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Thursday, December 15, 2011

1959 Bocar XP-5 Sports Racing Prototype

Following such illustrious American sports-racing cars as those produced by Briggs Cunningham during the early 1950s and predating Carroll Shelby’s British-American Cobra hybrids of the 1960s, Denver, Colorado’s Bob Carnes produced his Bocar sports car line. With background including a Glockler-Porsche and a Cadillac-powered Jaguar, Carnes started with the X-1 in his garage in 1958, and development quickly accelerated through several X-2 and X-3 models, followed by about five XP-4s. These early models carried a 90-inch wheelbase and used Jaguar wire-spoke wheels and Girling drum brakes. 

An improved XP-5 prototype, the car offered here, was readied in 1959. Four or five more "production" examples followed after mid-1959.

Period ads announced "Fierce acceleration -- docile obedience”, as well as capability for "racing, hillclimber and grocery getter." 

Based upon a tubular chassis and topped by a sleek fiberglass body, the Bocar XP-5 was powered by either a 283 cu. in. Chevrolet Corvette V-8 or a 370 cu. in. Pontiac V-8 engine. Predictably, these lightweight (fewer than 2,000 lbs) terrors provided shattering performance.

The rakish Bocar stood only 34 inches tall, with a competition-style four-inch windshield. A variety of options were available, including a hardtop, a heater, a radio, and seven suspension setups, plus choices in wheels and tires. Carburetion or fuel injection could be specified for the Corvette or Pontiac engine. 

Although prices for finished cars were advertised as low as $3,800, the typical cost was about $8,700. Carnes also sold bodies and frames separately. Priced within the range of ordinary people who wanted a highly competitive racing entry or a fearsome streetcar, the Bocar was anything but ordinary looking.

A number of Bocars were competitively raced in period, primarily in SCCA events, with such drivers as Augie Pabst, Harry Heuer, A.L. Huttinger and Paul O’Shea. A Bocar competed in the first televised Daytona race in June 1960, where it placed 3rd overall and took first in class. Another Bocar won an SCCA race at Daytona later in the year. A Bocar won an SCCA race on the same track in March 1960, following that by setting a speed record of 175 mph on the beach of Daytona. Repeat, 175 mph in 1960! During its brief racing career, the XP-5 also took many podium finishes all the way from Daytona to Watkins Glen to the Nassau Speed Week. The Stiletto competition roadster was the final Bocar product.

While unknown to many sports car and racing enthusiasts today, the Bocar developed a fearsome reputation in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In its retrospective entitled "Best, Fastest and Most Outrageous: The 50 Most Memorable Cars Ever", Motor Trend editors wrote, "The Bocar XP-5 was a race car built for the street, which featured a tube chassis and a Corvette 283 engine. Len Griffing drove the Bob Carnes' designed and built Bocar on Riverside Raceway. In his June '59 report, Griffing said, "The initial laps were in the 100-mph range. Once in the turns, the throttle does the steering. On the long straight, it tracks like an arrow and the engine seems to rev without limit. 150 mph came up right now.” MT testers clocked the 290 hp, 283 Chevy-powered XP-5, covering the zero-to-60 dash in 6.0 seconds flat, en route to a 14.0-second quarter-mile time, with a trap speed of 100 mph.

This and other road tests confirmed the Bocar's performance, including acceleration times that would qualify for near-supercar ranking even today. A high power-to-weight ratio was a big part of the secret: roughly six pounds per horsepower, in a car that weighed just 1,650 pounds. Motor Trend described its XP-5 as "a 160-mph sportscar" that was nevertheless "a road machine." “At 100 mph, mashing the throttle was neck-snapping."

Looking very much like a contemporary Maserati 200 SI, this Bocar XP-5 goes like a rocket sled and represents tremendous value. Chassis 001, the Bocar XP-5 prototype, has just been restored and all mechanicals are fresh, including a 450 bhp, 383 cu. in. Chevrolet V8 with side-draft Weber carburetors. 

The Chevrolet V-8 engine is drastically set-back within the chassis, contributing to the exceptionally balanced handling and responsiveness of the XP-5.

450 bhp, 383 cu. in. Chevrolet V-8 engine, with four side-draft, dual-choke Weber carburetors.

According to the current owner, this car is an absolute blast to drive and in fact, it can be steered using just the throttle around corners. Great for the track at a multitude of vintage racing events or as a raucous and enjoyable high-performance street or tour car, this dual-purpose Bocar XP-5 001 is also very streetable, as its creator originally intended. 

Bocar XP-5 001 is accompanied by an unbroken provenance from new. Full details, including current specifications and car-specific history are available to qualified prospective purchasers upon request. Feel free to leave a comment below this post for a reply.

Red-trimmed racing buckets and driveshaft tunnel, quick-release Simpson racing harnesses, a wood-rimmed steering wheel, and full instrumentation round out the businesslike, yet inviting and comfortable cockpit.

From the rear, the simplicity of the XP-5 design is clearly demonstrated with the racing-style faired headrest, quick-release fuel filler-cap, dual large-diameter exhaust outlets and twin tail lamps. The businesslike cockpit is also in view. The track and the open road beckon!

1 comment:

  1. This car is a classic in every way--from classic wheels to leather interior. Sweet ride!