The Guy Mabee Drilling Company Special achieved what its owner at the time, Bruce Gross, wished for back in 1995, when he wrote his fascinating article. It became “Special” again under the patient and meticulous stewardship of Jim and Lea Ann Robinson. The brought it back as close as possible to the historical shots shown here, taken in 1953 at Bonneville.

Jim, who has restored about 10 different cars over the years, everything from a Model A Ford to an original Shelby 427 Cobra, related how he came across the Mabee Special around 2001 while visiting a friend in El Paso. After seeing it behind the garage of Bruce Gross (who at that time was involved in shifter karts), they agreed on a price. Now the real work began.

“It took about two and a half years to find a Victress body,” Jim recalls. “I found one in Orange, California in pretty good shape, on a running car.” The frame was completely different, though, from a ’52 sedan. So after parting out the donor car, he had to fabricate new, through-bolted body mounts for the Mabee Special’s custom frame, along with repairing some stress cracks and adding reinforcements.

After smoothing out the body with resin and a skim coat of Bondo, he applied PPG primer and a rare Packard color, Inca Cream, duplicated by scanning a color photo of the original Mabee Special. The racing livery was hand lettered, again from original photos from the Bonneville era.

As for the engine, Jim located ’52 Hemi 331 long block and bolted on a set of marine heads, topped by Hilborn injection. To qualify for vintage racing, he backed up the Hemi with a cast-iron Chevy 4-speed. If he wanted to hit the track, all he’d have to add is a set of racing tires and shoulder harness. “But when I found out how much the car is worth, after somebody offered to buy it,” Jim notes, “I’ve decided to just show it around. It’s certainly one of the most known Victresses. Guys with retro rods get a real kick out of seeing it.”

And we do, too.—Steve Temple