Lesovsky Indy Roadster

1949 Lesovsky-Offenhauser

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 17-18, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Classic race cars take a special breed of person. They’re high-maintenance cars and you can’t exactly take them to the local cruise-in. And the older they are, the crazier they can be. Before big money moved in, there were a lot of people with a lot of different ideas building cars that ran within inches of each other. They were individuals, not spec cars. And because of that, old race cars are awesome.

This car was built by Lujie Lesovsky’s L.A. Lesovsky Race Car Engineering, an open-wheel race car constructor active from the late-1940s through the early-1960s. It’s a short-wheelbase car powered by a Meyer-Drake Offenhauser inline-four making 300 horsepower. 

The racing history for this chassis includes:

  • 1948 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ
  • 1949 Indianapolis 500 – 3rd, with George Connor
  • 1950 Indianapolis 500 – 8th, with George Connor
  • 1951 Indianapolis 500 – 30th, with George Connor
  • 1952 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ, with Bill Taylor
  • 1953 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ, with Bill Taylor
  • 1954 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ, with Bob Christie

Well there you have it – three Indy 500 starts with a podium finish. The car was also raced in period by Bill Holland and Len Sutton, the latter of which wrecked the car in a race in 1955. After that, it never raced competitively again. It was preserved and later restored to its “Blue Crown Special” livery.

This Offy-powered Lesovsky is one of very few such cars that survive today. They don’t change hands often, but when they do the prices make you take note. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $201,600.

Scarab F1

1960 Scarab-Offenhauser Formula One

Offered by Bonhams | Goodwood, U.K. | September 12, 2015

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Lance Reventlow. He was an American born in London. He was also an heir to the Woolworth fortune. His step dad won the Targa Florio. These things were the perfect storm for an American forming his own Formula One team.

Scarab was the name of the cars that were built between the late 1950s and early 1960s. They were designed by Tom Barnes and Dick Troutman and financed and raced by Reventlow (other guys raced the cars, too). The front-engined open-wheel cars were built for the 1960 Formula One season and it didn’t go well because the rear-engined revolution was already under way. Scarab only had one start in Formula One: 10th place at the 1960 U.S. Grand Prix with driver Chuck Daigh (although the tried to compete in two other races, one a twin DNQ and one a twin DNS).

After that, they campaigned the car in International Formula racing at races at places like Goodwood. But sports cars were their mainstay. Originally, this car was powered by a Scarab-designed, Offenhauser-style straight-four but it now has a 3.6-liter Offenhauser straight-four – one of only 55 such engines built.

This car is historic event eligible and has definitely been used, even though the restoration is great. The car is coming from a collection of Scarab cars, with one more assembled F1 car among them (of three built). American-built F1 cars are very rare and while this car wasn’t dominant, it is a piece if history. It should bring between $1,100,000-$1,500,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $1,053,808.

Watson Indy Roadster

1960 Watson-Offenhauser Indianapolis Roadster

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Fort Worth, Texas | May 2, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

A.J. Watson and Fred Offenhauser are two legendary names associated with the Indianapolis 500 – names that, to Indy faithful, are right there with Foyt and Unser. Watson built his first car (for himself) in 1947. In 1955 he modified a Kurtis KK500C which ended up winning the 500. In 1956, Watson built his first Indy Roadster from scratch. He would go on to build only 22 more.

This car was built in 1960 and was run for a few years thereafter. Its competition history includes:

  • 1960 Indianapolis 500 – 30th, DNF (with Len Sutton)
  • 1960 Milwaukee 200 – 1st (with Sutton)
  • 1961 Indianapolis 500 – 19th, DNF (with Sutton)
  • 1961 Milwaukee 200 – 2nd (with Sutton)
  • 1962 Indianapolis 500 – 31st, DNF (with Allen Crowe)

The ’62 500 was the final race for this car (because it was crashed), which didn’t fare too well there. It is powered by a 4.2-liter Offenhauser straight-four. The car was discovered in the early 1980s and was restored thereafter to its 1961 Indy livery. It has been back to Indy since (driven by Sutton in some warm up laps) and was displayed at the NHRA museum.

Watson Roadsters are very rare – even more so in private hands. This one should bring between $700,000-$800,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $577,500.