Classic Roadsters Ltd. – History

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  • #232739

    pmossberg
    Keymaster

    @pmossberg

    I managed to write a brief Classic Roadsters Ltd. history (from memory no less!) but it was part of another thread. So I figured I’d repost it in its own thread. I also updated it.

    Classic Roadsters Ltd, Fargo North Dakota

    The company was founded in 1979 by Gary Rutherford. The Duchess was their first car, a VW based MG TD. The front engine Duchess was introduced in 1982.

    They also produced:

    • Duke (based on an SS100 Jaguar),
    • Marlene (a 7/8ths scale Mercedes SSK),
    • Baron (a four seat version of the Marlene),
    • Sebring (a stock appearing Austin Healy 5000; available in front engine and rear engine (VW))
    • Sebring MX (a Healey on steroids, their high performance answer to the Cobra world) 
    • and ironically given the MX, their own Cobra, with a longer wheelbase and longer passsenger compartment than the typical Cobra kits.

    Gary sold the company in the mid 80’s to a less than reputable comeptitor. The buyer dropped the unique product lines and used the Classic Roadsters Ltd name solely for marketing purposes. After sucking the cash and reputation out of CR Ltd, they eventually closed it down.

    Gary reacquired the name in the early 1990s and resumed production of their Sebring and Sebring MX (Austin Healy 5000) and the Badlands RT (a “Hummer type” kit). I remember meeting with Gary and hearing his great promises for the company’s future at the 1991 or 1992 Kit Car Nationals in Carlisle PA. 

    But things didn’t turn out very well this time around. Gary was more focused on Leisure Industries, a sport boat manufacturer.

    In May 2002, Classic Roadsters missed the Carlisle show for the first  time ever.

    And Gary sold the company again in the summer of 2003 to Don Scott, an employee.

    Don moved the company to Minnesota and rebranded it Classic Roadsters II. He continued production of the Sebring MX and introduced the Badlands RT, with a Hummer look.

    Their web site, http://www.classicroadsters.com , is no longer live.

    To be continued…

    PMOSSBERG40772.5821990741

    Paul Mossberg
    1982 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to http://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    #239732

    pmossberg
    Keymaster

    @pmossberg

    Here’s some more…

    From a Press Release July 16 2003:

    IMAR industries (Fargo, ND) (this is Gary Rutherford’s company) announced today (July 16th, 2003) that their replica division (Classic Roadsters) was purchased by Don Scott of Minnesota Classic Motorsports (Sauk Centre, MN). IMAR will continue with it’s main focus of the marine division.

    The company will move to Don’s Minnesota facility around August 1st, 2003.

    Both companies are very excited about the sale. Tom Eide, President of IMAR stated that he can focus on the marine division knowing that Classic Roadsters will be in good hands. Don Scott agrees that this is the best thing for the business and the industry. Don has been in the replica business for over 14 years and knows the Classic line very well. He has run Minnesota Classic Motorsports with honesty and integrity, and will continue this goal with the new company.

    The new company name will be Classic Roadsters II. Don will assume all backorders and open orders currently held by IMAR so no customer will be left hanging. Along with this news Don also announces Classics by Elite to be the Distributor for all Classic Roadsters II products in the USA. Classics by Elite will bring over 30 years of experience in this market. Jay Kowalik and Ed Combs, owners of Classics by Elite are very excited about the opportunity to bring a very well engineered car back to the graces it once had. A dealer network will be established and resources for phone and on-line tech support.

    Classic Roadsters II sells the Classic 427, the Sebring MX, and the Badlands. Plans for additional models are in the works.

    If anyone has any questions or comments please contact Don Scott @ 1-888-SC-COBRA


    There  was a lot of  discussion at the time, including posts from Don Scott in this forum:

    http://www.clubcobra.com/forums/news-press-releases/43466-ne w-owner-classic-roadsters.html

    Don posted this on July 17 2003:

    I’m not sure how long it will be before all the models are back but I do have them. This is what I bought:

    C427-Cobra replica
    Sebring MX-1962 Austin Healey with flares
    Saxon-original 1962 Austin Healey
    Badlands-steel, military Hummer replica
    Marlene-1936 500K Mercedes
    Baron-500K Mercedes, 4 seater
    Duke-1936 Jaguar
    Duchess-1952 MGTD

    All molds, fixtures, jigs, prints, patents, copyrights, trade names, customer files, inventory, etc.

    Some of the molds haven’t been used in years so they need some work to bring them back.

    PMOSSBERG40772.5791087963

    Paul Mossberg
    1982 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to http://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    #239733

    pmossberg
    Keymaster

    @pmossberg

    Looking back on it now, it’s sad to read Don’s posts, which are so enthusiastic and to see the support he was receiving from owners of Classic Roadsters cars.

    Near as I can tell, CR II delivered its last Cobra kit in December of 2007 and spent 2008 trying to sell the company and its assets. In fact, at one point, the entire company was listed for sale on E-Bay (circa February 2008).

    Ultimately, Don filed for CR II’s bankruptcy in February 2009. And by March 3, 2009, CR II’s web site was shut down.

    I believe Great Lakes Replicas either bought the assets or took over the bankrupt firm.

    According to a post in the ClubCobra forum, as recently as February 2011, GLR was listed in Kit Car Builder. I don’t have my back issues with me so I am not able to verify that.

    http://www.clubcobra.com/forums/classic-roadsters-ii/108329- crii-great-lake-roadsters.html

    But their web site was already shut down.

    More as I rediscover it.

    PMOSSBERG40772.5834143519

    Paul Mossberg
    1982 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to http://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    #239734

    pmossberg
    Keymaster

    @pmossberg

    And by the way, Gary Rutherford’s IMAR Industries is also out of business.

    PMOSSBERG40772.5837615741

    Paul Mossberg
    1982 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to http://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    #239735

    pmossberg
    Keymaster

    @pmossberg

    Don Scott’s CR II’s web site is long gone. But web.archive.com crawled the site back on February 10, 2009 and took a snap-shot.

    If you are interested, you can go back in time here:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20090210201551/http://classicroad sters.com/#specials

    PMOSSBERG40772.603275463

    Paul Mossberg
    1982 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to http://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    #239736

    pmossberg
    Keymaster

    @pmossberg

    And here is Classic Roadsters site from December 5, 2000, when Gary Rutherford owned the company:

    http://web.archive.org/web/200012052337/http://www.classicro adsters.com/

    The site looked the same in July 2003, just before the sale to Don Scott.

    PMOSSBERG40772.6611689815

    Paul Mossberg
    1982 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to http://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    #239737

    pmossberg
    Keymaster

    @pmossberg

    And here is Great Lakes Replicas’ site from mid-20006, when they were the authorized dealer in Michigan for CR II:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20060613061630/http://sebring-mx. com/

    PMOSSBERG40772.6037384259

    Paul Mossberg
    1982 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to http://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    #239738

    edsnova
    Participant

    @edsnova

    This is interesting stuff, Paul. Seems like part of the “fun” of the replicar hobby is keeping tabs on the manufacturers, their bankruptcies and other foibles. Tough business, looks like. Reminds me of the night club trade though, in that the same names of owners often stay around much longer than their trade or corporate names.

    #239739

    newkitman
    Participant

    @newkitman

    I’m glad the parts business for our cars hasn’t gone the way of the kit car manufacturers. They’re hard enough to get parts for as it is. That’s why I order what I need way ahead of time so I’ll have it when I get to that part of the assembly. newkitman40772.6331828704

    Allen Caron
    VW based 53MGTD - "MoneyPenny"
    "If one thing matters, everything matters" - from the book The Shack

    #239740

    pmossberg
    Keymaster

    @pmossberg

    Sadly, that’s not completely true for all of us.

    Obviously the VW drivetrain stuff is readily available. And there are many vendors for reproduciotn TD parts.

    But while MG Magic has parts that are universal, much of their stock is for CMC/Fiberfab. For example, major body panels, roofs, side curtains are not shared across manufacturers. MG Magic might have them for CMC/Fiberfab. I know they would not have them for Classic Roadsters.

    Paul Mossberg
    1982 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to http://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    #239741

    renegade
    Participant

    @renegade

    I was looking for Classic Roadster and I found the latest reincarnation in Canada. 

    33 Rita Cres
    Saskatoon, SK S7N 2L4

    http://www.classicroadsters.ca/home.html  someone named Bob.

    If
    you have any questions or would like to speak with a Classic Roadsters
    representative regarding there products, please e-mail us at
    bob@classicroadsters.ca or call us at:

     (701) 566-1938.  (This is a Fargo, ND phone number)

    I have written to Bob but I have not heard back yet… I’ll keep you apprised.  Paul

    #239742

    sreynolds
    Participant

    @sreynolds

    The site features Cobra, Sebring, and something called a Badlands replica. No MG TD replicas.

    Sam

    #239743

    pmossberg
    Keymaster

    @pmossberg

    Correct, the Saskatoon firm does not make a TD.

    Paul Mossberg
    1982 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to http://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    #239744

    seadragon22
    Participant

    @seadragon22

    Hello Paul

    My name is Lew Wickman.  I am an engineer for the FAA and while in Oklahoma at school I started
    looking about to build an Austin Healey kit car with an LS motor. (Going
    fast IS looking good!) 
    I’m living in Syracuse NY now. BUT I lived in ND for 15 years. How  I got there is a story for at LEAST 2 cases of beer. But I digress
    Just got off the phone with my friend Brooks who runs a crane in the Bakken. His brother Doug was actually working at Classic Roadsters for sometime running their shipping department until it got to smelling VERY bad so he left and sought employment elsewhere.
    I contacted “Bob” in Saskatoon! LOL! Got his wife who was babbling something to the effect of,
    “We’re out of business right now but…” I hung up before I burst out in laughter. More of the same foolishness that plagues most of these outfits.
    They ALL seem to start under capitalized and expect you to finance their pipe dream. NOT!!
    OK. Well I am still in pursuit but I’m quite discriminating in where my bucks go. Money talks bull walks.

    I’ll be in touch.

    Later

    Lew

    #239745

    seadragon22
    Participant

    @seadragon22

    AND upon further review  I see a fellow from Trinidad. You probably know Bob Leone who used to own the local Goodyear store.  I am a US Navy buddy who live in COS for 22 years. Yes, I am NOT a spring chicken but I’m still here! !

    #239746

    pmossberg
    Keymaster

    @pmossberg

    Hey Lew!

    Welcome aboard!

    Would love to hear more from you
    or Doug. What’s Doug’s last name? I talked with a lot of people at
    Classic Roadsters Ltd when I was building my car. But that was back in
    1982.

    Be careful how you throw around those offers of multiple
    cases of beer. LOL! Ny daughter is a Junior at Syracuse University. I
    get up there a few times a year and could easily take you up on that! We
    also have another member in Syracuse, Leigh Hunt.

    Paul Mossberg
    1982 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to http://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    #239747

    seadragon22
    Participant

    @seadragon22

    [1]LOL! Thank you Paul.
    As I discovered in the Navy, BEER is the Universal solvent, NOT acid as the
    Alchemists believed. The Romans had it right, “In vino , veritas!”

    Doug’s last name is Nasset

    His father, Earling President of the Chamber of Commerce, was a P-38 driver in
    the Army Air Corps in WWII and though  I was a good guy even though I was
    born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA NOT Pittsburgh ND.

    His older brother, Brooks, and I are close friends and he runs a crane in the
    Bakken.

    Come up anytime. After I get all the PM???s done at the various
    remote sites in preparation for the Winter  onslaught, I will have some free time!

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    #239748

    pmossberg
    Keymaster

    @pmossberg

    Just found a great newspaper article about Classic Roadsters Ltd., from January 1988:

    http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1988/North-Dakota-Company-Makes-Fiberglass-Auto-Reproductions-Big-Money/id-6c95a4cbc46125f4351acebb39e56c6b

    Paul Mossberg
    1982 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to http://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    #239749

    pmossberg
    Keymaster

    @pmossberg

    And it’s not TDr related, but I found a guide to buying Cobras, written by Gary Rutherford (original owner of Classic Roadsters Ltd.) and obviously promoting his company:

    http://caea.net/Mulcunry/curriculum/Readings/Aevd/KIT_CAR_.PDF

    Paul Mossberg
    1982 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to http://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    #239750

    seadragon22
    Participant

    @seadragon22

    Just read his guide. Superb analysis!! It is almost ALWAYS the driver who makes the difference, NOT the machine!
    Whatever became of Gary?

    #239751

    pmossberg
    Keymaster

    @pmossberg

    I’ve no idea.

    Paul Mossberg
    1982 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to http://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    #239752

    kall
    Participant

    @kall

    I was passing through Fargo, ND a few weeks ago (really) and had the opportunity to photograph the site of the Classic Roadsters Ltd facility.  Just another vacant building now.  Note the “just reach over the fence” access to a major rail line.


    Kall2015-11-01 18:42:25

    #239753

    pmossberg
    Keymaster

    @pmossberg

    Thanks Kall!

    We don’t really have a history thread for all manufacturers. But I had written one for Classic Roadsters Ltd.

    Thank you for this! I love it!

    Paul Mossberg
    1982 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to http://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    #239754

    pmossberg
    Keymaster

    @pmossberg

    And now I know they didn’t fake their Christmas card!

    Paul Mossberg
    1982 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to http://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    #239755

    kall
    Participant

    @kall

    If you are thinking about (re)starting a replica car business the building is available:
    http://commercial-real-estate.findthedata.com/l/1390355/1617-Main-Ave-Fargo-ND-58103

    Almost 50,000 sq ft with parking and both indoor and outdoor show space.
    Perhaps a bit off the beaten track of the automobile world, though.
    😀

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