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California | Lot 1114

1931 Chevrolet "Mechanix Illustrated Special"

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$17,600 USD | Sold

United States | Santa Monica, California

17 July 2015


In an attempt to capitalize on the growing sports car market of the early ‘50s, Mechanix Illustrated magazine ran a 1951 advertisement about how readers could build their own 100 mph sports car based on a modified 1932 Ford chassis for only $500. Called the MI Sportster, complete plans were available for only $5 and the magazine promoted features such as its low center of gravity and uniform weight distribution.

To put it simply in the words of Mechanix Illustrated, “Wheelbase unchanged, frame dropped, new body, and 1932 Ford becomes 1951 Sportster.” Although it may not have been as simple as that in actuality, the final product was a fun sports car that its owners could proudly display as their own. A 1932 Ford or Chevy at the time cost only about $50 and instructions for the Mechanix Special showed how to modify the frame, build a new body, and how to build the tube structure to support the body. Instructions also called for a dropped front axle allowing a lower mounting point for the engine to add to the sporty characteristics of the car. Only a few MI Sportsters are known to exist today.

This example has significant character and patina throughout, but it was re-commissioned in 2012 with the addition of a modern Chevrolet 350-cid engine and Muncie four-speed transmission. This is a genuine vintage hot rod, not a new car trying to look the part, and the next owner can be absolutely confident that they will possess a true early 1950s hot rod in time warp overall condition. The thick paint is chipping off in places and many different colors are visible, but the body remains solid and the craftsmanship of the original builder is easily visible. This is a rare opportunity to purchase a nearly forgotten relic that is essentially the beginning of the kit car movement. An original magazine and a host of other documentation are included with the car.

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