Kurtis/Diedt-Offy Special

1949 Kurtis/Deidt-Offenhauser FWD Special

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

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Here’s a handful of names that once dominated at Indianapolis: Frank Kurtis, Emil Deidt, Fred Offenhauser. Combining all three into one car? Should be pretty special. And that’s kind of what happened here.

So, what happened here was: owner Gil Pearson commissioned Deidt to build two front-wheel-drive race cars. Frank Kurtis built the body and frame, and then they stuffed a 4.4-liter Meyer-Drake-Offenhauser inline-four up front to drive the front wheels. They took it out to the Muroc dry lake bed and hit 176 mph.

It was then used in some movies before being parked with its sister car behind Gil Pearson’s house until the 1990s. It was then restored before being invited to Pebble Beach in 2001. Now it has a pre-sale estimate of $350,000-$500,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold.

Early Four-Wheel-Drive Truck

1918 FWD Model B 3-Ton Truck

Offered by Mecum | Kissimmee, Florida | January 22, 2014

FWD Model B 3-Ton Truck

In 1908, Otto Zachow and William Besserdich built a four-wheel drive car they called the “Battleship.” This led to the more-or-less immediate founding of their Badger Four-Wheel Drive Auto Company. In 1909 they began producing cars under the FWD (for “Four-Wheel Drive”) marque. They dropped “Badger” from the company name in 1910.

The military loved four-wheel drive trucks so the company, sensing a huge opportunity (and perhaps an oncoming war) switched to just truck manufacture. They introduced two prototypes as war started raging in Europe. The U.S. didn’t place any orders, so FWD demo’d the truck for the U.K. where they did get an order. By 1916 the U.S. had come around and placed huge orders for a company that, up to this point, had only built about two dozen vehicles.

The Model B was one of the workhorses of the Allied powers during WWI. Production was about 3,000 for the U.K., 82 for Russia, and 14,473 for the U.S. They are powered by a 36 horsepower, straight-four engine. On the correct solid rubber tires on which this example rides, the truck could reach speeds of 16 mph.

After the war, many of these trucks were sold as surplus and entered service doing just about everything else in the civilian realm. That’s how awesome examples like this managed to survive. You can read more here and check out more from Mecum here.

Update: Sold $23,000.