Lot 306

Monterey 2023

1961 Balchowsky Ol' Yaller Mk VII


$307,500 USD | Sold

United States | Monterey, California



Chassis No.
Identification No.
F0430 RF
US Title
  • The seventh of just nine Balchowsky Ol’ Yallers constructed
  • Participant in numerous period races, including the 1964 Road America 500
  • Fully restored in 2009 by Palhegyi Design of El Cajon, California
  • Ideal for a host of vintage races and rallies
  • Beautifully restored example of one of America’s foremost road-racing specials

Affectionately known as the “king of engine swaps,” Max Balchowsky developed a knack for swapping big, powerful engines into small European cars at least a decade before Carroll Shelby and his Cobra. Beginning in 1957, Balchowsky started designing and building a series of homespun racers to compete against the period’s top marques. Named “Ol’ Yaller” for their pale yellow paint schemes, these cars were designed on the shop floor, assembled using spare parts, and equipped with Buick “Nailhead” V-8 or powerful Chevrolet V-8 engines. When not driven by Balchowsky himself, some of the period’s top drivers piloted his creations to victory, including Dan Gurney and Carroll Shelby. In all, Balchowsky built nine cars, which were simply known as Ol’ Yallers Mk I to Mk IX.

This Ol’ Yaller was the seventh car constructed by Balchowsky, and it was sold new in 1961 to Don Kirby of Rochester, New York. According to interview notes with Mr. Kirby, the car was delivered with a Devin body and no engine, but it was specifically prepared to receive a Chevrolet motor. The owner then installed a competition-prepared 327-cubic-inch fuel-injected Chevy V-8 before racing the car throughout the 1963 and 1964 seasons. Some of the car’s documented results include 5th overall at the SCCA Virginia International Raceway in October 1963, and 15th overall (4th in class) in September 1964 at the Road America 500.

Following the 1964 season Kirby sold the Ol’ Yaller to Stan Kozlowski, beginning a long succession of owners. In the early 1990s the car was acquired by Jimmy Dobbs, who used it to participate in the 1991 Colorado Grand, among other vintage races and rallies. Dobbs then sold the car to Tom Dean, and he began restoring the car before enjoying it at the 2005 Monterey Historics. In 2009 Mr. Dean commissioned Palhegyi Design of El Cajon, California, to perform a frame-up restoration. This work included an engine rebuild by Watkins Engine Development, a new fiberglass body, and updates to the safety, cooling, and brake systems, as well as fitting Borrani wire wheels.

It is worth noting that MkVII is believed to be one of only three Ol’ Yallers originally equipped with a Chevrolet engine, and the only remaining example built for racing use. Similarly, it is one of only two remaining race-spec Ol’Yallers equipped with a Borg Warner aluminum T10 4-speed gearbox. Representing a zenith of American racing ingenuity, this Ol’ Yaller offers an unparalleled chance to acquire a piece of automotive lore.