In 1960, Bill Colgan had a shop in Burbank, California with about 5 employees doing custom auto and boat upholstery. No request seemed unusual at the time, from suede leather headlining to diamond tufted rumble seats. One day, a group of Lockheed engineers brought a ragged piece of canvas with sewn-in wooden slats, rubber bands, crude hooks and other innovations. They asked if Bill would be interested in making about a dozen of these and he remembers saying "What the hell is it, a chastity belt for Godzilla?" They replied that it was a protective cover used by the Porsche factory for road testing new cars and on unofficial loan to them.
Bill Colgan accepted the challenge and completely redesigned the German cover, spending about as much time road testing as sewing. After about six weeks and a small mountain of scrap material, they finished 12 covers. Within a week, the Lockheed engineers were back asking for 50 more covers. They made a total of about 150 covers at that time, all for Porsche 356 models, until Bill had to discontinue the project because of an overload of upholstery work.
He relocated to Newport Beach, California, 10 years later where some enthusiastic Porsche friends asked him if he would make a version of the cover for the 911 series. Bill designed a 911 version from memory upgrading the older 356 covers. He also placed a small ad in Road & Track using the German description of the covers "Steinschlagshutzshulle". Dissected the word means, stone/strike/shield and for short he tagged it "Bra". Bra is the name he adopted from the beginning and Road & Track is where he tested the waters as a mail order business. In view of this, Bill Colgan felt justified in making the claim as the originator of the "Bra" since there isn't a trace of similarity to that original pile of canvas to what is now known as a Bra.
For the first couple of years, the only covers the company made were for Porsche vehicles. As orders gradually increased he decided to go into other makes. It seemed, in view of the enthusiasm for the newly introduced Datsun 240-Z, that he couldn't miss with this addition. But Bill found out differently. Acceptance by Z-owners was not immediate nor were sales for other makes. In 1973, Bill applied for a $3,000 loan. When he said that he wanted the money for material to make car bras, all he could see were the soles of the bankers' shoes as they went over backwards. It was about 5 years, around 1975, that the bra began to show signs of interest for anyone other than Porsche owners. Soon it became obvious that those funny looking things were starting to sell and he was no longer the only one making bras. Now, of course, anyone with a sewing machine and a pepper tree to set up under is into the act. Today, most people know what a bra is but Bill only wishes some of these late-comers could have been there in the early days when only a handful of Porsche enthusiasts knew what a car bra was.
A Colgan cover is still the standard used for reference by all of those who have entered the business in the last few years. To bear out this statement, there isn't a cover on the market that hasn't copied parts or all of the Colgan Custom Bra.
Bill Colgan spent about as much time road testing as he did sewing. His “Steinschlagshutzshulle” or “Bra” pioneered a product category that's still going strong over 50 years later! Covercraft acquired Colgan Custom in 2009, committed to continuing the tradition of design and manufacturing excellence Colgan Bra's are known for - setting standards by which others are measured. Still Made in USA using premium Haartz vinyl, new applications and patterns are added weekly.