This is the history of the brand Excalibur since the establishment of the company and up to the most modern of vehicles produced under this brand.
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If on the street today appears antique car 1920-30's, he almost immediately attracts the attention of motorists and pedestrians. "Classic" always impresses with its unique appearance. Unfortunately, these machines are not often seen on the roads as they are more museum pieces than a means of transportation, and the owners protect them about the same as store valuables in the safe. Yet many dream to have a classic car is not just a collection value, but also as a walking machine that is able to stand out in the car flow and get everyone's attention. One of the first designers, planners, who thought of making cars with classic bodywork and modern units, became Brooks Stevens. So the world was a new car brand Excalibur, and after it the whole class of cars called replicas or modern-classic cars.
Brooks Stevens was one of the greatest industrial designers of his time, to design not only cars, but other consumer goods. The idea of creating a classic car with modern units at Stevens was born in the early 1950s. While still a student, in 1930, he saw one of his peers Mercedes-Benz SS and fell in love with this car for life. It is Mercedes-Benz SS and became the prototype for its future modern-classic car. He began by saying that in 1950 built a three-car Excalibur J, using the chassis of Henry J Kaiser-Frazer, in which he was working. Stevens called his creation "Excalibur" in honor of the legendary sword of King Arthur. Of course, his first cars were not even look similar to the Mercedes-Benz SS, but on their basis, he developed the concept of the future sports car with a classic exterior. Three built Excalibur J participated in various races in the years 1951-1952, winning in its class many rivals, including Jaguar, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, which then was not equal.
Stevens had hoped to continue cooperation with the Kaiser-Frazer, but later this company refused to risk the project to create such an unusual car, which he dreamed designer. However, Stevens did not lose hope. After his excellent work on models of Lark and Hawk for the company Studebaker, President Sherwood Egbert heeded the request of the designer to support the project of "modern classic car" on units Studebaker and allowed to build a prototype to show to the public at one of the auto show. Counting on the presentation of their project at the New York Auto Show in 1964, Stevens in a short time has created a prototype based on an open compact model Studebaker Lark Daytona and gave him the name Mercebaker.
The prototype was not an exact copy of the Mercedes-Benz SS, as a real designer would ever think of just copying. Stevens brought into his car a piece of his soul, his vision of the great cars of yesteryear. Mercebaker had under the hood "studebekerovsky" 8-cylinder engine rated at 290 hp Modern suspension and aggregates. Change of leadership at the time of the company, although it did not give up the project, but gave strong recommendations Stevens remove prototype from the company's stand, remove the "studebekerovskie 'logos and find a place somewhere on the sidelines of the exhibition, fearing that this" ugly duckling "can spoil the already Moist company image. The sensation that made Mercebaker, was so ambitious that swirled around his booth almost the majority of visitors to the New York auto show. Received 400 orders, Stevens decided to continue work on his own project - the benefit that this existed in the United States a powerful system of lending business projects. Having registered its own brand name Excalibur, he already by 1966 produced 56 units of cars. By the time the Studebaker ceased to exist, and Stevens, with the support of their comrades from General Motors, received the right to use a 300-horsepower Chevrolet-327, which put on the Corvette.
Market introduction of this car has attracted attention of wealthy people and try to emphasize their individuality. At that time in the United States and other countries around the world had plenty of originals - movie stars, music artists, writers, and other extraordinary personalities. Among the owners of "Excalibur" were Prince Rainier of Monaco, Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen, Tony Curtis, Shirley Jones, Cher, Dean Martin, and later - Arnold Schwarzenegger. Excalibur immediately gained a certain status vehicle for bohemians and aristocrats. Even in England, with its long tradition and neglect of everything American to the novelty treated with understanding and respect. Feature of the car emphasized advertising and technical literature, made in the style a la "Twenties": Brooks Stevens was not only an experienced designer, but a good marketer and know what levers to push to promote its brand. Photographs and drawings in the neoclassical style with meticulous compositions, which were printed in brochures, emphasized the special status of Excalibur as a vehicle for the elite.
The first series of Excalibur Series I issued in the years 1965-1969. The model number is initially classified by series and not by years of production, as was the custom in the American auto industry. Series I was an open car with based on the X-shaped frame body made of hand-forged aluminum sheets, which soon replaced by fiberglass. Plastic panels covered with several layers of primer and then painted. The comfort level of these machines was high, and the size of salon Excalibur Phaeton was more than the Cadillac Eldorado. And the cost of the "neo-classical" in the early years of construction was only $ 7250, which for the exclusive hand-built car was just minuscule.
Since 1966, customers were offered three models: SSK Roadster, SS Roadster, SS Phaeton. SSK roadster had a double body, wings and motorcycle type it out the door, making it look like a racing model Mercedes Benz SSK. Model SS Roadster different from SSK Roadster presence doors and classic wings with running boards, and had four SS Phaeton body with the landing formula 2 +2.
All machines are equipped with folding tent, folding hand. Excalibur distinguished by his uncompromising quality in materials and workmanship, as compared to other emerging while replikarami-night. With "korvetovskoy" 5-liter powerplant easy Excalibur was a full-fledged sports car: acceleration to 60 miles / hour (96 km / h) was only 5 seconds and a maximum speed reached 235 km / h! By 1969, the price has risen to $ 10,000, as the demand for the car grew and comfort too - the car started to install automatic transmission Hydramatic, seat adjustment and steering column, power brakes and steering. The number of cars produced was minuscule - up to 100 units per year. But Excalibur was originally conceived as an exclusive limited edition cars. There were produced 359 units of Series I.
In 1970, it was announced that the production of a new series of Excalibur Series II (1970-1975). A new generation was based on a lengthened chassis with a new 5.7-liter powerplant Corvette. The main difference from the previous two series have become a spare wheel housings mounted on the sides of the long hood. Spartan racing SSK Roadster is no longer offered, there were only two models - SS Roadster and SS Phaeton.
In the list of options there, 4-speed manual transmission, specially designed wide mnogospitsevye wheels, providing a more comfortable ride. The cost has increased to $ 12,000. The increase in weight affected the dynamics of the car - now Excalibur accelerated to 60 miles / hour (96 km / h) in 6 seconds, but the "maximum speed" has remained the same - 235 km / h Demand for the car was stable, and the number of published copies was 342 pieces.
In 1975, a third series of Excalibur Series III (1975-1980). Car price increased to $ 19,000. At the cost of affected not only inflation but also the introduction of passive safety systems that require federal legislation. At the Excalibur were made by the new energy-absorbing aluminum tubular bumper system buffering, set leather bucket seats, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, power seats, power folding tent. Externally Series III differed from the previous series of mutated wings.
The main technical innovation was 7 liter "big-block» Chevrolet-454 400 hp, to disperse the car to 250 km / h Despite the numerous orders, Stevens did not want to dramatically increase production, preferring to raise the basic cost of the car, which by the end of 1970 has already reached $ 28,600. However, in the five years of production units were produced in 1141. Although Brooks Stevens initially did not even plan such a long production, hoping to release only a few hundred machines, and until 1969 to close the company.
Excalibur Series IV (1980-1987) already had other shapes, reminiscent of Mercedes Benz 500/540K, which only gave him more solidity and refinement. Therefore it is quite logical to the disappearance of the names of the machine index SS. Externally, the new Excalibur is much different from its predecessors have changed the bumper, the shape of the front wings, instead of the six exhaust pipes on the sides of the hood were installed only four, frame windshield was already divided into two halves, and on it there were extra lights-seekers. The list of the additional equipment. The machine was a lot harder and visually and practically - the weight has now reached one and a half tons. In the model lineup continued to be two models - Roadster and Phaeton, which is now equipped with a removable hardtop.
Base of the car increased to 3175 mm. The engine was a Chevrolet, but has a 5-liter 305-horsepower. Manual transmission is no longer offered, but the list of options has doubled. The dynamics of the car was not the same - Excalibur has evolved from a sports roadster in great classic sedan 1930 for imposing drive. And the price has increased to $ 40,000. For the 20th anniversary of the founding of the company Excalibur Automobile Corporation was released on a limited edition of 50 and 50 Roadsters chaises, who had a two-tone paint, inlaid walnut wood interior and plaques.
In the late 1980's on the market, a host of competitors that offer all sorts of classic-modern cars, which get a lot of very high-quality cars: Zimmer, Phantom, Tiffany, Heritage. The demand for such exclusive cars increased with each passing day. There are small companies that manufacture conversion based versions of stretch limousines Lincoln Town Car in the style of the 1930s, which are colloquially called "Excalibur" - Excalibur brand has become a household term. But the real Excalibur stood on the sidelines of this process, because at that time already was considered unbeatable classic "neoclassic" with a long history. In 1986, the company has for the first time in 20 years of existence had serious financial problems that were directly related to the cost of upgrading production capacity of the plant in Milwaukee. Brooks Stevens was forced to declare bankruptcy of the company. Came to the aid of Henry Warner, President of Acquisition Company of Wisconsin, who helped with the financing of production. The change has not affected vehicles.
Excalibur Series V (1987-1990) was a continuation of the lineup Series IV. The changes were Engine now be optionally raised the 350-hp engine Chevrolet. Expanded lineup - there was a huge 4-door sedan. Excalibur is now produced in three forms: Roadster, Phaeton and Touring Sedan, which was a top model and cost $ 65,650. On Touring Sedan sedan was put curved panoramic glass without partition to help improve visibility. Its length is 5.7 meters, and the mass was over two tons.
Interior machines are now looked much more luxurious than the previous models, and many compared the Excalibur is not a Mercedes Benz 500/540K, and with a 16-cylinder model Cadillac Model 452 and a Duesenberg J, which became the standard of luxury in the 1930s. Later came the 9 meter Limousine, which included a complete televideosistema, CD-changer, a bar with refrigerator, intercom, sunroof, tinted glass. These unique limousines are the rarest of all the "Excalibur."
All of these new items are not saved the situation and increased sales, which scared off potential investors. In 1990, the company went bankrupt again Excalibur. But it was not the end of the story of the brand. In 1991, the company for $ 1.3 million dollars bought Michael Timmer, who restored the production, investing in the development of a million dollars. Already in April 1992 Excalibur again appeared on the market.
Proposed model Roadster Phaeton and the fifth series, as well as the reborn Roadster Series III. Prices ranged between 50-75 thousand dollars. But the meager financial contributions were insufficient, and by the end of 1992 Excalibur for the third time has been declared bankrupt. Thanks to the financial support of the German business Udo and Jan Gaytlingerov, as well as the efforts of the factory director Scott Dennison and 33 workers were collected updated 100 Roadsters Series III Limited Edition 100.
They were set 300-horsepower Corvette LT1 engine mated to automatic transmission or a 6-speed manual transmission, airbags for the driver, ABS and EBS. The cost of the machine in the base was 90 thousand dollars. It was later resumed the production of models Series V - Roadster, Phaeton and Limousine. Production of several dozen units continued until 1997, and then was finally phased out.
It should be mentioned that in the mid-1990s to the capacity of the plant Excalibur Automobile Corporation made replica JAC-427, created after the Shelby Cobra 427. This model had a plastic body, 5-liter "Ford's" 8-cylinder engine rated at 305 hp, 5-speed manual transmission, leather interior and has been offered on the market replikarov to increase the sales of the firm. But at the time, many small producers have already collected from scrap cars aggregates, similar to the Shelby Cobra 427, and because the novelty has not conceived the expected success.
Today, the company continues to serve the remaining Excalibur issued cars, of which there are now about 3,500 units. All of them are carefully kept by their owners. The market value of these vehicles varies from 50 to 200 thousand dollars, depending on the series and model. Several copies were in our post-Soviet countries, and today they can be found in businesses serving ceremonial events, and some are in private collections.
The disappearance of this and many other such brands replikarov and modern-classic cars due to a fall in demand for such cars. They appeared on the fashion in the 1960s, peaked in the 1980s and took place in the early 1990s. Today you can still see small firms engaged in the production replikarov, but their products in terms of quantity can not beat the sales records of the 1980s. It is difficult to explain the disappearance of interest in such vehicles. Perhaps, in today's society of high technology and pragmatism is simply no place for such frankly frivolous cars filled with romance and nostalgia.