Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: What is considered to be the first production car with a body made completely out of fiberglass?
If you think you know the answer, make the jump and see if you’re right.
Over the more than 125-year history of the automobile, the materials out of which cars are made have changed dramatically. Originally fabricated majorly from wood like the horse-drawn carriages upon which they were fashioned, today we see the use of space-age materials including polymer plastics in both feature and structure. One of the greatest advancements for low-volume producers and models was the advent of large-size fiberglass molds for body building.
Car makers like Lotus, TVR, and others have adopted this light weight and inexpensive material for many of their cars, and of course Chevrolet’s Corvette is famous for being that marque’s plastic fantastic. But which was the first series produced car to have its entire body made out of fiberglass?
The Woodill Wildfire was an American sports car built by Dodge and Willys dealer Blanchard Robert “Woody” Woodill from 1952 to 1958 in Downey, California. The Wildfire used a Glasspar fiberglass body and is credited with being the first complete fiberglass car available with approximately 15 produced and another 285 sold as kits.
Woody Woodhill originally wanted a Jaguar XK120, but the mechanics at his dealership told him that they didn’t think the Jag would be reliable (how prescient!) nor would it be easy to get parts for when it did break down. Woodhill wanted a sports car with the Jag’s style, but with the reliability and easy of maintenance of his Dodge and Willys models. As the old mantra says, if you want something done right, do it yourself, and so Woodhill procured a pair of customized Glasspar fiberglass bodies and had his mechanics build a sturdy frame to which could be bolted Willys Jeepster components. He built two with the idea that he could sell the second one to cover some of the cost of building the first.
Willys found out about the car and asked Woodhill to ship it to Toledo so the corporate honchos could decide if it would make sense to produce as a Willys product. Unfortunately for Woodhill, Kaiser Frazier bought Willys before that decision could be made, and they already had the Darrin ready for production, so that plan never came to fruition. Woodhill did build a number of Wildfires on his own however, making it the first series production car with a fiberglass body.
Image source: American Sports Cars