An incredible selection of wacky one-off creations from the 1960s – headed by Gene Winfield’s stunning car ‘The Reactor’ – will star in their own class at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, which takes place in California on 20 August.
Among the stellar lineup of unique automobiles are the 1965 Bugatti T101C Roadster by Virgil Exner, the 1963 Mantaray by Dean Jeffries, Herb Adams’ 1965 Pontiac Vivant Roadster and the 1962 Studebaker Sceptre Concept Coupe by Brooks Stevens, but legendary custom car builder Gene Winfield’s Reactor is sure to be one of the star attractions.
Winfield originally conceived of the Reactor for Joe Kizis’ 1965 Autorama car show in Hartford, Connecticut, and it went on to scoop the Tournament of Fame Award at the Grand National Roaster Show. After seeing the way the car had captured the public’s imagination, he put the creation on a trailer and drove it to Hollywood.
“I didn’t know anybody,” Winfield recalled, “but I found 20th Century Fox Studios and I went up to the gate and conned them into letting me in to show my car to their transportation department. From there, the transportation coordinator gave me the names and addresses of all these other studios, and for two days I took the car around and handed out my business card. Two weeks later, Bewitched called and said that they wanted the Reactor on their set.”
1965 Bugatti T101C Roadster by Virgil Exner
The Reactor starred in an episode called ‘The Super Car’, and went on to featured in episodes of Star Trek and Mission Impossible, though it was best known for its appearance in the final season of the Batman television series, where it served as a getaway car for Catwoman, played by Eartha Kitt.
1963 Mantaray by Dean Jeffries
Winfield based the Reactor on a Citroen DS chassis, taking full advantage of its cutting edge hydro-pneumatic suspension. “The inspiration I had for the car was to make something different, something wild,” said Winfield. The futuristic two seater was powered by a 180bhp turbocharged Chevrolet Corvair engine, which allowed the car to be low and close to the ground.