bocar XP-7 was the next evolution of the Bocar racers. It was very similar to the car it replaced and had a Volkswagen front end. At a price tag of nearly $9000, the cars were produced in very few numbers.
Bocar's last racer built was for the 1960 season, the Stiletto. Less than three were ever created and carried a price tag of about $13,000. The car was intended to race during the 1960 season. Power was from a supercharged Chevrolet V8 engine mated to a four-speed Borg-Warner T-10 transmission. It had a space frame chassis and a fiberglass body.
The early Stiletto was raced at Pikes Peak by Carnes but it encountered problems. A second example was built and sold to Tom Butz for driver Graham Shaw. This second car had a Hillborn-injected small-block engine. A third example is believed to have been built.
By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2010
Sold for $412,500 at 2016 RM Sothebys
Bob Carnes of Denver, Colorado was an aeronautic engineer who took up sports car racing in the early 1950s. The American post-war road-racing scene was a barrage of creativity and fueled by Detroit powerplants and clothed in lightweight and exotic materials, such as fiberglass. Standard production vehicles were 'hot rodded.' New racing specials were created, often inspired by designs from factory teams.
After racing a Glockler-built Porsche Spyder and a Jaguar XK120, Carnes came to the realization that he would only be satisfied driving a car of his own design. As the 1950s were coming to a close, he combined his first and last names, and founded BOCAR. His entry into the market put him in competition with builders such as Kellison and Devin, who were also building sports racing cars that were powered by American ingenuity and bodied in lightweight European-inspired chassis and coachwork.
BOCAR's early cars were named the XP-1 through XP-4. In early 1959, Carnes introduced the Bocar XP-5. In similar fashion to the preceding cars, the XP-5 had a space-frame design constructed with high-strength chromoly steel with a torsion-bar suspension (just like a Porsche 356). Braking was handled by Buick drum brakes. Power was supplied from a 283-cubic inch Corvette V8 which was placed far behind the front axle to help with weight distribution. Since there was no passenger, the engine was laterally offset slightly toward the passenger's side to counterbalance the weight of the driver. The fiberglass roadster body was equally impressive and had a similar aerodynamic design similar to Maserati, Devin, and Byers sports racers.
Although the BoCar XP-5 was a capable competitor, its Achilles heel proved to be the limitations of the Corvette 283 engine against an ever-evolving field. The Bocar days of racing came to an abrupt end, not due to competition, however, but by a fire that destroyed Carnes' fabrication shop in 1962. He made claims of building 30 Bocars during 1959, but historians estimate that no more than 15 examples of the XP-5 were produced in total.
This example was purchased by Harry Heuer Jr. for his scuderia Meister Brau. The team also purchased a Scarab to compete in the 1959 SCCA and USAC events under the Meister Brauser banner. The Scarab was backed up by the Bocar XP-5, christened Meister Brauser III.
The XP-5 made its racing debut on May 31st of 1959 at the USAC event at the 1st Annual Meadowdale 505 Race with Harry Heuer Jr. performing the driving duties. He finished in 13th place. The car was sidelined for the next two races due to mechanical issues, during which time Heuer hired a driver named Augie Pabst. Pabst would prove to be very competitive by winning the 1959 USAC championship, as well as the 1960 SCCA championship with Meister Brauser.
On 27 September at Vaca Valley, Heuer placed 17th in the Bocar, but the car did not qualify at the Riverside 200 Mile race two weeks later. The XP-5 had its best finished on October 18th. Pabst narrowly lost the lead and finished in second place at the SCCA Regional at Road America. The car was then sent to the Bahamas to race in the Bahamas Speed Week in early December. During practice, the Bocar broke its axle, and replacement parts did not arrive until the day before the Nassau Trophy race. Pabst's Scarab had been damaged during a shipping incident, so he was giving the driving duties for the Bocar during the Trophy Race. At the start of the race, he quickly established a lead through the first turns of lap one. The lucky quickly ran out, as the XP-5's fuel injectors clogged, and the car fell to the back of the pack by the conclusion of the lap. The bad luck continued, and the car was ultimately sidelined due to a bad clutch after just three laps.
The Meister Brauser team upgraded its stable after the 1959 season. The Scarab and the Bocar were displayed at the 1960 Chicago Auto Show, and then the XP-5 was sold to Gordon Mertens who, in 1970, sold the car to Worth Hill, who retained it for over four decades. It was stored in a dry climate-controlled garage and was kept in well-preserved condition. Hill finally offered the car for sale in April of 2014.
The car was purchased by a Bocar collector from Plymouth, Minnesota. Since then, it has been given a comprehensive restoration. Upon completion, it was shown at the Amelia Island Concours in 2015 where it won an Amelia Award for 'Pre-1959 Race Cars.'By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2016
High bid of $160,000 at 2016 Mecum. (did not sell)
Sold for $159,500 at 2017 RM Sothebys
Bob Carnes began his racing career with a Glockler-Porsche Spyder in road races and hill climbs in the Denver area. In the early 1950s, he switched to a Jaguar XK 120. He later fitted a Cadillac V-8 into the Jaguar, and called it the 'Jagillac.'
Bob Carnes of Denver, Colorado began building the Bocar in 1957 and no two examples were alike, with each built to the needs of the owner. Most were fitted with Chevrolet engines.
Production of the Bocar continued through 1961 with six iterations. Production ceased after a file engulfed the Bocar shop after around 40 examples had been built, including an estimated 15 XP-5s.
The XP-5 was introduced in early 1959, and like the previous Bocars, was given a unique space frame design constructed of high-strength chromoly steel. They had Buick drum brakes and a suspension system sourced from a Porsche 356/VW Beetle. The engine remained a Chevrolet 283 or 327 cubic-inch V8 that was mounted far behind the front axle. They were clothed with a lightweight fiberglass body helping achieve a total weight of around 2,100 pounds.
This particular example is an XP-5 constructed using a modified Triumph chassis from the Bocar factory. It has Triumph front disc brakes, and Chevrolet 11-inch rear drum brakes. It has a 1958 Chevrolet 3:70 Positraction rear axle with four trailing arms and a Watts link along with a race-prepared Chevrolet 327 V-8 and T-10 close ratio four-speed manual transmission. Fifteen-by-six knock-off wheels and a 12-gallon A.T.L fuel cell complete the package.
The current caretaker has owned the car for 14 years and it is currently registered for street use.By Daniel Vaughan | May 2017