July 30, 2012

The Larc Douglas Offyette Sportster Will Roll Again

kids_bmw_507_brightwells.jpg

Important news about this kid-size replica of a BMW 507, which was auctioned off last year in Eng-uh-land. While it may very well be true that it was "custom-made in 1956 for use by the sons of a new 507 owner 'on the one mile private drive leading to their estate in Suffolk,'" it turns out it was also a product: the Larc-Douglas Offyette Sportster.

offyette_sportster_plastic.jpg

It was the second motorized, kid-sized racer designed by Carl Schiller, a pioneer of the so-called 1/4-scale--or quarter midget--genre. The first was a single seat, mini-Offenhauser called the Offyette Racer, which Schiller began making for his son Douglas in 1949.

The cars were sold complete and as kits by Larc Douglas, a joint venture between Schiller and Pat Amendiola, the AM in AMROC, the Long Island engineering outfit who manufactured the fiberglass bodies. By 1959, AMROC was producing its own quarter-scale Corvette, a 2hp, 1-speed, 1wd project called the AMROC Jr. Which was modeled by a 3-yo in Mechanix Illustrated. ["As a first step, cut all angle iron sections to size and..."]

amroc_jr_mechill59.jpg

AMROC also produced mini-DeSotos for The Price Is Right and little delivery trucks, of which there are now apparently two surviving images.

The ROC of AMROC was Jim Rockefeller, a distant and poor but innovative relation, whose Rockefeller Yankee was actually the first production fiberglass sports car to be sold in the US, in 1953, a couple of months ahead of the Corvette. Jim's recollections on Pat's simple, handcoded webpage ends thus:

After retiring in 1980 I moved from Long Island and built my own house in Sundance, Fl...and finally moved to Sun City Center,FL. I'm now under Hospice care (wonderful people). So far I've lived a year beyond their expectations... :<)

I now spend my time online discussing Cosmology.

Jim Rockefeller,
July 2006

( Jim passed away in May 2007 )

And we know all this now because to light this morning, well-known quarter midget aficionado Terry Brannigan left a comment on the previous DT post, saying that he has obtained the original molds for the Larc Douglas Sportster, which leads me to suspect that Mr. Amendiola may have joined his former fiberglass pioneer at that great racetrack in the sky.

But Mr. Brannigan also says he is "in the process of making a few for my collection," so there's still at least one guy in one garage who knows how to build a kid-sized sports car from scratch. The world continues to amaze beyond expectations.

HAPPY UPDATE: From the comments, we learn Pat's alive and well, and we wish him a long, healthy, and happy life!

Pat Amendiola's Plastic Autos | Children's Cars [plasticautos.com]
Previously: Handmade Kid-Size BMW 507

5 Comments

Don't have anything to say other than I love everything about this post. Especially the photo of the kid kicking back in the mini Corvette.

Mr. Amendiola is alive and well. I have recently obtained an original AMROC corvette in unfinished condition and have been in cotact with Pat. I found him through extensive internet research. Unfortunately, he did not keep one of the cars for himself and is very interested in any info in regards to survivors. I do plan to restore mine, but finding the right person to do so has been harder than I thought it would be.

When will these kits become available ???

I am restoring an early Offyette and am looking for good resources for the hydraulics and wheels etc.... I understand the son of the creator is still involved - does any one have a contact or alternative good resources.
Thanks for the help.
Bill 404 401-3109

Cody Frank, I know a couple of great guys if you want help restoring your Offyette. I'm happy to help with advice but I can also point you in the direction of a couple guys if you need help.

Bill Bartlett, without a second of hesitation, I'd send the brakes to Whitepost Restorations in VA. THey are the greatest people to work with. If you send your master cylinder and the rear backing plates, they will come back to you like new in 2 weeks. WR who owns whitepost is FANTASTIC. He has fdone 3 sets for me and one for my friend,. He will resleve and rebuild the master and send it back painted. He will also resurface the shoes.

Terry

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