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1946 Fiberglass Concept Car is Exhibit Highlight

  • Monday, 23rd June 2003
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

This 1946 Project Y “”Stout,”” the prototype, Fiberglas car — designed and built at Owens Corning Fiberglas in Newark — is now on display at The Works Museum. The car was found in a Detroit storage facility by Gary Kosier, of Newark, and it was loaned to the Newark-based museum for display.

The exhibit is a result of nearly 200 interviews by volunteers with The Works’ Oral History Program who interviewed local residents at their homes on home life and work life.

Visitors will get to see images of the past and hear 30-45 second snippets of firsthand accounts of life in the county through interactive computers, said Earl Browning, one of the volunteers on the Oral History Program.

Companies featured in the exhibit include Owens Corning Fiberglas, the Pure Oil Co., Holophane, Rockwell International, the Newark Stove Co. and more.

As visitors weave through the exhibit’s four sections — the introduction, life, innovation and transportation — they can’t miss its highlight: the 1946 Project Y car.

The car — also known as the Stout Forty-Six — was a dream car created by William Bushnell Stout, an automobile and airplane designer, and Games Slayter, then-vice president of research for Owens Corning Fiberglas. The two recruited the help of Granville artist and technician, Walter Krause, and worked secretly on the project in a Newark garage rented by Owens Corning Fiberglas.

The car changed the way builders and designers viewed automobiles and achieved many firsts.

It was the first made of Fiberglas-reinforced plastic — which was supposed to be lighter and stronger than steel. It had the first wrap-around glass windshield to increase driver visibility.

The front seats swivel to face the back — “”so dad could play Monopoly with the kids,”” suggested Paul Legris, The Works’ exhibit developer.

Also, the rear seat could be converted into a double bed, and there was room enough to set up a card table in the passenger compartment. Stout drove the automobile cross-country several times giving demonstrations. He traveled more than 250,000 miles.

Today, the Project Y car is owned by the Detroit Historical Society Museum. It was restored by The Works and will be on display for at least five years, said Chris Sauerzopf, digital director.

Stout did not plan to put the Stout Forty-Six on the production line, according to a July 1946 “”Popular Science”” article. “”Designer Stout calls his car just a $10,000 experiment to show what can be done with Fiberglas as a structural material,”” the article said.

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