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						Carston Mk1 4
The Charismatic Carston

Carston's Customs Carston Mark 1

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Craigslist

In the infancy of the American sports car, drivers with sporting tastes had roughly three options for acquiring a corner-carving set of wheels. Foreign cars could be had for those with the economic means to own and maintain them, or the Corvette was a worthy choice for those who favored American simplicity. But we're especially intrigued by the brave souls who opted to build their own sports cars from the ground up. Harvey Carston Weiss of Wheeling, Illinois was one these men. Engineer by day and sports car tinkerer by night, Weiss operated a sports car shop in Illinois in the 1950s, and the Henry J-based Carston Mark 1 was his pride and joy.

America was already horsepower-crazy by this time, but mechanical engineer Harvey Weiss was more inspired by lightweight foreign cars. But like any other American gearhead of the day, Weiss was interested in building a car that worked like a Jag or a Lotus, but with readily available domestic components. After work and on the weekends, Weiss built his own shop in Wheeling called Customs by Carston, where he did everything from average tune-ups and collision repair, to sports car service and customization with his team of mechanics. As rolling advertising for his company, Weiss built a custom sports car of his own design that he called the Carston Mark 1.

Weiss selected an affordable six-cylinder donor for the project in the form of the dirt-cheap Henry J, which donated its chassis, suspension and driveline. The engine was the higher-spec 161 ci L-head six-cylinder, which made around 80 hp. The transmission is a three-speed unit, which I'd imagine is the Henry J’s column-shifted unit converted to a floor shift. Bodywork was fashioned from steel with bicycle-type fenders up front and bobbed fenders out back. A few basic styling lines were added to the body, along with a headrest bump, functional trunk space and a reversed scoop for the carburetor air filter. The interior is very basic, with a pair of bucket seats, essential instrumentation and low-cut sides for entry.

Based on the seller’s listing, it appears that the car has recently been purchased after long-term ownership and has seen some basic service to get it up and running. While the car is reported to run well, the tires will need to be replaced before she’s roadworthy.

I’m sure the Carston Mark 1 is a hoot to drive, especially if the next owner chose to spice up the engine internals and fit the twin-carb manifold that’s included in the sale. Additionally, the car fits into a unique niche of early hand built American sports specials that are bound to increase in value in coming years. It reminds me some of the 1959 Troy Roadster and the 1961 Hoyt Special, which were both intriguing builds that sold for much more than the $18,000 the seller is asking for this car.

Wise money buys this car today and enjoys it for a few years before cashing in. Find it here on Seattle Craigslist.

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