When you do a lot of vintage open-wheel cars, there are certain characteristics to look for when making a guess at the car’s age based on its construction technology.
This machine proved difficult when attempting to come up with an estimate. A guess that the car was a one-off homemade creation proved to be the case.
Right off the bat, there are those sweeping body lines which might make you think the car was constructed in the ‘60s or ‘70s.
However, its current owner explained, “The car was built in about 1950 and records show that it was competed at Williams Grove Speedway shortly following its completion. In 1952, it ran at the Terre Haute Action Track when it was under AAA control.”
Records show that the driving was shared by Milt Fankhauser and one of the real hot dog midget drivers of the period, Rex Easton.
Fankhauser is thought to have driven the car well into the 1970s before selling the homemade machine. It was acquired by a vintage open-wheel collector in Louisville, Ohio. Another collector, Mike Swain (also of Ohio) had long been attracted to the charismatic machine and finally hooked up with that second owner. And that’s where this story gets a little crazy.
Swain explained that the car had been involved in a fire earlier in the previous owner’s house.
“It was sitting on the ground floor of a two-story house when the upper floor collapsed and caught the car on fire, gutting it badly in 1994. The worst damage was to the aluminum body panels, which were badly warped and took many hours to shape back to their correct shapes and get them to line up,” Swain recalled.
There was also some interesting technology on the car. There’s no rubber fuel bladder there, but there is an aluminum tank inside the aluminum tail.
The suspension also deserves mention, as it consists of two lever shocks on the front corners, along with torsion bars on all four corners.
There is no indication that the car ever had a traditional safety hoop mounted behind the driver’s head.
The powerplant was unique in that the car carried a four-cylinder Miller engine, but the engine was not a part of the car when the purchase was made.
“I really looked hard to find one but was unsuccessful. So, I decided that I would substitute a period-correct engine.
“But, I never considered not restoring it because it was just too unique.”