Article from 1977

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Palm Beach Post - Tuesday, January 25, 1977 (page A-7)
Post Staff Writer

Few of life's experiences can be more nerve-shattering than lumbering down 1-95 during rush hour traffic in Detroit's finest, wondering how you're going to finance your next tank of gas, when suddenly a 1931 Model A roadster pulls alongside, gives you the Aah-Ooo-Gah and shows its tailpipes as the driver jauntily tips his hat in passing

Stifling the urge to curse out loud, you breathe a nostalgic sigh and grit your teeth in unbridled envy as the spiffy two-seater winds its way through dozens of other admiring motorists

Some might call it snob appeal, while others prefer to think of it as a long overdue return to the good life Whatever the rationale, Replicars' President Joel Faircloth is betting that a sizable number of well-heeled Palm Beach countians will be willing to shell out $12,900 to turn their friends' heads as they drive up in one of his company's fiberglass antique motorcars

Replicars Inc. of West Palm Beach was organized last year by Jack and Joel Fair-cloth, a father-son combination with many years of experience in the development of fiberglass automobiles. Actually, they were pioneers in developing the fiberglass molds which were used for years in early automobile production in the county

Three Ford Model A designs currently are available: the roadster, with its traditional rumble seat, a family-type, four-seater Phaeton and a pickup truck. All models have a convertible top and come complete with luxuries such as automatic transmission, power steering and brakes, AM-FM stereo tape deck, air conditioning, tilt steering wheel and the obligatory aah-oo-gah horn.

Each car is handcrafted from a one-piece "chopped and sprayed" fiberglass body, Faircloth said, with a delivery time of approximately eight weeks. The power train -- including the engine, transmission and rear-end-- is taken from a Granada and can be serviced by any Ford or Lincoln-Mercury dealer.

Despite the fully equipped package price of his cars, Faircloth stressed, We cater to the custom attitudes of today's car owner. The only time we'll say no to a customers request for changes is if the changes are prohibited by law or just plain impossible to accomplish.

The plant, located at 3173 Belvedere Road. is turning out two ears per week. with full production of 20 automobiles a month expected shortly. Constantly on the lookout for new ideas that might improve his product, Faircloth makes a point of nosing around at custom car shows and racing tracks I've got stacks of pictures of torsion bars and suspension systems," he said. "If I walk away from all these races with one idea, it's been worth it.

With a price tag that firmly rests in the luxury range, Faircloth said, "Our normal buyer is usually someone who is financially in a position not to worry about payments. insurance or mileage I guess its all part


of today's nostalgic interest. People who have worked hard all their lives for what they have couldn't afford to buy these cars when they were young and now they're making up for it."

To date, Replicars Inc. has delivered nearly two dozen autos, and the biggest headache has been trying to keep up with the backlog of orders.

"We've been receiving orders from all over the world," said Sylvia Oliver, sales manager. "I'm currently talking to someone in the Dominican Republic, and we've just received a letter from an interested party in India." The most popular model has been the roadster, but businesses usually prefer the Phaeton for chauffering their clients around. ''These cars can be used for a lot of purposes, but many people are purchasing them for business reasons. They use it as a calling car and everyone who sees it greets you like an old friend."

The cars are extremely light in weight, 2,800 pounds, which helps their gas mileage considerably, and the fiberglass body is rustproof.

Even the radiator shell is chrome-plated fiberglass. When coupled with a 302-cubic-inch. V-8 engine designed to push a 4000-pound car like a Granada, the performance is extraordinary.

A short test drive by this writer produced speeds of 0 to 50 mph. in under 10 seconds with exceptional handling characteristics. To put it another way, with slight modifications it would run like a scalded cat.

Complementing the car's authenticity is the use of isinglass windows and functional running boards. Faircloth said the snap-on side curtains provide a 95 per cent effective seal to the weather, but who cares about discomfort when you can be the object of everyone's affection?

'I've actually had people run off the interstate because they were paying more attention to me than their driving," said Bill Lawrence Replicars' general manager. "I recently drove one down to Marathon

and drivers would honk and wave at every red light. You really have to be careful because people can forget what they're doing and run right into you.

Obviously, such potential hazards weren't severe enough to deter a well known Saudi Arabian prince who dropped into town recently to add a richly appointed Replicars Phaeton to his stable of automobiles.

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