Elite Enterprises Inc. History
Elite Enterprises was a company that was owned by Gerald Knapp. It was formed around 1969 in Cokato Minnesota. The company produced a variety of handcrafted cars but the most popular model by far was the Laser 917. The 917 was a replica of the famous Porsche race car from the early 1970s. According to company documents they sold and shipping an impressive 679 laser 917s between 1972-1982 . Walt Disney even purchased several Laser 917s for the movie “The Love Bug goes to Monte Carlo”
In 1973 the Factory had a massive fire.
In 1976 they introduced the Mini Mac. The first Mini Mac was sold in July of 1976. At the time it was introduced there was research done by a law firm to make sure the name would not cause any legal issues. It was determined that it would not and Elite Enterprises started selling this model. Shortly after advertising it the company was threatened by attorneys for Mack Truck.
After the threat of on going litigation that could have put the company under it was decided to change the molds and renamed it the Mini 18 Step Side Pickup Kit . A total of 3 Mini Macs were sold before the problem arose. Production of the new model started in 1977.
In 1980 a conversion adapter for the Super Beetle VW Chassis was designed by Gerald Knapp. This device would enable VW Super Beetles to be adapted for use in building kit cars. The patent was applied for, and received in 1981. The Super Beetle Chassis Adapter was featured in the May 1981 issue of Kit Car Monthly. The US Patent # is US004353578
In 1981 after 7 years of prototype work, the final laser49er Mini Van molds were complete. The Laser 49er was featured in the June 1981 issue of Kit Car Monthly and the Hot Rod Kit Car Annual. The Laser 917, and the Mini 18 Step Side Pickup Kit were also featured in the Hot Rod Kit Car Annual.
During the same time period Gerald Knapp designed a fiberglass modular enclosed trailer kit. The 3 foot panels when bolted together produced a trailer 8′ wide with a 6’6″ inside headroom. The trailer could be build as long as desired by the customer. There was also end panels for hitch type trailer or a fifth wheel type trailer. The rear panel could be equipped with hydraulics to lift from the bottom.
In March of 1982 a decision was made to proceed with a project that had tentatively planned for five yeas. The newest offering of a kit car would be a replicar of the J2X Cad-Allard race car of 1950s vintage. Work progressed under the direction of Gerald Knapp. The kit was ready for release in November, and the first Laser JX2 was delivered on December 2.
In the summer of 1982 the Chief patent counsel for Chrysler Motor Corporation called Gerald Knapp with a request to purchase the name “Laser” from the corporation. This led to negotiations which resulted in a Licensing Agreement for the use of the name Laser between Elite Enterprises Inc. and Chrysler Motor Corporation on September 13, 1982.
Elite Enterprises Models
- Laser 917 – Sold 679 between 1972-1982
- Laser GT
- Laser 49er Mini Van – Sold 16 between 1981-1982
- Laser Caldwell Formula Vee
- Laser J2X Sports Car Kit – Sold 10 in 1982
- Mini Mac/Mini 18 step side pick up truck
- Beaver Boards (Truck Running Boards)
Elite Enterprises Company Advertising/Promotional Material
Elite Enterprises Assembly Manuals
Sites of Interest