That Other A

An article from Special Interest Autos, Aug. – Oct. 1973 issue. Page 20

Special thanks to Bob Ashburner, (owner of car #725) for faxing this article and several others. The fax quality was not reproducible here, but I hand-entered the text of the article because of its historical significance. The article included a half-page picture of a roadster and an additonal page of small photos and a specification square. The captions from the pictures are typed in at the end of the article along with the spec. block.
Here we are 45 years later, still copying Henry’s Model A. First the Russians did it, and now it’s the Glassic Motor Car Co. of West Palm Beach, Fla.

Skeptical? So were we. Can any copy be as good as the original? Is the Glassic anything more than a plastic Model A mantle covering modern running gear?

Most purists sneer at replicars like the Glassic. It’s a normal reaction. But in our estimation the Glassic turns out to be a surprisingly successful car despite its obvious fakery. We drove a 1973 roadster around Beverly Hills recently and came away fairly impressed.

First, you have to remember that the Glassic’s f.o.b. price, $7595 is lower than many restored jenny A’s. Second, it’s a completely modern car in such aspects as performance, safety items, service, and convenience.. Third, its resale value seems to be holding up pretty well—there’s a brisk demand at the moment. An Indiana Glassic owner recently sold his 3-year-old phaeton for $700 less than he paid for it originally.

We’ll get to our driving impressions in a moment, but for now, here’s a brief history of the Glassic’s development. The idea originated with Jack Faircloth, a successful, semi-retired Florida International-Harvester distributor. In 1963, he and three partners put up the money, and by 1965 they had the first Glassic phaeton ready for the road. Because of Faircloth’s IH factory contacts, the initial Glassics used the Scout’s 4-cylinder engine, chassis. and running gear.

Soon after the first prototype, Faircloth’s partners bowed, so he and his son, Joel, carried the project into production. By 1966 the Faircloths were churning out one or two Glassics a week in their Palm Beach shops. Molds for the imitation A body were taken from actual 1930 Ford fenders and panels, but with considerable revamping—seams, hinges, etc. By Aug., 1972 the Faircloths were building Two Glassics a Week and selling seven.

That’s when Fred Pro bought them out. Pro is president of a holding company called Parker-West. Parker-West took the Glassics out of the backyard and put it on a big-biz footing (for better or worse). Whereas the Faircloths had produced a total of about 300 cars in six years, Parker-West has built another 250 just since late 1972. All but 34 of these have gone to owners east of the Mississippi.

Parker-West felt right away that the Scout 4 wasn’t powerful enough and switched to a handbuilt chassis frame, stuffing a Ford 302 V-8 into it—plus automatic transmission and Ford running gear.

On Mar. 5, 1973, Parker-West opened its Beverly Hills showroom on Wilshire Blvd. and has enjoyed brisk nationwide sales ever since. Lou Robert, Glassic’s West Coat sales manager, says the car sells itself—so much so that most orders come in by mail. Many customers order the Glassic sight unseen. And many use it for business, especially in businesses that need to attract attention.

About performance—it’s a very peppy car; perhaps a little too peppy, because it invites flogging. The Glassic needs disc brakes, and we understand they’re due to arrive for 1974. The 210-bhp (net) Ford V-8 in so light a body gives straight-line performance equal to a standard Corvette. Cornering feels fine at low speeds, but we didn’t get a chance to try it above about 45 mph.

Stiff suspension, stiff steering (power to be available soon), and stiff brakes do give the Glassic something of the old Model A’s general feel. And like its inspiration, the Glassic is short on front leg room although the adjustable seat and tilt steering wheel help somewhat. Plenty of visibility in the roadster, even with the top up, although with the rumble-seat open, it’s risky to back up. The other major objection we had was the use of modern push-button door handles on the outside only. These make it almost impossible to open either door from inside. We under-stand those handles are mandated by law, though, and that inside handles will be installed soon.

Could we learn to love this car? Frankly no, but SIA (Special Interest Autos ed.) can understand why some people do. It’s unoriginal but not unappealing. Try it. You might like it.


These photo captions from page 21 are of interest:

Glassic's Ford 302 V-8 crowds engine room, especially with air and power, but it gives Corvette-like performance. Molds for fiberglass body were taken from actual 1930 Ford Panels. Glassic comes as roadster or phaeton. Grill shell and stanchions are among few metal parts. (photo looks like it might be of the windhield post)

Most bystanders can't tell Glassic from real A., are amazed when told it's a 1973 car. Gas tank juts out behind rumbleseat, and chromed rack folds down for luggage. Top snaps onto aluminum bows. The cloth portion stores in trunk but boot covers bows to give smoother look.

Modern aoogah horn rides frame rail because its old place is taken by turn blinker. Comfortable rumbleseat is well uholstered. Steps lead up forward edge of fender from right runningboard.

Four gauges fill the traditonal Model A panel, with the speedo visible behind the tilt steering wheel. Automatic is standard as are all 1973 safety items. The Glassic sells for $7595 f.o.b.Florida.

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