1931 Miller V16 Speedster – @supercars.net

1931 Miller V16 Speedster – @supercars.net


Raced at Indy in 1931 by Shorty Cantlon. Raced at Indy in 1932 by Brian Saulpaugh as the #27 car. Restored by Chuck Davis and Jim Ettner. Retains the original chassis from the firewall back. This is an original 1931 body from the sister car of its era. Engine restored and built using 1/2 of the original engine.

In 1973, collector Bob McConnell discovered the Miller, minus its V16 engine, in the small wood garage in Indianapolis that had housed it since 1950. McConnell’s research soon confirmed it was the sister car to the Hepburn-Shaw-Myer car he also owned, and he was soon persuaded by Chuck Davis of Chicago to sell him the old machine. Davis and noted restorer Dave Hentschel began the painstaking process of dismantling and cataloging the car in its entirety, and were elated to eventually confirm its provenance and history as the one and only V16 Miller race car.

Luck intervened then in the form of racecar historian Jim Etter, who had discovered what he thought was a Miller V-8 engine but soon realized was one half of the original V16, which had been cut in two to make a Sprint car engine. Etter was astounded to find that not only had almost all the severed components been saved, but a new spare crankshaft and webbings were also there for the taking. Etter bought the whole inventory and resold it to Speedway Motors owner and vintage racing engine collector Bill Smith. Ever the dealmaker, Chuck Davis eventually managed to buy the entire lot from Smith, who was notorious for resisting any and all efforts to part with even the most insignificant items in his vast inventory.

Chuck Davis had discovered that foundry expert George Parker of Monrovia, CA possessed a large group of Miller’s original wood foundry patterns and drawings, including those for the V16’s crank case, cam boxes and covers. Parker loaned the patterns to Davis, who sent them to patternmaker Art Bergstrom of Beecher, IL for reconditioning, after which they were used to pour new castings. The Bridgeview Machine Company performed the finishing work, while Dave Hentschel machined other new parts using the original Miller drawings. The completed components were then sent to Joe Gemsa of El Monte, CA, who assembled them into the brand new Miller V16.

The body panels represent yet another serendipitous chapter in the Miller V16 story. They were purchased in the 1950s by Louisville saloon owner Jack Richmond, who planned to use them in building a hot rod. Richmond never realized that particular ambition and the panels remained untouched and intact until the ever-fortunate Davis got word of their existence, tracked them to a Cincinnati collector, bought them and trucked them back to Chicago. All the pieces were there: the radiator shell, hood, cowl former and cowl panel, tail, gas tank, belly pan and rear axle tray. When Dave Hentschel affixed them to the chassis, they proved a perfect fit.

Junior Dreyer massaged the body panels back to proper form, after which Hentschel skillfully reapplied its Silver and Black 1932 livery. Dreyer also made a new gas tank and repaired the oil cooling tubes that also served a cosmetic function as the grill bars, one of the last items checked off, and not a moment too soon: the car’s astonishing journey from revolutionary race car to dismembered, scattered hulk to glorious, historical showpiece was literally completed with no time left on the clock before its reintroduction to the world at the 1993 Monterey Historic Races, where Harry Miller’s cars were honored for the very first time as the event’s annual theme.

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