Lucky 13

Lucky 13

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The following is a letter and a series of photos that I received from Charles Heyer. Enjoy the history.

Hi Ryan,

Thanks for offering to look at my story about my father’s race car. I’ll keep it to the basics.

In the early 1930′s, my dad owned a car repair shop (Heyer Welding) in Montclair, NJ. It was situated at the bottom of a long hill, and the cars in those days often had unreliable mechanical brakes. He therefore had many pieces of automobiles lying around the yard. Being a very inventive fellow and an enthusiast, he decided to build a race car of his own design.

In 1933 taking a tall 1927 Buick chassis and engine, he shortened and narrowed the chassis to reduce drag. The radiator shell was that of a 1933 Oldsmobile, which had a nice concave curve to it. From there back he shaped a body with 1/8″ x 1″ steel strapping and sheet metal. He designed a high back to the driver’s cockpit for rollover protection – something very unusual for the day. The exhaust manifold was also a home made job.

Thirteen was his lucky number so he called his car “Lucky 13.” A few towns away there was a dirt oval called The Troy Hills Speedway where races were held every Wednesday night at 8:30. A friend of his elected to be the driver, but the car with the long stroke Buick engine was rather slow and never actually won a race. One fateful evening, after the races, his driver took another’s car for some laps and rolled it. That car did not have any roll protection. One enclosed photo shows the awful result.

After the accident my dad converted the car to street use, putting on fenders, model “b” wheels, a windshield, a bumper, and lights. It must have been quite a sight cruising around Montclair. When I interviewed an old friend of his in the late 1970′s I was told that the last known location of the car was in a garage somewhere in Montclair, but that might have been in the 40′s for all I know.

I feel this car is like a lost member of the Heyer family. If only I could find it… If only.

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Caption: The project begins with a 1927 Buick chassis.

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Caption: Race day.
lucky3.jpg
Caption: Taking the checkered flag!

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Caption: The FORMER driver.

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Caption: Ready for the street!

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