The 1970s through 1990s were a heydey of kit car manufacturing in the United States. It seemed like everybody and their brother was offering turn-key vehicles based on Chevrolet platforms. Looking back, I have to wonder if there was really enough demand in the market to support all of these companies?
The answer of course, is no. Save for a few, nearly all of the kit car manufacturers have gone out of business. Some companies such as Zimmer have survived (in one form or another) for decades, while others were just a blip on the radar. Such was the case with Archer Coachworks out of Valparaiso, Indiana.
I ran into this Archer at Cars and Coffee several months ago. The large round headlamps and swooping front fenders caught my eye, but the hood ornament resembling Cupid and his arrow told me this was no ordinary Classic Tiffany or Gazelle or Spartan II.
This car is a mutt of the automotive world, having no clear heritage or ancestry. It uses components of a Fiat 124 spider body, a Lincoln Towncar frame, and a GM V8 drivetrain. The body is steel and the fenders are made of fiberglass. The car rides on a lengthy 127″ wheelbase, holds 4 passengers, and weighs 3,650 lbs, which I think is surprisingly heavy for a convertible!
There isn’t a whole lot of information about the cars or the company to be found online. I have no idea how many cars they built or even rough dates of when the company existed. I don’t think there were any famous owners as in the case of the Stutz Blackhawk.
An early ad puts the cost of an assembly manual at $20.00, the component parts at $2,695.00, and a rolling assembly for $11,500. The ad also mentions that the Archer was judged the Best Neo Classic Car Design at the Sama Kit Car National in 1986.
For what it’s trying to be, this car really isn’t that bad. I think the two-tone blue and white paint job is surprisingly tasteful, and the color of the wood on the luggage rack and dashboard compliments it well.
That said, there are a few quirks – like the impossible-to-adjust-while-moving side view mirrors mounted on the spare tires. Also, the wheels look completely wrong for this car – or perhaps it’s just the center caps.
Also, I had this strange feeling while checking out the car that I was looking at a boat, and not a car. Maybe it was the materials used or the layout of the dashboard, I’m not exactly sure.
Overall, it’s probably a very limited production car and while not as rare as the Custom Cloud, it’s gotta be rare to see one in good condition. If you have any more information about this car or about Archer Coachworks, please post a comment and share it with us!