The Royal Saber By Ric Murphy

The Excalibur has been my dream car since the late 60’s when I got to work on a 1967 Excalibur Phaeton and drive it for a week. But in 1970 the car was worth $12,000 and out of my reach so I settled for a 68′ Cadillac Eldorado, nice car but not an Excalibur. Time goes by and it is now 1980 and I am building “kit cars” and “dune buggies” for my own fun and other people. I still want an Excalibur, but the next best thing is a Gazelle. My father was a partner with a company that assembled Gazelle’s in Florida. I called the President Charley Massing and said that I wanted all the fiberglass parts for a Gazelle and they could be chipped, scratched, different colors etc. and he said OK. Shipping was a lot of money so I gave a friend Phil Metzler some money for gas so that he would drive down and pickup the parts while on vacation in Florida. He did and as you can see from the photo I cut it up a little bit, and 2 years later I had my “Excalibur” which I called the “Royal Saber”, King Arthur’s sword. It was a great little car but still not an Excalibur. I drove it for about 5 years and traded it for a _ acre of property with “lake rights” in Northern Illinois, going to build a cabin to get away, right it never happened.

Having built many dune buggies and off road rails I decided I needed a real car. I decided if I could not afford an Excalibur I would build my own Royal Saber (King Arthurs Sword).

I started with a Mustang II V6 with automatic transmission and disassembled the car down to the drive line components that I needed.

Disk brake front suspension, motor and the power rack and pinion steering.

A short cut came to mind a Gazelle kit looks just like an Excalibur but too small. A few Modifications and I will have just what I need. After hand building a frame for the Mustang components I started fitting the body. A cut here and a cut there and there was not much left but I was on my way.

The rear end of the Gazelle did not look all that much like the Excalibur I was thinking of so I cut it off behind the doors and with plywood, fiberglass and Bondo a better looking rear half.

The new rear section looked good but now the door was a little too small.

The front half now looked like a Gazelle that was a little taller but did not look all that good. Note the the Mark II Continenal in the back ground

So I scraped the hood, grill and side panels and decided on a Mark II Continental grill.

I needed the Mark II Continental hood shape so I splashed a mold off of my 1972 Lincoln Continental. Got the perfect shape for the hood but destroyed the paint on the car when I pulled the mold, but the Royal Saber looked better.

A few cuts here and a few cuts there and the Gazelle kit was reduced to a 6″ strip for the rear fenders another 6″ strip of front fender and 3 pieces of the door were all that remained of the Gazelle kit.

Working on the details building the shapes for the front splash pan including the air horn mounts fitting and mounting the headlights and cross bar.

Shaping and putting the final finish on the body parts.

Expert painter Steve Burns doing all the final finish and body contour work

Finally finished primer

It is taking shape it now has real color on it.

More pieces finished…

Final fit and mounting holes for hardware

Running board prototypes in place

More details…

Windshield mount brackets, side pipes and side mount tires fitted

Front end detail. Front splash pan completed with air horn and fog light mounts determined.

Running board prototypes finished and fit.

Feels like a car, looks like a car but now we get to take it apart and start over.

The prototype was fabricated from fiberglass sheeting, plywood and a lot of Bondo. So now we take it all apart take each prototype body part and make a mold. Then we get to make a production part and start all over building the car detailing and painting.

Front fender with tooling gel coat applied.

First layer of fiberglass applied to the fender mold.

Main body mold consisting of 4 pieces; Top rear, top front, left and right sides.

Cracking the mold for the first time, success or disaster? This is where you find out if the 5 coats of wax and the parting agent were applied properly or did you miss a spot in which case you can end up with a solid lump of fiberglass that does not come apart.

The wax job was perfect! Mold pieces coming apart from the body with ease.

Now that we have real production fiberglass parts for the car we can start fitting them to the chassis. We have made; 2 door molds, 2 front fender molds, 2 rear fender molds, 2 upper hood section molds, 2 lower hood section molds and a front splash pan mold and a main body section mold.

Fitting all body parts to the frame for final fit.

We have now completed fitted and mounted all body panels and all hardware.

This may look like a completed car but now we have to take it apart and do all the paint and upholstery and wiring.

Fully assembled!

Now it time to design and build the upholstery.

For size comparison next to a Bernardi built in Princeton, Wisconsin.

Pictured are the only 2 Royal Sabers produced. The maroon car #2 is owned by Walt Adams in Glenview, Illinois.

A full side view of car #2.

The completed first production car with its owners Ric and Cheryl Murphy. The second photo shows the Royal Saber with 2 Tryon Vipers also owned by us.