Although the Victress would fall in the category of a "kit" car, there were at least four and probably more that were assembled by the factory. Boyce "Doc" Smith, owner of Victress, produced less than 40 bodies. At a time when fiberglass was still in its infancy, finishing 10% as running automobiles was an accomplishment in itself. The fact that Doc offered 4 body styles was even more amazing.
The most popular of the 4 was the S-1, a beautiful little roadster that had the looks to rival any European car of the day One of the production models even starred in Johnny Dark, a 1952 movie about a cross country road race, starring Tony Curtis and Piper Laurie. The car was called the Thunderbird (Hmmmmm) in the movie and shared its spotlight with a Grantham Stardust, Kurtis Sportster, Glasspar, and of course, the major star of the film, a Woodill Wildfire (Idaho Special). If you have an interest in these cars, you should certainly get a copy of the film to view.
The S-1 had a wheelbase of 99", using a shortened early Ford frame. 'me running gear consisted of a new Studebaker V-8 engine with Edmonds two carburetor aluminum manifold. 3/4 race cam, domed pistons and dual exhaust. Couple that with a body that weighs next to nothinT and a quick shift standard gear box an look out! The car you see today was built by Jack Manion of Burbank. It has never been restored and is now with its second owner Wallace Lee.
Besides the S-1, they had another roadster which looked like a cross between a '53 Studebaker and a '55 Thunderbird. Although very American in appearance, its simplicity of form was extremely pleasing to the eye. The best looking of the bunch was a hardtop coupe named the C-3. Its styling for 1952 was breathtaking. It kind of makes you wonder why Detroit didn't hire some of these guys for stylists. The final, a dragster body, was never produced in anyd-dn but a body Two other bodies that loo ed essentially like the S-1 and C-3, but were on very small wheelbases, may have also been produced for very small people.
Victress had one distributor for their cars. That was the Hellings Co. located on Vanowen St. in North Hollywood. Hellings, later formed a partnership with R.J. Stellings to sell automotive accessories. They even made the air cleaners for Muntz. Hellings, - Stellings Co. is still in business and owner R. J. Stellings is with us today.
The Victress is truly one of the pioneers of the "fiber-sports" era of the early 50's and deserves our tribute.
FREDERICK J. ROTH
Copyright June 2003