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Cheers or Jeers: 1949 Sabyan Special

Cheers or Jeers: 1949 Sabyan Special   

  1. 1. Cheers or Jeers?

    • Cheers! A great car for the money!
    • Jeers! Looks like a poorly thought-out kit car.

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Cheers or Jeers: 1949 Sabyan Special

Link: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/1949-Sabyan-Special-/321058808373?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item4ac098a235

Up for auction is a one-of-a-kind and truly authentic piece of automobile history. This is truly a rare barn-find, and the last of several automobiles that this estate has auctioned in the last three years. The history of this automobile spans sixty- two years. Our attempt, for auction purposes, has been to report and weave together all information and history of the vehicle we know of to date.

The year was 1949; the United States and Canada were several years out of World War II. After a halt in auto production during the crucial years of the war due to metal shortages, and war manufacturing needs, Americans and Canadians alike were eager to get back to their fascination and budding progress with the automobile. Many auto companies at this time were now looking at how to make their cars bigger, fancier, and faster.

It was at this time in 1949 that a Hungarian immigrant, master mechanic, and metal worker named William Sabyan began production on his dream car. Mr. Sabyan was apparently a Studebaker dealer and owner of Sabyan Motor Sales Ltd., which was located in Oshawa, Ontario Canada. It seemed to be his vision of a sports car of its time, obviously influenced by the Studebaker design, which led him to build the Sabyan Special. Mr. Mike Woroski of Modern Steel Shop was also reported as being of assistance on the production of the Sabyan.

It was built on a 1940 or 1941 Packard Town Car chassis, originally with a 1938 Studebaker overdrive transmission. The body, bumpers, and radiator grill were all hand crafted, and the body itself is done with 16 gauge steel and lead. Originally outfitted with a 1938 Studebaker “Commander” Flathead 6, the engine has since been updated with a 351 V8 Windsor because of reported previous cooling problems with the Flathead 6. The car is 18’ long overall, with a 137” wheelbase, 17” wheels, and weighs 4,840 lbs.

From the production of this automobile by William Sabyan in the late 1940’s through early 1950’s, it was apparently, at some point, passed on to Sabyan’s nephew. We are not sure how long the nephew held on to the car, or when and to whom he transferred ownership. We do have a confirmed sighting, with pictures, of the automobile in storage at a service station in Port Jervis, NY circa 1971. This sighting was acknowledged on Geoffrey Hacker’s website ForgottenFiberglass.com, a website that focuses on rare and mystery cars past and present. A guest had written in about having seen this car in 1971, being absolutely blown away by it, and luckily realizing right away that it was an unusual item took some photos. In March of 2011, nearly four decades later, they wrote in to Geoffrey Hacker’s website with authentic pictures, their story, and a burning need to solve this nearly 40 year mystery of the” Sabyan Special”.

To read this article click on this link or copy and paste the following: http://www.forgottenfiberglass.com/?p=11033

For the follow up to the Sabyan Special story on Forgottenfiberglass.com click on this link or copy and paste the following: http://www.forum.forgottenfiberglass.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=654#p1579

The Sabyan can also be viewed at AutoPuzzles.com. This Website is also geared around rare car discussion, and has an extensive readership. To read about the Sabyan on AutoPuzzles.com click on this link or copy and paste the following: http://www.autopuzzles.com/forum/index.php?topic=18566.0

At some point following the 1970’s, the car was owned by a gentleman from Middletown, New York named Stanley Terwilliger. Port Jervis and Middletown New York are not very far from each other, and it is possible that Mr. Terwilliger obtained the Sabyan from the person that owned it when it was spotted at the service station in Port Jervis in 1971. It seems that Stanley Terwilliger owned the

Sabyan for around 20 years. During his time of ownership it was painted the ruby red; the Flathead 6 was changed to the 351 V8 Windsor that is currently in the car now. The removable hood scope and the teak dash were also added during this time. This estate acquired the automobile in 2001, shortly after Mr. Terwilliger’s death. Since that time nothing has been done to the car except being held in dry, safe storage. Since coming out of storage, and upon the car being prepared for auction, it has been detailed, fluids checked, and engine run at regular intervals to keep the vehicle operational for viewing purposes. The owner’s family loves this car, and also realizes that the vehicle is ultimately better off in the hands and care of a serious collector. Avid car collector and talk show host Jay Leno, after viewing pictures of the Sabyan in the spring of 2011, remarked "that is one wild car".

This auction is based on pick-up of vehicle only by winning bidder. All vehicle shipping, shipping preparation, transport from pick-up location to shipping, and transport insurance and paperwork costs for vehicle delivery are the sole responsibility of the purchaser. Closed shipping method during entire duration of transport is highly recommended.

Vehicle’s last registration was in New York State. No title is issued in NY State for vehicles dating prior to 1972. Registration is used for transfer of ownership for vehicles built before 1972 in NY State. All paperwork found with car will be delivered with vehicle. An estate bill of sale for vehicle purchase will be issued with paperwork. It is the responsibility of the purchaser to secure all correct paperwork for registration and or titling of vehicle in their respective state, province, or country. The estate will assist the purchaser in the processing of paperwork and vehicle delivery to the best of its ability.

The obvious gaps in the history timeline of the car are due to the limited availability to the estate of information pertaining those time periods. In all instances of bidder inquiry the estate has, and will share, all information, stories, and facts known about the car. The estate is limited in its ability to answer questions, and is not qualified to answer questions of a mechanical nature regarding the car. For serious inquiries we would suggest an in-person inspection of the vehicle.

If you have further questions, comments, or would like to contact the estate to set up an in-person appointment for viewing the Sabyan please call: 352.262.1767

This is truly an opportunity to not only own a one-of-a-kind automobile; it is also a chance to add automobile history to your collection in the form of one man’s “dream car” come to life.






It has potential, but needs some work. First, swap out the bumpers for something more elegant and overhaul the interior. Next, replace the 351 with something more period appropriate like a straight 8. Finally, lose the hood ornament, black hood scoop and whatever that triangle shaped thing the back license plate is on to clean up the front and rear ends.

I don't know, what do you guys think?

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WOW, I agree that it needs a straight 8 for the period of the car and I find it funky how it looks like it has a waist band or may be a matchbox car in the look. Interesting, but not worth the money.

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Not horrible, but nothing too exciting either (especially at over 20k where the auction now sits).

Despite the claims, I don't see any historical significance to this car. It's just a home-built custom - albeit not a bad one.

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