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Excalibur Phaeton

The story begins in 1963 at Studebaker where Brooks Stevens had been employed as design consultant by the president, Sherwood Egbert. Raymond Loewy also worked for Studebaker at the time and he had just completed his styling work on the Avanti.

One day Egbert telephoned Stevens to ask him to prepare some special automobile projects; these were for exhibiting at the various motor shows to be held over the forthcoming year.

Brooks remembered the conversation well, Egbert was saying: "I can't manage to get Loewy in on this one, you'll have to help me..." The outcome of this was a trio of Studebaker Larks, a black and pink convertible known as "Mademoiselle", a vehicle called "Yachtman", and a "Town Car" featuring central roll-over hoop and a vinyl half-roof. Stevens also dressed up a Hawk Gran Turismo for the display but not one of these cars made any worthwhile impression at the Chicago Motor Show at the start of the season. The next show was to be the New York in April and for this one it was imperative that he find something a little more explosive. "...to attract people to the stand. Without a real eye-catcher they would walk straight past and not even glance in the right direction".

Stevens decided that the time had come to create a special automobile. Sadly, it was at this time that Egbert was struck down with cancer and replaced by his sidekick, Byers Burlingame."Burlingame and I got on very well so I asked him to send me a Daytona chassis- the best chassis around at the time, and one which boasted special suspension. Its front axle was overloaded in the original design but I figured that if I could find a way of moving the engine backwards to a certain extent then the assembly would become better balanced. So Burlingame sent me a Daytona chassis at Milwaukee and I got to work on my designs, taking a great deal of inspiration from the Mercedes SSK. I loved Mercedes cars and personally owned a 1928 SS Phaeton. My idea was to create a vehicle along similar lines, using contemporary running gear and selling for a very competitive price. I said to Burlingame: 'I'm going to build you a contemporary classic', to which he replied: 'Great...but what exactly is a contemporary classic?' I replied: 'Well, it's a new old car'...and the conversation stopped right there, Burlingame hanging up the receiver in obvious dismay! It had been a brief discussion, but as a result the Excalibur was born!