Category: Frank Kurtis

Find of the Day: This 1956 Kurtis-Kraft Midget Race Car is a Bonneville Land Speed Record Holder – Tara Hurlin @Hemmings

Find of the Day: This 1956 Kurtis-Kraft Midget Race Car is a Bonneville Land Speed Record Holder – Tara Hurlin @Hemmings


It’s not every day that a chance to own a Bonneville record holder pops up on the internet. This 1956 Kurtis-Kraft Offy Midget holds the record in the Midget Vintage Oval Track (MVOT) class with the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) on the salt flats in Utah. The current record is 136.1 mph and it’s ready for more.

Before it began its racing career, the current owner of the Kurtis-Kraft Midget chassis found it in Michigan and brought it to Illinois where it was stored in his rafters until the 1990s. After attending a Bonneville Speedweek event, he came home inspired and started building. The Midget sports an all-aluminum body protected by a 4130 chromoly roll cage and a full nose to tail belly pan. It’s powered by a 110 Offenhauser engine with Carillo rods, a Moldex crank, J&E pistons, Dema Elgin cams and Don Ricard valve springs, and it pushes around 200 horsepower.

The car and owner broke the original MVOT land speed record in 2006, then exceeded that record three more times, the most recent run taking place in 2010. The race car was also invited by Al Unser himself to be displayed at the Al Unser Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico for a year and a half. Now it’s listed for sale on Hemmings.

The seller states that this registered no. 714 race car has passed tech five times at Bonneville and will again. Will its next owner run it into the 140s, or stash it away for show?

If you can find one, a 1949 Kurtis Sport Car may be the most collectible American car of its time – David Conwill @Hemmings


In 1918, the question asked about the returning doughboys was “How you gonna keep ’em happy down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paree?” A little over a quarter century later, you might have changed the French capital to “MGs,” meaning the little British sports cars, and their more powerful brethren, to which American GIs were introduced when passing through the United Kingdom during World War II.
The demobilized Americans who had experienced the nimble little roadsters of Blighty wanted some of that action for themselves, but U.S. carmakers had little for them in the postwar 1940s—mostly just rehashes of whatever was on the production line in the first months of 1942 when auto manufacturing for the civilian market ceased “for the duration.”
Healeys, Rileys, Talbot-Darracqs, Fiats, and other dashing European cars soon flooded these shores to try to tempt sports car enthusiasts and bring much-needed U.S. currency back to their home countries. More than one American felt that U.S. companies should get a share of the sports car business. One of those was Frank Kurtis, a well-known race-car fabricator and metal craftsman.

Built to contest La Carrera Panamericana, Mickey Thompson’s Allied-bodied Kurtis never got its chance – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings


Mexican, anyone?

Allied-bodied Kurtis never got its chance

Mickey Thompson sped along at 100 miles an hour or so. He didn’t have another land-speed record or motorsports title in his sights. He didn’t even have his hands on the wheel of a specially prepared racing machine. Instead, he was in a rush to get out of Mexico, and though he narrowly escaped retribution this time, karma caught up to him a couple years later when the cancellation of La Carrera Panamericana kept him from racing a one-of-two Allied-bodied Kurtis on the international stage.

The 1953 flight out of Mexico, as Erik Arneson detailed in “Mickey Thompson: The Fast Life and Tragic Death of a Racing Legend,” followed his and Rodger Flores’ crash in a six-cylinder-powered Ford sedan during that year’s running of La Carrera Panamericana. While La Carrera began in 1950, it was Thompson’s first time running the Mexican road race and contending with the country’s notoriously tight and dangerous roads at speed.

Allied-bodied Kurtis never got its chance

Read on 

Related –  Record-setting, and stylish, the 1949 Kurtis Special that blazed across the salt at Bonneville powered by a Ford Flathead V8



The story of the 1949 Kurtis Sport Car, MT’s first-ever cover car

I climb in, twist the key, and press the starter. The Ford flathead V-8 fires up instantly and quickly settles down to a growling idle. I pull the shifter across to the left and back, engaging first gear in the three-speed transmission. Ease out the clutch, and the low, broad-shouldered convertible oozes forward, vintage whitewall tires squirming on the concrete.

Read the rest of the article here

Record-setting, and stylish, the 1949 Kurtis Special that blazed across the salt at Bonneville powered by a Ford Flathead V8


In 1948 well known race car builder Frank Kurtis took a wrecked 1941 Buick and turned into the custom car known as the Kurtis Sport  you can see in the photo and powered it with a modified Ford Flathead V8

Read Larry Edsall’s article at classic Journal on Kurtis and his customs here

One of the cars is for sale in Saint Louis, Missouri a 1949 Kurtis Sports, the listing is here