Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Wizard Roadster

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

The cult of the Wizard Roadster is mired in secrecy and half-truths; ownership of one isn't just about drop-top aircooled whimsy, it's an exercise in clandestine sleuthing if you're keen to know the provenance of the thing.
The concept was originally devised in the US; these conversions were available via the small ads in the back of hot rod magazines, and the legend goes that three kits were purchased (one of each popular style; the roadster, the van, and the 'Windjammer' T-Bar semi-hardtop) by Pete & Mart's Custom Supplies of Harlow, Essex, in the early 1980s. UK company Wizard of Rods then - allegedly - used said moulds as the basis for their products. The 1984 Wizard brochure described how the kit would 'transform a stock Beetle into an exciting soft-top fun vehicle,' the fibreglass bonding task being 'something like two weekends' work'. As was the nature of the home-taping nineteen-eighties, these copied designs were variously ripped off by other kit car firms and what-have-you, selling for knock-down prices. So today it's quite hard to know whether a Beetle Roadster is an old-school US build, or a 'genuine' UK Wizard, or a period knock-off, or something that's been crafted since.

For the sake of simplicity, however, let's just call this particular shiny example a Wizard. I can't give you any details as to its provenance, but I'd love to know more about it - the VW-Porsche 914 badges and auto shifter suggest that something entertaining's going on with the running gear, the interior is beautifully trimmed, the custom dash is a real eye-catcher, and the staggered tyre profiles on those Empi five-spokes gives it a delicious rake. Splendid little thing.

Spotted at the Goodwood Breakfast Club - more pics here.

1 comment:

chris boyle said...

Great to see a well finished wizard roadster still being used . It's quite possible this is one I built back in the mid 1980's (usually can tell by the flow of the door tops into the rear body cap that most builders never achieved) .
To be clear , I'm the guy who created from scratch the wizard roadster back then, inspired by the U.S BGW speedster but totally different in many many ways (+2 rear seats , more practical windscreen frame/hood set-up etc,etc) plus all the bolt-on wider body panels , especially the much "ripped off" louvred running boards .I followed the success of the roadster with the full 4 seat hardtopped Windjammer.
I did buy the willys coupe and 40 ford van pete & mart imported and offered them in my range also for the few short years I produced these kits before selling everything to Peter Cheeseman who took the brand to even greater success for many years there after .