Wednesday, December 14, 2011

the Don Lee special, built by Frank Kurtis. Ford body and chassis, Cord fenders, Offenhauser engine

This is the Don Lee special, built by Frank Kurtis in 1936. The other four "Don Lee Specials" are posted in different posts and without much finesse

 Tommy approached Frank with a project. He wanted the best looking and fastest hot rod in Southern California… and he wanted Frank to build it.

Frank thought the Cord was a smart look and Tommy agreed. Frank felt a Cad motor would be appropriate, but Tommy balked. He wanted the best of the best and that meant this car was going to get a 318-inch Offy. A direction was set and work began.

Frank started with a 1936 Ford chassis and Cord front and rear fenders. From there, the car just blossomed into something VERY unique and VERY fast

Don left millions to his son Tommy, who at age 45 jumped from the 12th story of the Wilshire hotel, leaving 10 million to potential heirs to fight over

Tommy’s roadster ran on the dry lakes of Southern California with limited success. Improvements might have been made and potential realized if not for a tragedy that happened just prior to the war. On an intersection in Hollywood, CA, Tommy was t-boned by a truck and he was badly injured.

Tommy lived the rest of his life in a great deal of pain. He tried to play through and continued buying a number of hot rods and race cars as well as a few fighter planes (p38). But the joy of speed just wasn’t enough to overcome the pain.

On January 13, 1950, Tommy had his driver take him to the dentist. He got on the elevator and went to the 12th floor roof. He then jumped to his death leaving behind a 10 million dollar fortune, a huge automobile and aircraft collection, a radio station, and a television business

These are screen shots from the 1940 Harpers Dry Lakes racing video that Dave from just added to youtube
Comparing the above photo with the last photo below that shows this car in street form vs racing form, I don't see a door handle or hinge in the above racing form
notice that the street exhaust is different from the racing exhaust
these last two images from

For the other Don Lee Special that I posted this summer

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