Rick Cannon: 1950 Cannon Mk1 Special

Ted Cannon, built the Cannon Mk.1 and two other sports racing Specials at his machine shop in North Hollywood, California. It was mostly built from parts accumulated from other projects. The chassis, from his father’s 1934 Dodge, was shortened and the frame rails were boxed for rigidity. The coil spring front suspension and drum brakes came from the same pre-war Dodge. The rear axle, transverse leaf springs and drum brakes are from an early Ford. Cannon used two master cylinders and invented a driver-controlled balance bar to synchronize the front and rear brakes. The engine was a hot-rodded Ford/Mercury Flathead V8. In order to obtain the desirable close ratio gear cluster for the Ford 3-speed transmission, Cannon had to buy a wrecked Lincoln Zephyr sedan ($25). That purchase, however, provided the sheet metal for the Mk.1’s cowl and engine cover as well as it’s trunk lid and rear body work.

The Cannon Mk.1 was finished just in time for the inaugural 1950 Pebble Beach Road Races. In the main Pebble Beach Cup race, Los Angeles fireman Jim Seeley drove it to 3rd place behind Phil Hill’s and Don Parkinson’s lightweight Jaguar XK-120s. Seeley raced the car with considerable success through 1952 at Carrel Speedway, Del Mar/Torrey Pines, the Sandberg Hillclimb and twice more at the Pebble Beach Road Races (1951 and 1952).

After 67 years, the Cannon Mk.1 Special remains with the current generations of the Cannon family and is a marvelous example of the ingenuity and mechanical skills of California sports car racing enthusiasts in the early 1950s. 

 

Terry Buffum: 1949 Parkinson Jaguar Special

The Parkinson Jaguar was originally an aluminum bodied Jaguar XK-120 roadster (#670191), one of the first of the new Jaguar sports cars to arrive in California. Don Parkinson, a young Los Angeles architect and sports car enthusiast, drove it to Pebble Beach to show in the 1950 Concours d’Elegance and to race in the inaugural Pebble Beach Road Races. He finished 2nd in the Pebble Beach Cup race. Returning to the forrest in May 1951, he lost control of the car in Turn 3 and crashed into a pine tree. The remains of the wrecked roadster became the Special.

The Parkinson Jaguar Special was built at Rodger Barlow’s International Motors in Los Angeles, by Joe Thrall, Parkinson and Phil Hill (Parkinson’s brother-in-law). The aluminum body was sketched by teenager Robert Cumberford and built by Marvin Faw. Chassis, running gear, and engine were reused with little modification, although the Special weighed 1000 pounds less than the roadster. Ritchie Ginther subsequently hot-rodded the engine and increased its capacity to 3.8 liters.

Parkinson raced his Special at all of the major West Coast road races in 1951 and 1952 with excellent results, including a win at Palm Springs. It was raced by others, principally Chuck Daigh, to continued success through 1955. The Parkinson Jaguar competed at the Pebble Beach Road Races in 1950,1951,1952,1954 and 1955. It has been a regular participant at the Monterey Historics/Reunion since 1983 and is entered in the Del Monte Trophy Race Group at the 2017 Monterey Reunion Laguna Seca 60th Anniversary Races.

 

Rob Manson: 1949 Baldwin Mercury Special

The Baldwin Mercury Special was built in Santa Barbara, California by Willis “Bill” Baldwin. Baldwin built four sports racing Specials. This is the second of the four. The Baldwin Mercury’s major components are from a wrecked 1946 Ford Tudor. It is powered by a hot- rodded Ford/Mercury Flathead V8 with three Stromberg carburetors. The Edelbrock heads and intake manifold are early original speed equipment as is the manual external fuel pump. The fuel filter is from a B24 bomber. Baldwin wasn’t a skilled metal shaper but he was able to create a handsome body of steel and aluminum by cutting the compound curves needed from parts of other cars. The nose came from a Plymouth shell and the tail from portions of 1938 Chrysler front fenders. The hood scoop began life as a bullet headlamp and the chrome plated grill was fashioned from a refrigerator shelf.

Baldwin entered the car for Hastings Harcourt to drive in 1950 and 1951 in road racing events at most of the early California “tracks”. Al Schalinger, owner of S&C Ford in San Francisco, and later Floyd “Sonny” Kenyon, entered it mostly in northern California events from 1952-1955. It competed in the 1952,1953 and 1954 Pebble Beach Road Races. It was also a frequent competitor at early NHRA drag events and was usually the car to beat in unofficial street drag activity on the San Francisco Peninsula.

The Baldwin Mercury Special was the subject of John R. Bond’s, May 1950 Road and Track cover article. It was presented the Road&Track Magazine Trophy at the 2003 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the Ford Motor Company Senter Trophy at the 1992 Monterey Historics. Most recently, it was the subject of a Motor Sport Magazine track test at Silverstone Circuit 70 years after founding editor Wm. Boddy’s track test of the first “hot rod” Baldwin Special (April 2017). It has been a regular vintage racing participant since 1990 and is entered in the Del Monte Trophy Race Group at the 2017 Monterey Reunion Laguna Seca Raceway 60th Anniversary Races. 

Bill Angeloni: 1955 MGTF 1500

Most of this cars racing history is lost. The logbook that I have begins with a HMSA race at Laguna Seca on 5/19/84. The car was raced 13 – week ends at Laguna Seca and at Sears Point by Kathy Fox and later as Kathy Fox –Downs. Races included the Monterey Historics in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988.

 

The car was placed into storage after a September 1989 Sears Point event for 18 years and 4 months. I purchased the car from Kathy and Mike Downs in 2006 and began preparing the car to go racing again. My first event was at Laguna Seca on 3/14/08 for an MG Racers/HMSA Race. I raced 11 times after that first event with CSRG, General Racing and SVRA.

 

A stroke in 2012 ended my racing and Joe Huffaker Jr. has driven the car 9 times between 2012 and 2016. SVRA has awarded the MG a Gold Medallion Rating as part of it’s program to have owners keep the cars as they raced back in the day. The engine is the original XPEG unit for this car. It is bored .040 over and the stroke is stock. The cylinder head is shaved for a 9 to 1 compression ratio. The carburetors are stock one and one half inch SUs. The manifold for intake and exhaust is a Derrington unit. The cam is a three quarter race unit and the flywheel has been shaved. Ignition is by Mallory dual point with a Lucas coil. A stock 12-volt generator and a stock starter motor are used. The transmission is the original MG TF. The car is licensed for the street by California DMV and is normally driven to the track.

 

Jeffrey Abramson: 1950 MGTD Von Neuman Special

No.10 in our series of cars and drivers.

Jeffrey Abramson: 1950 MGTD Von Neuman Special, car #11

This 1950 MGTD Von Neuman Special was purchased early in 1950 by John Von Neuman.  Immediately the wood was removed from the body tub and replaced with electrical conduit tubing.  The fenders, hood, gas tank, doors, front and rear valances were replaced with aluminum.  The body was sectioned including the radiator and grill.  The body was then dropped over the frame like an American hot rod lowboy.  All the special body work was done by Emil Deidt, famous Southern California auto body builder.   After a ton of work on every aspect …  the car was now ready to be entered into the first Pebble Beach Road Race in 1950.  John Von Neuman drove it to victory in the Cypress Point Light Car Race and 7th in the Pebble Beach Cup.

The MG TD in the paddock with the Del Monte Trophy Race Group 1B at the Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion 2019It went on to win the Palm Springs race, Torrey Pines, Sandburg Hill Climb, and Carrell Speedway.  In 1950 – 1951 it entered 14 races and won 7.  Many changes were made to the car to make it more competitive between each race.  In 1952 it was sold to Tracy Bird and Bunpy Bell.  They won a number of races with it and eventually sold it back to John.  Josie Von Neuman then drove it to many wins in the ladies races.    Al Moss bought the car from the John in the mid 1980’s and returned it to race configuration.  He raced it for several years and then had Don Martine drive it for him.  In 1989 Al sold the car to Don Martine who raced it in vintage races at Sears Point, Coronado, Lime Rock, Watkins, Mid Ohio, then at Elhart Lake.  It won the race class at Santa Barbara Concours.  It has appeared at the Pebble Beach Concours twice.  In 2005 it won the Rolex Award for Best Performance and Presentation at the Monterey Historics Road Races.

Jeffrey Abramson hustling the 1950 MG TD #11 to 13th place in the morning race Aug 18, 2019. He did not get past John Mote’s #63 1950 Allard K2!

In 2012 it won the Award for Best Performance and Presentation at the Sonoma Historics Road Races.

Jeffrey Abramson purchased the 1950 MG TD von Neumann Special from Don Martine in 2019 and raced it with us, the Del Monte Trophy Race Group 1B,  at this year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion (image, right)

 

 

For further information about John von Neumann we refer readers to the article in Love for Porsche at https://www.loveforporsche.com/john-von-neumann-2/

John von Neumann

Luca Maciucescu: 1952 Jaguar XK120

This 1952 XK120 OTS produced February 18, 1952 is the 1907th example delivered in LHD. Original color was birch grey with light and dark blue interior. As was the case with many of the early XK120s, this car was occasionally used for club races such as at the 1952 Janesville Airport Race (photo included.) In 1980s the car was back on the track for vintage racing with VSCDA and HMSA. It was subsequently restored to street configuration in 2010. It is now back on the race track in stock configuration, it is driven on the street regularly and is maintained by the owner/driver. Spats off, a change of tires and off to the races ….. just like back in the day 🙂

 

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Doug Klink: 1951 Allard K2

Delivered in Beverly Hills, California this 1951 Allard has had several lives.  The name of the original purchaser is unknown, but after a few years of ownership the car was sold to a new owner who drag raced the car in California.  Ordered to accommodate a Desoto Firedome Hemi V8, the dealer instead installed a Cadillac 331 V8 with a LaSalle 3 speed transmission.

 

George Myers of La Crescenta, California purchased the car in 1960, and owned it 49 years until his death in 2009.  He restored the car to original condition and showed it at a number of concours and car shows in Southern California where it won a number of awards.  In the early 1980’s George decided to road race the car and installed all of the required safety modifications.  The car was raced at most tracks in California and on the West Coast including Long Beach, Riverside, Coronado, Willow Springs, and Monterey.

 

After wearing out the original Cadillac 331, and then throwing a rod in a second 331, George elected to install a Chevy 350 small block making about 300 hp.  He coupled that to a T-10 4 speed transmission, and a Ford 9” rear end, replacing the trouble prone and weak 1946 Ford rear end.  The drum brakes were upgraded to larger drums from a 1960’s Ford pickup truck.

 

George raced the car in this configuration until he became ill in 2007.  His son, John Wilkins raced the car with VARA for a few seasons and then parked it after his father passed away in 2009.

 

Doug Klink of Estes Park, Colorado purchased the car in 2015 and performed a mechanical freshening of all the car’s systems.  The original patina has been preserved and the car has raced at tracks on the West Coast and in Colorado and Oklahoma.

Jean Pierre Molerus: 1954 Nichols Panhard

Murray Nichols was commissioned by Bill Devin to make another car to go with the C model already in production . The car was named the S model for sport use. The story of this first car has been published in the  January 1955 issue of Road And Track. This first car ,mine , was built for a racer named Perry Peron.  At some point early in the manufacturing stage, the relation between Devin and Nichols went sour and the cars never carried the name Devin.  Four Nichols were built, the last one using a tube frame chassis and being fuel injected.

This car used a standard rolling chassis from a Panhard Junior. The engine is a flat twin pushrod engine air cooled with a displacement of 850cc. This type of engine was used successfully in a lot of H-MOD in southern California , Devin ,Monsetta , Nichols and other specials. It was also used by Deutsch Bonnet ( D.B. ) to race at the 24 hours of Le Mans winning several indexes of performance.

Stan Bucklein helped Nichols build the car . He crewed in 1954 for Perry and the car was undefeated in G class.  Perry was looking for a faster Nichols for the 1955 season and sold the car to Stan.  The car changed from its original white to a black color at that time, as Stan figured that he might be not as fast as Perry.  The car was raced by Stan from the 1955 Santa Barbara Labor day race to 1965 at the same event.

Don Racine the owner of the little Aadrvark” A little Aardvark never hurt anybody” found the car 1987.  It had been parked since 1965.  He restored it and put it back on the race track in April 1988 at Riverside.  Stan Bucklein was at the wheel again for the last race at that track before closure!

I am the custodian of the Nichols Panhard since 1990 and enjoy it at every race. It is always a crowd pleaser as it is different in every way.

 

George Holt: 1954 Jaguar XK120

I bought in the US as a battered old race car & imported it to the UK where I lived at the time , although it hadn’t come with any history and was in a pretty sorry state.  A good friend… actually my Navigator Keith Webster … bet me 50 Quid {pounds UK} that I couldn’t get it race ready for the 50th anniversary race for the XK120 at Donnington Park England. Red rag to a bull !!!  And thus, my 120 breathed again, getting fastest lap and first place in the road going Class.  That was, of course, 1999.

 

She then went to Jabbeke with a Jaguar invite to the rerun of the record breaking event in Belgium.  My car was the XK 120 used by ‘TOP GEAR’ for their program!

 

Onwards and upwards, Didon France where she came 3rd behind a gaggle of  cars, Micheal Steele HWM, 1st; David Wenman, 2nd, Works C Type; and yours truly George Holt, 3rd, XK 120!  We then did the Tour De France  with Tour Auto where we ran as the Drummers being a group that raced with original DRUM brakes , as she is now & always will be ! The way she was BORN .

 

I brought the old girl back to Canada and the US when I relocated & she now continues her racing career here ! Always driven to and away from all the illustrious events she graces !!  She did receive the SPIRIT of the Event award at Dijon France, for driving to and from the event and gracing the circuit taking spectators on 7 /10s trips around the circuit. She also placed second behind Sir Sterling in a works C type again at Donnington Park ! She was always quick in the rain !! and it rained that day !!

Don Racine: 1952 Aardvark H-Mod

GONEwe’re so sad. Don sold the Aardvark to a buyer in France so we are unlikely to see the car again unless the new owner brings it stateside. Don endeared huimself to us by bringing several spare engines and popping a new one in during his tea break. Don also drove the 1952 Streets Manning Special for a season in the late nineties or mid noughties. (note from Rob Manson and Marcus Bicknell, January 2019)

This ‘street/racer” was hand built in Southern California during ’51 & ’52 on a Dyna Panhard chassis  that John Porter had purchased with the intention of “Americanizing” it to be used on the local sports car circuits.  Dean Banks, a noted Newport Beach, California sportsman, assisted.   All the mechanical components are from a “Panhard Junior” while the body is built of hand rolled aluminum with a fiberglass nose panel.

The Aardvark is a front engine, front wheel drive car that weighs less than a 1,000 pounds with the entire engine and transaxle in front of the front wheels.  The engine is a Panhard 850cc, opposed flat 2 cylinder with a roller bearing crankshaft and “torsion bar” valve springs.  This is the engine that powered many of the “Index of Performance” winners at LeMans for many years! When completed, Porter named it the Aardvark.  Not only does it have the long snout as the real nocturnal animal but the name itself would insure he was at least listed first in all the programs.

The car competed in the very popular “H-Mod” class and ran extensively throughout California including Pomona, Torrey Pines, Paramount Ranch, Golden Gate park, Riverside, etc. until 1966 when it disappeared.  It was rumored to be in Florida for a few years, but was discovered abandoned in a field in southern California where it was said to have been for the previous 10 years.  The car was restored 20+ years ago by its present owner to as close to as possible the original intent = “A little Aardvark never hurt anyone”!

Everyone knew that I liked the strange, had lots of experience with front wheel drive and had a modicum experience with the Panhard power unit! The “Aardvark” was just such a car; strange to an extreme, front wheel drive and Panhard powered.