In 2003 our own Mark Brinker acquired Bob Sorrell’s 1954 SR-100-bodied Sorrell-Manning Special. This was Mr. Sorrell’s personal car, built on a tubeframe chassis constructed by famed aircraft engineer/racer Chuck Manning and clothed in Sorrell’s dynamic and futuristic body design. The car was discovered in a storage container in Southern California in the summer of 2003 following Mr. Sorrell’s death. It passed through several dealers’ hands and was ultimately acquired by Mark and Newie Brinker.
Following a painstaking frame-off restoration, the car made its concours debut at this year’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance where it was judged Best In Class. One month later the Sorrell-Manning Special was shown at Keels and Wheels Concours d’Elegance. In an extraordinary class of fabulous machinery including Don Blenderman’s 1955 ex-Bill Murphy Kurtis Kraft 500X, David & Marianne Duthu’s 1925 Bugatti Type 35A Grand Prix Racer and Bill Bauder’s 1952 Allard J2X, the Sorrell-Manning Special was once again judged Best In Class.
Brinker said, “It’s wonderful for this car to receive awards, but what’s truly gratifying is to see Bob Sorrell receiving the recognition he deserves. I never had the pleasure of meeting Bob, but those who knew him say he was a master fabricator with amazing design talent. His wide range of skills attracted customers from all areas of the hobby, which allowed him to work on road racing cars, drag racing cars, land speed racing cars, hot rods, custom cars, show cars and even tether cars. The diversity of the projects that passed through his shop is a testament to his abilities and the confidence the car world had in him. Unfortunately, the diversity of his activities diffused his notoriety as compared to other automotive pioneers who focused on a single area.”
Brinker’s car is one of only seven SR-100 fiberglass-bodied roadsters built in the 1950s. The SR-100 design began as a one-off aluminum body that Sorrell hand-formed and engineered to fit on a Kurtis 500KK chassis. This car debuted at the 1953 International Petersen Motorama Show and received much attention including being featured in the February 1954 issue of Car Craft. The design was a Sorrell original and owed nothing to the traditional body shapes being built in the early 1950s.
Automobile Designer and Industrial Design Professor Raffi Minasian commented on the car while on exhibit at the Petersen Museum’s “Fantasies in Fiberglass” display: “You have to imagine the contrasting rounded and upright cars of this period in order to truly put this advanced design in the proper perspective. Sorrell was applying design ideas so far ahead of any of the most advanced car studios in the U.S. or Europe. There would be many radical ‘jet stream’ designs to come in the 1960s with crisp, bladed edges, lowered body sections and small frontal cross-sections, but the Sorrell-Manning Special was doing it all nearly a decade earlier.”
Brinker, enthusiastic about showing the car commented, “Winning at Amelia Island and Keels and Wheels is an honor, but more importantly, the car community is now rediscovering the pioneering designs and true genius of Bob Sorrell.”