Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01
Lot 614
Construite vers 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01
€55,000 - 75,000
US$ 68,000 - 93,000
amended

Lot Details
Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 Built circa 1990,1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation  Chassis no. KK 500S 031 Engine no. 01 1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500s 1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500s 1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500s 1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500s 1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500s
Construite vers 1990
1953 Kurtis-Kraft 500S Sports-Racer Continuation
Chassis no. KK 500S 031
Engine no. 01
Frank Kurtis est l'un des grands noms de l'histoire de la compétition automobile aux États-Unis. Ses voitures ont dominé les 500 Miles d'Indianapolis au début des années 1950, gagnant toutes les épreuves sauf une entre 1950 et 1956, et y figurèrent honorablement jusqu'à la fin de la décennie.

D'origine slovène, Frank Kurtis est né à Crested Butte dans le Colorado en 1908. Il travailla sur les midgets de l'écurie Don Lee Racing Team et, à la fin des années 1930, construisit sa propre midget qu'il baptisa Kurtis-Kraft. On estime qu'il construisit plus de 550 midgets et quelque 600 kits dans son usine de Glendale, en Californie, ainsi que des quarter-midgets, des voitures de sport, des voitures pour course d'accélération et des voitures de championnat (Indianapolis).

Ces dernières recevaient l'omniprésent moteur Offenhauser, tandis que les midgets utilisaient une version plus petite du quatre cylindres "Offy". En 1986, Kurtis fut le premier non-pilote inscrit au Hall of Fame du National Midget Auto Racing, qui présente l'association du châssis Kurtis au moteur Offenhauser comme "pratiquement imbattable pendant plus de 20 ans". Frank Kurtis mourut en 1987.

Kurtis débuta en 1949 en construisant des sportives à deux places à châssis surbaissé et carrosserie en fibre de verre utilisant des éléments mécaniques Ford. 36 avaient été construites quand il vendit le projet à Earl "Madman" Muntz en 1955. Les premières sportives de Kurtis étaient faites pour la route, mais le projet suivant de leur créateur était une sportive pour la compétition. Ce fut la 500S qui dérivait étroitement des voitures de championnat, avec un large châssis-cadre à croisillons mécano-soudés, un essieu rigide et une suspension à barre de torsion. Cet ensemble mécanique paraissait archaïque au regard des réalisations européennes de l'époque (et même comparé à la plupart des voitures de série américaines), mais il était solide et parfaitement adapté aux routes américaines au revêtement parfaitement lisse de l'époque. Ressemblant à une Indy car un peu corpulente affublée de garde-boue, la 500S avait une calandre à neuf barres verticales rappelant les racers Kurtis-Kraft, et pouvait accueillir tout un éventail de V8 américains. Puissante et rapide, la Kurtis-Kraft 500S gagna de nombreuses courses du SCCA aux mains de pilotes comme Briggs Cunningham, Chuck Daigh et Bill Stroppe.

Seule une poignée de Kurtis-Kraft 500S ayant été construites à l'époque par l'usine, la demande dépassait largement l'offre ces derniers temps, un peu à la manière des Cobra. Heureusement pour les collectionneurs, Arlen Kurtis, le fils de Frank, est spécialisé dans la restauration des voitures originales créées par son père et a repris la fabrication d'une série de « Continuation cars » dans ses ateliers de Bakersfield.

On pense que cette Kurtis-Kraft 500S Continuation a été construite vers 1990, sa première sortie ayant été effectuée par un certain Mr Ward pour la Carrera Panamericana de 1991. La voiture fut ensuite vendue à Joquille Limited de Shoreline Drive à Florence dans l'Orégon et fut achetée par son actuel propriétaire en 2004. Une nouvelle boîte de vitesses et un nouvel essieu arrière ont été montés en 2006/2008. Depuis son achat, la Kurtis-Kraft a couru le Grand Prix Historique de Tunis (2008, 2010 et 2012), la Coppa Monza Intereuropa (2011 et 2012) et la course de côte Bologna-San Luca, etc. Les meilleurs résultats de la voiture furent une 1e et une 3e places dans sa classe à Monza, une 2e place au classement général deux fois de suite à Tunis et une victoire de classe deux fois à Bologne. Présentée dans sa livrée de Monza en 2012, cette pure sportive américaine à moteur V8 est vendue avec ses anciens papiers et certificats américains, une immatriculation et des papiers autrichiens et ses papiers HTP en cours de la FIA.

Footnotes

  • Frank Kurtis was one of the biggest names in the history of US auto racing. His cars dominated the Indianapolis 500 race in the early 1950s, winning every year but one from 1950 to 1956, and continued to feature prominently until the end of the decade.

    Of Slovenian extraction, Frank Kurtis was born in Crested Butte, Colorado in 1908. He later worked on the Don Lee Racing Team's midget cars and in the late 1930s built his own midget car chassis, calling it the 'Kurtis-Kraft'. Kurtis is credited with making an estimated 550-plus midget cars and some 600 kits at his Glendale, California factory, and he also built quarter-midgets, sports cars, sprint cars and championship (Indianapolis) cars. The latter were powered by the ubiquitous Offenhauser engine while the midgets used a smaller version of the classic four-cylinder 'Offy'. In 1986 Kurtis became the first non-driver inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame, which describes the combination of a Kurtis-Kraft chassis and Offenhauser engine as 'virtually unbeatable for over 20 years.' Frank Kurtis died in 1987.

    Commencing in 1949, Kurtis built some low-slung glassfibre bodied two-seater sports cars using Ford running gear, approximately 36 of which had been made when the project was sold to Earl 'Madman' Muntz in 1955. These first Kurtis sports cars had been intended for road use but their creator's next undertaking was to build one specifically for competition purposes. The result was the 500S, which was directly derived from the championship car chassis, featuring a wide X-braced perimeter frame, live axles and torsion bar suspension. This running gear must have seemed somewhat crude by contemporary European standards (and when compared to most American passenger cars) but it was robust and well suited to the smoothly surfaced US road courses of the day. Looking like a slightly corpulent Indy car fitted with mudguards, the 500S featured a nine-bar front grille recalling that of the Kurtis-Kraft racers, and was designed to accommodate a variety of American V8 engines. Powerful and fast, the Kurtis-Kraft 500S won numerous SCCA races driven by the likes of Briggs Cunningham, Chuck Daigh and Bill Stroppe.

    Only a relative handful of Kurtis-Kraft 500S sports cars was completed in period by the factory, leading to demand exceeding supply in more recent times, a situation not unlike that of the Shelby Cobra. Fortunately for collectors, Arlen Kurtis, Frank's son, specialises in the restoration of his father's original cars and has begun building a series of 'continuation' cars at his Bakersfield premises.

    This Kurtis-Kraft 500S continuation car is believed to have been built circa 1990 as its first known competitive outing was in the 1991 Carrera Panamericana driven by a Mr Ward. The car was then sold to Joquille Limited of Shoreline Drive, Florence, Oregon and in 2004 was purchased by the current vendor. A new gearbox and rear axle were fitted in 2006/2008. Since acquisition, the Kurtis-Kraft has raced at the Grand Prix Historique de Tunis (2008, 2010 and 2012), Coppa Monza Intereuropa (2011 and 2012) and Bologna San Luca hill climb, etc. The car's best results are 1st and 3rd in class at Monza, 2nd overall twice at Tunis and 1st in class twice at Bologna. Presented in its Monza 2012 livery, this exciting, all-American, V8-engined sports-racer is offered with old US Certificate of Title, Austrian registration papers and current FIA HTP documents.

Saleroom notices

  • Since the sale catalogue went to press, Bonhams has learned that this car is one of the limited series of Kurtis-Kraft 500S 'continuations' built (with sequential chassis numbering) in the 1990s by race-car engineer Jon Ward at his facility in Littlerock, Southern California. Ward used chassis frames constructed on the original jigs by Frank Kurtis' son, Arlen, and incorporated the best of modern technology in the form of the latest Chevrolet V8 engine, disc brakes, a limited slip differential, power steering and a host of other top-quality, competition-specification components. Jon Ward's ambition was to win the Carrera Panamericana driving his own 500S, which he duly did in 1991, co-driven by his wife, Shirley. Another of Ward's 500S continuations came second. The FIA papers and Austrian registration papers are copies, not originals. There is no US certificate of title.
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