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1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969 Excalibur Series I

The 1965-1969 Excalibur I was a lithe, ferocious performer.
The 1965-1969 Excalibur I was a lithe, ferocious performer.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Though quite old, the Lark chassis was narrow and thus literally suitable for the slim body of the 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969 Excalibur Series I. It was also firmly X-braced, though the high power-to-weight ratio demanded considerable reworking for good handling.

That task fell to David Stevens, as did numerous others. The vintage-style cowl, for example, forced him to lower pedals and steering column. He also had to change spring rates and caster/camber angles, but the car went as quickly around curves as it did on straights.

This chassis continued under all "Series I" Excaliburs. For 1970's revamped "Series II," young Stevens designed a new box-section frame with all-independent suspension.

Uncompromising quality would always set Excaliburs apart from the motley group of "neoclassics" they inspired. Papa Stevens, for example, secured Mercedes' original German supplier for his car's simulated outside exhaust pipes, and chose French-made freestanding headlamps closely resembling the original SSK units.

Early production Excaliburs were bodied in hand-hammered aluminum, but fiberglass was soon substituted for reasons of cost and practicality. Radiators, though, were always cast in aluminum, and the dash was filled with purposeful white-on-black gauges in an engine-turned panel. All this in a hand-built car with sensational performance and secure roadability made the announced $7,250 base price simply unbelievable.

Buoyed by their initial success, the Stevens brothers added two models in 1966: a more elaborate roadster with full fenders and running boards, and, very late in the year, a surprisingly roomy four-place Phaeton convertible.

Prices inevitably escalated, reaching $10,000 by 1969, but Excaliburs remained remarkable values. Not until 1976 would prices exceed $20,000, and then mostly because of inflation and government mandates, though a progressively upgraded equipment list no doubt added to the total.

Standard features by 1969 included air conditioning, heater/defroster, variable-ratio power steering with tilt wheel, power front-disc brakes, radial tires on chrome-plated wire wheels, twin sidemounts, luggage rack, AM/FM stereo, leather seats, air horns, driving lights, rear air shocks, "Positraction" limited-slip differential and self-shift Turbo Hydra-Matic (the last two from GM, of course.)

The Excalibur survived the 1970s through Series II and III models that picked up where the Series I left off. Then came larger and slower Series IVs, which piled up big losses in a topsy-turvy market, forcing the Stevens brothers to sell out in the late 1980s.

New owners tried to keep things going, but the firm slipped into the limbo of bankruptcy in 1991.

Continue reading to learn more about the Excalibur Series I specifications.

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