Car: Excalibur SS, 1963

The US’s Time magazine called Brooks Stevens “The seer who made Milwaukee famous.” In 61 years of industrial design, he had 550 clients and created thousands of pieces of work, including several cars. In 1950, he single-handedly created the “recreational” off-road market with his design for the Jeep Jeepster, a sort of four-wheel drive sports car.

1963 Excalibur SS
It didn’t matter that the car wasn’t a faithful Mercedes replica—the Excalibur SS still oozed nostalgia.

His eclectic Excalibur J sports-racing car appeared in 1952, but in 1963, he hit the nascent nostalgia movement with the Excalibur SS show car, featuring a Studebaker Lark chassis and supercharged V8 engine.

1963 car Excalibur SS
1963 car Excalibur SS

It was the star attraction at the 1963 New York Auto Show, and Stevens was deluged with orders. He adapted the chassis to accept a Chevrolet Corvette engine, setting it back over 2ft (60cm) in the frame for authentic vintage proportions. Flexible metal exhaust pipes were proudly carried along the sides, the radiator shell was aluminum, and the body panels were fiberglass.

1963 Excalibur SS
1963 Excalibur SS

Stevens’s two sons then offered the Excalibur SS to the public, adding Roadster and four-seater Phaeton editions. Although scorned by vintage enthusiasts, they were a hit with drivers who craved the attention of passers-by.

“It is not an accurately scaled-down replica, but more in the nature of a modern version, designed to have the ‘feel’ of the original.”

Road Test Of Ss Prototype, Road & Track Magazine, 1964

Video: Model of the car Excalibur Ss

Specification: Model of the car Excalibur Ss

PLACE OF ORIGIN: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
HISTORICAL STATUS: production car
ENGINE: V8-cylinder, 327ci (5,362cc) MAXIMUM POWER 300bhp
LAYOUT: front-mounted engine driving the rear wheels
BODYWORK: door-less and then two-door, two-seater roadster and four-seater convertible
TOP SPEED: 140mph (225kph)