In 1975, American Motors Corporation designer Alain Clenet left the company and with a group of investors formed Clenet Coachworks, Inc. The French-born Clenet’s plan was to build very limited production neo-classic cars, vehicles that drew visually from luxury cars of the 1930’s but equipped with modern drivelines, suspension and other amenities expected from high-end cars of the 1970’s.
Clenet assembled a small group of craftsmen and produced a prototype car that made its’ debut at the 1976 Los Angeles Auto Show. The car drew a lot of attention and numerous orders were placed for the car, dubbed the Series 1. Faced with having orders for cars and no factory to produce them, Clenet quickly rented a vacant airplane hangar in Goleta, CA and set up a facility to build vehicles, hiring several talented people to work for the company.
A total of 250 Series 1 cars were built, with the first 13 cars assembled on a Lincoln Continental chassis and the remainder on the slightly shorter Mercury Cougar chassis. Introduced as 1977 models, the early Series 1 Clenet retailed for $27,000 which was $5,000 higher than a Mercedes Benz 450SL. Demand and the limited availability of the cars quickly drove up that retail price point.
To say the cars were luxurious would be an understatement. They featured Italian walnut dashboards, etched glass wing windows and Waterford Crystal ashtrays. From an amenities standpoint the car had all the features one would expect from a luxury car of the time including power steering, power brakes, cruise control and air conditioning.
With what could be considered the success of the Series 1, Clenet created a new design called the Series 2. That vehicle was built in a newly-created high-tech facility in northern Santa Barbara County, which would produce all of the Series 2 and Series 3 cars.
The Series 2 cars also sold relatively well, with 197 units leaving the factory. In the early 1980’s the company faced severe financial issues and only produced 65 Series 3 cars before filing bankruptcy and ceasing production. John F. George, the owner of the last Clenet Series 1 built, purchased the company’s assets at auction and relocated the factory. Alfred DiMora became a partner in the venture and was named president of the company, hiring several former Clenet craftsmen to join the two men in keeping the Clenet brand going.
That effort was unfortunately short-lived. A total of 15 Series 4 cars were produced before the company shut down for good. Total production of all four series was 527 vehicles.
The neo-classic roadster was a popular among celebrities of the day. Singers Rod Stewart and Wayne Newton owned Clenets, as did actors Farrah Fawcett and Sylvester Stallone. Boxer Ken Norton drove a Clenet. King Hussein of Jordan owned a Clenet. In an homage to the opulence and excesses of the time, major characters on the primetime television dramas “Dallas” and “Dynasty” drove a Clenet.
This car is #13 out of 250 Series 1 vehicle and is the final Clenet underpinned with the Lincoln Continental chassis. It was purchased new by Bill Williams and is well-known in the Clenet community. The car went into long-term storage in 2004 and in 2011 was treated to a preservation restoration by Steve Kouracos, who headed the paint and body department at the Clenet factory when this car was produced.
Kouracos undertook a restoration that preserved the integrity of the vehicle while maintaining the car’s originality. The car is purported to be 100 percent original, including the factory lacquer two-tone paint job. The dash is signed by Alain Clenet, adding to the car’s provenance. It is reported very few miles were put on the car after this preservation effort.
Mr. Williams passed shortly before we acquired this vehicle from his estate in April 2015. The car features a 400 cubic inch Ford powerplant and automatic transmission. The automatic transmission offers a unique “push-pull” shifting mechanism. The car has full instrumentation and the power amenities one would expect in a luxury car. The car’s odometer shows just under 23,000 miles which we assume to be correct but in accordance with Missouri statutes regulating licensed car dealers the vehicle will be sold “mileage exempt” due to age. The understated eggshell and white two-tone paint scheme presents well and compliments the neo-classic design. The leather-covered bucket seats show the signs of wear aging one would expect from an original vehicle approaching 45 years after production. Under the present ownership the car has been stored in a humidity-controlled environment.
Evergreen Digital Showroom lists this exceptional example of a limited production neo-classic car at $44,900 USD. For additional information or to make an offer on this 1977 Clenet, call sales manager Steve Russell at 417-532-8000.
Because of the number of vehicles we represent we cannot drive every vehicle for long distances. These vehicles have been part of static displays for long periods of time, in some cases for decades, and are subject to the flaws and imperfections consistent with that. While we do our best to disclose all issues we known about a vehicle in our advertising, these are old cars and something that has always worked in the past might not function properly today. Please check the requirements of your state regarding the licensing and registration of classic vehicles and make sure the vehicle you are looking at meets those if applicable. Unless otherwise noted, all vehicles represented by Evergreen Digital Showroom possess a clean (non-branded) title which will be provided the new buyer when purchase funds clear our financial institution. Virtually all our vehicles are sold as mileage exempt due to their age. We do not warranty any vehicle, nor any part of the vehicle including air conditioning systems, brake systems, electrical systems and gauges, fuel systems, accessories or powertrain components.
These are old vehicles and it is very common for them to require certain maintenance and upkeep for them to be operational. In many cases issues with leaks may develop when being driven after a long period of not being used. This is common, as classic cars at some point will leak fluids. For this reason, we do not encourage buyers to attempt driving their purchase home as we cannot guarantee functional reliability of these vehicles. We strongly encourage prospective buyers to be sure they are comfortable with these issues before purchasing a classic car.
Descriptions of vehicles represented by Evergreen Digital Showroom are intended to be informational in nature and do not in any way constitute any sort of warranty, expressed or implied. Again, these vehicles are presented “as-is, where-is” without guarantee or warranty. Vehicles manufactured prior to 1981 will likely not be included in the databases of companies such as CarFax and AutoCheck that provide vehicle history information to consumers. If you have specific questions regarding a vehicle we urge you to contact us at 417-532-8000.