Glenn Pray Auburn 866 Speedster
The Speedster featured on these pages is a fiberglass recreation of the classic Auburn Speedster. The original Speedsters sell for extreme dollars, with the last one leaving an Indiana factory in 1937. But that's where our story begins.
Glenn Pray in 1960 purchased the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Co. and moved it from Auburn, Indiana, to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Around 1959, he quit his job teaching mechanics at Tulsa's Central High School to take control of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Co., making him the youngest president (age 36) of an automotive manufacturing company in the world at the time.
He designed and manufactured, among others, the Auburn Speedsters and phaetons. Pray owned the rights to produce and title these cars as Auburns. He used the real Auburn hardware and design, making his fiberglass reproductions strikingly authentic to the original car.
The nickel-plated brass trim...
The nickel-plated brass trim was handled by Jake Hill while brightwork came from Sherm's Custom Plating.
In August 1967, the first Speedster was viewed at the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club event. It was designated the New Auburn 866 Speedster and available to the public in 1968 (and produced through 1981) with a retail price of $8,450. Pray referred to his 866 Speedsters as Second Generation Cars or Auburn Continuations, as he believed they were never meant to be replicas of the originals. Again, he believed his cars are modern-day versions of the original Auburn Speedster.
Pray was able to get Ford involved and the original chassis and powertrain came from Blue Oval; a 428 Ford engine, automatic or manual transmission, and rearend was used on the Auburn prototype. Other items, such as the functional supercharger-style exhaust pipes (two pipes per side), along with the likes of power steering, power brakes, and air conditioning, made this car unique. Pray modified the original body design to accept the Ford convertible chassis, featuring an extended wheelbase of 127 inches.
The GMPP ZZ350 is decked out...
The GMPP ZZ350 is decked out with an Edelbrock intake, a 650-cfm carb, and a radiator from U.S. Radiator.
Because Pray had the original tooling and surplus parts he believed 100-125 Speedsters could be trimmed out in original N.O.S. Auburn parts. He produced 138 Auburns and sold an estimated 90-100 Speedsters that were in various stages of completion.
One last story on Glenn Pray; he was 15 when he bought his first automobile, a used Model A with no wheels for $12.50. He got the car to run but was too young to drive it. Given a moment to think about it he converted the car into a tractor. It was legal for him to drive a tractor. He could drive a tractor without a license thus achieving his goal. You have to admire his "never say die" attitude and ingenious behavior. (He died in March of this year at the age of 85.)
Cream leather, dark brown...
Cream leather, dark brown paint, chrome accents, and pearl guitar pick guard material make up the door panels.
By the time Dore finished his work on the Hetfield Speedster there could be no denying the changes were many but the results were worthwhile. You will notice the custom trim (nickel-plated brass; the remainder of the brightwork was handled by Sherm's Custom Plating) designed by Dore and hand fabricated by Jake Hill. Take your eye off of the trim for a moment and you may see a slight top chop (Carson top), sectioned body, lengthened fenders, filled body seams, and flush-mounted fender skirts.
While Dore was deeply involved in the daily hands-on, he did turn to such notables within our industry for assistance such as Keith Dean of South End Kustom (son to the legendary customizer and king of the top chop Dick Dean). Dean took charge of the Carson top and the highly modified fenders that capture the Headwinds headlights. The grille began life as a rather substantial piece of aluminum and by the time the water jet metalworking CNC was finished you have what you see before you. The aluminum hood came from the metalworking hands of Mickey Galloway. Once the bodywork was finished final paint fell to Darryl Hollenbeck who applied the House of Kolor two-tone candy Root Beer paint.
The mechanics for the Carson...
The mechanics for the Carson top were handled by Keith Dean but the upholstery was Bob Devine.
Interior of the Speedster is filled with Egyptian leather that covers the custom dashboard, which is filled with Classic Instruments, an ididit steering column, and one of Hetfield's '40 Ford steering wheels that he had "rat holed" away for just such a project. The custom pedals come by way of Clayton Machine Works. The Haywire wiring system was then positioned by Max Fish. The cream-colored leather and dark brown Mercedes carpet was stitched into place by Bob Devine who also covered the custom door panels and Carson top after Dore built the custom seating and finished off the other interior appointments.
The original '75 Lincoln chassis was salvaged but in place of the Ford motor now sits a ZZ4 350 sporting 350 hp and 405 lb-ft topped with an Edelbrock intake and Edelbrock 650-cfm four-barrel. Engine temps fall to the chore of the U.S. Radiator and getting the horsepower to the rearend is a TH350 tranny. The RideTech air suspension system was installed at Bio Customs while other corner treatments include Coker Tire radials and Colorado Custom wheels. The wheel design came from Hetfield's imagination and the wheels measure 15x7 with 215/75R15 rubber wrapped around them.
Well, now you have the rest of the story.