Classic Car Catalogue

Edwards 1951




Looking for more power, Edwards adapted the R-26's V 8/60 to carry an Ardun overhead valve version resulting in an estimated increase in up to 130-135 bhp Motor Trend called the Ardun equipped V 8 a "fine example of what car design, planning and workmanship can accomplish without imported components." Edwards first outing with this further modified R-26 took place at the 1951 Palm Springs race where he showed early promise by passing the Lewis driven Ferrari, only to be sidelined by overheating problems.
Later that summer Edwards decided to build a new sports racing car combining the power of the just released Chrysler Firepower Hemi V 8 with a light weight bodyshell constructed from an entirely new material, fiberglass. Having moved to the bay area he chose to build the new car in South San Francisco in a facility adjacent to his wire rope company.
Hiring Phil Remington full time Edwards again configured the project around over the counter components. The new car used a stock Henry J chassis which Edwards selected for its short 100 inch wheelbase, simple rail frame and easy availability through his connection with members of Kaiser's senior management. Its driveline comprised a De Soto heavy-duty gearbox connected by a three-foot driveshaft to a Ford rear axle. Steering was provided by the production Henry J's Gemmer worm and roller box. This chassis employed twin-piston disc brakes adapted by Edwards from aircraft components. Later additions included magnesium wheels with oversized tires for maximum bite and cornering power. Rear axle location was provided by the Ford axle's "banjo" radius arms. Trim items included Henry J bumpers, Ford push button door handles, Ford taillights and Stuart-Warner instruments.
Edwards' use of fiberglass as a body material was particularly novel; the Kaiser Darrin would not be completed until 1952, nor the Corvette until mid 1953. Body forms for the glass work were made up by laying plaster over the original R-26 wooden buck, thus creating a plaster plug. No molds were made since the car was regarded as a one-off effort with no intention of series production. AcCording to Edwards, the new car - which became known as the R-62 was a "test bed to evaluate the properties of fiberglass for the eventual design and construction of the Edwards-America sports car. The conception of the R-66 was entirely different than its predecessor. Unlike the R-26, its production chassis and fiberglass body shell resulted in a major cost savings.