Fiberfab Avenger GT
The Avenger GT was a kit car designed in California and manufactured in the United States and Canada, primarily in the 1960s and early 1970s. The car was manufactured by Fiberfab, a company founded by Warren "Bud" Goodwin and was the successor to the Fiberfab Aztec. The car was styled to resemble the Ford GT of racing fame in the 1960s, often referred to as the GT40. These Fiberfab creations were the first kit-cars available that followed the lines and styling of the GT40; thus, popularizing and developing the kit-car industry to new heights and starting the whole tribute / replicar GT40 industry that follows today.
The Avenger GT came in two models: the Avenger GT-12, and the Avenger GT-15. The GT-12 was designed to be assembled by the owner, using parts salvaged from other cars, most often, a Volkswagen Beetle. The GT-15 was similar, but utilized a tube frame chassis, designed to accept suspension and drive-train components from a Chevrolet Corvair.
They are not exact GT40 replicas; Although, it is also very clear that the styling of these cars was inspired and influenced by the early GT40. Some styling was likely taken from the 1966 and 1967 GT40 MkIII; which, also utilized quad headlights and a longer tail similar to the Avenger GT.
These cars had a big sister, known as the Fiberfab Valkyrie. The Valkyrie was styled similarly, with the most obvious difference being the somewhat shortened rear end of the body. Since the Corvair and the Beetle were rear-engined, the body of the Avenger needed to be a bit longer. The Valkryie, however, was designed to be powered by a mid-engined V8 engine. Hence, the rear end of the Valkryie follows the shorter lines of the GT40 MKI rather than the Avenger's longer rear section; which, (as said above) was more similar to a MKIII. Amazingly, the Valkyrie has been the only Fiberfab product to somehow remain in constant, if not sporadic, production and still is to this day. It is still being manufactured and is available through Fiberfab.us
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The first original 1964 Ford GT prototypes were lovely but not reliable for endurance racing as required at the Le Mans 24 hour race. The body had no tail spoiler and the nose was bereft of a spoiler or special shaping (around the radiator) that could have produced the needed engine cooling and downforce. However, photos of the upcoming race car had been flooding automotive magazines ever since the first mock-up was completed, so every car enthusiast knew what it would look like. Fiberfab was a fledgling kit car manufacturer, based in California, that launched a small sports car based on VW running gear, and they figured the new Ford GT had styling that enthusiasts would crave.
The Fiberfab Aztec came out in 1964 and, although not a replica, it mimicked the lines of the first Ford GT. The Aztec was a huge success by kit car standards, with hundreds, perhaps thousands, sold. They are seldom thought of as a Ford GT tribute, since few today remember the look of the early Ford GT prototypes and the Lola that they were based on, or remember the original idea behind the Aztec kit-car that well.
Fiberfab Aztec II: When the Aztec began to fade in popularity, Fiberfab replaced it with an upgraded version, the Aztec II. This looked a little more Ford GT-like, with a tail spoiler and a longer nose. Noel Johnson, who was an early employee of Fiberfab and the last general manager (and part owner) of its manufacturing facility, said that Fiberfab began in 1964. There was a two-seat fiberglass sports-car known as the Devin, a neat little car, but one which required considerable work to make it seamless with its chassis. The car was not made by Fiberab, but Fiberfabs founder, Goodwin, liked the concept and some of its features. His ideas and others who had the similar idea led to the kit car boom of the 1970s where many kits had bodies styled as sports cars that were designed to bolt directly to VW Beetle chassis. This was popular as the old (rusty) body could be easily separated from the chassis leaving virtually all mechanical components attached to the chassis and a Fiberglas GRP-body from the kit supplier fitted by the home builder (backyard) mechanic. This made the Beetle one of the most popular "donor" vehicles of all time. Examples of this conversion include the Fiberfab Aztec and Aztec II. These were the direct ancestors of the Avenger.
Avenger GT12 and GT15
Fiberfab Avenger GT: The Avenger GT was a kit-car designed and manufactured in the USA, starting in late 1966 and was produced for 12 years until 1978. It appeared shortly after the Valkyrie model was introduced as a cheaper version of the same. Both these cars had a much stronger GT40 look. The Avenger was originally manufactured by Fiberfab, a company founded by Warren “Bud” Goodwin and was the successor to the Aztec. The car was styled to resemble the Ford GT of racing fame; however, it wasn't a Ford GT40 replica, instead was heavily influenced by GT40 MkI and MkIII styling. They utilized quad headlamps and a longer tail similar to the MkIII to cover the rear engine. The Avenger GT came in two models, the Avenger GT-12, and the Avenger GT-15. The GT-12 (believed to be named with respect to the first 12 GT40 prototypes) was designed to be assembled by the owner, using parts salvaged from other cars, usually a VW Beetle, Karmman Ghia or early Air-cooled Porsche drivetrain. The GT-15 was similar, but utilized a tube frame chassis, designed to accept suspension and driveline components from a Chevrolet Corvair. The GT-12 is the most common. Originally, one could take a VW Beetle, and a $700 GT-12 body kit, and with quite a bit of work and some money spent on hardware, custom exhaust, gauges etc., and end up with a great looking sports car. The GT-12 weighed approximately 500 pounds less than the standard Beetle weighing only, 1500 lbs. The lowered weight, better power to weight ratio, and improved aerodynamics boosted fuel mileage and performance. The weight reduction was equivalent to adding approximately 30% more power. The lower weight and center of gravity meant it would out-corner and out-stop the Beetle as well. As a result they were a lot of fun to drive and thousands of Fiberfab Avengers were sold in the 1960s and 1970s. Many of the VW powered cars benefitted greatly from VW performance parts and the VW Hot Rod industry that grew rapidly out of Southern California during the same time.
Rear glass was from a 1965, '66 Ford Mustang 2+2 Fastback. The windshield is from a 1965–69 Chevy Corvair Monza or Corsa. Side windows are custom made. Some use Plexiglass or Lexan (polycarbonate - impact resistant). Originally there were two other choices. One was a single piece side window which Fiberfab supplied, it was custom glass but the original molds are lost. The other way is a window/wind-wing combo, using a wind-wing from a 65 Mustang in combination with a 1966 Ford LTD door glass and a regulator from a VW Karman Ghia. This is the type that the original Fiberfab manuals, gave instructions for. There are long door cars, and short door cars. The long door reaches all the way to the bottom of the car body and is a bit wider. The short door (early, prior to 1970) car, has a rocker panel below the door. The earliest models could be ordered with or without the GT40 style twin hood scoops (first year or two). Rear taillights are custom; however, some used original GT40, early Mustang or Maverick taillight units.
Avenger GT12X and GT15X
All models had a later version designated with an X, e.g. Avenger GT-12X. The X models had minor body differences, usually had the later longer style doors, wheel arch flares and a chin spoiler
Early issues of Dune Buggies and Hot VWs Magazine had articles on the Valkyrie, made by Fiberfab in 1966. Here was a mid-engine, tubular space frame chassis, carrying the 427 Chevy big-block engine, mated to a five-speed ZF transaxle, and wrapped with the Avenger body except that it had a shorter tail. The car had Hurst-Airheart disc brakes at all four corners, augmented by a racing drag chute "for primary braking at speed in excess of 140 M.P.H. Valkyries were made as both kits and turnkey complete cars. Most Valkyries made use of Corvair transmission and differential (transaxle) and either a Ford or Chevy V8; some had ZFG five-speed transaxles.
FiberFab started the production of Avenger kits in Sunnyvale California located in Santa Clara County in 1966 and shortly after moved to Freemont, California in 1967 to keep up with demand. During the busy years they had a Bridgeville, PA facility to supply the East coast. In Canada they had an office and service facility in Toronto, Ontario. For a while, in the seventies, FiberFab had a full manufacturing facility building cars in Dauphin, Manitoba (making long door cars). Manitoba didn't start producing until after 1970. Later, they moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1971. FCL moved to Ontario in 1974 with the Avenger and Jamaican. The FiberFab Migi-II was added in 1977. When CMC purchased the company they built and sold kits out of Miami, Florida.
During the 1970s Fiberfab worked with many partners including NASA. NASA engineers used an Avenger GT as a base vehicle in developing electric battery technology. The battery pack replaced the area where the original tunnel I-frame on the VW platform was located... and the engine bay as well. A single Huge battery was used and it was extremely heavy! Since then other electric Avengers have been made and are still on the road today.
History has a way of repeating itself. A new company was formed. This company began producing Valkyries for the 2004 Model year. It is not affiliated with the Fiber-fab management of the past, but they are reproducing the Valkyrie under the New Fiber Fab name. FiberFab.us is based in Washougal, WA. They have a web site and also support the older cars.
The original FiberFab company of Canada, FiberFab Canada Limited, still has a small office and can be found on Facebook.
Some important History and FiberFab Avenger milestones:
1951-57... Warren G. Goodwin of Velocidad, Inc. manufactures glass fiber replacement auto body panels.
1957-63... Goodwin designs & builds several kit car models under the Fiberfab trade name thereby founding the kit car industry.
1964........ Fiberfab becomes a division of Design Concept America Ltd.
1964-69... Goodwin develops & markets the Avenger and Jamaican (Lamborghini Muira inspired) product line with peak sales volume approaching $2,000,000. The Avenger and Valkyrie come out in 1966.
1968........ Goodwin appoints Don Entwistle as exclusive Canadian dealer.
1969....... Fiberfab Canada Limited (FCL) established in Daughin, Manitoba with Don Entwistle as President. FCL manufactures & markets the Avenger & Jamaican product lineup. Manufacturing of the Avenger starts in 1970. All Avengers made in Canada were long door cars.
1969....... SEPTEMBER: W.G. Goodwin passes away due to a heart attack.
1969-71... Design Concept closes to settle the Goodwin estate.
1971........ Fiberfab Canada relocates to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
1971-74... Former Design Concept plant manager and U.S. Eastern Distributor combine forces to salvage Design Concepts key molds and start up Fiberfab, Inc.
1974........ MAY: FCL is reorganized and moved to Toronto, Ontario with the Avenger and Jamaica under new ownership of BSI Limited.
1974........ NOVEMBER: Fiberfab, Inc. is purchased by A.T.R., Inc. and Aris V.C. Valli becomes new president.
1974........ SEPTEMBER: FCL acquires 6,000 sqft facilities in Oakville, Ontario to continue production, assembly & marketing; plus signs new exclusive distributorship with Fiberfab, Inc. Barry Stasiewicz takes over as President & General Manager.
1976........ AUGUST: Aris Valli dies from a heart attack. Fiberfab, Inc. approaching $8 million sales mark; FCL approaching $2 million sales mark.
1976-77... Fiberfab, Inc. coasts into a transitional period awaiting new reorganization under acting president Robert F. Valli.
1977........ APRIL: FCL begins production of the new MiGi-II MG-TD replicar with 180+ units over the next 18 months.
1978........ MAY: FCL retires the Avenger & Jamaican production.
1978........ OCTOBER: Fiberfab, Inc. receives new marketing/management team with Robert F. Valli as new President. US product line up reduced from seven body styles to three. Avenger is discountinued.
1979....... FEBRUARY: All business relations between Fiberfab, Inc. and FCL are severed due to Fiberfab, Inc. internal re-organization & direction.
1983......Fiberfab Inc sells most assets to their largest competitor, Classic Motor Carriage. Some of the models Fiberfab produced and continued under the Classic Motor Carriages brand name, when CMC acquired all of the Fiberfab kits and molds except the Valkyrie in 1983. Shortly after CMC stores almost all molds behind their Miami manufacturing facility never to be used again.
2004.....For the 2004 Model year a new company. It is not affiliated with the Fiber-fab management of the past, but they are reproducing the Valkyrie under the New Fiber Fab name. The New Fiber Fab is based in Washougal, WA and they also have a web site.
2018......The Fiberfab Valkyrie has been the only Fiberfab product to somehow remain in constant production and still is to this day. It is still being manufactured and is available through Fiberfab.us