I'm tracking down information on the Ford "special" racers driven primarily by Frank Kulick, 1910 to 1912. The first mention of what I believe is a Ford Special is the race between a Ford Racer driven by Frank Kulick and an ice yacht in late February, 1910:
This article in Motor Age describes the race:
At one point the writer notes the Ford covers a mile and a quarter in 59.6 seconds. If I plugged numbers into this calculator correctly, that's a speed of 75.5 mph:
This photo shows Frank Kulick at an unidentified track seated on one of the Ford "Special" racers. This is not the racer currently off display at The Henry Ford:
I believe the remnants of this racer including a special 300 cubic inch engine were sold on one of the Ford "deaccession" sales in the 1980's. I'll post a few more 1910 Ford race results that posted speeds I don't believe a stock Model T was capable of. If this racer was running in February 1910, it seems probable it was being developed during the 1909 calendar year. If anyone has additional information or photos please post them.
Thank you for sharing your research and passion for our hobby. One item for your 1910-12 Ford Special Racers:
Bruce McCalley, "Model T Ford" page 505:
Jul 23, 1911 Engine Serial number 62,200 "Stock Car Racer built for Kulick"
Page 497 same book:
Jul 23  62,200 "Stock Car Racer" built for Kulick
The entry on page 497 confirms that the production card for Kulick's "Stock Car Racer" survives and is at the Benson Ford Archives (it was included in Bruce's "Shipping Invoices" pages 475 to 499. [Note for those not familiar with Bruce's listing -- there were so many cars, he started listing only 100th car along with any that appeared to have a special reason to be listed.]
Note with the Manufactured date of Jul 23, 1911 number 62,200 could NOT have been the one raced on the ice mentioned in the Feb 24, 1910 article posted above. But it was another Ford made for Kulick.
Hap l9l5 cut off
Thank you for the response. The racer pictured and the "ice racer" aren't stock Fords, however "wolves in sheeps clothing." The racer with Frank Kulick at a track has a 300 cubic inch four cylinder motor. The extension or cover at the rear of the firewall hides the fourth cylinder, and the frame of the racer is two inches longer than a stock T.
It used a dual ignition Bosch magneto and water pump somewhat like the early 09 T.
I thought I had notes off where and when that photo was taken however haven't found them yet.
A few pics of the block and the upper and lower crankcase. Bore is 4 1/2 in. and the stroke 5 in.
I remember hearing that Buck Boudeman was the guy who recreated the 300 cu. in. car, using the original engine
I'd like to find the lot info when the engine and parts to this racer were sold. An amazing engine and piece of Ford history....
Nice beefy crank.
I think they expected high rpm and performance from this engine. The cylinder walls have holes, I think to help relieve heat and pressure at the bottom of the stroke. Big intake, valves and exhaust. It had pressurized mains too....
(Message edited by Rob on September 24, 2017)
Peter is right. Buck Boudeman had purchased just the engine at one of the Ford Museum Auctions and began building the car from the engine. I believe the engine to be the same as the V-radiator car at the Henry Ford Museum. I saw the engine at Buck's house many years ago. Buck had just the engine-no other parts existed. Buck never finished the project, but I heard it was sold to someone in Alabama (?) that is continuing the creation.
As a side note, Buck was well known for collecting and re-creating vintage race cars. The MIller Golden Submarine was his best known re-creation. He also built a few Stanley Vanderbilt Cup racers and other Miller cars and components. He had access to some very
talented machinist and fabricators. He was a creative guy and had the family's financials to help him build what most people couldn't even think about building. He was a related to the
Gilmore/Upjohn drug company families which, of course, are well known as the family behind the famous Gilmore Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan. Burton Upjohn was one of the premiere early car collectors.
Rob- we just came across that photo Friday, as we were discussing ice boat racing and how they would race trains down the Hudson River!
Thanks for sharing that 'bigger' version- the one I have on my desktop was much smaller and not so easy to see details!
Thank you for the background. This engine is a little different from the Ford "special" at THF. The ignition is set up differently and the bore/stroke different. The basic design appear to be similar. According to the 1912 Ford engine specs the winner at Algonquin the motor was a 410 cubic inch (4.75 bore x 5.5 in stroke). This motor is 4.5 x 5 in. My guess is this motor/racer is possibly the racer that won throughout 1910 and several races at the February 1911 Mardi Gras races.
I would like to find the description of the engine that Ford sold and if there were any other pieces with it (1980's Ford sales).
My pleasure..... I believe THF Benson library have a negative and one might find a higher resolution photo there.
I don't want to toss out a red herring...but thought to mention something about Ford experimental engines. My help won't be any help but may add to a be bigger thought???
As you know, my own belief is that there never was meant to be an "improved" car. I hold strong thought that Ford original intent was to keep making 1925 T's until folks just didn't want them any more, and the trade up buyers rather than move to Chevrolet would go to the Ford Model X! I know for a fact that two Model X engines were built starting as early as 23, but they had no endurance or refused to run on command. I have looked high and low for either of those two engines and have had zippo success.
However, what I did find somewhere along the line that there was a storage house full of experimental engines of every style and type...if I recall correctly, somewhere on Fairlane...and these were catalogued and then sold somewhere along the line, perhaps as you think at a deascention sale? Nothing in that listing came anywhere close to the "X" but...the point being, there WAS a list!!! Further, if my recall is intact, I am pretty sure the listing gave bore and strokes for most? I don't have the list, but maybe this could be a memory jogger for others?
Thanks George. My suspicion is this engine was on the deaccession sales (fancy word for downsizing). Hopefully it will show on a lot listing, and have pertinent information. The racer that it's going in ran several 300 cubic inch and less races, and was a leading reason Ford was fifth in number one finishes among all racers/automakers in 1911.
Only problem? If I put the specs in the calculator directly, this is a 318 cu in engine.....
The engine has been run, and has many unique one off components such as pressurized mains, special non mag small diameter flywheel, water pump (not the 1909 T pump), and the ports in the side of the block. It also has been run, so not just a mock up.
Hopefully we'ol learn more about it...
Rob- Thanks so pointing out the differences in this engine as compared to the V-radiator race car at the Ford Museum.
I have a few of the Ford Museum Auction catalogs. There are several engines listed in these catalogs. Some have photos, some have just word listings. I do not see anything mentioned about this engine and/or parts for this race car. None of the engines with photos are this engine. There are, however, listings such as "unknown four cylinder engine", or "early car engine" etc. so it could be one of those. Most of these listings just have two to five word descriptions, so they are not much help.
Unfortunately, these catalogs do not give good descriptions for many of the lots and many lots do not have photos, so it is hard to know what is being referenced.
Like I said, Buck just had the engine pieces, no other parts.
Thank you. I have spoken with the person doing the restoration, and he received most of the parts from Buck's estate (?) so he didn't know what originally came to Buck, and what Buck accumulated along the way.
Maybe more info will surface...
You're being a little cagey. Have you acquired this engine?
This is a work in progress. I'm in a position to own the racer, however I need to be reasonably sure this engine was initially in the racer it's now placed in.
It looks like a beautiful restoration/recreation, but I need to do a lot of research. I have the option to buy until a certain date. I didn't wish to say much until I had a signed option, yet I''m relying on forum posters knowledge and memories to help sort this out.
With the signed option I'm able to be somewhat out of the closet. I'll see the project later this week. Regardless of outcome I'm learning more about the incredible 1910-1912 racers Henry Ford and Frank Kulick were beating some of best racers in the world with during that period. This looks like an incredible engine, and I suspect it will fly when in a car.
I hope this comment isn't too off-handed and it isn't intended to be. :-)
A "318" in a very old Ford racer? Here in the yard is a "340" 16 valve-twin cam in a newer (by 18 years) Twin City. :-)
Everyone groans at No-Help-Duey...
I truly hope you find the nuggets of information you seek.
That big four would be an absolute terror in a light racer! Cool.
Is this the recreation car that is stored at the Gilmore Car Museum or the real one? I knew the guy that built the one stored at the Gilmore Car Museum..
No, I believe that is a standard T chassis dressed up like the 405 cu in racer at THF (not displayed, from some reason...).
I'll begin a thread later and put pics of both up. I think there was a third special racer that ran in the 161-230 ci class.
( deaccession ) I must admit I had to look that one up
officially remove (an item) from a library, museum, or art gallery in order to sell it.
"the decision was made to deaccession the picture"
the official removal of an item from a library, museum, or art gallery in order to sell it.
"in England deaccession has been adopted by local authorities to offset spending cuts"
N, I had to look it up too. Fancy way to say "we're getting rid of things we may later regret losing...."
Too bad the curator(s) responsible for deaccessioning those priceless and irreplaceable historic artifacts from The Henry Ford Museum weren't "deaccessioned" before the auction.
I'm glad it's not the car and I'm glad you already know that it is a reacreation. The workmanship on it is really good and you are correct that it is based on a T chassis. I knew the gentleman who created it and he was pretty good friends with Bucky and my dad knew both Bucky and Lou pretty well the the Gull Lake Michigan area we live about 20 minutes from there.
Well, I was really interested in this from the beginning. Now you have really piqued my interest! (In the good way!)
Mark, I don't have a problem with a "recreation," as long as the engine was really in the recreated racer. The motor was used and run, and made along the same lines as the motor in the racer (999-II), with features no one would put in recreating the motor. Now, I'm working to learn if the motor was truly in this racer. Lot's to learn....
Thank you again for all the information to date...
I had a chance to visit the Gilmore this summer right after the Speedster Reunion in Lincoln. I'll look tomorrow for the SD card that had pictures from my camera on it, the only pic I took with my cell is a decent pic but you cant read the display card in front of the car. I know I took a picture of that but cant find it now.
We've had some photos and discussion about that racer. As I recall, it's a recreation of the 410'cu in racer at THF, with a stock T engine. It looks like a good copy of the racer at THF.
Here's a couple pictures of the replica at Gilmore. Anyone know why the original is not on display at The Henry Ford.
Thanks Matt. That'll a great question (displaying Ford Special). The racer won several national competitions and ran equally with the "big dogs," beating all time greats like Bob Burman and the Blitzen Benz and National racers. It was key in elevating Ford to 5th place among all companies in number of racing victories in 1911.
As a result, Ford and the Model T benefited from headlines in newspapers and auto journals throughout the country.
Rob- Strictly in the "whatever its worth" department, I own a few Pre WWII historical race cars and am active in the circles that surround them.
In the historic race car collecting world, a car should really have all of its key original-(meaning original to the particular car-not from some other car) major mechanical components to be considered legitimate: this means frame, most of the front end, most of the rear end and the key major engine components. The ex-Boudeman Model T race car just has engine components-none of the other key mechanical items. In the vintage race car world,it would always be a replica or a recreation instead of a real car. Still a neat project but its historical and monetary significance would always be questionable.
Thanks Ron. I was hoping there was more than just the engine, however it appears to have been just that. Still, an incredible piece of history and it would be good to witness the motor in the race configuration it once appears to have been in. Lots of issues to sort out and consider.
Thank you for the note.
The other problem is, there aren't any others. Ford had a small racing program, so only three racers were built based on the Model T platform (that I've found). This one, the 410 cu in racer still at THF, and a 228 cu. in. version for the 161-300 cu in class.
Taken Aug 2001 Second week.
These are Apr 2003 Last week.
sorry for the poorer quality
That is such an awesome juxtaposition- the early racer against one of the fastest in NASCAR history. I didn't see if that Bill Elliot car is an '88, but I believe the '88 car still holds the all time NASCAR lap record somewhere north of 200 MPH!
I've been to THF a million times, and don't remember ever seeing them like this. I guess I should have paid more attention years ago. ;)
Jason, The Ford Special at the museum hasn't been displayed for some time. It's unfortunate, because the car was a world beater, defeating Mercer's, Benz's and other great racing marquees of the period. And it did it in typical Ford form, with a small, unpretentious frame and body. At the end ot the day, it was Henry Ford's last great racer. This particular racer packs 410 cubic inches under a Model T hood, with pressurized oil system, Bosch dual ignition and used a water pump. Ford was fourth in wins in 1911 using this and a smaller Ford Special that ran in the 161 to 230 cu. in. class.
This photo of the racer and article followed the win in the prestigious Algonquin Hill climb outside Chicago. The same racer was second by fractions the year before. For some unknown reason, Ford stopped racing their racers in mid 1912:
This 1911 article noted that Benz and Ford (drivers Hearne and Kulick) were the winners of the hill climb. Kulick brought his Ford within a second of beating this big Benz for overall honors, and easily won it's divisions. The Henry Ford also has a trophy from the race, and it's hard to believe this racer and the trophies Frank Kulick won arn't on the floor......
I think Model T owners of the day and today would greatly enjoy Ford's prowess against the best in the world during the first years of the Model T. Unfortunately, this part of Ford history seems relegated to the shadows.....
Wow! Thanks Rob, for the great explanation of the history behind the car!