Monday, January 30, 2017

The King automobile  
America's second production V-8 engine

The Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM) has an extremely rare and highly significant car, a 1917 King Model EE ‘Foursome’ on display.  This car is historically significant because King Motor Car Company was the second manufacturer to introduce a production V-8 engine, only a month after the introduction of the Cadillac Model 51 which used the first production V-8 engine.

Charles Brady King finished building his first automobile on March 6, 1896, and legend has it this King drove the first gasoline-powered “horseless carriage” on the streets of Detroit, reportedly followed on a bicycle by his friend Henry Ford. After he worked for several auto manufacturers, Charles formed the King Motor Car Company in February 1911 to sell a new car the “Silent 36” which was powered by a four-cylinder engine rated at 36 horsepower.

The King Motor Car Company outgrew its first factory location and moved into the original Hupp Motor Car Company plant located at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Concord Street in Detroit. However the King company grew too quickly, got into financial troubles and King lost control of the company the assets of which were purchased by Artemas Ward who installed his son Artemas Ward Junior as the King Motor Car Company’s new  President and General Manager.

Artemas Ward the great-grandson and namesake of the famous Revolutionary War General was born May 20, 1848 in New York City. After the Civil War Ward moved to Philadelphia and entered import/export business and later became renowned as an advertising genius. In 1899 Ward gained control of the platform advertising and vending machine rights on the New York Elevated Railroad and later in 1904 the Subway lines.

Ward Senior held the patent for a “coin-controlled vending machine” that released a gum ball after a person deposited a penny in the slot and pulled the operating handle.  The value of Ward's exclusive contracts skyrocketed with the fortunes of the subway system and Ward bought both chocolate and chewing gum factories to fill his vending machines.  Ward’s gross earnings for the decade from 1904 to 1914 were reportedly $11.4 million which is equivalent to $270 million in 2016.

Under the control of Ward Junior, the “King Eight” powered by the new V-8 engine that displaced 283 cubic inches and developed 60 horsepower was introduced in October 26, 1914 priced at $1,350. By the 1916 model year, the King “Silent Six” line was phased out and all King cars were 8-cylinder models.  

The 1917 Model EE Foursome on display at WAAAM was one of four body styles offered for 1917. In addition to the Foursome, King offered a 7-passenger Touring car, and a Roadster, which each sold for $1,585 as well as a 7-passenger Sedan that sold for $2,150. After more than 3000 V-8 cars were sold the first year, sales dropped rapidly and by October 1923, Ward voluntarily let the company enter receivership.  The King Motor Car Company’s assets were sold again and the new owner moved to the factory to Buffalo New York but King went bankrupt again quickly and was out of business for good in early 1924.

All photos by the author

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ford's 1-liter I-3 engine examined

The Ford booth at the 2017 Silicon Valley Auto Show at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center included a display of the major components of the Ford “Fox”  Ecoboost™ turbocharged, direct-injection one-liter (61 cubic inch) inline three-cylinder engine.

In the nineteen sixties Saab cars used two-stroke three cylinder engines fitted with three carburetors, but more recently, Opel, Volkswagen, Subaru, and Toyota have all built and sold cars with inline three-cylinder engines.  

The Ford “Fox” Ecoboost™ engine produces 123 horsepower and installed as a $995 option in the Ford Fiesta SE delivers 43 miles per gallon (MPG) fuel economy when paired with five-speed manual transmission. The iron cylinder block appears almost small enough to fit onto an 8-1/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper.

The double overhead camshaft cylinder head is cast aluminum with a variable camshaft system and instead of timing belt the engine uses a belt that runs in an oil bath. The engine has been voted “International Engine of the Year” in its class as awarded by UKIP Media for the last five years.
courtesy Ford Motor Company

So how does Ford eliminate those engine destroying vibrations? Other manufacturers use balance shafts, but Ford engineers developed an eccentric weighted flywheel. The “Fox” engine weighs 215 pounds ready to install.    
All photos by the author except as noted

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

1976 Jensen Interceptor III convertible
1976 Jensen Interceptor convertible
Author's photo
This rare car displayed at the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM) is a 1976 Jensen Interceptor III convertible. According to renowned Jensen expert Richard Calver only 509 Interceptor III convertibles were built in the four years of production (including prototypes), with only 54 convertibles built as 1976 models. Calver states that only 375 convertibles were sold in the United States and throughout the entire production run only 42 Interceptor convertibles were painted a red hue like this unrestored example.  

Two English brothers, Richard and Alan Jensen opened a coach-building shop in 1934 and produced cars that used the Ford V-8 chassis. On a visit to England, Hollywood businessman Percy T. Morgan saw one of the cars and struck a deal to sell Jensen bodied cars in Southern California.

According to an article published in Ford Life magazine in 1971, Morgan initially ordered two sporting tourers: one black with tan leather for himself, the other silver with red leather for his friend the actor Clark Gable, who gave Morgan a $1,000 deposit. Gable and Morgan were on hand to see the cars unloaded in Long Beach, and Gable wanted the black car. Morgan refused so Gable drove away in the silver Jensen-bodied car but returned it a few days later and bought a Rollston-bodied Duesenberg Model JN serial number 2585.  

The nineteen fifties era Jensen 541 series sports car used a fiberglass body with aluminum doors as did the nineteen sixties era Jensen C-V8 which can be considered one the first “supercars” as it was powered by a 383-cubic inch Chrysler “Golden Commando” V-8 engine. 
A factory photo of a Jensen Interceptor
The Jensen Interceptor III was a rear-wheel drive sports luxury car with a large wrap-around rear window. Earlier Jensen Interceptor I and II models (built from 1966 to 1971) were powered by a Chrysler 383-cubic inch engine but the Interceptor III introduced in 1972 was powered by a Chrysler 440-cubic inch engine.

Famed West Coast British car importer Kjell Qvale took control of Jensen Motors in April 1970 and brought about the Interceptor III which was aimed at the American market with features that included electric power windows, power steering, power brakes, reclining front seats, a wood rim steering wheel, radio with twin speakers, wooden dashboard trim and an electric clock. 
The Jensen Interceptor III convertible was extremely popular with celebrities with a list that included singer Cher Bono, Frank Sinatra, producer Quinn Martin and actress Lynda Carter.  Author Harold Robbins and politician Winthrop Rockefeller each owned Jensen Interceptor III convertibles and the 1975 Penthouse magazine “Pet of the Year” was given an Interceptor III convertible along with other prizes.

Qvale also hatched the idea to build an affordable sports car  to replace the Austin-Healy 3000 and planned build 10,000 Jensen-Healys each production year. Unfortunately, just a few more than 10,000 Jensen-Healy cars were built and sold throughout the entire four years of the car’s lifespan. As a result of this sales shortfall, Jensen Motors fell into serious financial trouble and Jensen production including the Interceptor III ended during 1976.  

For more information about the Jensen Interceptor sports cars visit Richard Calver's excellent website:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A pair of Chevy street rods
at the Silicon Valley Auto Show
In addition to all the latest domestic and imported cars shown at the Silicon Valley Auto Show at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, there was a pair of street rods that were eye-catching.

The first was this 1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo painted in a vibrant metal flake green hue that was definitely not a factory color in 1972 contrasted by a white interior and white vinyl top.
Under the hood was nicely detailed with a matching engine block and partially smoothed firewall.
In 1937 Chevrolet offered twelve models but only the Master Deluxe “GA” series offered the rumble seat coupe - this one in San Jose was mildly customized in a very tasteful fashion with a metallic brown finish.
The 1937 Chevrolet 216 cubic-inch overhead valve inline 6-cylinder engine was fitted with a single Carter downdraft carburetor. The all-new engine with full pressurized lubrication was  50 pounds lighter than in 1936 and with increased compression it developed 85 horsepower which matched the Ford V-8. This engine was used with changes through the 1963 model year.
In 1937 the re-styled Chevrolet body designed by Jules Agramonte, was Chevrolet’s first all-steel body and all the Chevrolets rode on a 112-inch wheelbase chassis. Chevrolet's investment of $26 million dollars in the new cars paid off as over 800,000 were sold in the 1937 model year, more than half a million of them the more-expensive Master Deluxe.   
All photographs by the author

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sprint cars (and midgets) at the 2016 PRI show
Part two

The 2016 Performance Racing Industry (PRI) trade show held in Indianapolis featured all forms of racing, but the author was particularly interested in the midget and sprint cars on display. 
The author photographed sprint car driver Chad Boespflug as he was being interviewed at the bell Helmets stage.  Chad created a lot of buzz a few days before the PRI show opened when he announced his plans to join forces with Hoffman Auto Racing / Dynamics, Inc. for the 2017 AMSOIL USAC Racing National Season and carry the famed #69 and sponsorship from Mean Green Cleaner.

This is Chad’s #98E non-winged Eberhardt Zirzow Racing sprint car which he will race in non-USAC events on display at the PAC Racing Springs booth

The United States Auto Club (USAC) booth featured this USAC .25 National Championship midget driven by Cale Coons, son of the USAC Series Director Jerry Coons Jr. The USAC .25 midgets will race in eight national events during 2017. For more information visit

USAC also had the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports Toyota midget of 2016 USAC national champion Tanner Thorsen on display. Tanner led the most laps during the season (180) and was the winningest USAC national midget driver as he scored six feature and eight het races wins during the 2016 season. The 2017 USAC National midget scheduled can be found at

The SCE Gaskets booth featured veteran Justin Henderson’s BDS Motorsports 410 cubic inch winged Sprint Car in their booth.  Justin has spent time with the World of Outlaws tour and in central Pennsylvania. Highlights of Justin’s career include a preliminary feature win at the Knoxville Nationals in 2012 and a third place finish behind Donny Schatz and Brian Brown in the 2013 Knoxville Nationals. During 2016 Justin raced extensively with the Midwest Sprint Touring Series and scored a feature win at Badlands Motor Speedway on July 10th. For over 25 years, SCE Gaskets is become a recognized leader in the manufacture of engine gaskets for automotive racing and high performance applications for everything from a Model “A” Ford to the latest aftermarket engine block and cylinder head combinations. . Check them out at

Briggs & Stratton featured Grayson Springer’s .25 Midwest Thunder Series midget. Briggs & Stratton builds the M-series racing engine engineered to meet the needs of the Quarter Midget market.  Each M-Series engine is hand-built and tested in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with digital ignition, high-silicon valve springs and nitrated dished exhaust valve. The company also offers its famed Animal kart racing engine, get details at

Performance Plus Global Logistics displayed eight-time champion Donny Schatz’ Bad Boys Buggies/Chevrolet performance  World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman sprint car.  Performance Plus handles the shipping for all the Tony Stewart Racing engines, as well as services for Kasey Kahne Racing, QRC Karts, Impact Racing, John Force Racing, Esslinger Engineering and Boninfante Friction, Inc. Check out their website at

Weld Wheels featured the Gaerte Engines/XYZ/All Star Performance winged sprint car that Carson Macedo will drive in 2017.


The Engine Pro booth offered PRI visitors the chance to examine the car of 2015 and 2016 Must See Racing (MSR) asphalt sprint car series champion Jimmy McCune. McCune notched three wins in 2015 and five wins in 2016. Engine Pro manufactures and distributes high performance engine parts designed to offer the highest quality in high performance parts along with a moderate price to give racers and performance engine builders a more affordable way to do what they do best—win races. Learn more at
All photos by the author

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sprint Cars at the 2016 PRI show
part one 


The 2016 Performance Racing Industry (PRI) trade show held in Indianapolis featured all forms of racing, but the author was particularly interested in the midget and sprint cars on display.  
This J & J winged sprint car chassis was on display at the Champion Brands booth. Just days before the PRI show the company announced the Champion 2017 "Elite Racer” Program in conjunction with Lane Automotive; it will be a marketing program designed to link Champion racing and performance lubricants directly to regional and national racers for most sanctioned racing events in North America including the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), All Star Circuit of Champions (ASCoC), American Sprint Car Series (ASCS), World of Outlaws (WoO), and the United States Auto Club (USAC).
Here is a winged sprint car at the Superflow booth set up on the SuperFlow SF-832 two wheel drive chassis dynamometer. In 2016, Superflow sponsored Ryan Giles, who finished second in the 2016 the Knoxville Championship Cup Series for 360-cubic inch winged sprint cars.

The Shepherd Insurance booth featured Tyler ‘Sunshine” Courtney’s Topp Industries sponsored #23c non-winged sprint car which will compete in the USAC (United States Auto Club) national sprint car series in 2017. Shepherd Insurance’s father and son team of race team owners Tom and Jeff Johnson specialize in motorsports insurance tailored for the racer.

The Butlerbuilt Professional Seat Systems booth featured the company’s front axle kingpin-to-kingpin tether system designed to contain the front axle of a sprint car in a crash and can withstand a 100-G impact. The system shown at PRI was installed on a DMI axle, but it can be used on all sizes of axles and is lightweight and easy to install with titanium hardware available for the super-weight conscious racer.
The Eagle Motorsports Inc. (SMI) booth featured the actual EMI sprint car chassis that Robert Ballou was driving when he crashed at Calistoga Speedway in September and broke his neck. The point of the display was to urge drivers to check the clearance inside the cage considering that belts and the human body can stretch up to 2 inches in a high-G crash. Ballou still wearing his neck brace was on hand and explained that during the flip his car did not hit anything besides the track surface and more telling that at the time of his crash he had some taller cage chassis on order.

Davey Hamilton Junior won both the 2016 King of the Wing Orchex Western Sprintcar Series and the 2016 Royal Purple King of the Wing National Sprintcar Series. The booth for MPD Racing Wheels which has manufactured the highest quality Sprint Car and Midget products for over 30 years had Hamilton’s Terry Klatt-owned #1 winged pavement sprint car on display

In the coming weeks, we will continue our coverage of midgets and sprint cars shown at the 2016 PRI show.

All photos by the author

Monday, January 9, 2017

Axalta celebrated 150 years at SEMA 2016


Axalta Coating Systems previously known as DuPont Performance Coatings first developed its products in Germany in 1866 to protect the finish on carriages from gravel and dirt roads.

At the 50th annual 2016 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show in Las Vegas the company celebrated its 150th anniversary with a number of custom painting displays, as well as live product and skill demonstrations within Axalta’s over 5,200 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibit space.

In 1923 DuPont introduced the Duco™ line of quick drying multi-color line of nitrocellulose lacquers made especially for the automotive industry which cut finishing time from days to hours. Axalta innovations continued with the first mixing-machine tinting system developed that improved quality in 1935, the ColorMaster™ colorimeter commercialized refinish color match system in 1948.

In 1957 the company developed “L,a,b” color equations that became part of the foundation of modern color science, which was digitized in 1970 with the Ducolor™   colorimeter. In the 1990s, Axalta introduced Cromax(TM), a water-based product now in its third generation of development. The company which operates in North America, South America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa was rebranded as Axalta after it was purchased by the Carlyle Group in 2013.
The Axalta “Pedal Car Shootout” featured the works of Kristian Baena of Zac Brown Customs Danny Galvez of Danny D Custom Painting, DeWayne Connot of DOA Flatliners, Paul Quinn of Design Brilliance, and many others. This car was completed by Galvez. 

Also on display at the Axalta booth was the 'American Graffiti' 1958 Chevy Impala restored by Ray Evernham.  
All photos by the author

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Shoe This!
a unique hot rod
This unique hot rod which was entered in the 2016 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) “Battle of the Builders”  “Young Guns” competition for car builders under 35 years of age, and displayed outdoors in front of the north hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. 

Known as “Shoe This” this 1927 Ford Model T was built by 22-year old Jacob Griffin of Griffin Designs in Escondido California using all-steel 1949 “shoebox” Ford body panels.
Notice the huge amount of fabrication - working trunk, glovebox door and the use of 1949 trim including the taillights, side trim, trademark grille “spinner,” rear bumper and dashboard components that include the speedometer and clock. The powerplant is a 230-cubic inch supercharged Buick V-6 engine which Jake claimed produces 1200 horsepower.     
All photos by the author

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Mazda Road to Indy

In 2010 Andersen Promotions launched the “Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires” program as the official Verizon INDYCAR driver development series. The program shares the commonality of the Mazda MZR engine architecture and Cooper Tires and has been very successful as 23 of the 33 starters in the 2016 Indianapolis 500-mile race came from the “Mazda Road to Indy” (MRTI). MRTI was highly publicized at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) show in Indianapolis Indiana.    


The three-step program begins with the USF2000 series which uses the new for 2017 Tatuus USF-17 full carbon monocoque chassis. The rolling chassis which sells for $55,800 includes a Cosworth full electronics and data logging system, Performance Friction 4-piston caliper brake system, carbon fiber bodywork, integrated steering wheel with shift paddles and stainless steel exhaust system. Fitted with custom American Racing Technomesh wheels and Cooper Tires the USF-17’s estimated top speed is 140 Miles per hour (MPH).

The 2.0 liter (122 cubic inch) Mazda MZR (Mazda Responsive) 4-cylinder engine with aluminum block with cast iron cylinder liners and double overhead camshafts is prepared by Elite Engines of West Bend Wisconsin to produce 175 horsepower. The distributor Carl Hass Inc. advertises that the engine, management system and installation kit cost teams $22,500.

The USF2000 series will compete on eight racing weekends during 2017 with a total of 14 races in conjunction with the Verizon INDYCAR series. The season opener will be in St. Petersburg Florida on March 11 followed by stops at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, the Iowa Speedway oval, and road courses at Watkins Glen New York and Mid-Ohio in Steam Corners Ohio.  Andersen Promotions estimates the cost for a season of USF2000 racing at $275,000 to $375,000.   

Australian Anthony Martin won the 2016 Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 Championship and a scholarship from Mazda for $363,850 to race in the Pro Mazda class for 2017.   

Pro Mazda

The next step up the driver development ladder on the MRTI is the Pro Mazda championship presented by Cooper Tires. For 2018, the series will use the all-new Tatuus PM-18 chassis which debuted at the PRI show. 

The PM-18 features a Cosworth full electronics and data logging system, six-speed paddle gearbox, Performance Friction 4-piston caliper brake system, carbon fiber bodywork, and LCD steering wheel with shift paddles The PM-18 and USF-17 share the same full carbon monocoque chassis and will race fitted with custom American Racing Technomesh wheels and Cooper Tires.

The PM-18 features more sophisticated aerodynamics with a dual element rear win and front wings with adjustable flaps. The powerplant for the PM-18 will use the same basic 2.0 liter (122 cubic inch) Mazda MZR (Mazda Responsive) 4-cylinder engine as the USF2000 series but will be tuned to produce 275 horsepower which will allow a top speed estimated at over 160 MPH.

For the 2017 season, Pro Mazda teams will use the same Elan chassis in use since 2004 for its 12-race schedule with two-race stops at St. Petersburg, Indianapolis, Road America, Mid-Ohio, and Watkins Glen. The Pro Mazda series will make its only oval appearance at the Gateway Motorsport Park near St Louis on the weekend August 25-26 2017 with the Verizon INDYCAR series inaugural ‘Gateway 500.’   

The 2016 Pro Mazda series champion Aaron Telitz from Wisconsin who won four consecutive races earned a $601,700 scholarship to compete in the Indy Lights series in 2017.

Indy Lights

The top rung of the “Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires” program is the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires which enters 2017 using the Dallara IL-15 full carbon fiber chassis for the third season. The 1400 pound chassis manufactured by Dallara Automobili, provides the drivers with full aerodynamic tuning capability, six-speed paddle shifters, and a “push-to-pass” feature for high speed overtaking.  Straight-line speed for the IL-15 can reach 210 MPH.

The 2.0-liter Mazda MZR-R engine developed in conjunction with Advanced Engine Research (AER) is turbocharged to produce 450 horsepower with additional 50 horsepower in the “push-to-pass” mode and according the Andersen Promotions is capable of running an entire season without a rebuild. The cost for the full 16-race 2017 Indy Lights season which includes the crown jewel “Freedom 100” on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2-1/2 mile oval  is estimated to be between $1 million and $2 million.  

The 2016 Indy Lights champion Ed Jones from Dubai won the first three races of the season and earned a $1 million scholarship to advance to the INDYCAR series. Jones recently announced that he will drive full-time for Dale Coyne Racing in the 2017 Verizon INDYCAR series in the #18 Honda powered Dallara DW12.   

All the 2017 Mazda Road to Indy races will be shown in live streaming at,, and the RoadtoIndy.TV App on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku.
All photos by the author