1956 Kurtis 500S

Erik Fuller ©2015, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
  • 205-hp, 283-ci V8 engine
  • 5-speed manual transmission
  • Tubular front axle and live rear axle with
  • torsion-bar suspension
  • Four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes

The Kurtis 500S offered here had an extraordinarily long gestation period. It was shipped to a Darrel Johnson, of Ferndale, MI, in February 1956 and invoiced as a “500M chassis and suspension.” For reasons unknown, it lay unfinished until acquired by Warren Wetterlund of Napa, CA, in 1999.

Wetterlund, a collector and driver of vintage race cars, commissioned John Ryals, of Van Nuys, California, to complete the project. The chassis, originally outfitted for a Cadillac engine, was re-configured to use a 283-ci Chevy mated to a Tremec T5 5-speed gearbox. A Ford nine-inch rear axle was chosen, and the Kurtis torsion bars were mated to Koni shock absorbers. The front brakes are Alfin drums, as fitted to most Kurtis cars in their era.