1929 Ford Flathead 22 Jr. Tony Nancy RoadsterSOLD

RM Auctions - Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction - August 16-18

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Estimate: $350,000-$450,000 US

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of $192,500

Specifications: 300bhp, supercharged L-head V-8 engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf spring, solid rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf spring and hypoid drive, two-wheel (rear) hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 106"

Tony Nancy and his always-immaculate, always-competitive racecars appeared on Hot Rod Magazine covers five times. The first occasion was December, 1957, in a feature called “ Flathead, one more time. ” Ford had stopped building its obsolete flatheads in 1953, but rodders didn ’ t rush to replace them with Ford ’ s first OHV V-8s. Beginning in 1955, heresy was in full swing. Chevrolet ’ s lightweight, high-revving, overhead-valve, small-block V-8 put most racing flattys on their trailers overnight. But Tony had an ace up his sleeve, with a crack engine builder in his corner.

Tom Sparks, a meticulous West Hollywood engine expert and tuner, cut his hop-up teeth at Eddie Meyer Engineering. The aptly-named Sparks first made rodding headlines in 1954, when his colorful, four-car, Sparks & Bonney racing team jumped off the cover of Rod & Custom. Tommy knew how to coax every ounce of power out of Ford ’ s aging “ underhead valve ” motor. He was certain the hot set-up was not a big displacement stroker. Instead, he wanted to help Ford ’ s venerable, long-stroke design to rev significantly (and reliably) higher. Sparks understood supercharging was key to overcoming the flathead ’ s inherent breathing difficulties. He ’ d had already proven the merit of this philosophy with a consistently-winning Willys drag coupe that took home 55 trophies in one season.

Using that same 256-cu. in. flathead V-8, set back under the altered firewall, with a serious 3 3/8-inch bore, but destroked 1/8th-inch, gave Sparks the solid foundation he needed. A Gilmore belt-driven Italmeccanica blower got its urge from every clever, top-of-the line, go-fast upgrade he could devise: three drilled-out Stromberg 97s, a Harman and Collins magneto, steel main bearing caps, screw-in valve seats, polished ports, improved crankcase ventilation, hand-lapped, precisely-balanced rods and pistons, even a center exhaust divider for the siamesed middle cylinders. To save weight, the radiator was omitted.

The Mercury block was artfully ported and relieved; even the Edelbrock heads had been massaged. Tommy ’ s goal was better and faster mixture flow, using the hottest fuel he could devise. Reportedly, the high-revving, 7,000- rpm wailer swilled down a full gallon of 70 percent nitro mix for each 1/4th mile pass. A Moon spun aluminum fuel tank was mounted in the trunk, over the rear axle.

Working out of his Sherman Oaks trim shop, Tony Nancy massaged a set of deuce rails, drilled them where appropriate, for lightness, and fabricated a roll bar under the cowl, as well as a center-braced, full rear hoop for driver protection. He connected the two bars with stiffening rods that ran through the cockpit, and substituted tubular crossmembers for added rigidity.

The racing number came from the fact that Tony favored the number ‘ 2 ’ and because he was competing with a smaller-displacement engine against bigger mills, he used the suffix, ‘ Jr. ’

A straight Ford beam axle, center-mounted ’ 37 Plymouth steering, a ’ 40 Ford steering wheel, handmade hairpin wishbones and tube shocks anchored the brakeless front end. Tony hand-fashioned flat aluminum wheel discs to reduce wind resistance. Ribbed rubber in front, slicks behind, a carefully-assembled ’ 39 Ford gearbox with a 26- tooth Lincoln-Zephyr close-ratio first and second gearset, and a locked rear end made up the driveline.

The blazing orange, absolutely immaculate, center-steered ’ 29 Model A roadster, was the first of what would be a long skein of famed 22 Jr ’ s. Despite the somewhat fragile three-speed box and Zephyr cluster, Tony held the X- Fuel class ET and class-specific top speed records, turning consistent 135-136-mph runs in the high 10s. “

Flatheads forever?, ” asked HRM ’ s editors. “ Some folks are still wondering after Tony ’ s A/ V-8 swamped a big 400-inch Chrysler-powered roadster at recent drags. ” Tony ’ s secret was careful preparation, that high-winding, Sparks-built de-stroker, and he was a fast-acting hole-shot artist who could run with the best of them.

Restored to a meticulous high standard under the watchful eye of Tony Nancy collector Dan LaCroix, it is presented today precisely as it was when it successfully competed, with a Tom Sparks-built blown flathead. This first 22 Jr. has been a feature car at the NHRA Bakersfield Reunion, as well as many other events and since its restoration has been displayed at the NHRA and Petersen Automotive Museums. The owner relates that five racing trophies are included with the car as well as a document file containing many articles and photographs from its heyday.

One of the first drag racing roadsters to earn significant National recognition, Tony Nancy ’ s bright orange beauty set new standards for its class and the sport of hot rodding. It ’ s a significant collector hot rod and a tribute to both Tom Sparks and Tony Nancy.

Reference Number 10092

as of 6/1/2007

Car 1929 Ford Flathead 22 Jr. Tony Nancy Roadster
VIN 22JR0001 
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