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A CLASSIC KURTIS CAR FROM GLENDALE, CALIFORNIA

A CLASSIC KURTIS CAR FROM GLENDALE, CALIFORNIA

Palm Springs, CA

In addition to his French Deutsch Bonnet and English Allard, Bernard Dervieux also brought his made-in-the-USA Kurtis to the Desert Classic. Frank Kurtis was an American race car designer who designed and built midget cars, quarter-midgets, sports cars, sprint cars, Indy cars, and Formula 1 cars with great success. He built as many as 120 Indianapolis 500 cars, including five winners; this was at a time when the vast majority of Indy cars were built in Southern California. Kurtis started Kurtis-Kraft when he built his own midget car chassis in the late 1930s. He built some very low fiberglass-bodied two-seaters under his own name in Glendale, California between 1949 and 1955. Ford engines and running gear were used. About 36 cars had been made when he sold the license to 'Madman' Muntz, who built the Muntz Jet (which is a whole other story, one we don't have room for here --- But check this website often, because not only did I meet Earl Muntz, I did a lengthy interview with him; Muntz invented the large-screen projection TV, the tape cassette, along with partner Bill Lear, and crazy late-night TV advertising). In 1954 and 1955, road versions of Kurtis' Indianapolis racers were offered, of which this car is one. A Kurtis was on the first cover of HOT ROD magazine when it changed from a mimeographed hand-out to a true magazine format; this car might be that very Kurtis. The Kurtis expertise with fiberglass lasted at least through one more generation: Arlen Kurtis, Frank's son, was a very successful racing and pleasure boat builder, and eventually moved the family company to Bakersfield, California. The company also did various contract and military work for the US government, as have many of the "hot rodders" in SOuthern California, right up to this day. Their maverick spirit and amazing skills with metals and plastics of all types have made them quite valuable to the nation, more than the public would ever know. Let's just say that these car-makers are people to be appreciated for many reasons, including many you'd never guess.

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