Ol’ Yaller Mk VII

1961 Ol’ Yaller Mk VII

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 17-19, 2023

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Max Balchowsky was a race car driver (and stunt driver) who built a series of sports racing specials in the 1950s and ’60s. Nine cars were built – all called Old Yeller or Ol’ Yaller. This one was the 7th.

It was produced by Balchowsky in 1961, his most prolific year in which four Yallers were constructed. This one was sold new to Don Kirby in New York and subsequently raced in SCCA events. It was delivered new with a Devin body and was fitted with 327ci Chevy V8.

A restoration was carried out in 2009, and it retains that 5.4-liter motor. It’s one of three Yallers intended for Chevrolet power and is said to be one of just a few still set up for road use (though it has history on classic road rallies too). The pre-sale estimate here is $175,000-$225,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $307,500.

The Last Ol’ Yaller

1963 Ol’ Yaller Mark IX

Offered by Bonhams | Newport, Rhode Island | October 1, 2021

Photo – Bonhams

Max Balchowsky opened a shop in Hollywood in the late 1940s and soon found himself modifying European cars with big American V8s. In the early 1950s he was on track in SCCA events. In the mid-to-late ’50s, he built two Old Yeller race cars that were mostly junkyard specials. Disney told him to change the name, so all following cars were called “Ol’ Yaller”s.

This car, number nine, was the final such special built. It features a custom tubular steel space frame and a 6.6-liter Buick V8 rated at 310 horsepower. It was apparently raced by Ronnie Bucknum at some point, and was later crashed.

It was subsequently restored to its original spec. One of the Ol’ Yallers appeared in the Elvis movie Viva Las Vegas (which has some pretty excellent 1950s car spotting scenes). These really never change hands – and this one is being offered out of the Petersen Museum collection. It is expected to fetch $150,000-$250,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $162,500.