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“World’s most beautiful sports car” production resumes after 50 years with first new Byers body

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Photos courtesy Geoff Hacker.

In the course of researching independent fiberglass body builders of the Fifties and early Sixties, Geoff Hacker has met several people who were directly involved with those original efforts, many of whom advised him to never sell repops of those bodies – not due to any rights issues but for fear of economic ruin. Yet Geoff believes he has good reason to do so, starting with the first new Byers SR-100 body built since the early 1960s.

“I’m doing this more for the purpose of history and to save the cars,” Geoff said. “A business will eventually evolve after that.”

Take as evidence the fact that the mold for the Byers is the fourth mold he’s so far taken off a vintage fiberglass body – the Bangert Manta Ray, the Sorrell, and the CRV Piranha all preceded it – but the Byers is the first he’s decided to offer for sale. Or the fact that, despite the time and cost that went into creating the mold and then into pulling a body from it, he’s still determining pricing for the bodies.

“These will definitely be for limited production – we would have to redesign the molds if we really wanted to go into full production,” he said. “Molds will never be a central part of what we do. If you add logic and strategy to everything we do, then we would have never made it as far as we have because everything is just too risky.”

Still, as Geoff argued, it’s worth reviving the SR-100 if not for whatever demand exists for it from modern-day builders than for the history behind the design.

As one of the builders of the first Victress in 1952 – and, later, Dick Jones’s partner in building the Meteor SR-1 – Jim Byers had built a good working knowledge of fiberglass body production by the middle part of the decade. In about 1955, he decided to take that knowledge and apply it to his vision of a lithe street-bound sportscar that drew from contemporary European sportscar design just as the Victress drew from Jaguar design but blended the source material in a fundamentally different and American style.

While Byers intended the SR-100 to take a first-generation Corvette windshield and sit on a wheelbase measuring roughly 100 inches, he left pretty much the rest of the build decisions – chassis, drivetrain, interior, trim, even where to cut for the doors, hood, and decklid – to the customer. He set up his company, Fiber-Craft, in El Segundo, and not long after came up with a second, smaller design – the CR-90 – intended for racing.

Byers’s big break came in 1957 when John Bond, the editor of Road & Track, put a completed SR-100 on the cover of the magazine and declared “we think it is second to none in sheer beauty.” Bond later went on to put his money where his mouth was when he built a Byers and showed how he did it in the magazine in 1959.

“This guy is my rock star,” Geoff said. “He was involved with all these companies that built fiberglass cars, and he crosses from the earliest of the fiberglass bodies up to the kits of the Seventies.”

Exactly how many SR-100s he sold isn’t known, but Geoff said somewhere between 25 and 35 total were built. Byers continued production through about 1961, then sold the molds for the SR-100 to Kellison, which cataloged it until the late Sixties and switched from hand-laid fiberglass body construction to chopper gun construction. Roughly 20 total SR-100 bodies are known to still exist.

Partnering with Dave Koorey in Port Richie, Florida, Geoff began the process of developing SR-100 molds last fall using a Kellison-built body that was the last remaining unbuilt and uncut example Geoff knew of. Along with the bodies, Geoff said he would like to offer a fiberglass Corvette windshield frame to avoid the cost of sourcing an original. Geoff said he only intends to sell bodies, but is in talks with a third party to offer rolling chassis and even completed cars.

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