Title: Vanguard Special Rocket
Medium: Automotive Restoration
Circa: 1958-1959 Restoration 2017
Price: $2000.00 SOLD
Produced in the late 50’s by the Great Lakes Tractor Co. the Vanguard Special Rocket was a kids gokart. It was powered by a 2 1/2 hp Clinton Panther engine and featured a friction brake and hand operated cable throttle. The Rocket retailed for $159.95. In 1958 dollars that’s around $850 dollars today. A pretty pricey toy. The frame is all steel with a fiberglass two piece body. The original wheels were solid and hard. Later models had foot pegs on the exterior of the kart so adults or larger kids could drive them.
We acquired this kart in the fall of 2016 in SE Wisconsin and completed a 6 month restoration, making some improvements along the way. Aside from air filled tires and working headlights we beefed it up a little structurally and chose a simple 1950’s street rood theme. A simple black satin finish with subtle accents you would expect to see on a vehicle of that vintage. We also added a thick foam filled upholstery providing much needed comfort to the vehicle.
About this Vanguard Special Rocket:
Clinton model A400 Panther 2 1/2hp 2 cycle engine. Original frame and fiberglass body. Custom Walnut dash. New Pneumatic tires. Custom vinyl interior and seats. Carpeted floor. Vintage NOS vinyl steering wheel wrap. Frame and body repainted. Working LED headlights. Custom steel rear bumper. Chrome hardware. Custom fabricated Stainless Steel trim accents.
Vintage rear tail lights. Vintage NOS Sears speedometer. Budweiser beer tapper pull friction brake handle. Budweiser hood ornament. Includes all original hardware, parts, fenders and fender mounts as well as original Clinton carburetor. Have NOS sticker for original engine. We also have the original solid wheels.
We did not repaint the engine. It just looks too cool in its original patina. However the carburetor, petcock and gaskets have been replaced. Engine runs strong. Fires up. Runs like a typical 2 cycle engine. Lightly smokes, may need some fine tuning or linkage adjustment. We also built a steel tube re-enforced sub-frame under the body for the steering wheel assembly. The steering wheel was original mounted to the fiberglass body and was not very strong and could cause damage to the body. The added structural support keeps undo stress off this 60 year old fiberglass body. The custom walnut dash also provides support. The speedometer is a NOS Sears bicycle speedometer. It works, however is not connected to the go kart. It is purely ornamental, but could be made to function.
This is a very unique and rare piece. I’ve only seen a few other examples. Makes one hell of a conversation piece. Any questions, just ask! Listed below are some before and after pics as well as some restoration pics.