1959 Bocar Stiletto

1959 Bocar Stiletto 1959 Bocar Stiletto 1959 Bocar Stiletto Roadster
Of the three Bocar Stilettos known, this is the only one running and is Bob Carnes' 'factory' race car built to compete with the Scarabs. Carnes entered drag races, road races and hill climbs including Daytona and Pikes Peak. In 1961, his factory burned and the Stiletto was damaged. As the molds were destroyed, Carnes repossessed one to two known spare bodies and rebuilt the car using the original chassis, suspension, brakes and transmission; but with a new motor and Hiilborn injection. Initially sold to Mr. Vanderwalker, who sold it to Bob Spooner, who raced it in various SCCA nationals as well as the Elkhart Lake USRRC. Following the 1964 season, after two other owners, the car was purchased by the current owner in 2002, exactly as last raced. The Stiletto retains its USRRC stickers and Spooner's number 33. Carnes' Bocar Stiletto, with its unique front mounted supercharged injected engine and Kurtis torsion bar suspension, is perhaps the most recognizable and outlandish American special prior to the rear-engine revolution.
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
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