1959 Hustler
Pontiac Ambro Special

Colorado Grand and Rolex Reunion veteran. Period racing history and licensed for road use!

  • VINLCB59001P
  • Exterior ColorBlue
  • Interior ColorBlack
  • MileageTMU
  • EnginePontiac V8
  • Transmission4-Speed
  • StatusInventory
  • StockFJ2886


1959 Hustler Pontiac Ambro Special
s/n LCB59001P
Blue with White Livery and Black Interior

In the 1950s, America was booming. Coming out of the second world war, returning soldiers were eager to spend both their cash and time in newly developed racing classes designed to attract drivers, builders, and sponsors to fast-growing American Motorsports events. Privateers and specialty construction builders assembled potent powerhouse cars using proven frames, new suspension designs, lightweight fiberglass bodies, and leveraging the newly developed V8 ohv engines. These cleverly constructed race cars rapidly distinguished themselves from higher cost exotic European entries, allowing American made examples to successfully compete with lower budgets, free to experiment with innovative powertrain ideas and new suspension configurations.

The Hustler was part of this period of American innovation. Built by Lee Buchanan and a team of personal friends, the Hustler was constructed to meet C-Mod requirements intending to compete against the Scarab, Echidna, and other emergent road racers at the onset of the 1960s. Beginning with a shortened and narrowed 1956 Chevrolet convertible frame, a 1959 Pontiac 389 V8 was installed further back in the frame to give a mid front-bias weight advantage. A Corvette transmission and rear end were employed, using heavier duty shortened Studebaker truck axles. Large Corvette RPO finned drum brakes were fitted at all four corners while the front suspension relied on sturdy stock Chevrolet stamped steel A-arms. Although additional period correct parts were used throughout the construction, over time and continued vintage race use, some of these components were updated to make the car safe and competitive.

In addition to the clever chassis and powertrain configuration, the car was fitted with an Ambro fiberglass body. Ambro, the partnership of Ames/Brouhaugh, had just started their business building custom fiberglass bodies for sports racers including many for Triumph, MG, and other American specials. As it turned out, the body was the perfect companion to cloak the power hidden under the skin as witnesses on the scene at Elkhart Lake reportedly clocked the Hustler at 158 mph. Despite its reputation for being a handful, Buchanan was able to chase down many of the strong competitors at Elkhart finishing 6th in June 1964 after 500 miles running with a Scarab and Chaparral against capable drivers Hulme and Folmer. Having raced in period at many historic venues, the car was passed on to Bob Blankenship in 1967 who, like many other competitors, was already realizing the advantage that mid-engine race cars had over earlier front engine designs. Undaunted by the changes in technology, Blankenship continued to race the Hustler into the 1970s when it was finally time to retire the car from competition. As is the case with race cars, it passed on to owners in Wisconsin, Colorado, and eventually California where, in 2001, the current owner found the car advertised in the Los Angeles Times, purchased it, and restored to participate in vintage racing and road events as documented in the accompanying logbook.

Under current ownership, this Hustler has been recently comprehensively freshened including the currently installed 400 cubic inch Pontiac V8 with three two-barrel carburetors (previously running on a Holley 4 bbl). The current engine runs 11:1 compression and runs very well on 91 octane pump gas, a helpful feature for events such as the Colorado Grand and other road events this car has participated in. The engine is essentially fresh having benefited from a recent rebuild including new rings, fresh gaskets (including Butler Performance.051” thick Cometic chamfered bore, KGB Tri-Metal main and rod bearings, new valve seals, cylinder wall honing, new water pump, Butler Performance Viton two-piece rear main seal, new PNX distributor (with Power Products Bronze gear), all three carburetors rebuilt, stainless-steel accessory bolts, new motor mounts, new hoses, and belts. The McCloud center release bearing and three Tilton master cylinders (two for brakes and one for clutch) were also rebuilt. A recently serviced Super T-10 4-speed transmission is paired to the 400 V8 with a Hurst shifter and a Corvette limited slip rear end. The car has also recently benefited from engine/trans out services, repaint for the frame, refinishing and mechanical work on suspension and brakes, new wiring, a new fire suppression system and bottle, new battery, new windshield, a freshly sealed Accusump, and a new Fuel Safe F.I.A. approved fuel cell. During the mechanical freshening, the body was removed, and the fiberglass panels repainted. The car is still outfitted with the rare RPO Corvette finned aluminum “big brakes” and wears a set of Halibrand cast alloy wheels. The car also comes with a spare Hilborn injector setup and several other mechanical spares.

Having participated in numerous Monterey Historic events this car is very capable of running in the top ten against significantly more expensive equipment including Ferrari 250 TR, Maserati 300S, and 450S. Additionally, this Hustler Special is an excellent candidate for participation in events such as the Colorado Grand, Copperstate, and other vintage road races. In addition to the numerous raced documented in the logbook, this car has previously successfully completed the Colorado Grand and other major vintage road events.

Today, this Hustler Pontiac Ambro Special presents in excellent condition throughout. The finishes are very nice overall, exceeding what is typically found in vintage race cars and benefiting from recent mechanical freshening, refinishing for the body panels, and other cosmetic improvements. In addition to the authenticity employed in the restoration, the car has not been over-restored, has added contemporary safety improvements, and can be readily enjoyed as an event car while still confidently displayed at shows. The paint is glossy and smoothly applied particularly the more recently finished nose section, accented by white scalloped nose livery and racing numbers, which appropriately captures the aggressive low profile of the Ambro body and matches period photos included with the car. The fiberglass body is beautifully contoured highlighting the dramatic fenders that undulate over the Halibrand wheels and hint of the powerful tri-power V8 crowning the low-profile hood. The fresh plexiglass windscreen is correctly contoured with no exterior trim to upset the beautiful body lines. Every view of the car is visual confirmation that Amrbo built not only a very attractive body design, but an effective configuration capable of cheating high-speed winds.

Inside the cockpit, Stewart Warner instruments are arrayed in the purposeful dashboard accompanied by a modern tachometer. The interior cockpit remains in very good to excellent condition including the specially contoured seats, roll bar, and tubular perimeter bar construction cleverly welded to the original frame yet concealed within the original Ambro body contours. A new set of Crow Enterprises five-point seat belts are installed but will need rewebbing for competition use. As part of the racing equipment, an all-new superior quality foam-based fire-suppression system was installed including new lines, three jets to the carburetors, and a cross jet to the driver. Of importance to taller, more robustly proportioned drivers, the cockpit will comfortably accommodate a 6’ 4” driver. The quality of the build and restoration are very nicely balanced, reflective of 20 years of current ownership and use in vintage events.

The engine compartment has been both accurately prepared and represents finishes in keeping with period correct construction. The engine, uprated for performance use today, shows a combination of contemporary fuel lines and hardware along with period correct detailing. Currently topped with tri-power carburetion, no race hours have been logged since the engine work was completed, though the carbs were tested, jetted, and float levels checked to ensure function. Included with the spares is a rare Hilborn injection system. The transmission is in excellent operating condition and the rear axles have been replaced with contemporary Moser units. The underside of the car is once again in keeping with the history and care offered over the documented ownership, with generally clean and tidy components, finned aluminum RPO Corvette brakes, and period correct suspension affixed to the original shortened and narrowed frame. Some modern updates have been added to the chassis for competition use and safety.

Please note that although this car has been recently serviced, we highly recommend a professional racing shop familiar with the rigors of vintage racing review and prepare this car before engaging in a high-speed driving event. This rare Hustler Pontiac Ambro Special is offered with a racing logbook with more than 20 races dating back to 2001, period photos, photos of recent services and restoration work performed, and a copious number of original and spare parts.

In addition to the Hilborn injection system, the following parts are included:

Original Morris steering rack and pedal firewall
Original big fuel tank for 500 mile races
Stainless Steel skid plate for Colorado Grand, etc.
Various carburetors and engine internals
Valve covers
Older series 389 cooling components and starters
Used heads
Set of good heads
Spare crank
Set of 4 Diamond track day wheels
Hooper 4:11 LSD 2 races
Original shoes/pads for the RPO finned drums.
Porterfield shoes for non-finned drums for rallies/street, etc.
Various spare Porterfield shoes
Stock brake drums
Drilled/vented street drums for rallies
Drilled/vented drums for street use
Spare backing plates and spare hub
Selection of 5 cams (including Crane and Isky units)
Original shortened/resplined axles?
Header stubs for dyno testing
Comp cam lifters/pushrods
Spare ignition parts
Knife edge 389 crank .020
ARP bolts and spare gaskets
Track transponder
Plexiglass extensions for windshield for rally use
Stock valley pan
Seat bolster (bolts in driver’s door side to hold driver for tight fit)
Various oil lines/fittings
Carburetor spares for tripower, floats, jets, throttle bodies
Older safety gear including Halon bottle
Different size water pump pulleys to tune track cooling
Various spare springs

A rare and innovative American sports car of unique competition distinction, this car is further distinguished by the grit and courage of American racing traditions capturing ingenuity and entrepreneurship successfully competing against the very best in European sports cars.

The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.

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Fantasy Junction  •  510-653-7555  •  1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608