Kurtis 500C

1953 Kurtis 500C

Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 13-14, 2021

Photo – Gooding & Company

When it comes to classic Indy cars, not much beats a Kurtis-Offenhauser. The 500C was introduced either in late 1953 or early 1954. Only nine were built. Despite their build date, the cars were raced for years at Indianapolis – as late as about 1959.

This particular car is interesting in that it started out as a 500C that debuted at the Speedway in 1954. It ran there through 1957, including:

  • 1956 Indianapolis 500 – 8th (with Rodger Ward)

After 1957, it was sold to a different team, who had Eddie Kuzma cut the car up and update it with Kuzma parts. At that time, the Kurtis chassis was discarded and ultimately purchased by someone who would go on to have it restored in the 1980s to as it was in 1956. So, from that first original car, there are now two cars, one of which is still a Kurtis. Kind of weird, but that’s what happens.

Power is from a 4.2-liter (255ci) Offenhauser inline-four estimate to produce 400 horsepower with Hilborn mechanical fuel injection. The car is expected to sell for between $250,000-$450,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $257,600.

Hudson Indy Car

1932 Hudson Indy Car

Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 13-14, 2021

Photo – Gooding & Company

The “Junk Formula” was an era of the Indianapolis 500 that lasted from 1930 through 1937. It allowed for a much wider variety of cars at the track, which had the effect of increasing field sizes. It also encouraged race car builders to use production car parts. A mechanic from Saginaw, Michigan, named Jack Mertz decided to build his own Indy car. Using a Hudson chassis, he bodied this car himself.

Under the hood is a 4.2-liter inline-eight capable of 150 horsepower. Mertz then drove the car from Saginaw to Indianapolis to enter the 1932 race. But he arrived too late and missed the field. The following year, Mertz sold the car to a Detroit car dealer named Lawrence Martz, who then named the car after himself. The competition history for the “Martz Special” includes:

  • 1933 Indianapolis 500 – 15th, DNF (with Gene Haustein)
  • 1934 Indianapolis 500 – 30th, DNF (with Haustein)

It actually crashed during the ’34 race, and by the end of the decade the trail of this car went cold. That is, until the 1970s when it was discovered. The restoration was done in the early 1980s, and the car was shown at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours. It is now expected to bring between $250,000-$350,000 and will sell without reserve. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $291,000.

Lola T-90

1966 Lola-Ford T-90

Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, Florida | August 13-14, 2021

Photo – Gooding & Company

The mid-1960s were a time for change at Indianapolis. The mid-engined revolution was in full swing by ’66, and the previous year was the first time that a majority of the field was made up of rear-engined cars. The British cars were back in force in 1966, with Lola leading the way with their Ford-powered T-90.

Three T-90s were built, and all three were on the grid at the 1966 Indy 500. This is one of two powered by a 4.2-liter Ford quad-cam V8. Fuel injected, it makes about 425 horsepower. The competition history for this chassis, 90/2, includes:

  • 1966 Indianapolis 500 – 6th, DNF (with Jackie Stewart)
  • 1966 Langhorne 150 – 3rd (with Al Unser Sr.)
  • 1966 Fuji 200 – 1st (with Stewart)

As most old race cars do after their time on track is finished, this car passed around between a few owners. In this case some of them believed this to be the ’66 500-winning car of Graham Hill. The current owner bought it under that assumption in 1995. After much research, it was discovered it was not. In 2017, the car was restored back to its Bowes Seal Fast Special livery that Stewart ran in 1966.

It’s got a pretty interesting history and the 100% right look of an early rear-engined Indy car. The pre-sale estimate is $1,000,000-$1,400,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale. Also… can we take a second to ponder the insanity that Stewart finished SIXTH and was still not running at the end of the ’66 500? The fifth-place finisher wasn’t running either. Talk about attrition…

Update: Not sold.

Ewing Dean Van Lines Special

1960 Ewing-Offenhauser

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 12-14, 2021

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Wayne Ewing worked for A.J. Watson in the body department, and in 1960 he designed and built his own Indy Roadster. The car would be sponsored by long-time open-wheel team owner Al Dean, owner of moving company Dean Van Lines. His race cars were dubbed “Dean Van Lines Specials” and driven by some pretty big names, including A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti.

This car was similar to the dominating Watsons of the era, but had some slight differences. It featured a 4.1-liter (252ci) Offenhauser inline-four mounted ahead of the driver. This car went out and won the pole for the 1960 Indy 500 in its first try. Its competition history includes:

  • 1960 Indianapolis 500 – 21st, DNF (with Eddie Sachs)
  • 1961 Indianapolis 500 – 2nd (with Sachs)
  • 1962 Indianapolis 500 – 3rd (with Sachs)
  • 1963 Indianapolis 500 – 8th (with Chuck Hulse)

That’s a pretty impressive Brickyard resume, especially considering it won the pole in ’61 as well. After 1963, the car remained in the Midwest, where it was modified into a super modified. It wasn’t until nearly 1980 that a future owner realized what the car actually was and set out to restore it. The engine is now a 4.4-liter (270ci) Offy.

This car has participated in many shows and events and has had two long-term owners since 1982. The auction catalog lists this as a “1961” – it was apparently restored to its 1961 spec. Anyway, you can read more about it here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $500,000.

Kurtis 500E

1956 Kurtis 500E

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Auburn, Indiana | September 3-5, 2020

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Frank Kurtis built quite a few race cars in his day, but he only built one 500E. In fact, he only built three cars in 1956 in total, two of which were Novi-powered 500Fs. The E was produced for the Federal Engineering race team, and it was an evolution of the earlier 500D, except the engine was tilted to the left and the fuel cap shifted places on the tail.

The engine would’ve been an Offenhauser inline-four. The car currently houses a mock-up of an Offy, but it’s not actually powered. The competition history for this chassis includes:

  • 1956 Indianapolis 500 – 7th (with Bob Veith)
  • 1957 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ (with Billy Garrett)
  • 1958 Indianapolis 500 – 14th, DNF (with Bob Christie)
  • 1959 Indianapolis 500 – 14th, (with Jimmy Daywalt)
  • 1960 Indianapolis 500 – 17th (with Shorty Templeman)
  • 1961 Indianapolis 500 – 10th (with Norm Hall)
  • 1962 Indianapolis 500 – 21st, DNF (with Chuck Hulse)
  • 1964 Indianapolis 500 – Never arrived

Yeah, it was raced at Indy, a lot. It was supposed to go back in ’64, but they never ended up preparing it. The car’s trail went cold, until John Snowberger, went on the hunt for his dad’s old race cars (his father, Russ, was Federal Engineering’s crew chief for many of those Indy appearances). He found a rusty old frame in a Detroit-area shop, which later turned out to be the remains of the 500E. It has been semi-restored, and is now expected to bring between $90,000-$120,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $68,200.

Epperly Indy Roadster

1961 Epperly-Offenhauser Indianapolis

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Auburn, Indiana | September 3-5, 2020

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Quin Epperly is another legendary mid-century name associated with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His cars first showed up at the 500 in 1955 and would continue to run there until the mid-engined revolution took hold.

This car is another Offy-powered roadster, originally equipped with a 255ci inline-four. The competition history for this chassis includes:

  • 1961 Indianapolis 500 – 33rd, DNF (with Don Branson)
  • 1962 Indianapolis 500 – 5th (with Bobby Marshman)
  • 1963 Indianapolis 500 – 28th, DNF (with Bud Tingelstad)

Like so many other Indy roadsters, it was once part of the Bob McConnell collection for a number of years. It has been restored to its 1962 500 livery. It really looks the part of bad-ass Indy roadster, doesn’t it? The pre-sale estimate is $350,000-$450,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $407,000.

Kurtis 500B

1953 Kurtis 500B

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Auburn, Indiana | September 3-5, 2020

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Frank Kurtis was a legendary race car designer, and his 500B was an iteration of his earlier 500/500A cars. They first hit the track in about 1953, and they would be competitive for a few years thereafter, although they would eventually be topped by later, greater cars.

It’s powered by an Offenhauser inline-four, and the competition history for this chassis includes:

  • 1953 Indianapolis 500 – 10th (with Jimmy Davies)
  • 1954 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ (with Davies)
  • 1955 Indianapolis 500 – 3rd (with Davies)
  • 1956 Indianapolis 500 – 28th, DNF (with Al Herman)

This car was formerly part of the Bob McConnell collection, and it wears its 1955/1956 “Bardahl Special” livery. Only eight examples of the 500B were built, and this was the last. It’s an Indy podium finisher and is expected to bring between $350,000-$450,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $550,000.

1949 Indy 500 Winner

1947 Diedt-Offenhauser

Offered by Mecum | Indianapolis, Indiana | July 10-18, 2020

Photo – Mecum

Emil Diedt was a California-based fabricator whose name is closely associated with post-war racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This car, the Blue Crown Spark Plugs Special, competed at Indy in four consecutive years, from 1947 through 1950. It’s results were:

  • 1947 Indianapolis 500 – 2nd (with Bill Holland)
  • 1948 Indianapolis 500 – 2nd (with Holland)
  • 1949 Indianapolis 500 – 1st (with Holland)
  • 1950 Indianapolis 500 – 2nd (with Holland)

That’s the mark of a pretty dominant car. It’s powered by a 270ci Offenhauser inline-four that drives the front wheels, thus pulling the car through corners instead of pushing it. This car wears its Indy-winning livery and has spent time in the IMS museum, where it ultimately belongs.

But instead, you can go out and buy it. It’s one of the not-all-that-many 500-winning cars in private hands. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold, high bid of $4,000,000.

Kurtis 500H

1958 Kurtis 500H

Offered by Mecum | Indianapolis, Indiana | May 12-17, 2020

Photo – Mecum

Frank Kurtis built some spectacular race cars in the 1950s, including this 500H. It was from the later years of Kurtis Indy Roadster production. I’m not really sure how many were produced, but if there were multiple, they were probably built between 1958 and 1960. That’s when they were campaigned.

This car is powered by a 252ci (4.1-liter) Offenhauser inline-four. The Kurtis-Offy was a nearly unbeatable combo at the Brickyard in the ’50s. The competition history for this car includes:

  • 1958 Indy 500 – 23rd, DNF (with Johnny Tomson)
  • 1959 Indy 500 – 7th (with Duane Carter)
  • 1960 Indy 500 – 22nd, DNF (with Don Freeland)

Looking at a bunch of old Indy box scores, it’s possible that this was the only “H” example built. It appears to be the only one to run the 500. You can see more about this car here and more from Mecum here.

Update: Withdrawn.

Silnes-Offy Indy Car

1951 Silnes-Offenhauser Tomshe

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | March 6-7, 2020

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This car is listed in the auction catalog as a “Silnes-Offenhauser Tomshe.” It was apparently built by Fred Tomshe, but was entered in various races as a Silnes-Offenhauser with Tomshe/Bardahl listed as the entrant. The car was commissioned by gangster George “Babe” Tuffanelli, who was part of the Chicago Outfit.

Power is from a fuel-injected 4.4-liter Offenhauser inline-four. It was entered in the 1951 Indy 500 with driver Ray Knepper, who failed to qualify. It did compete at Milwaukee and Langhorne later that year.

It’s been used at historic events since 2010, including the Monterey Historics. The constructor confusion here could be easily explained by that the possibility that the Tomshe build was based on a Silnes car. Who knows… the people who were there are no longer here. The pre-sale estimate is $125,000-$150,000. Click here for more info and here for more from RM at Amelia.

Update: Sold $95,200.