Amelia Island | Lot 119

1953 Kurtis K2 500S Roadster Continuation



$89,600 USD | Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida

9 March 2018

Chassis No.
KK500S 029
  • Faithful recreation built with help from Arlen Kurtis
  • Body built using original tooling with original frame side rails
  • One of three cars built by John Ward to contest 1991 Carrera Panamericana
  • Extremely fast and race proven

Following a successful 1952 racing season, which included eight Kurtis cars finishing in the top 10 places at Indianapolis, Frank Kurtis announced the 500S. He designed the 500S to meet Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA) regulations for sports cars and approximately 20 were produced over a two-year period.

Speed Age said that "the Kurtis 500S ranked with the C-Type Jag, Mercedes, and Ferrari in overall performance and were close competitors against such combinations as Phil Walters in the Cunningham C4R and Jim Kimberly's 4.5 Ferrari." Jack Ensley drove his very popular #17 Kurtis 500S to a SCCA B Modified National Championship. Four Americans also raced Kurtis 500 sports cars in the 1953 Carrera Panamericana.

In 1991, sports car enthusiasts around the world were surprised and delighted with the announcement of the resumption of the famous Mexican road race - La Carrera Panamericana! Race car builder John Ward took notice. Enthusiasts may think Corvette, Shelby Cobra, or Ford GT40 as the first American road racers to go head to head with Europe's finest, but Ward, who moved to Southern California at age 13, knew that Frank Kurtis had done just that years before out of his shop in Glendale, California.

To compete in the 1991 La Carrera, one needed a pre-1954 vintage car. Acquiring an original 1953 500S, however, was virtually impossible, as only 14 cars are known to exist. John decided to build a reconstruction of the original design. Importantly, he located Frank Kurtis' son, Arlen, who supplied him with sets of original frame side rails and valuable insight about the original construction of the 500S cars. Body panels were made from original factory tooling. From that foundation, he completed three cars utilizing his lifelong knowledge and experience of race car design and construction. He also won the race, beating 112 other international entrants!

The example offered is one of the three built by Mr. Ward for La Carrera. Chassis 029 is a sister car to John's winning entry and is equipped with a 400-cu. in. small block, dry sump Chevrolet engine with Brownfield aluminum cylinder heads, and a NASCAR Jericho four-speed transmission. Other equipment includes an engine oil cooler, Joe Hunt magneto, a Quartermaster double-disc clutch, Grand National quick-change rear end, JFZ disc brakes, Lee power steering, Halibrand pin-drive knock-offs, stainless-steel exhaust, 32-gallon fuel cell, and an aluminum radiator. The car is eligible for historic events and is street legal, with an Arizona title for 1953 Kurtis 500S.

The ultimate "Cobra killer," serious drivers are asked to strap in, hang on, and enjoy a truly iconic American racing legend.

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