The Rare and Elusive Excalibur J is Turning 50

The production Excalibur evolved into more of a neo-classic luxury car, but remained a sporty looking ride.  It inspired the “production” models of the ‘60s.
The production Excalibur evolved into more of a neo-classic luxury car, but remained a sporty looking ride. It inspired the “production” models of the ‘60s.

In the early 1950s, car collector and industrial designer Brooks Stevens created a car called the Excalibur J. It was a two-seat roadster built on a Henry J frame using a Willys engine. Only three Excalibur J Sports Cars are known to have been built. All three were used for racing and promotions up to 1958 and known as America first Sports Car. Steven’s design included a tubular shaped aluminum body with front cycle fenders. The intended price of this American Sports car was $2,000. In-line six cylinder engines from Willys and Henry J were used and one car was equipped with a Jaguar XK engine.

Stevens was fascinated by classic cars and owned a 1928 Mercedes SS roadster. He designed the Excalibur as a concept car for Studebaker in 1963. Due to a management switch, Studebaker didn’t want the car. Stevens finished it and took it to several new-car shows where it got a lot of attention and drew orders from wealthy clients. The Excalibur became a production car in 1964.

Alice Preston of Camelot Motors, Milwaukee, Wis., recently announced plans for a celebration of the Excalibur automobile’s 50th anniversary on Aug. 22-24. The event will highlight the marque’s association with the City of Milwaukee. As such, it will include involvements from Milwaukee-based businesses.

Preston said the event will include participation in the Milwaukee Masterpiece, an annual show that takes place on the city’s lakefront. Excaliburs will take part in both the Masterpiece Club Day on Aug. 23 and the Concours de Elegance on Aug. 24. Plans include special dining opportunities, a parade of Excaliburs from the Harley-Davidson Museum through downtown Milwaukee to the lakefront and other activities that will create a very unique experience.

The Hilton City Center in downtown Milwaukee will secure the cars in its attached parking ramp. Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro will host a barbeque and seafood-bake on Friday evening. An After Party is being planned and will include some special activities for those wishing to stay up late. Saturday morning will revolve around the Milwaukee Masterpiece parade and Club Day. This year’s 10th anniversary Milwaukee Masterpiece will follow the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and several of the vehicles featured at Pebble Beach will attend.

The Excaliburs will stage at the Harley-Davidson Museum and be escorted through downtown Milwaukee and then to the lakefront by a motorcycle- honor guard to a dedicated area on the lakefront. There will be alternative tours to an Art Museum, Discovery World, the Public Museum and the Harley-Davidson Museum, plus great shopping opportunities.

Saturday evening the Excaliburs will move to the Harley-Davidson Museum and circle the museum. Owners will enjoy a night of great food, an open bar, presentations, and time to spend with fellow enthusiasts. While members of the Stevens family will attend all weekend, Saturday night will provide an opportunity to hear from them, as well as others, about the history of Excalibur and what is seen for the future. As part of the celebration, participants will receive tickets to the museum that can be used over the weekend or at another time.

Following Sunday brunch at the Hilton, Excalibur owners may leave or spend another day at the Masterpiece where the 50th anniversary will be a theme of the show. Excaliburs will have their own judging class and the competition throughout the venue will be watched by thousands of onlookers. There will be keepsakes, participation plaques and Excalibur themed goodies. “We need to know who is coming as soon as possible,” Preston told Old Cars Weekly. “Planning has already been in the works for months and deadlines are quickly approaching.” She is asking Excalibur owners to email [email protected] as soon as possible if they plan to attend the 50th anniversary.

Tony Stevens brought the historic 1952 Excalibur to the Milwaukee Masterpiece in 2012.  It inspired the “production” models of the ‘60s.
Tony Stevens brought the historic 1952 Excalibur to the Milwaukee Masterpiece in 2012. It inspired the “production” models of the ‘60s.
About John Gunnell 104 Articles
John “Gunner” Gunnell has been writing about cars since ‘72. As a kid in Staten Island, N.Y., he played with a tin Marx “Service Garage” loaded with toy vehicles, his favorite being a Hubley hot rod. In 2010, he opened Gunner’s Great Garage, in Manawa, Wis., a shop that helps enthusiasts restore cars. To no one’s surprise, he decorated 3G’s with tin gas stations and car toys. Gunner started writing for two car club magazines. In 1978, publisher Chet Krause hired him at Old Cars Weekly, where he worked from 1978-2008. Hot rodding legend LeRoi “Tex” Smith was his boss for a while. Gunner had no formal journalism training, but working at a weekly quickly taught him the trade. Over three decades, he’s met famous collectors, penned thousands of articles and written over 85 books. He lives in Iola, Wis., with his nine old cars, three trucks and seven motorcycles.
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