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Earlier within the week, I featured livery designs on American race vehicles. Whereas searching by way of footage for examples, I got here throughout a automotive I had forgotten about: the 1955 Indy Automobile Streamliner.

The story begins within the early Fifties. Invoice Vukovich received the Indianapolis 500 in 1953 and 1954. In an effort to complete third in a row, Invoice contacted Howard Keck (legendary financier) and requested him to finance a automotive that could not be beat.

Howard agreed, contacting a well-known group of innovators referred to as the “Indy Whiz Children” to get the job performed. Quinn Epperly leads a gaggle made up of Jim Travers and Frank Coons. These guys would go on to type Traco Racing, however earlier than that? They got down to construct the lightest, most aerodynamic and quickest roadster to ever grace the Indianapolis monitor.

Development started with inspiration gained from the velocity efforts of pre-war German producers akin to Auto Union and Mercedes. The Germans set astronomical velocity data with far much less energy than the Whiz Children had, so a wedding within the mains regarded like a winner.

This quantity of innovation, nevertheless, takes time… And when the 1955 Indianapolis 500 rolled round, the crew solely had a rolling chassis. There was no time to suit the Offy engine and check the setup earlier than the race, so Vukovich received a seat at one other crew, considering 1956 can be the yr of the streamliner.

Sadly, Vuko was concerned in an accident in the course of the ’55 Indianapolis 500 and died of his accidents. Because of this, Howard Keck misplaced his abdomen over velocity and stopped writing checks for the streamliner. The mission was shelved indefinitely, and the improvements it contained had been virtually forgotten.

Should you look again on the automotive now, it is simple to see that it was means forward of its time. Whereas it nonetheless featured stable axle development, the chassis was extremely mild and the crew put numerous concentrate on distributing the burden the automotive was carrying. Finding the motor halfway between the axles allowed the streamlined physique to take a seat low and excellent the middle of gravity.

However Indy’s engineering can get difficult quick. Capturing down the straight at 170mph in 1955 is one factor, however getting the automotive to hit the apex between flip one and two is a wholly totally different matter: quick, slippery objects are likely to go straight, not spin. The Whiz youngsters, nevertheless, had a solution for that. They constructed an “elevator” alongside the rear forefront of the automotive that the motive force may use to actively add downforce when wanted. If the automotive had raced in 1955, it will have been the primary to function lively aerodynamics.

In fact, he did not… and it wasn’t… Though Keck stopped financing the mission, he could not deliver himself to promote it. As an alternative, he stored the unfinished automotive in storage for greater than thirty years. Finally a collector named Jimmy Dobbs talked him out of it and did an entire restoration to the unique design.

For me although… the craziest a part of this story is that the automotive was lastly offered once more at public sale in April 2018. The value? $35k. Unbelievable. In 2019, the automotive was offered once more… This time, it fetched a worth of over $375,000.


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