The Life Of A Race Car

The Life Of A Race Car

The life of a race car has always fascinated me. Most often they are built from a pile of parts for the short-term, perform their duty, and then become a pile of parts again to be divvied up and used to birth another. As such, most of them don’t lead full lives but instead become particles in many lives through time. It’s a weird zen thing in a way…

Every now and then though, a race car does make it through a number of generations somewhat complete. And while these cars don’t give as much back to the world that created them, they do leave us with interesting examples of historical value.

Case in point – the Stieber, Norton, Maron, Kalivoda, Hamlin Roadster.

The first owner, Buck Stieber, built the car with the help of the Duffy Brothers in 1950 and while we don’t have any birthing images of the thing, given the year you’d be hard pressed to convince me they had ideas of running in a straight line. But, there is some controversy over whether or not the car was originally built as a track roadster or not.

Buck eventually sold the car to two Seattle Clutcher members – Ed Norton and Armie Maron. It’s when they owned the car that pictures finally surfaced. The November, 1958 issue of Hot Rod Magazine ran a two page spread with these shots:

Powered by a tiny little 290-inch Desoto, the car was capable of 128mph and 11-second time slips. Damn thing was beautiful too. Hot Rod claims it was painted a deep maroon color… and I can see it in my mind’s eye.

A year or so later, the car appears in the March, 1959 issue of Car Craft. From the exterior, changes seem minor. It looks a little rougher after a year of racing and some lettering has been added:

The car also got faster… Fuel got the car down into the 10s at a speed of 134mph. Crazy fast for 1959.

Eventually, Norton and Maron grew apart from the car and sold it to Dick Kalivoda. Norton kept the motor, but built another gas motor for Dick of similar specs to the original. But according to Kustomrama, Dick ran into financial issues and had to bring on a partner – John Hamlin.

Dick and John ran the car hard until 1961 or so and then put it away into storage where it sat until 1987. It was then that Dick got the car back out, rebuilt it with the help of friends and family, and then ran it once more at an ADRA event. Since then, it’s morphed into a show piece. Here’s some Street Rodder Mag shots from 2009 or so:

What’s most striking is how little of the car has changed. Obviously, the paint has probably been redone countless times through the years and there’s no telling how many different drivetrains have been in it… But it’s the details that have stayed consistent and, for the most part, intact. I remember seeing this car at the NHRA museum ten or so years ago and commenting on how nicely built it was. And when you think about it, the pain that came from that level of craftsmanship is probably what kept this car together.

Who could stomach the idea of parting it out?

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