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Surrey Vintage Vehicle Society caters for veteran cars, vintage cars & classic cars, as well as commercials and motorcycles.

 
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:: [  1977 Surrey Gadabout Series 1900 by Vintage Reproductions Inc.   ] ::


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Interesting enquiry received from Tim Woolpert (USA) saying: " I've been on a dead end search for many years now trying to obtain more info on my Surrey Gadabout. My father bought it new in the 1970's and it has been in the family since. However, my father past away several years ago and I acquired it. It is all original and runs. I even have the original owner's manual that came with it. The fact that they are so scarce doesn't help and I am having a hard time finding its worth. It would be greatly appreciated if you have any info, or were able point me in the right direction. -- 

--  We first thought this may have something to do with the 1958 Surrey '03 which we had investigate as early as 2003 and had been determined as replica kit car based on the 1903 Curved Dash Oldsmobile made by E W Bliss Company, Canton, Ohio, between 1958 and 1959 (click to see Help Page TWO  , Page 15, and  Page 68.) We wery soon determined that it was not and that, while on a similar theme, was made twenty years later in Ft. Laudardale by Vintage Reproductions Inc.

The vehicle was purchased by Tim's father new in 1977 and it came with  a number of documents. A sales leaflet (front and back) is shown below. This leaflet indicated that Vintage Reproductions Inc made a range of replica kit cars which included a 1901 Ford Runabout, 1901 Oldsmobile Station Wagon, 1901 Oldsmobile Surrey, 1901 Oldsmobile Delivery Wagon and 1902 Cadillac. 


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As far as we are able to determine, the history of Vintage Reproductions Inc is very complex and historically involved three main people. It came to prominence as a result of the death of George Newman while piloting a private plane in the Catskill mountains. George Newman had  been manufacturing full size replica kit cars including a 1927 Bugatti 35B as Bay Products in Miami in about 1967. In 1973 they introduced a Volkswagen based fiberglass replica of a 1929 Mercedes Benz SSK known as the 'Gazelle'. The company grew, spawned offshoots and moved to larger premises in 1973. In 1976 George Newman founded Classic Motor Carriages Inc but, less than a year later, he died in the Piper plane crash, 

In 1978 a friend George Levin purchased the rights and reorganized the company. He put Charles Massing in charge and his name can be seen on the second page of the Instruction Manual as President of the company. Charles Massing had founded Vintage Reproductions Inc in 1972 (to 1978). Levin had subsequently also purchased the rights to the Vintage Reproductions name and the products, The programme now included replicas of the cars shown on the above leaflet.  Period information advises "Vintage Reproductions makes street legal reproductions of four 1901 cars which will travel at about 25mpg and do 50/60 mpg.  The company makes the Ford runabout which sells for $2,095: the Olds wagon which also sells for $2,095; the four-passenger Olds surrey which sells for $2,395; and the Olds pie wagon which sells for $2,595.  

As already mentioned, Levin had also purchased the rights to the Vintage Reproductions Inc name and products including the
1900 Series Gadabouts which were 7/8 scale model vehicle of what might have been a replica of a 1907 REO. The Gadabouts appear to be a separate range from the 'replica' models and came in four body types.  Tim Woolpert's model, the subject of this enquiry, seems to be the "Gadabout 'C' Cab Stake" two-seater. A similar looking version was available as "Gadabout 'Sports' Raceabout " also a two-seater. There was also the "Gadabout Pie Wagon" two seater and the "Gadabout Surrey" four Seater. 

Information on the history of the company/ies was obtained from various sources including  AACA Forums,Wikipedia, Geaorano, Coachbuilt, etc etc. 

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The Gadabout range was available as standard with with a 7HP air cooled four stroke engine, coupled to a manually operated 2 speed and reverse gearbox. It could optionally be supplied with an 8HP air cooled engine engine coupled to a heavy duty torque drive forward/reverse automatic gearbox. Speed with the 7Hp engine was 25mph and with 8HP was 30mph; acceleration 0-top speed in 10 seconds; rear chain drive to geared differential. It had 12V electrics, four wheel brakes.  Other more specific details can be seen on the above General Specifications sheet.


Below is a 1978 Gadabout Surrey as shown on the Volo Auto Sales website. A "surrey" is a four wheeled carriage popular in the US during the horse-drawn era but the name originated from England and after the 'Surrey Cart'  named after the southern county of Surrey (where we are!). The Gadabout Surrey is a four seater with the engine under the front seats and a locker under the rear seats. It is about the size of a golf cart 

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Below is a Gadabout Bread Van as shown on the Vintage Cruisers website. It is described as a 1975 Gadabout 1906 Bread Van and is on the theme of the Pie Wagon. It has a 10 hp Briggs & Stratton petrol engine, with electric start, forward, neutral, reverse, last registered in CA in 1978. It was priced at $9,500 and marked as SOLD.

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An interesting variant of the "Gadabout Pie Wagon" was made between 1979 and 1980 which was called the "Gadabout Cookie Coach", as shown below.  A former employee advised the AACA forum that these were made to sell fresh warm chocolate chip cookies. There was a blower motor in the back to blow the smell of cookies out and the rear door opened down to create a serving table. They were shipped to N.Y. to be sold as franchise units. $15k got you the car and cookies. They cost about $6k each back then. The top was paneling facing in with black vinyl top and trim and had gold pinstriping accent. Oval laminated windows trimmed out with door guard trim on the inside to hold the glass in place." About 100 of these were made. Below are photos of such a vehicle at the Orlando Motor Museum where it is named as a "1979 GADA VGP C-Cab" . 

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Indications are that about 200 Gadabouts were made. It is not clear if the 200 includes the 100 Cookie Coaches, but it may well do. Some indications are that about 40 Gadabouts survive. A trawl through the internet comes up with a number of photographs, some with dealers who are selling/sold such vehicles. Current sales prices seem to vary between $7,000+ and $9,000+. It also seems from the leaflet below that Classic Motor Carriages carried on with Vintage Reproductions vehicles and that they later called the whole range of their miniaturesid vehicles 'Gadabouts', including the specific make/model vehicles. This would obviously increase the number of vehicles made and therefore the number that survived. 

 
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Tim Woolpert's 1977 Gadabout 'C' Cab Stake Two-seater with a Briggs & Stratton Engine.

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