The Excalibur SS was styled by Brooks Stevens – one of the great industrial designers. Stevens was prolific, to say the least. In the course of his 61 years in the profession, he amassed 550 clients – and thousands of designs. Thankfully for gearheads, some of them were for cars. Probably the best-known was the Jeep Jeepster … the first cool 4×4!
Arguably even cooler than the Jeep was the Excalibur J sports-racer. It first appeared in ’52. But, Stevens really hit the jackpot – at least in publicity terms – with the Excalibur SS concept car. Unveiled in ’63, it catered to the increasingly popular trend for all things ‘retro’. The SS wowed the NY Auto Show. Stevens was inundated with orders. With its Studebaker Lark chassis – and supercharged V8 engine – the SS was an intriguing mix of old and new. Dyed-in-the-wool vintage fans did not like it. Everyone else loved it!
Concept car complete, Stevens’ next step was to render the SS roadworthy. A Chevrolet Corvette engine was duly inserted into the rear of a modified chassis. In true vintage style, there were flexible metal exhaust pipes and an aluminium radiator shell. The retro body panels were, in fact, glassfibre. Stevens’ two sons were tasked with marketing the SS. Roadster and Phaeton models were available. Peak power was 300bhp. Top speed was 140mph. To be fair, the Excalibur SS was never going to satisfy every taste. Just 359 cars were built. But surely – even the most fastidious vintage car aficionado can find something to like about it? Oh, well – perhaps not!