Really interesting early racer that sold at Bonham’s Quail auction in 2022 for US$50,400 inc. premium
1925 Ford ‘Rajo Special’ Single Seater
Engine no. 1704776
149ci OHV Inline 4-Cyilnder Engine
2 Winfield Model SR Carburetors
Est 50bhp at 3,000rpm
3-Speed Manual Transmission
Leaf Spring Suspension
Rear Mechanical Drum Brakes
*Offered from the Austin Automobile Collection
*Exciting and thrilling early American racecar
*Desirable overhead-valve conversion and double Winfield carburetors
*Striking and period-appropriate livery
EARLY AMERICAN RACERS
The line dividing early race cars from their road-going relatives was often a blurry one. Grand Prix racers were frequently little more than high-end production sports cars shorn of their headlights, while club-level machines were almost without exception based upon typical day-to-day cars. None was more typical than the Model T, and no single model was better catered-to by a burgeoning speed industry than the little Flivver.
Cut-down roadsters and runabouts were the order of the day, though the most serious of amateur and mid-level professional American racers would often go so far as to fabricate entirely new single-seat bodies to fit atop modified chassis. Underneath their customized bodies, early homebrewed race cars employed a variety of ingenious tuning techniques, among the most impressive of which were overhead valve conversions, often with crossflow heads, big, tuned manifolds, and doubled-up carburation.
THE MOTORCAR OFFERED
This 1925 Rajo-Ford Special, to use its full, proper name, employs all these tricks in the pursuit of speed. Sitting improbably low over period Houk quick-release wire wheels, the car’s narrow bodywork conforms closely to its most critical components; namely the driver and the Rajo OHV crossflow cylinder head-equipped engine at their command.
Quite exotic and rare pieces of historic speed equipment in any form, Rajo OHV conversions were known to nearly double factory Ford Model T horsepower figures (to just shy of 40). The example fitted here is particularly special for its crossflow configuration, in which intake and exhaust valves are situated perpendicular to the axis of the crankshaft, allowing for drastically improved engine breathing, and netting equally enhanced throttle response, higher revving, and greater power output.
Dual Winfield race carbs ride like jewelry atop an impressively vertical intake manifold and help lead the driver’s eye toward a period moto-meter radiator temp gauge. Inside the slender, cigar-shaped bodywork and mounted to a wooden dashboard are a rare era-correct Motorola mechanical tachometer and controls for an aviation magneto, while gear changing is now achieved through a lever sprouting up between the driver’s legs.
Lever-action shock absorbers have been added to assist standard Ford transverse leaf springs front and rear, and should bring tangible improvements to the car’s ride and road holding.
Viewed at any angle, the Rajo-Ford Special exudes lean athleticism and fitness for purpose, from narrow nose to bobbed boattail, possessing an elegance of line and engineering equal to the finest purebred sports machines of the time.