Stodgy 1911 Stafford Touring Rebodied as Runabout...
What takes precedent - the urge to restore a body to original specs or the urge to improvise and build a custom? The answer is easy for auto enthusiasts who wear the cloth of "authentic restoration." If you fit this description, you were probably taken aback when you read the headline above.
Please hold on as there's circumstantial evidence that may sway your thinking that building a custom body is the right thing to do!
DeNean Stafford, a longtime car enthusiast and advocate of historical and authentic car restorations, fell in love with this 1911 Stafford at first sight. It had the usual charm of brass-era cars and most of all sported a brass nameplate that spelled out a name he had penned countless times over his lifetime. After giving the car a once-over, he decided he couldn't live without it - bought it and trucked it to his home in Tifton, Georgia.
Back home, a once over in more detail revealed that the Stafford, a product of The Stafford Motor Car Company, Kansas City, Missouri, had been fitted with another body sometime in the past. The body was the work of the coachbuilder Fleetwood who had built the body for Cadillac. It appears that the Fleetwood had been transported to the Stafford chassis, possibly, with practical reasons in mind. No one knows?
Now, what do you think? How can one correctly restore a car that has an incorrect body? Especially when the likelihood of finding another Stafford to copy is virtually impossible? Fortunately, Mr. Stafford was able to locate an original photo of a Stafford race car with wire wheels and a thumbnail sketch of a Stafford 2-seater runabout which proved invaluable when D & D, following Mr. Stafford's instructions, drew up plans for a sporty, runabout body rather than a version similar to the stodgy Fleetwood 4-passenger body riding the rails when the Stafford was purchased. How those plans were conceived is an interesting story in itself.
The idea as D & D's Mark Kennison saw it was to capture the look and feel of the old race car photo then coachbuild a body that looked for all intent and purposes to have been built in 1911.
Kennison proposed that all conceptual work be completed using computer data scanned from the old prints and data recorded from the Stafford chassis. By marrying both data, he suggested, photo like images could be generated that reflected the "1911 feel." Plus, all this could take place before actual sheet metal work began and Mr. Stafford would be able to see what his "new body" would look like early on and be able to make changes before the metal-shaping began.