April 19th 2012 – Auto of the day – American Racing Specials
The 1959 Sadler-Meyer Special is a remarkable automobile on many criteria. Its history is traceable to the earliest days of America’s road racing history in pre-war ARCA events. It won and set records at one of North America’s earliest and most storied competitions, the Giant’s Despair Hillclimb. It was engineered and constructed by Bill Sadler, a multiple talent who designed, constructed and drove his road racing specials in competition with legends like Scarab, Lister-Corvette, Maserati, Ferrari and Chaparral, and was reliably fast, if not a reliable finisher.
Giant’s Despair got its start when the Matheson Motor Car Company relocated to Wilkes-Barre. Matheson’s chief engineer Charles Greuter, who later would engineer the famed “Safety” Stutz, tested Matheson’s 24 and 40hp fours on the quarter mile long 22 ½ % grade of Laurel Run’s Northhampton Street. It was a punishing test of pulling power that far exceeded Pike’s Peak maximum grade of 10 ½ % and even the 22% of Mt. Washington’s final 50 yards.
Other manufacturers realized the value, in both testing and publicity, of Giant’s Despair. Their activities brought competition to the hill in 1906 and since then it has tested the skill of drivers like Barney Oldfield, Ralph dePalma, Louis Chevrolet, Phil Walters, Roger Penske and Carroll Shelby among countless others.
In 1951 Giant’s Despair was revived by the nascent Sports Car Club of America, beginning a renaissance that has continued to the present, with times that dropped to under a minute in 1956 with Carroll Shelby’s run in a GP Ferrari. Among the participants in the rebirth of Giant’s Despair was John van Meyer.
Van Meyer owned a road race special built for the Northeast’s prewar ARCA road races and campaigned the cycle-fendered car in early SCCA races and hillclimbs with a variety of increasingly powerful engines. The earliest Ford flathead V-8 was supplanted by a Cadillac and then a Pontiac, always chasing what Brock Yates described in a December 8, 1962 Competition Press feature as: “Cubes. That’s what successful hill climb cars need. And that’s what John Meyer’s Giant’s Despair record holder has …”
Meyer and the rail-frame special won the 1957 New York State Hillclimb Championship and placed well on the Northeast’s road courses. But it was soon overwhelmed by the “cubes” and talents of Detroit’s OEMs and the tuners who unlocked the potential of their big V-8s.
In 1958 Meter brought the car to Canadian engineer and race car constructor Bill Sadler with the request to rebuild his Meyer Special into a contemporary road race and hillclimb competitor. Bill Sadler was a gifted car builder who combined the design instinct of Colin Chapman and the mechanical skills of Phil Remington with no small amount of instinctive driving talent. Brought up in his father’s ship in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, a center of regional race preparation, Bill got the racing bug in earnest while visiting England on his honeymoon and returned to St. Catherine’s to begin a career that would culminate in his construction of a series of Sadler sports racing cars that challenged the greatest North American road racers of the day, competing head-to-head with Scarabs, Ferraris and Listers, frequently showing them the Sadlers’ taillights.
The Chevrolet-powered ladder frame Sadler Mk 2 employed simple yet imaginative features including a swing axle independent rear suspension and an ENV pre-selector gearbox. A year’s experience racing in England while working with John Tojeiro brought Sadler more experience. The 100 GBP eh won for fastest speed of the meet at the Brighton Speed Trials bought the Mk 2 and succeeded in capturing an overall win at the Watkins Glen Classic. Sadler then caught the eye of parts distributor Earl Nisonger (KLG spark plugs, among others) who funded construction of the Sadler Mk 3. It was a space frame car running a 327 cubic inch Hilborn fuel injected Chevy, with independent suspension that vied with the best in the world.
The Sadler-Meyer Special and Sadler Mk 3 marked a turning point in Bill Sadler’s career. He went on to create a variety of vehicles through 1961, from the Mk 4 and Mk 5 sports-racers to go karts, Formula 3 and Formula Libre race cars, each of them containing some unique design feature or component. Sadler then left racing to turn his attention to a fledgling business career. Still an innovator, today Bill Sadler builds lightweight aircraft in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Bill Sadler constructed a simple ladder frame for the Sadler-Meyer Special, retaining the original Meyer Special’s Pontiac V-8, Borrani wire wheels and deDion rear suspension. The aluminum body is in the style of contemporary sports racing cars but built to accommodate Meyer’s 6’4” 250 pound frame and the big Pontiac engine. A huge hood-top air scoop covered the Pontiac’s carburetor and the air filter necessitated by frequently unpaved hillclimb surfaces. The body’s design is as attractive as Bill Sadler’s engineering, with shapely fenders, a tightly rounded cowl, low radiator air intake, driver’s head fairing and full width Plexiglas windshield that is barely as high as the tops of the front fenders. Its appearance is as good as the best late 1950s road racers, and so was its performance, capturing Meyer’s second New York State Hillclimb Championship in 1959 and scoring a second place finish at Thompson Speedway in Connecticut on July 19, 1959.
In 1960, 1961, and 1962 Meyer set fast time of the day and new course records at Giant’s Despair while also circuit racing at Thompson, Lime Rock and Bridgehampton. Confirmed classifications include a second overall and first in B/Modified at Thompson on October 9, 1960, fifth overall at Lime Rock two weeks later and third in C/Modified at Thompson in July 1962.
Some time thereafter Meyer sold the Sadler-Meyer Special (a conclusion gleaned from his FTD and Giant’s Despair in 1967 in a Cooper-Ford and in 1968 and 1970 in a Lola T70) and it dropped from sight. It was apparently restored and historic raced in the 1980s by Robert Fernando. It was restored again in 2008 for the previous owner, with input and assistance from Bill Sadler, to its present sharp and race-ready condition. At some time during its post-Bill Sadler history, the side exhaust pipes were enclosed, Plexiglas side windows were added for the occupants’ comfort and the nose was extended and entry lowered over a re-shaped radiator air intake, probably for better air penetration and a bit of front aerodynamic downforce. The prominent hood scoop has been replaced by a slight bubble over the engine air intake, not only improving the driver’s visibility but also the car’s appearance. It still retains its great Sadler looks however, and its undeniable link with its siblings from St. Catherine’s.
Following its most recent restoration it participated in the Colorado Grand and then was publicly displayed at the 1009 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance. It has not been raced since restoration but is prepared to modern historic competition sanctioning bodies’ safety standards including onboard fire suppression system, fuel cell and electrical shutoff. It also is equipped with road and touring equipment including turn signals.
The driveline is a ’58-’62 283 Chevrolet small block bored and stroked to 339 cubic inches with camel hump heads and an Offenhauser intake manifold, with a sextet of Stromberg 97 carburetors, dynode at 425hp at 6,000 rpm and 372 lm-ft torque. A Borg-Warner T10 4-speed transmission and Halibrand quick change center section help put that power to the pavement. Suspension is coilover sprung independent at the front with deDion rear with Panhard bar, Jacob’s ladder torque arm and inboard-mounted aluminum drum brakes. Front brakes are solid motor discs behind Halibrand centerlock alloy wheels. The Sadler bodywork opens completely for quick access and service with the nose folding forward and the tail folding back.
The Sadler-Meyer Special might well be known as The King of the Hill. With John van Meyer behind the wheel it set fast time of the day for three consecutive years – each of them breaking the Unlimited Class record – at one of America’s oldest and most famous hillclimbs, Giant’s Despair in Laurel Run Borough, Pennsylvania.
Meticulously restored in deep blue livery with red leather upholstered seats, the Sadler-Meyer Special will be a welcome entrant in road tours, Concours and historic racing events where its history, performance and good looks will set it apart both in motion and on display.
At Giant’s Despair it will be the star of the show, and still capable of thrilling the crowd with a fast time, just like John van Meyer put in 1960. Accompanying the car is a California title and road registration showing the car as “1957 Sadler”, still in the Meyer family name.
Comment: An awesome example of the American Racing Special, big engine, light car, just super cool. This particular vehicle won the 1960, 61 & 62 Giants Despair hillclimb.
1953 Tatum Wayne GMC Special
White with Blue Stripe
In 1952, Check Tatum attended a Sports Car Race in his home town of Stockton, California. That evening in the bar of the local hotel, Chuck and three of his friends, Sam Weiss, Phil Hill and Doug Trotter, were discussing the merits of the cars they saw racing earlier that day and it was noted that the front running cars were “foreign” cars imported from Europe. At one point in this discussion, Chuck made a statement to the effect that he could probably build a car out of American parts that would beat all of that “foreign” stuff. He considered the Allard, which was one of the fastest cars at the races, to be nothing but a big American hot rod in English disguise. The next day, Chuck discussed with Doug Trotter some of the ideas he had on how to build a winning all American road race car. Chuck was young and energetic but had several years of experience with both building and driving stock cars, sprint cars and track roadsters and his ideas for a road race car incorporated features from these types of cars.
Over the winter of 1952-53, construction on the car was started in the shop behind Chuck Tatum’s house. A light but very rigid frame was assembled using thin wall 2 inch diameter seamless tubing. Front suspension was taken from a ’32 Ford, spindles were ’39 Ford. Steering was ’40 Ford with a custom extra long pitman arm to “sharpen the steering”. The rear suspension was ’41 Ford pick-up initially with leaf springs. During the construction, Chuck designed a coil spring suspension with bars to locate the position of the rear axle. For an engine, Chuck considered several options before choosing the six cylinder 270 cubic inch GMC Truck engine. This engine was very strong and when bored out would result in a displacement of 302 cubic inches. The GMC engine was 25 pounds lighter and more reliable than a Ford “Flat Head” V-8, and 200-300 pounds lighter than a Cadillac, or Chrysler engine. GMC engines were being used in sprint cars and some “Speed Equipment” was available. A Mallory distributor was used for the ignition and Chuck designed a special intake manifold to mount three side draft Carter carburetors from a 1953 Corvette. The transmission was from a Lincoln Zephyr, and the brakes were Kinmont “disc” brakes. Both the transmission and brakes proved to be less than satisfactory and were later changed.
The finished chassis was taken to Jack Hagemann of San Leandro, California, for the construction of the aluminum body work. Jack usually designed the bodies he built and didn’t care much for the shape of this body, which was designed by Chuck Tatum’s friend Arden Farey, but he agreed to take on the job anyway. When jack was finished with a body, he would attach a small badge with the inscription “Designed by & Built by Jack Hagemann”. For the Tatum, he made a special badge which only read “Built by Jack Hagemann”. The original design incorporated the use of “cycle” type fenders but after several failures of the attaching brackets which resulted in the fenders falling off and being run over, the car was returned to jack Hagemann for the construction and installation of more conventional fenders.
The “Tatum” was finished in the spring of 1953 and was entered in its first race at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. At the time, the Sports Car Club of America was strictly an amateur organization and didn’t allow “professional” drivers. Chuck Tatum had been driving sprint cars professionally and didn’t qualify as an “amateur”, so he asked his friend Chuck Manning to drive the “Tatum Special” in its first race. The car was an immediate success with Chuck Manning driving the car to a First Place finish. The car went on to finish First at Madera, Stockton, and Santa Barbara in the 1953 season.
The opportunity that Chuck Tatum had to drive as an amateur was at a race in his home town of Stockton. He won the race after starting in 33rd position with Cadillac powered Allard’s in the front rows. At the races that day, a very proper English lady was examining the cars in the pits. While she was looking at the open engine compartment of the Tatum, she inquired “I say, is this that beastly car with a lorry engine in it?” After that, the pit crew referred to the “Tatum Special” as “The Beast”.
During the three years that Chuck raced the car, he competed at most of the major races on the west coast such as Pebble Beach, Palm Springs, Torre Pines, Willow Springs, March Field, Buchanan Field, Golden Gate Park, Madera, Stockton, and Santa Barbara.
With his success in 1953, Chuck Tatum was able to secure sponsorship for an engine from Wayne Engineering, manufacturers of speed equipment for six cylinder Chevrolet and GMC engines. For the 1954 season, Wayne sent Chuck a new GMC engine fitted with their famous Wayne 12-Port Cross Flow cylinder head. The ignition system was still Mallory, but the carburetion was changed to three Zenith 2-throat side draft carburetors from a GMC fire truck. The new engine produced considerably more power than the 1953 engine that used a modified truck cylinder head. Chuck took the car to the Bonneville Salt Flats where he drove the car to a top speed of 157 mph. At the end of the 1954 season, the Wayne Engine was sent back to the Wayne Factory for overhaul. When the engine was returned to Chuck in early 1955, the Zenith carburetors had been replaced with Weber Side Draft carburetors. During the 1955 season, while the car was being worked on in a Palo Alto garage, the Wayne engine was stolen and never recovered. Chuck finished the rest of the ’55 season with a borrowed Ford “Flat Head” V-8 engine.
Hot Rod Magazine chose the “Tatum Special” for its feature car for the October 1953 issue. Hot Rod Magazine usually featured Hot Rods, Drag Race cars, or cars that ran on the dry lakes and usually didn’t get involved with Sports Car Racing. The Tatum however was a different type of car. It was a hot rod that just happened to race in Sports Car events. The “Tatum Special” was featured on the cover of the magazine with a four page article inside.
At the Santa Barbara Road Races in 1953, several movie people from Hollywood were in attendance and were looking for some unique sports cars to use in an upcoming production. They wanted to rent the Tatum but Chuck said the only way they could use the car is if he did the driving. Chuck was made a member of the Screen Actors Guild and drove the car in the movie “Johnny Dark” staring Tony Curtis and Piper Laurie. Chuck went on to do more work in the movie industry.
In 1954, Chuck entered the “Tatum Special” in the National Roadster Show at Oakland, California. The car was quite a hit at the shop and won First Place for Best Sports Car.
In 1956, Chuck went to work for a Stockton car dealer as a manager of his sports car operation. His boss was easy to work for but had one hard and fast rule, “his managers could not compete in car racing”. Chuck could no longer race so the “Tatum” was put up for sale. In the next few years, several different engines were installed in the car by several different owners. As Chuck said, “Some of the owners didn’t treat the car with much respect”. After a while, Chuck lost track of the car and assumed it had been scrapped.
In the mid 1980’s, acting on a tip from a friend of his son Chuck Jr., Chuck tracked down the remains of the “Tatum Special” in a small junk yard just a few miles from his Stockton home. The engine and transmission were missing along with a lot of small pieces, but most of the original body work was still there as well as the frame, suspension, and dash. The “Tatum Special” was purchased and with the help of Chuck Jr. and his other son Blake, the car was restored, prepared for competition, and entered in vintage race events. When Chuck restored the car, he used a GMC engine with a production truck cylinder head as was originally used in 1953. Chuck wanted to use a Wayne Engine but very few of the special Wayne 12-port cylinder heads for the GMC engines were manufactured and Wayne engine components are very hard to find.
In 1966 the “Tatum Special” was purchased by Chris Wickersham of Pasadena, California. Chris has a small collection of vintage race cars and had admired the Tatum for several years prior to purchasing it. The car was then restored to the configuration that it was raced in 1955 with much attention paid to details. Chris, like Chuck Tatum, felt that the car should be fitted with a Wayne engine so, after six years of effort and several setbacks, in the spring of 2002 a Wayne engine was finally completed and installed in the Tatum. During the early years, Chuck Tatum painted the car several different colors, the last of which was white with a blue stripe. The car was refinished using this color combination and on the driver’s side you will even find a small badge with the words inscribed “Built by Jack Hagemann”.
Included with the Tatum Special are the following:
• Current Log Books
• Tatum “history” book – Includes copies of original pictures of construction, early racing, events, newspaper and magazine articles, printed material, magazines and misc. materials pertaining to the original and current history of the Tatum Special.
• Personal File – Personal notes and information relating to the building of the GMC/Wayne engine, chassis restoration, brake development, rear axle re-construction using modern day “Push-In” axles and “locker” type differential, etc.
• Spare Parts Inventory
The following is just a portion of the spare parts that are included with the sale of the Tatum Special:
• Extra set of wheels mounted with Dunlop Race Tyres
• Set of Cadillac hub caps for show
• Major engine components to construct a second GMC/Wayne engine:
§ GMC 302 ci “Military” Block
§ GMC Crank, Rocker Arms, and Misc. Engine Parts
§ Weber Carburetors, new in boxes
§ Wayne Head Casting, New (finish machining required)
§ Wayne Valve and Side Cover
§ Wayne Intake Adaptors for Weber Carburetors
• Ignition Tune-up Parts
• Brake Shoes
• Misc. Spares for the races
• Front Axle Assembly with Radius Rods, used
• Body Fixtures to mount the hood, mid-section and rear of the body when removed from the car
• Also included are the spare parts received when the car was purchased in 1996 which include:
§ Axle Shafts, Brake Drums, Backing Plates, Fuel Tank, Misc. Engine Parts and lots of misc. stuff
[Please note – all spare parts are FOB West Covina (Southern California)]
More to come…..
Being offered here: http://www.fantasyjunction.com/cars/1150-Tatum-Special-302%20c.i.%20GMC%20Engine
Comment: Raced and won at Madera, Stockton, Santa Barbara and Golden Gate Park, and a surefire entry to almost any American racing event, for under 200k, sounds good to me.
Porsche “PUP” Special 1954
Est. 150bhp, Porsche 356 racing engine with Carillo rods, Scat crank, titanium valves, Solex 40 pii carburetors and custom exhaust system, 356 four-speed vented gearbox with C/R gears, four-wheel 356 drum brakes with PF carbon linings, tubular steel ladder-type chassis with triangulation in each bay. Weight: 1200 pounds with fluids
Very early in the production life of the classic Porsche 356 coupe/speedster, clever specials builders recognized the potential of Dr. Porsche’s advanced all-alloy powertrain, independent suspension and efficient brakes. On the West Coast Ken Miles built his famous “Pooper” – a modified Cooper Formula III car with the requisite 356 mechanical parts which became a big embarrassment for the Porsche factory when their own new Sports Racing Spyders could not keep up with it. The Pooper’s East Coast equivalent was nicknamed “The Pup” and it is this car that we are pleased to present here for sale.
Emil Pupulidy grew up on Long Island, New York and built P47 fighter planes for Republic Aviation in the 1950s. He raced motorcycles and loved fast cars. While travelling in Europe in 1952 he visited the Porsche factory and bought a new Porsche 356 coupe which he then raced back home in local events. “Pup” Pupulidy was known as a very fast and aggressive driver who was later crowned the SCCA G-Production National Champion in his dealer-sponsored 356 Porsche Coupe.
Pup attended the 1952 Bridgehampton Race where Porsche importer Max Hoffman debuted a Glöckler Porsche prototype mid-engine spyder and he decided to build a similar car of his own. Construction was started in early 1953. As the square tube chassis was nearing completion, Pup stamped the ID “PUP1” into the rear frame rail. Well-known Porsche racer Paul Sagan helped in design and construction. However, the project did not progress fast enough for him to make the 1954 racing season, so Max Hoffman offered him a Volkswagen donor car that had been damaged. Pup set his mid-engine spyder project aside and completed a car using the VW pan and a typical rear engine set-up. That winter Pup and friend John Wuff resumed the project, making a second fiberglass body, eventually sending the tube frame, components and body to Frick Motors, a well-known European sports car shop, for completion. The project was finished at Frick, but as Pup was by then racing a Porsche Carrera Speedster, PUP1 was abandoned to the rear of the shop, until discovered in 1958 by Butch Strunk, a racing enthusiast from Long Island. Butch brought it back to life, and PUP1 was raced with vigor in the northeast circuits and in hillclimbs.
In the late 60s, it was purchased by SCCA stalwart Howard Gilmore, who owned and raced it for 20 years at Lime Rock, Bridgehampton and elsewhere until passing it on to fellow club member, Matt Williman, in 1988. He continued to hillclimb and road race the car with the VSCCA.
The latter sold PUP1, in 2002, to the current owner who subsequently treated it to a nut and bolt concours-type restoration. This took an entire year with general contracting by Carriage & Motorworks and mechanicals by Cox Motorsports, Vic Skirmants and Redline Services. Following this, the PUP1 was raced for three consecutive years at the Monterey Historics, including a first overall, as well as garnering a first place trophy at the Tucson Porsche Club Concours.
Eligible for any vintage race on the planet, including Porsche as the featured marque at the 2009 Monterey Historics, this beautiful, lightweight and fast Porsche Special is capable of beating period Sports Racing cars costing up to ten times as much – just as envisaged by its original builders.
Sold RM January 2012 for US$121,000
Value: About that
Comment: A great little racing car, some East coast history in period, and only US$121,000. Would work quite well scaring the Porsche owners at the next Porsche club meet.
1959 Devin SS Sports Racing Car
Metallic Blue Livery with Black Interior
Bill Devin was a dedicated American racer who logged his first major victory arm wrestling a heavily modified Crosley Hot Shot to a first place finish in the 1949 Pebble Beach road race. With the early 1950s came a golden era for sports car racing in America- a time when ingenious, well equipped privateers could successfully compete against the best European and domestic automobile manufactures could offer. Devin was in the right place, at the right time, and with the help of Irishman Malcom MacGregor, produced a car that raced successfully in SCCA C-modified class against Ferrari’s, Lister’s, and Maserati’s.
Devin had been producing attractive, durable, light weight fiberglass bodies, which were sold as a kit, and fitted to a variety of chassis by their owners. Towards the latter half of the 1950s, MacGregor, a very gifted engineer who later worked for Ford of Europe, produced a tubular chassis for Devin, very similar to those later used by Carol Shelby on the legendary Cobra. These new chassis incorporated every desirable late 1950’s racing car specification into a state of the art design. They included an independent suspension in the front and a De Dion tube setup in the rear. Steering was through a rack-and-pinion unit. 12 inch Girling disc brakes provided ample stopping power while the Dunlop wire wheels held the car firmly in place under heavy cornering. Around fifteen chassis were sent to Devin who finished them with Chevrolet V8 power, Borg Warner transmission, and his very own lightweight bodies. These cars that had the style, sophistication, and performance of a Ferrari, but sold for less than half the price.
In competition, the Devin was an almost immediate success with Pete Woods driving his car to the Sports Car Club of America C-modified National Championship. Other owners converted their cars into aggressive street machines, blending European styling with American hot rod performance and reliability. Road & Track’s road tested an SS in July of 1959 and recorded: 0-60 in 7 seconds, the ¼ mile in 14 seconds at 95 mph and a top speed of 131 mph!
This particular Devin SS, s/n SR4-5, is the 11th of the 15 built in period, according to the historical file accompanying the car. It was Equipped for period competition by the original owner, Tom Rutherford, who is best known for piloting his D Type Jag at Bonneville in 1960 for a try at the C-Sports Racing speed record. This is the only Devin SS equipped with a 2-speed quick change rear, a rare item produced by Harley Klentz. This quick change rear end may have been intended for use in speed attempts at Bonneville, although there is no record of this car’s results there.
The second owner, Leonard Janke, never got around to racing the Devin as he also discovered the new mid-engined McLarens about this time. So the Devin was tucked away next to Leonard’s first race car, a Healey 100-4, in his warehouse in Pender, Nebraska. It sat there untouched for over 30 years!
In 1990, previous owner Mike Fuchs discovered this time capsule Devin and after arduous negotiations, purchased this rare car from Leonard, making Fuchs only the third owner. Fuchs commissioned Orion Engineering to perform a comprehensive competition restoration. This work included consultation with Bill Devin directly, who supplied his original chassis drawings to assist in the restoration. As irregularities in the chassis dimensions were noted after many years of competition, much of the original tubular chassis was remanufactured at Bill Devin’s request, while original portions were retained where appropriate considering safety and performance. After two years of no expense spared restorative work, s/n SR4-5 was returned to its former glory. Since, the Devin has been raced throughout the Midwest with SRVA and HSR, winning the Judges Choice Concours Award at the Walter Mitty at Road Atlanta. More recently in the West, the Devin SS raced with RMVR, and VARA. This Devin SS has been pictured in several Vintage Motorsport annuals, and was on the cover of the July 1999 issue of Victory Lane, photographed during the last Steamboat Springs RMVR race.
Today, the restoration work done by previous owner Mike Fuchs still has a fresh appearance. All visual aspects of the car; paint, interior, and engine bay display outstanding racing/tour cosmetics. The car is nice enough to be concourse shown, where it is sure to garner much positive attention.
As would be expected, this Devin SS is very exciting to drive. Restored, for the most part, with vintage racing competition in mind, the car also makes for a raucous street machine, just as it did in period. Kline Engineering built Chevrolet small block with triple Strombergs provides ample acceleration, while the four wheel disc brakes are a welcome improvement over the drum brakes standard on most cars of this era. The transmission, clutch, and balance of the drivetrain, are all operating without issue.
Included with the car is a large historical file containing bills of sale from previous owners, documentation back to the 1960s, a photo essay of the restoration work, magazine articles, an original July 1959 Road and Track with the Devin SS road test, and historic racing results. Also present is an original windscreen, with a Bonneville related tech sticker.
This authentic, comprehensively restored, Devin SS is a fast, reliable, and economical vehicle with which to participate in rally events or vintage racing. It has been fitted with a full width windscreen, cockpit heat barrier shielding, and head lamps for road events. Alternatively, it could be concours displayed as a technically interesting and beautiful example from a golden age of American road racing.
Being offered here: http://www.fantasyjunction.com/cars/1089-Devin-SS-Chevrolet%20V8
Value: $200,000 – 500,000
Comment: An awesome, original, racing Devin, would be a hoot on the track, with lots of power, and very light weight. Well worth US$295,000
1954 Kurtis 500KK
Black with Black Leather
In the 1940s and 50s, Kurtis made a name for itself building midget race cars and Indy 500 cars. By 1953, the company had also introduced a sports car known as the 500, which drew heavily on the successful Indy Roadsters for suspension and frame. The cars could be ordered in varying states of completion from a rolling chassis to a fully completed car. The cars often had fiberglass bodies and American V8 powerplants from companies like Ford, Lincoln, Cadillac, and De Soto. The cars were quite successful in road racing and rally events, winning the SCCA-B Championship in 1954. Approximately 60 examples were built in all.
This particular car is the 51st example built and is surely one of the most unique examples, with a stunning custom one-off aluminum body by Cal Metal Shaping and unusual supercharged 235 cid Chevrolet inline-6, which was custom-built by “California Bill” Fisher. The car retains its original major components including engine, drivetrain, chassis, and body. It has known history from new, is very thoroughly documented, and has been restored to award-winning condition.
The car’s story begins in 1954, when the chassis was supplied to Frank Kurtis’ friend Lou Borelli, who drove the car without a body while the body was being constructed. The engine has an Italian S.C.O.T. supercharger and twin Zenith sidedraft carburetors and was built by California Bill Fisher, who purchased the car in the early 1970s from its second owner, Al Borelli (Lou’s brother). The suspension is by torsion bars all around, and the brakes are drilled Lincoln drums as fitted to their Carrera Panamericana cars. The engine uses a Cuno self-cleaning oil filter with oil cooler. The engine is mounted offset to the right to provide clearance for the belt-driven supercharger (mounted next to the block). The car retains its original Mallory ignition system and Nicson valve cover. The clutch, 3-speed transmission, drivetrain, and differential are early Ford items.
Fisher sold the car to a Gene Cesari in the Northeast, who kept the car for about 20 years. The car sat for 18 years, and a restoration was started in 1999. The restoration was completed while David George, owner of DL George Coachworks, owned the car. He sold it on to a collector in 2006. The restoration included new brakes, hydraulic system, shock absorbers, belts, and wheel bearings and seals. The starter, water pump, radiator, and carburetors were rebuilt, and a new exhaust system made to the original pattern. The engine was sympathetically rebuilt, and the supercharger was also rebuilt with new alloy rotors machined from billet. The flywheel was surfaced as well, and new clutch fitted. The entire electrical system was rebuilt, including all wiring, spark plugs, spark plug wires, and a modern alternator and gel battery fitted. The gearbox was rebuilt with new gears and bearings as well. The body was stripped and repainted in two-stage Sikkens black urethane, a new black leather interior fitted, and new Dayton wire wheels with Dunlop racing tires fitted. A fuel cell was also installed, along with all new fuel lines, dual Facet pumps, and Holley regulators and filters.
The current owner has had Stewart Hall look after the car, including maintenance, sorting, and additional restorative work, nearly $82,000 in all since 2007. The rear end was rebuilt and a Watts linkage designed, fabricated, and installed to improve the car’s handling. Countless other items were repaired and adjusted to ensure that the car is event-ready. Indeed, the car has done well at events, winning the 2009 Road & Track “Car We Would Most Like to Drive” trophy at the Quail Motorsports Gathering, as well as the 2011 “Amelia Award” at the Amelia Island Concours.
The car is fantastically documented with photos and receipts from its early life. Even the invoice for the raw sheet aluminum to make the original body, dated September 19, 1955 is included. There are many other original invoices present as well, including from California Bill and Kurtis Sports Car Corporation. There are also period photos of the chassis without body, and of the body buck. There are also photos from throughout the car’s life.
The car is in excellent shape, with high quality paint on a superb aluminum body. The car was run for several years in bare aluminum to show of the lovely body, which speaks to the craftsmanship and integrity of the body. The black paint is excellent, with almost no signs of damage or use, while the detailing is excellent. The through-hood quick release oil filler beautifully executed, as are the subtle vents behind the rear wheels and atop the rear fenders. The wire wheels have drilled knock-offs that evoke the Pegaso Z102 Le Mans, while the bulging rear haunches and deeply offset black wire wheels add a sinister and purposeful stance. The proportions and lines are breathtaking, and equal or better to the work of the finest Italian designers of the period. The car has a number of Italian influences, such as the large egg crate grille and faired in headlamps. The trim is excellent throughout, including the glass and lights. The car has Cibié headlamps, which adds further to the car’s European flavor.
The interior also has a decidedly European feel, with large Jaeger primary instruments and snug fitting bucket seats. The car has a full complement of auxiliary instruments, made mostly by Stewart Warner. A period boost gauge and mechanical clock are also installed. A competition-inspired aesthetic prevails, with no upholstery other than the excellent black leather which covers the seats. The remaining panels such as the floors are exposed aluminum. Competition lap harnesses have been fitted, and a fire extinguisher is also installed.
The engine compartment feels very special with large Rootes type supercharger and polished alloy valve cover. The installation of the engine is tidy, and there are functional updates such as electric cooling fan and modern alternator. The supercharger is a work of art with beautiful castings and safety wiring throughout.
This is an outstanding opportunity to acquire a true American one-off sports car of the highest caliber. Originally built by some of the most famous names in the SoCal car community, the specification is totally unique, with gorgeous custom aluminum body and supercharged inline-6. The car’s early history is extremely well-documented, and its entire history is known from new. In recent years, it has received an award-winning restoration, and has participated in a number of prestigious events. It is visually stunning, totally unique, and eligible for touring events and historic racing
Comment: A great car, although no racing history, would be great to drive. But really for all that it is so stunning, it is almost artwork, and in black, WHOAR.