One of the best parts of judging at Pebble Beach is talking to the owners about why their particular vehicle is special and deserves recognition. After a handshake and introduction from each team member, our first question is usually, “So tell us about your car…” At this point it’s not unusual for an entrant to show us a photo album of the restoration, or perhaps hand out a sheet on the particular car’s history.
Our own Flat Top Bob went one step further and presents a really cool 20 page glossy magazine with images of the Cusey Roadster restoration and original articles. I’ve done a truly lousy job photographing the pages below, but just had to share this neat thing that Bob put together for the Concours. Did I mention that he took Third in Class?
A few weeks back, I did a small feature on a 1955 Kurtis KK500. You can read that here. Anyhow, that feature lead to email correspondence with a man named Jake Delhomme. Jake lives in Prescott Arizona, has no time for technology, and has owned a 1953 Kurtis 500S since the 1980’s.
“What you have to understand about these Kurtis cars is that they were designed with a singular purpose – to be fast around a race track. There was very little compromise for any other objectives. It’s not comfortable. It’s not quiet. And it’s not particularly good at anything else, but it’s so good at being quick that your brain has problems comprehending that you are driving an antique car.”
“I also own a 1965 Corvette track car that has been a race car since it left the dealer in 1964. The Kurtis handles better, brakes better, and is faster around just about any track because when it was designed and built (a decade earlier mind you) it wasn’t handicapped by the same concessions the Corvette had to give towards production.”
“You can write about the Kurtis all you want, but you will never truly comprehend it unless you drive it.”
Short of flying out to Arizona and car jacking Jake, I have no plausible prospects of driving a Kurtis… Even so, I sure do yearn to experience what Jake is preaching. So much so, that I decided to get on Youtube this morning and see if I could find any vintage footage of a Kurtis in action. I found plenty, but what really interested me was a casual ride-a-long in a 1952 500S that was posted a few years ago. Check it out
A few weeks back, I did a post on American race car livery. A week or so after that, I attempted to express my opinion on innovation, traditional hot rodding, and directions for the future. As part of that, I commented that I’d like to feature more examples of how fellas can do something fresh without building something necessarily contemporary.
Then, this morning the two features kind of came together in my head. I’ve never been much for street cars painted up like race cars. You shouldn’t paint a number on your door if your car hasn’t ever sniffed a race track, right? But… I think if your car is otherwise equipped and you’ve sacrificed enough and… well, why the hell not?
To me, a perfect starting point would be something like a 1956 Ford. Drop in a heavily warmed over 312 that looks almost stock, but sounds anything but. Add to that a nice floor shifted 4-speed and then make sure the stock brakes are working as efficiently as possible. The stance would be super important as well, but I think the money would be made with weight saving methods.
The Brits ruled the Daytona Beach Land Speed records: Seagrave and Campbell went back and forth going faster and faster, but one man broke their streak for a brief time, when board track and Daytona 500 racer Ray Keech went 207.55 mph on the beach April 22nd, 1928. The car he used was unusual, and brutal, to say the least.
The White Triplex was backed by wealthy industrialist J.H. White, and named in his honor. The Triplex moniker came from the triple 1649 c.i. WWI Liberty Aero L-12 (v12) motors displacing a whopping 81 liters combined. One gigantic Liberty motor sat in front of Keech and two more behind him, in a direct drive arrangement. The 36 cylinders combined allegedly produced 1500 horsepower and had the potential to go 220 mph if the feeble chassis and an extremely brave driver could tame it.
It’s no secret that old man Henry strongly disliked the boys at GM, especially his main competition at the entry level Chevrolet division. The history books tell us that Ford’s desire to introduce the technically and financially-challenging flathead V8 for 1932 was largely in response to Chevy’s Six in the same price range as a 4-banger Model A. Throughout the 30s, 40s, and 50s the two Detroit brands went back and forth touting the lower price, better styling, or latest innovation that the other brand didn’t posses. By 1959, Chevy finally sold more cars, winning with great designs and powerful engines. Of course, the Ford vs. Chevy wars got so hot by the early 60s that the TV spot below feels more like heated political ad than a car commercial. Boy, this one must have got the FoMoCo marketing team hot under the collar!
The Flathead Ford is still the engine of cool for traditionalists in the Hot Rod & Custom Car worlds. Here on the blog I always like to feature items and articles that spread the Flathead word & its storied history. This article from Ryan at the Jalopy Journal is from 2006, and is excellent!
A brand new Flathead V8 block with a lot of the inherent issues from the original engineered out.
The perfect Ford-Mercury block! Outstanding casting quality thanks to modern foundry technology.
– Brand new, no cracks, no rust. High nickel content steel.
– Stronger everywhere it needs to be with thicker decks and main bearing bulkheads and larger main-bearing caps.
– Mains are aligned honed.
– 3-3/16-inch standard bore.
– 59AB-type bellhousing with 8BA refinements for improved coolant flow. Requires 1938-1948 oil pan.
– Drilled and tapped to accept 8BA or truck waterpumps.
– Drilled and tapped to accept either early (center outlet) or late (forward outlet) heads.
– Factory relieved (won’t accept Ardun heads).
– Bellhousing CNC-machined to fit Ford firewalls without modification.
– Long center head bolts (required) and rear main seal retainer are included.
– Glyptol painted valve-lifter valley, timing case, and crankshaft chamber for fast oil drain back
In their stock configuration and the way French flathead blocks have been sold previously the bosses, casting numbers, and pads for military applications do not fit most Ford passenger car applications without firewall modifications. SF Flathead blocks are precision milled to remove the unsightly “lumps.” Only a pad remains that carries a SF Flatheads serial number. Stop searching for a savable old Henry lump. This strong, high-nickel casting is the last flathead block you’ll ever need! Please call for availability. Truck shipping required. Rate quoted at order
Same high-quality new casting as the standard block plus:
– Original flow restriction in bowl removed and enlarged for uniform volume and increased flow.
– Intake ports machined larger and straightened for improved flow.
– Exhaust ports machined larger and radiused to improve exhaust gas flow.
Please call for availability. Truck shipping required. Rate quoted at order.
All features of our stage – 1 and 2 block plus the following:
– Lifter bores cut and drilled for ease of adjusting lifters
– Grind valve seats open to 1.6 on either intake, exhaust, or both at customer request
– Valve bowls smoothed and polished
– Exhaust ports polished and matched to customer provided headers
– Intake ports polished and matched to customer provided intake manifold
– Rear oil galley drilled and opened for full flow oil filter adapter system
Footnote – The engines have disappeared from the So-Cal site the link now goes to their Flathead page
I’d also suggest watching this thread on the HAMB as it appears a little lively on this subject!
Let’s say you’ve been saving for a few years, and really have your heart set on building an original Henry Ford steel ’32 Coupe or Roadster… Nice choice. But then you hit the classifieds and get some serious sticker shock at what a rotted-out body sitting on some bent rails with a frozen Flattie will cost you. Hmmm. So what cool coupe or open car from the late 20s/ early 30s can you get for about the same money as a Deuce? Leaving aside the more common Chevy or Plymouth alternatives, here’s some very unique offerings from the era that are about the same size as a Ford, wouldn’t be a bad start for a hot rod, and probably wouldn’t break the bank either! Unlike the big luxury cars from Packard, Duesenberg, or Auburn, these were all entry-level cars made in reasonable numbers, and if you look around long enough you might find some bargains out there.
I was re-organizing my library last night and while moving a few books, this 1939 Service Date Handbook fell to the ground. Essentially, this was a publication that Ford put together to show new customers how to care for their cars in 1939. Obviously, this is basic stuff… but I love the way Ford arranged the data and thought you guys might as well.
In lieu of scanning the whole damned book (65 pages), I just scanned some of the more pertinent and usable things.