Reincarnation Magazine

Reincarnation Magazine
Continuation, Reproduction and Replica Automobiles
Rein Car Nation Cover Fall 2019
						Victress C3 Ba T10
To the Victress Belong the Spoils

Victress C3 owned by Merrill Powell

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, BringaTrailer

I have to come clean; the basic format of that title was borrowed from a commenter on this BringaTrailer auction. So if you’re out there Thaxted2bat, thanks, and nice work. But it seems that there’s more packaged in this witticism that a clever victor-Victress swap. Because not only will the winner of this BaT auction walk away with a stunning Victress C3, they’ll likely have one of the most significant C3s out there, as this car was sold in 2017 by Victress designer and former owner, Merrill Powell.

Merrill Powell was an aspiring automotive designer back in the early ’50s when he first met the owner of the Victress Manufacturing Company, William “Doc” Boyce-Smith. After spending more and more time with Doc’s staff, Powell left his studies at Art Center to pursue full time work at Victress. With the firm in need of financing, Powell borrowed money from his grandparents and invested it with Boyce-Smith, acquiring a 49-percent ownership of Victress in 1954.

Powell would go on to pen one of the most unique Victress designs, the C2/C3. Offered for two different wheelbases (to accommodate MG and VW chassis as well as larger V8 donors), the C2/C3 was an incredibly unique fastback design that was far ahead of its time in 1954 and ’55. Much has been said about the design, and its been compared to Ferraris, the Aston Martin DB4 and E-Type Jags, all of which were produced after the Victress. Furthermore, it’s believed that Powell’s Victress inspired General Motors personnel in the designing of the C2 Corvette.

Today, Victress C2 and C3s are sought after for their great looks and rarity, as only about 50 were sold between the two models. The car for sale here on BringaTrailer.com is the larger C3 model, indended for V8 donors on a 98- to 102-inch wheelbase. The car was purchased from Powell himself in 2017, as documentation and a few included items prove. We also were able to find photos of Powell standing next to what appears to be this exact car here on Undiscovered Classics/Forgotten Fiberglass.

The car is an interesting combination of parts, but is overall greater than the sum of those parts. The chassis is said to be that of a late ’40s to early ’50s Ford, and the suspension is from a 1955 Chevrolet (live axle, rear, and independent, sedan style, up front). The fiberglass C3 body looks to be in excellent condition and the dash comes from a La Dawri Castillian, which was a continuation of the C2/C3 sold by La Dawri Coachcraft. The driveline included in the sale is a rebuilt 327-ci Chevrolet engine with a three-speed manual transmission. Complete glass and vintage Stewart-Warner gauges are included in the sale.

The C3 rolls on an interesting set of wheels, 15-inch Rocket Racing Igniter wheels in a wonderful as-cast finish. Firestone Redline radials were purchased from Coker Tire in June of 2018. I’ll admit, the combination would not have been the first to come to mind, but they look fantastic on the car. The kidney-bean design harkens back to early Corvette concepts and is an overall fitting choice. The final item of interest in the sale is a Victress license plate frame with a handwritten note from Powell.

So what’s this Victress worth? Now that’s a tough one. Often when these cars come up for sale, it’s just a body. Bodies can be found in the $1,000 to $2,000 range, and we once pursued a La Dawri Castillian shell on our local Craigslist for just $1,500. When a seller has more than just the body, maybe a roller or a complete car in need of restoration, the asking price goes up significantly. It’s not out of the question to see a seller asking $20,000 to $30,000 for complete project cars. It’s tough to pin a value down on this car, but that’s what we’re estimating it’ll take to buy this C3 given its prominence and scarcity.

See it here on BringaTrailer.com.

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