For Sale: 1947 Kurtis-Kraft Midget in St. Louis, Missouri

Vehicle Description

In response to the fast-rising costs of racing in the 1940's, Frank Kurtis offered Midget racing cars in both complete and kit forms that were capable of accommodating Ford's 136ci V8/60hp engine. This combination was particularly effective on the popular URA (United Racing Association) "Blue" circuit reserved for non-Offenhauser-powered cars. According to reliable estimates, Kurtis produced approximately 550 fully assembled Midgets and another 600 in kit form. Kurtis Kraft Midgets rank among the most effective and influential American racing designs- regardless of the era, ensuring the introduction of Kurtis as the only non-driver into the National Midget Hall of Fame.

This Kurtis Kraft V-8/60 is a particularly special "one-off" example of these game-changing Midgets, purchased new by Los Angeles-based machinist and racer Leland "Buzz" Lowe, a friend of Frank Kurtis. In fact, Lowe sold the steel tubing Kurtis required to construct the cars and owned the fourth postwar Kurtis Midget built, selling it in favor of this car, believed by Kurtis historian Gordon White to have been the first built with torsion bar front suspension. Unlike the customary Kurtis Midget design, this car is the only tube-frame Kurtis Midget ever built with a flat-top tail section and without the customary raised headrest. This car was also subsequently updated to Lowe's preferred chassis setup utilizing a transverse leaf spring mounted ahead of the front axle.

Provenance of this singular Kurtis Kraft Midget is fully known from new. It features the work of many Los Angeles-area racing legends, including the hot V-8/60 Ford engine, completed by California racing legend Clay Smith. The In and One gearbox, quick-change differential, and rear axle were all supplied by Ernie Casale Engineering via Bob Stelling. The horsehide leather cockpit upholstery leather cockpit upholstery, nicely preserved and unrestored, was the last job hand-stitched by none other than Chet Miller, the "Dean of the Speedway", who perished just week later at the wheel of a Novi during practice sessions at Indianapolis. Wheels and tires were purchased from Bell Auto Parts and sold to "Buzz" for this car by Roy Richter, founder of Bell Helmets and Cragar Wheels.

Following completion, the car sported racing numbers 86 and 93 and it was campaigned up and down the west coast for over a year with several colorful Californian drivers including Danny "Poison" Oakes, Bill Brereton, Frank Wilson, Frank Armi, and others. In 1948, Lowe sold the car to his former Lincoln, Nebraska school chum, Lloyd Van Winkle, who was by then a Ford dealer. Van Winkle soon tired of racing and sold the car, which passed through a couple of Nebraska owners until 1950, when it was bought by Joe Nichols of Omaha, who retained the car until 1979, when Ron Williams of Davenport, Iowa purchased the Kurtis. During his ownership, Williams restored the car, including a total rebuild of the Clay Smith engine. Following restoration, Williams showed the car and won awards with it before placing it in storage.

In 1987, Frank Kurtis saw a photo of the car in the newspaper and contacted Lowe, who immediately realized it was the unique car he purchased from Kurtis back in 1947. Lowe and his wife Lois stopped to visit Williams on a return trip from Pennsylvania and asked to see the car. Williams was initially skeptical that Lowe had owned it when new, that is until Lowe pointed out his "Buzz Lowe" name hand-stamped on the aluminum front engine plate. Although a little reluctant, Williams sold the car back to Lowe, who ran the car in the Western Racing Association (WRA) events until his retirement in 1991. After Buzz passed away in 2000, the Kurtis was loaned to the Justice Brothers Racing Museum in Duarte, California, where it was on display until just recently.

Fabulous documentation accompanies this "0ne of one" vintage Midget, including a copy of the original invoice for the car listing its "as-delivered" features, issued by Kurtis-Kraft on July 24, 1947. Further copies of the invoices document purchases of the steering, In-and-Out gearbox, rear end, and Cragar clutch from Bob Stelling of Glendale, California. Copies of the invoices dated May 27th, 1948 from Smith and Jones of Long Beach document the Clay Smith-built engine the car retains today, which sports an Edelbrock intake manifold, dual Stromberg "81" two-barrel carburetors, and finned cylinder heads. Displaying its later #93 livery and continuing to benefit handsomely from the 1980's restoration performed under Ron Williams, this Kurtis-Kraft Midget also includes a number of period photographs. A true piece of racing history that remains wonderfully presented today, and a unique opportunity for the astute collector! Sold on Bill of Sale. Please feel free to call with questions or discuss your opportunity to purchase.

Vehicle Details

  • 1947 Kurtis-Kraft Midget
  • Listing ID:CC-1551784
  • Price:$39,900
  • Location:St. Louis, Missouri
  • Year:1947
  • Make:Kurtis-Kraft
  • Model:Midget
  • Exterior Color:Black
  • Interior Color:Black Leather
  • Odometer:0
  • Stock Number:C3747
  • VIN:F-121-47

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Sold By:
St. Louis Car Museum
1575 Woodson Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63114
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