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1973 Bobcat Introduces New Products

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UPDATE: Richard Darr from Washougal Classic Jeeps owns a Bobcat body that still had a pair of the fiberglass gas tanks. Here are two pics of each tank. He told me they fit really well inside the bobcat body. He’s working on reproducing the tanks in aluminum for himself.

Here are the pics of the passenger side tank. Above you can see a Bobcat body.

fiberglass-bobcat-tank-darr-1

This is the top of the passenger tank.

fiberglass-bobcat-tank-darr-2

This is the bottom of the passenger tank.

Here is the driver’s side tank:

fiberglass-bobcat-tank-darr-3

This is the top of the driver’s tank.

fiberglass-bobcat-tank-darr-4

This is the bottom of the driver’s tank.

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Published March 17, 2021: For a great price, I bought some 1973 issues of Four Wheeler off of eBay. In turns out that the July 1973 issue of Four Wheeler Magazine had a special section devoted to new fiberglass products. Even better, Fred Weis’ Bobcat business introduced three new products in that issue, answering a couple questions that I had.

Before I begin, there are several posts about Bobcat bodies and the related Parkette bodies. At some point I will combine them into a longer narrative, but, for now, here’s a quick timeline:

1969 – The First Bobcat body: Fred Weis built his first body, an approximately 150lb body using plywood for strength, per this February 1970 article in Four Wheeler Magazine.
1970 – Lighter Race Body: Fred builds a lighter body design more for racing, dropping the body weight to around 100lbs. One these first bodies was used successfully by Roy Williams during the 1970s for racing. (This weight info comes from a September 1973 ad shown below):

Scannable Document
1971- Announces the CJ-3B Body:  An Advertisement in the PNW4WDA’s Region 1 contact booklet included an ad from Fred indicating he was making CJ-3A AND CJ-3B bodies.

It might seem strange to see the “Not a copy!” phrase at the top of the ad, followed by “The Original Fiberglass Replacement Body” within the ad. I believe this reflects Fred’s frustration at Paul Parker rebranding the Bobcat body with side stripes and calling it a Parkette body. Assuming that explains the inclusion of the phrases, this puts the introduction of the Parkette body around 1970. The 1970 timeline also fits the purchase of a Parkette by Jim Carter, which must have happened around 1971 or 1972.

Now for our current post. In 1973, Fred introduced perhaps the most iconic item he ever produced, the Bobcat hood. I don’t know how or why he designed it the way he did, but it became a signature piece. Below is the July 1973 listing in Four Wheeler Magazine.

First, you can see that Fred was experimenting with a new type of body style. It appears he increased the size of the lip around the edge of the body’s rear, perhaps to strengthen it so he could lay thinner glass. It’s likely that this was the style of Bobcat body I bought back in 2008:
Scannable Document

The fiberglass gas tanks were a surprise to see. I’ve never run across these. They likely failed to hold gasoline safely. It would take a special resin compound to be effective over the long term, at least that’s according to this motorcycle thread.

Finally, we have the brand new fiberglass Bobcat hood. Whether this came before or after the Bobcat teardrop hood isn’t clear, but it would seem to me that the teardrop is so much less sophisticated of a design that I could imagine he made some of those first before creating the classic Bobcat hood. Here’s a great example of the hood: (see more examples of the low hood and high hood versions of this iconic hood)

Bobcat-hood-fiberglass-maplevalley-wa

Also included in the July 1973 fiberglass section was this ad. It seems Willamette Wheel was offering the Bobcat body for sale, without labeling it as such in the ad. However, a close look at the tailgate clearly shows it is a Bobcat tailgate.

Scannable Document

It’s not clear how many other parties were working with Fred, but at least one, Don Prine, managed to get his business card inserted into a CJ-3B version of the classic hood:

bobcat-cjb-hood0

As I collect more 1970 Four Wheeler magazines I hope to learn more about the Bobcat and Parkette timelines, though I’ve yet to find anything printed about the Parkette body (no ads or articles yet).

 

3 Comments on “1973 Bobcat Introduces New Products

  1. Marty Tilford

    Awesome work yet again. About the fiberglass gas tank, i have a friend of mine that has one and was asking me about it awhile ago. Now he has some information about it. Ill text him and hopefully he can get in contact with you.

  2. bill walton

    translucent strips to check the fuel level ? — i carry a redwood stick to dip my cj-6 tank , its just a backup , the gauge works — i never heard of this bobcat stuff ??

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