At $8,000, Could This 1957 LaDawri Sebring Make You A Kit Car King?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

You’ve probably never heard of today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe LaDawri, but now that you have, you likely won’t be able to forget it either. Let’s see if this rare, Corvair-powered kit car from the past comes with a price that’s just as memorable.

As I noted near the end of our happy little chat about yesterday’s 1993 Cadillac Allanté, the car was representative of a model that, like most of GM’s ‘90s specialty cars, never gained much of a following. Now, it is my humble opinion that eventually, they will. The thing of it is, who’s got 20 years to sit on one while waiting for that to happen?

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Should you have time like that on your hands, yesterday’s tidy but tackily accessorized edition was a strong contender to be your wait mate. And, at just $4,000, fully 72 percent of you gave it the Nice Price nod to do so.

It was in the post war years here in America that sports cars became kind of a big thing. Spurred by service men squirreling home the rickety roadsters they enjoyed while stationed in England, and a burgeoning GI Bill fed economy, sports cars exploded on the market as well as on the then also new suburban landscape.

The advent of imported sports cars engendered domestic rivals, most notably Chevrolet’s Corvette. They also inspired another active post-war industry, that being the re-bodying of those imported sports cars with more modern designs.

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You see, while sports cars were becoming a fad in America in the late 1940s, many of the cars that England had to offer to fit that fad were all pre-war designs. Sure, they were lovely, fun and quaint as a monocle-wearing manservant, but they didn’t necessarily fit into America’s new Jet Age aesthetic.

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It was about that time when people like Leslie Albert Dawes got the brilliant idea to offer fiberglass bodies that could be dropped onto an existing manufacturer’s chassis giving moldy oldies whole new lives.

Dawes first founded his LaDawri Coachcraft in British Columbia, Canada in 1956 and the company’s Cavalier that debuted that year is credited with being the Loonie Land’s first fiberglass bodied car. With that honor under his belt, Dawes did what most people would, and moved to the warmer climes of hot rod heaven otherwise known as Los Angeles. There, starting in 1957, Dawes began to build a minor empire in specialty car bodies, eventually becoming one of the largest in the biz. Of course as they say, the candle that burns brightest burns half as long and in 1965 LaDawri went belly up.

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Before then however, the company offered up this Sebring body. This is a noteworthy edition of the LaDawri line as it’s built on a Volkswagen Type 1 frame. That may seem par for the course for kit and component cars from the ‘70s and ‘80s, but back in the late ‘50s the VW Beetle was still fairly new in the U.S. market and a bit of an anomaly. The MG and Triumph-based LaDawris are far more common than the VW-topped ones.

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This one is said to roll on a 1957 VW chassis, but one that has benefitted from significant updates in a body-off restoration. Those include disc brakes and a ball-joint front end, as well as a later IRS set up in back. The LaDawri body enjoys a clean coat of un-rhymable orange while the interior presents with kit car seats and a well crafted dash centered around a VW combo speedo/gas gauge.

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The engine is where this car gets extra funky. That’s because it’s not the expected VW four-pot. Instead, here you get a Chevy Corvair flat six, and that’s sporting both a distributor-less ignition and dual throttle body fuel injection. Everything seems to be running off a black box ECU just ahead of the mill and is claimed to lay down 140 horsepower. A four-speed manual fronts that, and is actuated via a cue-ball short shifter just below a cool umbrella handle e-brake on the dash.

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Moon discs and wide whitewall tires dress up the already expressive exterior, and in a nice bit of detail, a rose has been etched in the side of the aggressively wrapped windscreen.

Wipers are absent, but their mounts are there so they seemingly could be installed to meet certain safety inspection requirements. Their presence is a bit of a moot point since the Sebring doesn’t have any top whatsoever. It should be noted that the seller seems to have a number of Corvairs in his stable. That makes the Chevy motor a likely strong link in this car, and the dude an honorary Jalop.

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There’s a clean title on hand, and appropriate Iowa vanity plates reading LADAWRI. This isn’t its first rodeo on the classifieds, having been previously offered on Craigslist back in March. Then it asked $12K and considering that the ad used the same pictures as today’s, we can surmise that it didn’t sell. Now it’s asking a substantially lower $8,000 and it’s up to you to decide if that’s substantially low enough to constitute a good deal.

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What do you think, is this seemingly tidy little piece of automotive history worth that $8,000 asking? Or, does that price make this LaDawri, la dog?

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You decide!

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Des Moines, IA Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Glemon for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOCP. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.