c.1940 Sawin Ford "Big Car"
200.5ci Flathead Inline 4-Cylinder Engine
85bhp at 4,200rpm (est)
"In and Out" racing transmission
Transverse Leaf Springs with Houdaille Lever Shocks
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes
*Skillfully made car with documented history
*Built by a noted New England builder
*In good sound condition
*Correct period livery
Even in the Great Depression racing flourished in America. It was more local, stock-based racing, but still creative and competitive. The backbone of Depression-era racing were the "big cars" or "sprint cars" that were lightweight, quick, rugged cars that could compete night after night on the bullrings that dotted America for starting and prize money and occasional points in season championships. It was "the show" that counted, coaxing nickels and dimes out of the pockets of spectators for whom inexpensive entertainment provided distraction from the depression of day-to-day reality.
Fortunately, the craftsmen who had honed their skills in the Twenties adapted them to the realities of the Thirties. They built exceptionally pretty, fast, and reliable cars that were economical to operate yet gave more thrills per dollar than any racecars before or since.
The Motorcar Offered
Sawin built the example offered here sometime in the '30s. A high quality Rhode Island based racecar fabricator, his cars are scarce and prized. Known primarilly as Midget builder this is thought to be one of his only big cars. Based upon a boxed rail frame, it is powered by a 1932 Ford Model B 4-cylinder block topped by a Lion high compression cylinder head that retained the Model B's side valve arrangement. Though currently running a Model B these cars ran a wide variety of power plants including 85hp Ford flatheads.
The front axle is "suicide" type, with the spring and front axle mounted ahead of the front frame crossmember, and it uses split trailing arms with reworked inner ends. 1935 Ford 16" wire wheels carry blackwall tires.
The Sawin tagged bodywork is very nice. The steel construction of the tail shows much skill, and little damage over the years, and is paired up with a newly fabricated aluminum hood and period aluminum Kurtis type nose. The result is a very attractive headrest-era body.
The car looks to be at the tail end of a cosmetic restoration. With a bit of mechanical finishing and little cosmetic work one will end up with a great, usable vintage racer. Sprint cars like this offer tremendous bang for the buck in vintage racing. Used on road courses, a skilled driver can mix it up with cars costing 100 times the price.