Shark Roadster, Orca Special Celebrate America's Independent Automotive Designers at Pennzoil AutoFair
The Shark Roadster and Orca Special, two historic, aquatic-themed show cars from the Undiscovered Classics collection, will headline Charlotte Motor Speedway's Oct. 17-19 Pennzoil AutoFair. The Florida-based collection showcases the ingenuity of America's independent automotive entrepreneurs, designers, and builders.
Geoffrey Hacker has pursued rare and unusual cars since his teen years when he discovered an exotic, fiberglass-bodied, two-seater sports car in Clearwater, Florida. The 18-year-old bought the dilapidated 1962 El Tiburón (Spanish for "Shark") Roadster for $350 and spent the next two years restoring it. He not only learned how to fix fiberglass and rebuild mechanical parts; Hacker also became an accomplished detective of automotive history.
He discovered a lot of brainpower behind El Tiburón's development. Henry Covington was a talented young artist and designer who was eager to apply aerodynamic theory to automobiles in the late 1950s. Dr. August Raspet was the head of the Aerophysics Dept. at Mississippi State University and a leading expert on wind tunnels. Their first lightweight prototype was a 42-inch-high coupe built on a French-made Renault 4CV chassis with a 4-cylinder engine in back.
The Shark Roadster coming to AutoFair wears a paint scheme reminiscent of its namesake.
The Orca Special, another unusual "must-sea" creation that has recently joined Hacker's menagerie, is based on a 1948 Frazer automobile.
Although most people today have never heard of the Frazer brand (which ran from 1946-51), its cars were considered quite stylish at the time, taking home the Fashion Academy of New York Gold Medal for design achievement. In 1954, Walter Omelenchuk set out to show the world he could improve on Frazer's design.
Omelenchuk fabricated custom steel body panels and used available production car parts in creative ways. Inspiration came from the sea, which is why his roadster features nautical warning lights, a boat-style windshield, lowered door cut-outs, pontoon-shaped rear quarters, and what can only be described as an extended rear "deck."
Even the bench seat looks like it would be at home in a Chris-Craft runabout from the period. The distinctive black-and-white paint scheme, generous proportions, and long, low body easily bring to mind the apex predator known as the killer whale, which is why the car is often called the Orca Special.
During all three days of the Oct. 17-19 Pennzoil AutoFair, the Shark Roadster and Orca Special will share display space with Steve McQueen's Mustang from the movie "Bullitt" as well as a gathering of German-made Opel sports cars, a pair of crazy-fast Hennessey Performance products, a replica of Speed Racer's Mach 5 race car, and the "Best of the Best" customs from the national show car circuit.