Kurtis KK4000

1952 Kurtis KK4000

Offered by Bonhams | Amelia Island, Florida | March 8, 2018

Photo – Bonhams

Now we’re talkin’. Here is an Indy car from the early 1950s, back when these cars ran on dirt more often than pavement. It predates other Kurtis cars, namely their Indy Roadsters. Frank Kurtis built some of the most dominant race cars of this era and, especially in the early 1950s, they won just about everything.

The KK4000 was new for 1951 but race cars then tended to be fielded for years, even after they ceased to be competitive (a different KK4000 was raced until 1975). The 4000 series was a development of the earlier 3000 series and featured a lighter construction, thus making it faster. It’s powered by a 4.4-liter Offenhauser straight-four – probably the most legendary race car engine of all time.

Only 12 examples of the KK4000 were built and they rarely change hands. The race history of this chassis includes:

  • 1952 Indy 500 – DNQ (with Allan Heath)
  • 1953 Indy 500 – ?
  • 1954 Indy 500 – 21st, DNF (with Pat O’Connor)
  • 1955 Indy 500 – 30th, DNF (with Ed Elisian)
  • 1956 Indy 500 – DNQ (with John Kay)

It was entered in the ’53 500 but I can’t find who drove this chassis that race and if it even qualified. Bonhams doesn’t seem to know either. This car raced up through 1959 before it was retired and sold to a collector. It has been restored to 1955 race spec. This is a very rare, very historically important race car (this was the car Elisian was driving when he pulled over and tried to help Bill Vukovich after his fatal crash). It should sell for between $275,000-$350,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

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