A few years after buying Venus #1, (located all the way up in the Boston, MA area, [Fitchburg], MA), I met DeWitt Gorman. He told me that I should look for a family named Kovar. Eddie Kovar had been one of the “principles” in the company that had bought the mfg. rights to the Venus. I sent out letters to all the Kovars in the phone book, and reached Jack Kovar living in Bellville, Texas. And to my surprise, he also had a Venus in his barn. I made arrangements to run over to see him and his Venus; this was around 2007. I made another trip in 2009 to take some additional photographs and to borrow the hood from his Venus to help a fiberglass body specialist reshape the hood scoop on Venus #1 which had been totally trashed.
Ed had purchased his Venus from an obscure ad in Auto Trader back in 1985. Looking at the ad (above), it was riding high in the front suspension, which told me it didn’t have an engine when he purchased it. Jack kept his Venus under an outside awning attached to his barn. It wasn’t until Spring of 2015 that I learned that his Venus was for sale, at which time I purchased it.
After a bit of research, I learned that this particular Venus was once my Dad’s personal car…a copy of the original title shows him as the original owner. Additional old photographs from my family revealed that it was the same car due the addition of a Continental kit on the back and a custom-made bumper to accommodate the spare. The three holes for the Continental kit are still present in the body as is the custom rear bumper.
My brother told me a story long ago about the time when he was an early teen, he decided to do something to surprise our Dad. What he decided to do was paint everything in the engine compartment silver, including the firewall! I’m sure Dad was pleased! So when taking delivery of Venus #2, Jack allowed me to power wash the dirt and mold off the car. In doing the engine compartment, silver paint began to appear on the firewall, so that anecdote proves to be true.
Also in an old photograph (above), you can see a strip of tape on the rear fender of the Venus. If memory serves me, this marked the water line when our house was flooded from Hurricane Carla (1961). If the water got that high, then certainly, it partially covered the engine. It was probably soon after that the car was sold. However, somewhat puzzling, I have a photo of a Venus which looks identical to Venus #2. I do not have the rear view of this car. But the custom trim around the grille; the center emblem; the fog lights; and the windshield style all appear to match Venus #2. There even seems to be a folding top in back. If the description on the back of the photo is true, then it was purchased by Mr. Granval J. Nance around 1966 (after Hurricane Carla), then sold to a mechanic at Trucks of Texas around 1970. (Mr. Nance [deceased] was an engineer and draftsman at Vector Cable Company where my Dad Ken McLoad worked. I was told that “Tex” Nance did a lot of the scale drawings for the Venus, and did the drawings for the patent submission.
From there, the whereabouts of Venus #2 becomes a bit muddled, and I’ll spare you the details. But needless to say, it went through several owners before Jack Kovar bought it. By that time, the engine and tranny had been removed, as well as the Continental kit. This Venus also had a folding fabric top, but the framework is missing and I can see no indication of where a top frame may have been connected to the chassis or body.
There are two or three specific identifying pieces that tie this Venus with my Dad’s. As mentioned, his custom-made bumper which is still present. Second, the presence of a couple of small fog lights; and third, the later-style grille from a 1955 Chevy with a custom surround trim. There is also the presence of a small Ford V8 emblem on the grille.
What I do not know is if this was perhaps an updated Venus from an older version. I discovered that the steering wheel on Venus #2 had a small Lincoln emblem in the horn center, and that this steering wheel was for an automatic transmission. Perhaps this explains the added engine/transmission mounts on the frame. But who installed the auto transmission and what kind? Not sure. I do wish it had been in the car, rusty or not. But clearly, by the time Jack got the Venus, it had no engine. Below, a possible early version of Venus #2 before Cont Kit?
It also has no interior at all, which is usually the first thing to go on cars that are stored outside. There are no brake and clutch pedals, and there is no brake master cylinder. The frame does appear to be that of a circa 49-52 Ford chassis. (In 1953, I think the rear shock towers changed a bit). As I recall, the gauges are a mixture of sorts; some cheap, others Stewart Warner, but all are toast. These parts are readily available these days on line.
This Venus does have a later-version wraparound windshield. What puzzles me is if this windshield frame was custom made or is it off of another car of that period? There is a small “finisher” piece that mounts to the door to complete the lines of the windshield frame. The windshield itself is made of thin acrylic (Plexiglass) and a document I have from someone trying to order a windshield leads to the thought that perhaps these were custom made and formed. Clearly a new windshield will have to be made. There is still a remnant of the windshield in the corners of the frame. These are essential pieces to have in reproducing the bend angle on each corner. There is a safety inspection sticker on this piece, but it doesn’t reveal what year in was applied.
Of course, the doors are still present and the very important sleek, custom-made outside door hinges are there. I had to replace all of the tires in order to move it out and away from the barn and into my trailer. I have carefully inspected every inch of the body and it is sound. There are no indications of repairs or patches. It has a coat of gray primer, so at least the surface is smooth. I would highly suggest sanding off this old primer and laying on another coat. I do NOT believe that the Venus ever had gelcoat applied to the car bodies.
Unfortunately, this body is somewhat loose on the frame, and there doesn’t seem to be any additional body mounts added to the frame. Although the Venus body was designed to fit on a ’49 Ford chassis, it certainly did not use the “old” body mounts from the donor car…they are way too short. So, the next owner of this Venus will need to spend a bit of time fabricating some new, proper body mounts….not too tough of a job for someone with the right tools and know-how.
This Venus remains unrestored and available for purchase to the right individual. It is one of only two known to exist (out of a dozen), and was the personal car of the designer, Kenneth McLoad. For more “as Found” photos, go to the restoration segment for Venus#2. (HERE)