The Rare and Unique LeGene Californian Sports Special: A 1950s Marvel

The Era of American Specials

The 1950s were a golden age for American car enthusiasts, giving rise to a unique class of automobiles known as American Specials. These cars, often crafted from fiberglass, were produced in limited quantities by passionate individuals working in their garages. Some were available as kits, while others emerged fully formed from their creators’ workshops.

The Birth of the LeGene Californian Sports Special

Among the rarest of these American Specials is the LeGene Californian Sports Special. This exceptional car was the brainchild of William Eugene Dodson and his father Lee, who operated an auto parts store. From 1953 to 1955, they produced just six examples of the LeGene, along with six additional bodies. Today, only four or five of these unique cars are known to exist, each with slight variations.

Specifications and Restoration

This particular LeGene is mounted on a 1949 Ford chassis and is powered by a 239 cu. in. flathead Ford V8 engine. The car was meticulously restored by Geoff Hacker of Undiscovered Classics and has been showcased at prestigious events like the Amelia Island Concours in 2010 and 2014. After spending several years in a museum, it reappeared at Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach auction in April, selling for $49,500.

Under the Hood

The engine bay houses the iconic 239 cu. in. flathead V8, equipped with dual Stromberg carburetors mounted on an Offenhauser intake manifold. This setup is paired with a Ford floor-shift three-speed manual transmission. The air filter screens, secured with hose clamps, add a touch of vintage charm. An air scoop molded into the hood provides a racy aesthetic, hinting at the car’s performance potential.

Interior and Features

The interior of the LeGene is tastefully matched to its exterior. It features a steering wheel from a Kaiser Frazer Manhattan and Veglia Borletti gauges. The windshield, sourced from a 1955 Ford Victoria, adds to the car’s unique character. Weather protection? Just bring your hat and coat! However, historical photos suggest that a hardtop was once part of the package.

Exterior Design and Condition

The rear design of the LeGene is reminiscent of the Turner, with subtle fins and a narrow tail light. While the underside of the car is tidy, it shows signs of use post-restoration. A video included in the auction listing highlights slight imperfections in the fiberglass, a common trait among cars of this era. Despite these minor flaws, the car remains a stunning example of 1950s automotive innovation.

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Market Value and Auction Insights

This rare LeGene Californian Sports Special was recently listed on eBay with bidding starting at $6100, reserve not met. Although an old appraisal valued the car between $60,000 and $80,000, the Barrett-Jackson auction result indicates a softening market. The dealer’s website advises potential buyers to “call for price,” suggesting a degree of negotiation.

Conclusion: What’s It Worth to You?

The LeGene Californian Sports Special is a remarkable piece of automotive history, offering a glimpse into the creativity and ingenuity of the 1950s. Its rarity and unique features make it a prized possession for collectors. While market values fluctuate, the true worth of this American Special is in the eye of the beholder. What would you pay for this rare gem?

Source: barnfinds

Our mission is to take you on a thrilling ride down memory lane, exploring the history, design, and unforgettable moments that define the golden era of automobiles.

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