Auburn Fall | Lot 6153
1961 Epperly Indianapolis
The Bill Akin Collection
$407,000 USD | Sold
| Auburn, Indiana
5 September 2020
- Offered from the Bill Akin Collection
- Previously of the famed Bob McConnell Collection
- Raced in the 1961, 1962, 1963 runnings of the Indianapolis 500
- 2018 Pebble Beach Tony Hulman Award-winner
- Beautifully restored to its 1962 Bryant Heating and Cooling livery
- Includes Gerhardt starter, trophies and awards won by the car, along with period and recent photographs
Legendary race car builder Quincy David “Quin” Epperly spared no expense in the construction of the exceptional piece of racing history offered here. Originally built for the 1961 Indianapolis 500, where it was emblazoned with the number 3, this classic Indy roadster was impressive in its beautiful red and silver Hoover Motor Express Companies livery. A strong qualifying effort by driver Don Branson put the car in the middle of the front row on race day, but bent valves in his 255 Offenhauser engine ended the competition for him after only two laps, resulting in a 33rd-place finish.
For 1962, the car was given number 54 and was driven by the 1961 Rookie of the Year, Bobby Marshman. Sponsored by Bryant Heating and Cooling, the car was surely one of the one of the most striking ever to appear at the Speedway. The overall black finish was complemented by bright red accents surrounding the gold leaf numbers and lettering. The side panels, oil tank, headrest, engine cover, and air scoop were all polished to a mirror finish. Even the Halibrand magnesium wheels had a lustrous bright chrome-like shine. Starting from third spot, Marshman completed all 200 laps and finished in the fifth position.
In 1963 the car was once again at Indianapolis, this time entered by Tidewater Associates for Hoover Inc. and still bearing the number 54 it wore in 1962—though this year, the car had a distinctive bright orange paint job accented by side panels and numbers painted with a black and white checkerboard design. Driver Bud Tingelstad started the race in the 25th position and lasted 46 laps until a turn two crash ended his day, giving him a 28th place finish. 1963 would mark the final appearance for the number 54 Epperly roadster.
Like so many historic racing cars, the roadster’s post-competition history remains a mystery. At some point, it joined the stable of noted collector Bob McConnell of Urbana, Ohio. Mr. McConnell is known for saving dozens of open-wheel race cars, restoring many himself. It took legendary Indy collector Bill Akin several years to get Mr. McConnell to part with this car but eventually the two stuck a deal and the project moved to Mr. Akin’s Nashville shop.
Under Mr. Akin’s ownership, the roadster underwent a fastidious restoration and was returned to the 1962 Indianapolis livery in which it is offered today. The quality of the restoration is underlined by its Pebble Beach history, winning the 2018 Tony Hulman Award and placing second in the Indy Revolution class that year.
As a truly exceptional restoration of a wonderful racing car from the golden days of Indy, the 1961 Epperly roadster offered here is worthy of further preservation and care in the collection of another true connoisseur.