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						5 0 Victress Resto27
Rags to Riches Victress

Restoring a Victress S1A with Coyote 5.0 power

As told by Mike Akens

Photos by Mike and Donna Akens

I had never heard of the Victress or its creator Doc Boyce-Smith back in 2013 when I first laid eyes on this unusual roadster, and I’ll admit I wasn’t sold upon my initial inspection. The chassis was a cobble job, the body was cut in two pieces and the car needed to be rebuilt from scratch. But after seven years of tedious work, my Victress has passed its inspections and is essentially ready for the road — a true wreck to riches tale.

I was on a golf vacation in eastern Utah and as I traveled through Vernal, I noticed an unusual car body sitting on a trailer with a for sale sign. I looked at it for a while and figured it was a Cobra kit car gone wrong, or maybe some one-off custom. A few weeks later, I found myself looking at photos of the car and I was able to pick out the word Victress, so I started looking for more information. I had recently retired after 42 years in the auto parts business and had never heard of Victress, but my search soon led me to Mr. Geoff Hacker and Forgotten Fiberglass, and I soon found my answers.

Having just finished building a Factory Five Cobra replica, I was looking for another project — something a little more challenging. I called the owner and we agreed on a fair price and I towed it home. He claimed it had come from Craig, Colorado, and that a previous owner had at least one other Victress. The unique gills in both front fenders are distinctive, but I never learned how they came to be.

When I acquired the car, it was on a horrible looking chassis that appeared to be the combination of two frames with unsafe-at-any-speed caliber fabrication. The body was firmly attached, and the floorboards and trunk floor were made of plate steel. There were no footboxes, and I couldn’t find any indication that a seat was ever mounted. There was no drivetrain of any kind, and at this point, I knew I’d be taking a restomod approach with a more contemporary chassis and drivetrain.

Since the Victress body is similar in shape to my Factory Five Cobra, I designed a comparable chassis at home utilizing easily obtainable components. I went a little overkill on the main rails by using 3-inch by 4-inch rectangular tubing with a 3/16-inch wall, but the finished weight of the car is 2,720 pounds, and the chassis is very rigid and rides great. I went with an independent rear suspension using a Ford 8.8-inch differential from a Thunderbird Super Coupe. In anticipation for the project, I also built a gantry crane that allowed me to install and remove the body dozens of times as I built the frame. After I completed the chassis and had it drivable, it was onto the fiberglass bodywork.

As I received it, the body was cut in two pieces at the rear of both door openings. I took careful measurements and built braces to maintain correct spacing before I glassed the two halves back together. When sanding off about three layers of primer, I found clues that the car had probably been completed in two different mechanical configurations in the past. There were signs of an original Victress windshield being attached, but also some square-type holes indicating a MG-style windshield was once used. Repair seams on the top of the dash hint that a Chevy-type dash or large roll cage was once there as well.

As I carefully sanded back the exterior finish, I found that the car was once painted green, a sort of British Racing Green, and a layer of black was under that. There were cracks and a few old repairs, hinting that it may have been raced back in the day. As I sanded, I hoped to find old lettering or maybe a number, but found nothing.

For a power plant, I initially entertained the idea of a Ford V10 engine, since the long hood of the Victress would provide plenty of space. But after some research on performance upgrades and how I could get a controller to work on this application, I decided on the Ford Coyote 5.0 performance package. I still think the Victress V10 had a nice ring to it, but the modern Coyote is hard to beat.

At that time, JEGS and Summit had great deals for customers looking for a complete Coyote system, including all things needed to install it in a Cobra replica, which worked great for me. After I got the basic frame constructed I ordered my engine package, and luckily it was in perfect order, because the two-year warranty was up before I fired it up for the first time.

To keep speeds in check, I went with four-wheel disc brakes from a Mustang, and since my Victress is about 900 pounds lighter, they should be well suited for spirited driving. The standard five-speed transmission required a Wilwood hanging pedal assembly with dual master cylinders and adjustable bias bar.

I have plans to drive and enjoy this car, so for safety sake I fabricated a removable roll bar that is attached to the frame, and included five-point safety harnesses as well. The low back bucket seats were sourced from ProCar, and the carpet and door panels were done by Duncan & Sons Upholstery in Grand Junction, Colorado. The interior panels are made from 6016 .040-inch aluminum and are bonded together, as well as secured with nearly 2,000 rivets. As I neared completion, I knew (after my wife told me) that it would deserve a professional paint job. I selected JCP Fiberglass in Grand Junction, Colorado, and after many, many hours of tedious work, I think they did a fantastic job!

This has been a seven-year project, but I was hampered by three major knee surgeries, a total bare-metal restoration on an Opel GT and some time consuming duties as a care provider for my Mom. Some of the neat little touches that I am fond of on the Victress are my handmade and buffed eggcrate grill and custom gauges that SpeedHut built for me with the Victress logo in the speedo and tach. I also included the Victress logo in the steering wheel center and in the wheel center caps, which I machined on my lathe to take a flat disc. The Victress script logos I had cut on a waterjet machine from 1/8-inch stainless steel and hand buffed.

My original strategy was to have the car inspected to apply for a VIN while it was in final mockup with white gel coat and no carpet. I got an appointment with the Colorado State Patrol in early January for March 19, 2020. On March 17, 2020, I got a call from the State Patrol saying all appointments had been cancelled because of COVID19. I was really bummed out and knew I’d be losing time just waiting, so I took the car totally apart and painted the underside of the body myself, and then sent it to the Fiberglass Shop to get going on paint.

On March 24, 2020, the State Patrol called me back and said they were doing inspections again! If they had called two days before, I could have had the paper work going while the paint was being done. It took until July 21 for the paint to be finished, and I had to scramble to get final assembly done by August 9, so I could get it in to the upholstery shop and have my new VIN inspection on August 20. The officer who inspected my car was quite impressed and passed it easily.

The next morning, August 21, I went to the DMV with literally hundreds of receipts and all the forms necessary to apply for an assigned VIN. That process usually takes a few months, and sometimes longer, but I got a letter of approval from the state in just 13 days, and now am waiting for the VIN plate to be sent to our local State Patrol office for attachment. Hopefully I am driving before the snow hits the desert side of Colorado!

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