1953 Kurtis 500S Racing Sports CarSOLD

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

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Estimate: $100,000-$125,000 US

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of $104,500

Est. 240hp modified 331 cu. in. Chrysler Hemi eight-cylinder engine, four single BBL carburetors, aluminum intake manifolds, Vertex magneto, four-speed manual Jaguar XK 120 gearbox, suspension is by front and rear torsion bars, four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94"

Frank Kurtis of Glendale, California built over 800 oval track cars during a 30-year period. The first chassis in the "500" Series was made for Indianapolis in 1952 and Billy Vukovich drove his Offy-powered version there that year. At 180mph it was "as smooth as a Buick" and it handled so nicely that Vucky could pass other cars in the turns as easily as on the straightaways. The car led for 375 miles, won 75% of the lap money and would have been the easy victor, (as it was in 1953 and 1954) if steering failure had not forced Vukovich to retire with only four laps to go.

As Frank Kurtis watched the car ’ s smooth flight around the 2.5 mile oval it occurred to him that his chassis and suspension concept would make a nice road course ‘ sporting ’ car as well. After driving an Allard, he was convinced that he could do better and launched a series of sports cars called the Kurtis 500 S. Approximately 25 - 30 road and sports car racing models were produced. The first few had hand-formed aluminium bodies – our feature car is one of those.

Bill Stroppe, an ex-Kurtis midget driver and racing mechanic, received a 500 S in 1953 and installed a 257 cubic inch Mercury flathead. Not a brilliant choice, since both Cadillac and Oldsmobile OHV V8s, which produced more horsepower, were by then available. Stroppe ’ s choice of power-plant was, however, quickly vindicated as he beat Europe ’ s best in seven out of ten West Coast races!

The fantastic Kurtis we have the pleasure of offering here has a well-known and researched history. According to its enthusiast owner, this car began life as an unused circa 1954 Kurtis KK chassis. We understand that it was originally purchased from Kurtis Kraft with the optional Halibrand V8 quick change. The reconstruction of the car took place in the late 1980s before Jon Ward or Arlen Kurtis had begun their projects.

With such a thorough task at hand, numerous surviving original 500S cars were sought out and extensively documented for every facet of their construction. They were photographed and measured with their original parts used for patterns. During this process it was discovered that, while all the Kurtis 500S ’ racing sports cars were built by the Kurtis shop craftsman out of a basic plan and parts, the primary consistency was that they were all different!

The 500S frame had a hat section channel side rails similar to the 500A Indianapolis Roadster from which it was derived. Notably, the KK chassis had round tube side rails and a round tube rising above the rear axle while the 500S had channel sections fabricated to form an angular design above the rear axle. The entire front section of the KK frame, the axle and suspension components that were the same as the 500S were used as a basis for the frame. The rear suspension mounts, torsion bars, arms and stops were also saved and reused. The hat section and channels were duplicated exactly and arc welded together to form a frame of the correct design.

The owner also states that as many old, original parts as possible were purchased for the car, including upper and lower nose panels, hood side panels, fuel tank, the Halibrand wheels. The radiator is an unused new old stock part made by the State Radiator Company specially for Kurtis. This along with numerous brackets, tabs, mounts, pedal parts were purchased from noted enthusiast Bob Sorrell who had purchased much of the Kurtis Kraft obsolete sports car parts inventory in the late 1950s to use for his projects.

Care was taken to faithfully replicate all parts when necessary and use only period correct construction techniques. The instrumentation is correct Stewart Warner, and the dash is set off nicely by the 10,000-rpm Jones tachometer and Jaeger chronograph. Both the exterior and interior are in very good overall order and are finished in the appropriate color scheme of white with red leather upholstery.

The vendor reports that the Kurtis was fully completed in 1991 and has been in storage since. Accordingly, all systems including fuel, brakes etc. were recently thoroughly gone though and it is ready for road or track use. We encourage close examination of this spirited, faithfully recreated example as this Kurtis is undoubtedly one of the finest, most authentic and best presented examples of its kind.

Please note that this vehicle is a race car and therefore offered on a Bill of Sale

Reference Number 10122

as of 6/1/2007

Car 1953 Kurtis 500S Racing Sports Car
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