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						Bocar Xp 5
Taming the Tenacious Bocar

1959 Bocar XP-5 re-creation

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, BringaTrailer.com

People who remember Bob Carnes’ line of homebuilt road racers generally recall how exciting they were, and that they went like hell — in a straight line anyway. And that’s because the Bocar generally ran on the ragged edge of safety in the name of speed, sort of in the same fashion as Bill Thomas’ Cheetahs, which were known to bend rear suspension components and flex their chassis under hard acceleration and cornering. Considering the Bocar paired Porsche/VW, Triumph and Buick parts with hopped up Chevrolet V8 engines, it comes as no surprise that their handling was a bit erratic. After restoring several high-profile Bocar racers, Doug Karon knew the weaknesses of these cars as well as anyone. And so when Karon set out to build a ground-up car for himself, he took the opportunity to flip the script on this 1959 Bocar XP-5 re-creation.

Sometime around 1957, Bob Carnes embarked on a quest to build his own sports car, something that handled as well as his Glöckler-Porsche Spyder, but with the same power as his Cadillac V8-swapped Jaguar XK 120. Carnes would go on to construct approximately 40 race cars as kits and completes, each one different from the last, but generally of increasing potential. The XP-4 was his first production model, built on a 90-inch wheelbase with a Chevrolet V8 and Jaguar wire wheels. After a small number of XP-4s, Carnes moved onto the XP-5, of which roughly 15 were built. Most XP-5s were based on a chromoly space frame with Volkswagen suspension up front, fiberglass bodywork and Chevrolet 283 ci engines. XP-5s could also be based on Triumph chassis as well.

Handling left something to be desired, which is no big surprise, but there’s no denying that the XP-5 was brutally fast. Harry Heuer and Augie Pabst nearly drove the Meister Bräuser III ’59 XP-5 to victory more than once, and Art Huttinger took second behind a D-Type at Daytona in 1960. Although it only has a few big-ticket performances to its credit, the XP-5 endeared itself with race fans for its ability to compete with the big boys, despite its humble beginnings.

Having restored four original Bocars, including the Meister Bräuser III, Doug Karon probably knows Bocars as well as anyone out there. But every time he restored and sold a car, he regretted parting ways with it, and finally got started building his own ground up XP-5 to keep. But he decided to divert from the original in many ways to make the car more refined and enjoyable to drive on the street. As such, Karon decided to ditch some of the less favorable elements, including the VW/Porsche suspension and Corvette rear end. In their places Mustang II front suspension and Jaguar IRS units were used. A 383 ci Chevrolet small-block lives under the hood, which is a nice upgrade over the old 283 ci SBC, and its 500-some horsepower is nothing to scoff at either. The engine’s party piece is an Inglese 8-Stack cross-ram intake with Weber carburetors, which are clearly visible from the Lexan insert in the hood.

The fiberglass XP-5 bodywork was crafted in the same method as the original, utilizing a set of fiberglass molds that were used in the restoration of another car. Metallic bronze and cream shades were poured over the Bocar’s body at Vescio’s Customizing and Restoration of Rogers, Minnesota, with the number five signifying the number of Bocars Karon has owned. Kidney bean style wheels, a tight roll bar and dual windscreens complete the Bocar’s exterior.

In keeping with Karon’s goal to build a capable and comfortable street car, this Bocar sports a full interior like Bob Carnes wouldn’t have dreamed of. It was completed by Hot Rod Interiors by Glenn of Glendale, Arizona, and features Stewart-Warner gauges, push-button controls, a Hurst shifter and low-back bucket seats.

I got my first look at this car a few years back at the Elkhart Lake Concours d’Elegance, and it’s safe to say it stole the show given the deep-rooted connection to racing in the historic town. I met the man behind this fantastic re-creation, but he wasn’t very interested in talking, I guess I don’t blame him considering I’m probably half his age. The sultry paint scheme stuck out from the crowd again at the SEMA Show in 2018, where it again drew a hefty crowd.

Given their storied history and competiton use, Bocar XP-5s can be worth a hefty penny today. While an above average example might get $160,000, the coveted Meister Bräuser III brought $412,500 at RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2016 event. This 1959 Bocar re-creation is currently offered for auction on BringaTrailer.com, where the current high bid is $58,000 with two days remaining.

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Bocar Race Replica