- Here is the detailed history of
the Squire SS-100 as was collected by Ed Spielman and was passed to me by
Arthur R. Stahl, the President of the Squire SS-100 Registry. Reproduced
- Ed Felbin had owned Jaguars and other foreign
sports vehicles. There were many reliability problems with them. Felbin saw NBC
personality Dave Garroway's white Jaguar SS- 100 and thought it one of the most beautiful
cars in the world. Having owned that succession of troublesome Jaguars, and others, Felbin
thought a new car of classic design with elegant foreign coachwork and modern American
power was a good and saleable idea. In this, before the days of `kit cars', Felbin was
ahead of his time. Ed Felbin (a well known radio personality in Philadelphia,
broadcasting under the name FRANK FORD) was one of several principals in the creation of
five music fairs, among them Valley Forge Music Fair (established 1955), Cherry Hill and
Long Island's Westbury Music Fair. Felbin had sufficient capital in the late 60's, early
70's to take on such an expensive project as this dream car. Felbin, who was not
very technically oriented, worked with Mike Wolf, an auto dealer in Philadelphia who sold
Saabs and Fiats. Wolf was to get a profit percentage in the enterprise, though Felbin was
to fund it. (Mike Wolf is since deceased.) It was Wolf who had suggested the particular
Ford power components and he was the principal technical designer of the Squire SS-100.
(Spielman met Mike Wolf at the New York coliseum Auto Show in April, 1971, at the Squire
Mezzanine display.) Felbin and Mike Wolf, knew a man by the name of Jim Carson, a
car dealer and fancier, who had an old original Jaguar' SS-100 in his barn. Ed and Wolf
went there and laboriously drew detailed plans and sketches of every angle of the car.
Felbin went to Detroit to Ford Motor Company with Ray Heppenstall, a race driver and
builder as consultant. In Dearborn they were made to sign a release to the effect that
whatever idea they presented, Ford had already thought of. At Ford, Felbin and Heppenstall
met with an executive named McDonald who assisted them. A deal was made for the Ford
power and components on the projected new automobile. The `Squire' name had no connection
whatever to a British sportscar briefly made in England decades before by Adrian Squire.
Felbin's car needed an identity, a prefix before `SS-100' to set it apart and give it an
aristocratic sound. Felbin was playing golf at a `Squire's Country Club', which proved
suitable inspiration. Felbin simply removed the `s' and somewhere before the eighteenth
green, the name `Squire SS-100' was born. Felbin decided to build the car in Italy.
- The Italian Trade Commission in Philadelphia
gave him names of potential builders, among which was Giancarlo Ramponi. Felbin and Wolf
went to Milan to see Ramponi (whose secretary was Gina Woerth). Felbin struck a
deal with Ramponi, an Italian industrialist who made agricultural powerplants with
imported Volvo marine engines. Thus, the notion (as indicated in early Squire SS-100
brochures and literature) that the cars were to be crafted by Carozzeria Ramponi.
Ramponi assigned the work to an engineer, Roberto Vito. Ramponi/Vito built the
Squire SS-100 prototype in the town of Triuggio, Italy (near Milan), but never completed
it. After months, Felbin was concerned about the lack of activity. He visited Italy
unannounced and found, to his disappointment, that no further work had been done and that
the prototype had not been completed. Rather then see the project go wrong, he went to
Italian authorities to find another builder to carry on with the project. They recommended
Frank Reisner, American creator of the small coach building company, Intermeccanica.
Reisner, at the time was constructing the Indra automobile at his small coach works.
A deal was struck for Reisner/Intermeccanica to construct 100 Squire SS-100 automobiles
for Felbin's Auto Sport Inc. of Philadelphia. Felbin shipped 100 Ford 250 cubic inch, 6
cylinder engines with transmissions and rearends to Reisner's shop in the town of
Trofarello near Turin (across the street from the Fiat railroad yard). Ford engines and
complete power units were shipped to Italy under bond. No duty would be imposed if they
left the country in completed cars. Therefore, though Italian made, no Squire automobiles
were sold in Italy (or a tax would have to have been paid). According to Felbin there were
one hundred power units at Reisner's shop and security was lax. Fifty of the units
disappeared from the plant. The order of cars to be constructed was then cut to fifty.
Problems arose; Felbin paid for trips for himself and Mike Wolf to Italy to try to solve
them. As per the original brochure,the prototype sported Borrani wire wheels which
were to have been used,but Borrani wouldn't guarantee that the chrome wouldn't crack due
to natural flex of the wire wheels. Felbin contacted Dunlop who would guarantee the
chrome on their wheels. Felbin bought 250 wheels (five wheels for fifty cars). They were
shipped by air from England. The U.S.government prohibited use of `knockoff'
spinners in wheels therefore octagonal hubs were made. They used expensive units which
appear on no other automobile. These knockoff hubs were custom made by
Reisner/Intermeccanica. According to Felbin, Reisner's Intermeccanica completed fifty cars
which were shipped to the U.S. The first shipment of six cars went to Heppenstall for
preparation before sale. Upon arrival much additional work was necessary to prepare all of
the Squires for sale. Felbin had the finished prototype returned to America anticipating
arrival of the other cars. Felbin took the completed prototype to the Department of
Transportation. He had to make a trailer to haul the car to Michigan to Ethyl Corporation
for exhaust emissions tests which it passed. The cars had pre-approved stock Ford parts.
All the Squire SS-100's came to Felbin at either Baltimore or Newark. Ed Felbin
recalled that a D.B.Kaufmann in Louisiana had bought one of the cars, liked it and became
a Squire dealer in Kenner, Louisiana. There was a press luncheon at Tavern On The Green in
New York City when the car was first announced. Felbin, showed his new Squire SS-100 in
Boston and in April,1971 at the New York Auto Show. He then flew the car to the Los
Angeles Auto Show and to Pasadena. The International Auto Show at the Place Bonaventure in
Montreal, Canada, made the Squire SS-100 their `star car' and put it on the cover of their
souvenir book. Pictures of the Squire SS-100 appeared in Playboy magazine about
February,1972. Felbin had the car shown at Miami's Doral Country Club in May of
1972. Felbin expected production cars to arrive at his Auto Sport, Inc. by July of 1972.
- Listed as having been
manufactured between 1972-73, fifty Squire SS-100's were actually made and
shipped to America. Ed Felbin began the project in 1969-70. The entire
enterprise, both in America and Italy took four to five years. The
next item is the transcription of the conversation between Paula Reisner and
Ed Spielman, July, 1991 Frank and Paula Reisner were principals in the
company of Intermeccanica which made the fifty Squire SS-100 automobiles.
According to Paula Reisner in Vancouver, the original body mold was made for
Ramponi. Intermeccanica used that mold to make the bodies one at a time.
Though Paula verifies that Mike Wolf was the original technical designer of
the Squire SS-100 automobile, Frank Reisner re-designed the chassis. Paula
recalled Intermeccanica's fabrication of certain parts. The expensive brass
knockoff hubs were cast in Turin then machined there. The knockoff hubs were
made for the Squire SS-100 only. Each of the fifty Squire grill shells
was hand-made in the old coachbuilt manner, panels beaten over a wooden
buck. The Squire chrome headlights were made in Turin specifically for
Intermeccanica and this car. The windshields and glass were custom
fabricated by Saint Gobain-Vis. Paula Reisner recalled that the
torsion bars were originally Alfa Romeo but modified by having the ends
machined to a square fitting. Torsion bar bushings were machined from
Teflon. According to Paula Reisner, after so many years, all of the
original molds have been lost and no spare parts are available.