By Dean Larson

When it comes to fiberglass-bodied project cars, it’s quite rare to find all the pieces together these days. Maybe you’ll find a body for sale or a few panels and a chassis, but to find a period-correct chassis, body and engine together in unrestored condition, is another matter all together. What sort of circumstances led to the preservation of this vehicle, we do not know, but we’re willing to bet this Sorrell-bodied Kurtis 500KK is surely the most significant classic glass car you can buy today.

Frank Kurtis was one of the biggest names in the dawn of early fiberglass cars. He designed and built everything from midgets, to quartermidgets, sprint cars, Bonneville cars, USAC Championship cars and even sports cars. All of the Kurtis cars are revered to this day, but perhaps the most exciting of his creations were his line of Kurtis 500 cars.

Based around a common chassis design, several different iterations of the Kurtis 500 series were built. Many 500 models were also sold as kits, and were outfitted with fiberglass or custom aluminum bodywork. These custom examples are some of the most valuable of all Kurtis creations. The 1954 Kurtis 500KK happens to be one of the most beautiful cars ever built in my humble opinion.

Rivaling, and perhaps exceeding the significance of any of these Kurtis builds, is this car, a 500KK model with bodywork by Bob Sorrell. Sorrell was well known in the SoCal area for having a diverse set of skills surrounding the construction of race cars. Just one small facet of his talent was the construction of fiberglass bodies, dubbed the Sorrell SR-100. This particular SR-100 body was purchased and attached to one of Kurtis’ respected 500KK chassis, gaining a decent amount of notoriety back in 1955. In fact, the car was featured on the cover of Car Craft magazine in 1955, with its own feature on designing and constructing your own fiberglass-bodied sports car. 

Known as the “GMC under glass” for its 320-ci Jimmy-Six engine under the hood, the Sorrell-bodied Kurtis was a stunningly finished example of what could be built at home. With alloy wheels, six individual Amal carburetors, a beautifully formed exhaust header and great detail work throughout, the Kurtis was surely an inspiration for the would-be home builders paging through.

What’s truly shocking though, is that the car has been well-preserved since its magazine feature over 60 years ago, and retains almost every component seen in the original photos. While a couple parts have escaped, namely two carburetors, the radiator, and the original fuel tank, the car looks very well preserved and even includes a custom wooden box with original gear sets.

The seller is very aware of the Sorrell-Kurtis 500KK’s significance, and placed a hefty price of $249,000 on the sale. While that’s a big price to pay for most any vehicle, the significance and condition of the 500KK will surly dictate a six-figure sale. And the fact remains, if you’re a fan of fiberglass, it doesn’t get much better than this.