|Geoffrey R. Hacker
Historian / Researcher
|Aptly called “Captain Curiosity” in 2008 by Classic and Sports Car Magazine (UK, Worldwide), and “The Snipe Hunter” in Tom Cotter’s 2010 bestselling book, “Corvette in the Barn”, Geoff Hacker has been the king of automotive snipe hunters for the past many years, bringing back to life dozens of rare and historically interesting cars that most enthusiasts either never knew existed or had written off as extinct.Geoff’s been passionate about cars since “driving” his first one, a plastic hot rod pedal car, down a hill in the backyard of his Carbondale Illinois home when he was five years old. Things were never the same.His parents were students of Buckminster Fuller, famed designer and inventor, as well as creator of the famous Dymaxion car of the 1930’s.
Geoff grew up hearing stories of the Geodesic Domes (which his parents helped build in Southern Illinois) and the Dymaxion car too. Ultimately, this led Geoff to locating and purchasing two long lost streamlined teardrop cars of the 1930’s.
His grandfather sold Chevrolets from the 1950’s thru the 1980’s, and many a weekend Geoff spent at the Keystone Chevrolet in Chicago learning more about cars from his grandfather, Morrie Hacker.
With his grandfather’s help and his mother’s support, Geoff bought his first car at age 14 which was a 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood, serial number 556044492 (currently in Arizona) and restored it under the guidance of lifelong friend and famed Packard/classic car collector Paul Terhorst. He kept this car, his first car, for twenty years before parting with it to another collector.
At age 17, his family moved from Chicago Illinois to Clearwater Florida where Geoff found and purchased an obscure fiberglass car called a “Shark”. Immediately after the purchase, Rick D’Louhy tracked Geoff down and provided key details on the cars’ history. This led to a fast friendship that has lasted more than 30 years – and still going strong.
Ultimately, the purchase of the “Shark” began a three decade quest researching the history of the car, locating other examples, and discovering the family that designed it and others related to its building and fame. This car ultimately debuted at the Amelia Island Concours d’ Elegance in March 2007. Here’s a link on a video concerning the shark for those who are interested:
In its entirety, this experience led to a greater appreciation of unhearalded fiberglass cars, sports cars, and the families which designed and built them.
Geoff soon became good friends with Jon Gruel who had been researching an obscure fiberglass sports car called a LaDawri Conquest.
After locating the family that designed and built the Grantham Stardust, Jon asked Geoff to turn his attention to helping locate the family of Les Dawes who had designed and built the LaDawri Coachcraft company in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Jon and his group had been looking for Les Dawes for over 25 years.
After several weeks of searching, Geoff located Joan Dawes, the wife and partner of Les Dawes who together with his wife created the LaDawri marquee. It was from this foundation that in the summer of 2006 Geoff moved forward in his research project with Rick D’Louhy in documenting the rich and interesting history of fiberglass cars.
Some of the other notable automotive historian achievements in the past few years include:
Historian / Researcher
Ormond Beach, FLHome:
|Rick’s automotive passion was ignited by his father Richard “Dick” D’Louhy. Together they witnessed racing at its finest at Lime Rock, CT in the late 1950’s, Watkins Glen, NY in the 1960’s, and Daytona Beach, FL in the 1970’s.Receiving a subscription to “Road & Track” when he was only 9 years old in 1958 helped propel Rick to his extreme appreciation of interesting motor vehicles.Rick’s automotive tastes aren’t exactly main stream.Over the years, he’s had some fun, yet practical, American-engined British & Italian sportscars including 3 Sunbeam Tigers, a Triumph TR8, a DeTomaso Mangusta, 2 Intermeccanica Italias, and a Chevy-powered Maserati Ghibli.He’s also had an Elva Courier Mk IV and a Lotus Europa Twin Cam.
His current stable of uncommon cars includes a ’65 Morgan 4/4 GT roadster, ’84 TVR 280i Tasmin convertible, ’57 LaDawri Conquest roadster, ’64 Vanguard Warrior I roadster, and ’58 Grand Prix ¼ Midget, one of the finest vintage Meteor SR1’s known to exist, and two outrageous aluminum bodied sports cars – one of which served as the prototype for the famed Bill Thomas Cheetach.
After becoming friends with the research on the Shark in the early 1980’s, Rick and Geoff’s continued their focus on unusual cars and in the early 1980’s Geoff helped Rick bring home a 351 Windsor-powered “barn find” ’70 Italia.
During the research on the FF Book, Rick and Geoff traveled the country meeting the families and individuals who built these cars back in the 1950’s. These trips took both of them to over X number of states with visits to over 50 significant families from back in the day.
One of Rick’s latest barn finds is M.A. Adams’ lost Meteor SR1. You can see a video of it being built on the front page of Forgotten Fiberglass.
Another recent achievement is the location, restoration, and debut of a car Rick calls the 1955 California Sports Special – also known as a “Mysterion”. This is a car that Rick has found 3 of, but with an unknown name, builder, and designer.
However, the lack information didn’t stop Rick and his friend Geoff from using this as an opportunity to celebrate all of the unheralded designers and builders of fiberglass cars in the 1950’s, and to this point debuted the car at the 2010 Amelia Island Concours d’ Elegance to great excitement and celebration.
Since the late 1980’s, Rick has produced and promoted prominent collector car events at Zephyrhills, Florida, and at Daytona International Speedway. He is now producing a major collector car event in Florida, the Daytona Beach Dream Cruise.
Currently, Rick – aka Dr. RPM – is resident technical expert for a national tv show on the RTV Network. Click here to learn more about Rick’s involvement with the show.
Founder – LaDawri.com
|Jon created LaDawri.com in 2002 and has owned a LaDawri Conquest since 1986. Jon and Geoff Hacker expanded LaDawri.com to include 1950′s vintage fiberglass cars and more around 2007 and renamed the website www.fiberglasssportscars.com. Jon owns the 33rd LaDawri Daytona build, is an Air Force Instructor Pilot, is married to Suzie Verdin, and has two children Jack and Mark. Other interests include his 1968 Firebird and his quest for finding his Uncle’s car – the 1958 Greuel Special|
|Harold W. Pace
|Harold Pace is an automotive journalist and historian who writes for a number of magazines in the United States and Europe. He has written two books on the history of American specialty cars and was awarded the Cugnot Award of Distinction from the Society of Automotive Historians for his contributions to The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile.He is also a member of the Motor Press Guild. Pace is an active vintage racing driver and has owned and restored many classic racing cars. He lives with his wife, Shelley, in Weatherford, Texas|
Mark R. Brinker
|Brinker is an avid vintage racer, and he collects American race cars and special bodied cars of the 1950s. He is a voting member of the Writers Guild of America and has sold a number of feature screenplay works to major film studios.Mark started land speed racing in 2008 and currently holds the Bonneville record for 750cc sports cars.Brinker is also a board certified orthopedic surgeon who has written over 100 scientific articles, countless book chapters, and three textbooks in the field of medicine. He and his wife, Newie, live in Houston, Texas.|
Born in ’42, I got my first fiberglass ‘ itch ‘ in 1956 when I began building my second street rod, the 47 Chevy Fastback that I got after my dad bought a new Mercury Montclair.
Glasspar, Woodill Wildfire, Victress
|Rodney with his brother Bill Packwood completed and raced the “Packwood Special” in the early 1960′s. This was a Victress C3 based car with a Mameco Chassis.Rodney currenly is involved with Geoff Hacker in documenting all Glasspar G2′s and Woodill Wildfires and creating the first comprehensive database of these cars.|
Byers and Victress Historian
|Guy has been a sports car enthusiast for most of his life. His first focus was on wide-bodied TVR Tuscans, and his research in this area is known world-wide. Most recently, Guy has purchased and restored a Byers SR100 sports car and recently found and acquired the “Lost Motor Trend Victress Special” built by Fred Bodley, Motor Trend Technical Editor in the early and mid 1950′s. He is currently restoring his Victress.|
|Steve’s interest in vintage fiberglass cars goes back to the early 1990′s where he purchased his Wildfire and became friends with some of the 1950′s designers and builders of the day. Steve had a chance to meet with and interview Bill Tritt (Glasspar), John Willis (Skorpion), and other luminaries at a time where few would have been dedicated to do so. Steve also has amassed a wonderful collection of vintage fiberglass car literature and will be publishing a book of this literature in collaboration with his friend Geoff Hacker coinciding with the release of the Forgotten Fiberglass book.|