The Ingalls Special

The Ingalls Special

I’m lucky enough to work within walking distance of a place called Fantasy Junction. No, it’s not the adult bookstore that you might be imagining, but rather an understated brick building that contains the nicest folks and most amazing sports cars in the world. You may remember their Kurtis 500KK that I reported on back in May. A few weeks ago I slipped in for a visit only to find this beauty sitting by the back door (the last 3 pics below were quickly taken from my iPhone that day). Maybe your not a fan of 50s Sports Car racers, but this one is a honey with some very interesting history as a hot rod first, and all the right period bits.

Here’s what the Junction website says about the car:

1937 Ingalls Special
s/n 135170361
Red with Black

Road Racing’s revival in America, after World War II, sparked a spirit of patriotism among many American racing enthusiasts who had little desire to own or race one of the many “foreign cars”, such as Allard, Jaguar or MG. Though eager to win races, these men wanted to do it in American automobiles.

Ed Ingalls of Lafayette, California, was one of them. Ed wanted to use the knowledge he had gained building hot rods to build a car to compete with the European sports cars.

The Ingalls Special may be the first and oldest existing true hot rod that was built exclusively for road racing.

In 1948 Ed’s original plan was to race the salt flats of Bonneville, but he became interested in road racing. He wanted to race an American car, but this was 1948 and there were no American sport cars, so designed and built his own. Ed acquired his “rod” in the classic fashion of the day, from Sam, the junkman.

The body is from a 1931 Ford roadster, channeled on a DeSoto Airflow frame with ’32 ford cross members. The front suspension is early Model A, rear ’39 Ford. The brakes are ’30-40 Ford with Buick drums. The motor is 289cc 8ba block with a ’39 Ford transmission.

The windshield and molding were home made. The dashboard fascia is from a 1933 Auburn Type 12 Speedster. The front fenders are Ford spare-tire covers. The radiator cover is a 1938 LaSalle. Rear fenders were added to the car in 1953. They were fashioned in aluminum by renowned body-man Gordon Vann from Ed’s original design for the car. The new fenders hide the fact that the ’29 rear-end did not line up with the original wheel openings.

This Special raced during the 1950’s with some success mostly finishing in the top 5. It raced all of the famous Northern California tracks of the day including Pebble Beach, Stockton and Madera field.

The Ingalls Special was restored in 2003 to the way it was raced in 1953. Over the years the Ingalls Special was powered by a variety of motors. Chrysler, GMC, Ford and small block Chevy were all part of its history. There have been 5 owners of the car and about 8 different drivers.

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