Lot 2118

Auburn Fall 2018

1930 Hupmobile Bonneville Speedster


$88,000 USD | Sold

United States | Auburn, Indiana



Identification No.
  • Custom speedster coachwork built in period
  • Run in period at the Bonneville Salt Flats
  • Fully restored to 1932 racing configuration

The 1930 Hupmobile Bonneville Speedster is a great example of the cars that once graced the Bonneville Salt flats, a place where modified cars of all types were brought to test their limits. Bought new on 7 May in 1930 by Dr. Robert Knoch of Denver, Colorado, Dr. Knoch would turn a then standard Hupmobile sedan into a boat-tail speedster. Dr. Knoch took the car to the Niederhut Carriage Company to have it fitted with a boat-tailed body.

In 1933, Knoch was able to execute a second series of upgrades to the car. He sought out to purchase the racing engine and parts used in the famous “Hupp Comet” from the 1932 Hupmobile Indy car. Russell Snowberger, who had been campaigning the “Hupp Comet,” decided to return the engine and its parts back to the Hupmobile company after the 1932 racing season. In 1933, Hupmobile sold the car’s drivetrain to Dr. Knoch.

In 1934, the car received a round of mechanical upgrades, which included achieving a higher compression ratio. This was accomplished by installing new piston heads and special aluminum gaskets, as well as altering the depth of the sparkplugs. While the compression ratio raised the power of the engine, it was not enough. Dr. Knoch reached out to the Ethyl Gasoline Company for recommendations on how to increase performance by modifying the fuel. Utilizing the additive Benzol, Dr. Knoch had the ingenious idea to a fit a separate tank that would bleed Benzol into the carburetors, further upgrading the car’s power.

In 1935, Dr. Knoch finally raced the car at the Bonneville salt flats, achieving a top speed of 135 mph, this according to the 1977 edition of Cars & Parts. Seeking to go faster, Dr. Knoch decided to upgrade the car’s rear gear ratios for his return to Bonneville in 1937. Unfortunately, public records do not indicate whether or not Dr. Knoch was able to break his previous record. Between 1938 and 1939, documentation provided by the current owner indicates Dr. Knoch continued to make improvements to the car. Whether or not the car returned to Bonneville is a mystery.

After 1939, ownership of the car transferred to Don Crites of Denver, Colorado. From there, the car went to Frank Kleptz of Terre Haute, Indiana. In recent years, the drivetrain was taken out and returned to John Snowberger, son of Russell Snowberger, in order to restore his father’s “Hupp Comet.” As for the “Bonneville Hupp,” Snowberger sold the body and chassis to its current owner who restored the car to its 1932 racing configuration.

A stunning example of Bonneville history this 1930 Hupmobile Bonneville Speedster harkens back to the very early days of hot rodding and time trial racing. With its period modifications, documented history, and impressive restoration to its 1932 configuration, this unique Hupmobile is sure ignite “Salt Fever.”