Monterey

Portola Hotel & Spa
19 - 20 August 2016
Lot 230

1926 Miller Locomobile Junior 8 Special

Sam & Emily Mann: A Collection by Design

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$770,000 USD | Sold

United States | Monterey, California

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Chassis No.
8
  • One of two special Millers built for playboy sportsman Cliff Durant
  • A four-time starter at Indianapolis; the longest racing history of any Miller
  • Driven by a “who’s who” of the era: Durant, Hearne, Hepburn, Snowberger, Arnold, and Frame
  • Known ownership history from new; original frame and correct Miller “91” engine
  • Award-winning restoration by marque specialists

155/250 bhp, 90.2 cu. in. DOHC 16-valve inline eight-cylinder engine with supercharger, three-speed manual transmission, front beam axle with semi-elliptical leaf spring suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf spring suspension, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 100 in.

Addendum:

Please note that this lot will be offered on a Bill of Sale.

When the rule change that limited engine displacement to 91 cubic inches was announced for the 1926 racing season, famed designer, engineer, and visionary Harry Miller could have merely shortened the stroke of his nearly unbeatable 122-cubic inch engine and continued producing and selling the rear-wheel-drive race car that he first introduced in 1923. In typical fashion, however, the extraordinarily talented Miller and his no less capable staff instead set to work on designing and building an entirely new car. To the untrained eye, the 122 and 91 rear-wheel-drive cars were virtually identical in appearance, aside from the 91’s three-piece radiator and grille assembly. Yet there was no commonality of parts between the two models, with the exception of externally sourced items such as the wheels, tires, instruments, and electrical components. All of the 91 engines were supercharged, and at introduction, they developed 155 horsepower at 7,000 rpm; extensive on-track development work resulted in refinements that eventually boosted output to well over 250 horsepower at 8,000 rpm.

The Miller 91 was so successful and its domination of 1920s speedways so complete that it was effectively responsible for its own demise. In 1930, the AACA changed to the “Junk Formula,” increasing the displacement of engines to 366 cubic inches and banning supercharging, largely in part to stop the Miller 91’s seemingly unending winning streak. A total of eight rear-wheel-drive Miller 91s had been built, and relatively few of them remain extant.

THE LOCOMOBILE JUNIOR 8 SPECIALS

The name Locomobile, in American automobile circles, brings to mind vast, beautifully built luxury automobiles. It also, however, brings to mind the pair of special Miller 91s built in 1926 to the order of Cliff Durant, son of General Motors founder William Crapo Durant, recent acquirer of the Locomobile Company of America. In order to promote the first Durant-built Locomobile model, the Junior 8, Cliff Durant set to racing with a team of Millers, including two purpose-built cars based on the “stock” Miller 91 but with assorted detail differences throughout, including slight modifications to their engines.

The car offered here, chassis number 8, was driven by Cliff Durant himself at the 1926 Indianapolis 500, its first event, with the racing number 9. After qualifying an impressive 11th, Durant – a man more interested in business than in training for races – called for relief by Eddie Hearne after only 41 laps; the car retired on the 61st lap after a fuel leak. Hearne continued to run in the car, now #19, at such renowned board tracks as Altoona, finishing 5th Overall on 12 June, and Charlotte, finishing 3rd Overall on 23 August.

At the end of the 1926 season, Durant dissolved his team, and his former team driver, Harry Hartz, took both Locomobile Junior 8 Specials to California to sell on his behalf. In this form, the car raced once more under its original name at Culver City, #25 driven by Harlan Fengler, who finished 5th. It was then acquired by Cliff Woodbury for the burgeoning Boyle Valve Special team of Millers, for whom it was driven by Fred Comer, Ralph Hepburn, Russ Snowberger, and Billy Arnold, through 1929, including three further competitions at Indianapolis.

After a race at the New York State Fairgrounds resulted in damaged engine bearings, the car was sold to veteran mechanic and team owner Clarence Tarbet of Culver City, California. The car then entered the 1930 season, still under its Boyle Valve Sponsorship, driven initially by Chet Gardner and subsequently by the renowned Fred Frame. It was under Frame’s talented hands that the car achieved its greatest successes, including multiple top five finishes and no fewer than eleven 1st Overalls during 1930.

The car raced in 1931 as the Dayton Thorobred Special of Francis Quinn, driven initially and with little success by Walt May, then as the Kingsley Special of “Speed” Hinckley, who finished 1st Overall at San Jose in June. By this point, however, the Miller was clearly outmoded against its competition and thus began what Miller historian Michael Ferner has referred to as the “dark years,” in which it was modified into sprint car form and raced extensively by Floyd Roberts as the Roberts Special. The car’s last known entry into competition was as Earl Mansell’s #55 car at Silvergate Speedway in 1955, ending a remarkable racing career that had extended longer than any other Miller – nearly 30 years.

MODERN HISTORY

Les Spriegel acquired “Old No. 9’s” chassis, wheels, and running gear from longtime mechanic Dudley Samuals, with a Riley engine and sprint car bodywork mounted. The car was then acquired by longtime owner Joe Gemsa from Spriegel at some point in the 1940s and would remain in his ownership for four decades, during which time it was occasionally shown in its sprint car form, carrying #43 and identified as the Orange Blossom Special.

Ron Cameron’s California Sportscars bought the Orange Blossom Special from Gemsa in 1986 and sold it the following year to Dan McLoughlin. In 2008, it was acquired from McLoughlin by Sam and Emily Mann as an incomplete restoration retaining an original frame and by that point, having a later and more powerful Miller Marine engine, used in its day to power cars and racing boats. An exhaustive restoration effort followed at the hands of marque specialists Zakira’s Garage in Cincinnati, Ohio, which included the acquisition of a correct, original Miller 91 engine and a few additional ancillary parts directly from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, thus enabling the car to be repowered with an original 91 engine as it had run when new. The uniquely shaped ladder frame is original, as are such paraphernalia as the steering box and spring hangers, which add to the car’s authenticity from stem to stern. The finishes throughout are correct, including all of the running gear being satin polished steel, and brightwork chrome plated.

While much of the original body that remained could have been used, it was deemed to be generally too fatigued from years of use and multiple modifications, thus the original body was recreated to the original 1926 Indianapolis design. In keeping with period correctness, Zakira and Mann refrained from installing an onboard starter; although it is certainly possible for the next owner to make this addition, a non-period electric starter does accompany the sale of the car.

The result, which was awarded Best in Class in the special Miller class at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in 2013, is exceptionally correct and authentic, true in every way to its 1926 Locomobile Junior 8 form, and retaining original chassis components and a correct Miller 91 engine. By the time the restoration was completed, Sam had given up racing, so it has never been in wheel-to-wheel competition. It has been displayed and driven by Sam at several Milwaukee Mile weekend Miller meets, and having had it on the track, he can report how fast it truly is. “Even though Milwaukee is a mile-long track, it was hard to get the car into third gear because it was made to handle such a high rate of speed. In third, you would find yourself at competition speeds. The car handles beautifully, tracks steadily in a straight line, corners well at speed, and makes glorious sounds from both ends! It is truly a car that, when behind the wheel, you can imagine what it was like in the period for the courageous drivers who were piloting these cars at over 100 miles an hour.”

This Miller certainly represents the best of early high-tech racing in its day, as these cars were precision built and displayed a degree of beautiful fit and finish that was not to be found anywhere else. It was, in effect, state of the art and remained so for a very long time, creating excitement not only on the track, but also in the showroom, as Billy Durant had intended. Here is a car whose motor can turn up to 7,000–8,000 rpm, while most passenger cars did not exceed 2,000–2,500 rpm; given the metallurgy and lubricants of the day, this accomplishment was nothing short of extraordinary.

Truly a piece of automotive jewelry, this example can safely be held as among the most authentic Miller restorations. Whether the new owner’s ambition is to race competitively, display at concours, or simply maintain it as a remarkable piece of stationary sculpture, it is most certainly a significant example that cannot be ignored. It is a restoration true to the heritage of a car that started at Indianapolis no fewer than four times – 1926, 1927, 1928, and 1929 – and was driven by some of the most legendary names of its generation.

RACE RESULTS
DATE EVENT NAME RACE # DRIVER RESULT
May 31, 1926 Indianapolis, 400/500 miles Locomobile Junior 8 Special 9 Harlan Fengler / Cliff Durant / Eddie Hearne DNF
June 12, 1926 Altoona, 250 miles Locomobile Junior 8 Special 18 Cliff Durant / Eddie Hearne 5th OA
June 27, 1926 Detroit, 100 miles Locomobile Junior 8 Special 18 Eddie Hearne DNF
July 5, 1926 Rockingham, 200 miles Locomobile Junior 8 Special 18 Eddie Hearne DNF
July 17, 1926 Atlantic City, 120 miles Locomobile Junior 8 Special 18 Eddie Hearne DNS
August 23, 1926 Charlotte, 150 miles Locomobile Junior 8 Special 18 Eddie Hearne 3rd OA
September 18, 1926 Altoona, 250 miles Locomobile Junior 8 Special 18 Eddie Hearne 9th OA
October 12, 1926 Rockingham, 200 miles Locomobile Junior 8 Special 4 Ralph Hepburn DNF
November 11, 1926 Charlotte, 100 miles Locomobile Junior 8 Special 4 Ralph Hepburn DNF
           
March 6, 1927 Culver City, 250 miles Locomobile Junior 8 Special 25 Harlan Fengler 5th OA
May 7, 1927 Atlantic City, 200 miles Boyle Valve Special 6 Fred Comer DNF
May 30, 1927 Indianapolis, 500 miles Boyle Valve Special 19 Fred Comer (DNQ)/Ralph Hepburn DNF
June 11, 1927 Altoona, 200 miles Boyle Valve Special 6 Fred Comer (DNQ)/Ralph Hepburn DNF
July 4, 1927 Rockingham, 200 miles Boyle Valve Special 6 Fred Comer 8th OA
July 31, 1927 Detroit, 100 miles Boyle Valve Special 36 Russ Snowberger Started
August 21, 1927 Toledo, 100 miles Boyle Valve Special 36 Russ Snowberger NA
August 28, 1927 Roby, 20 miles Boyle Valve Special 36 Not Nominated  
September 5, 1927 Altoona, 200 miles Boyle Valve Special 36 Russ Snowberger DNF
September 19, 1927 Charlotte, 100 miles Boyle Valve Special 36 Russ Snowberger 8th OA
October 2, 1927 Milwaukee, 56/100 miles Boyle Valve Special 36 Russ Snowberger Started
October 12, 1927 Rockingham, 140/200 miles Boyle Valve Special 36 Russ Snowberger 9th OA
           
May 30, 1928 Indianapolis, 500 miles Boyle Valve Special 43 Billy Arnold/Bill Spence (relief) 7th OA
June 10, 1928 Detroit, 100 miles Boyle Valve Special 43 Billy Arnold DNF
July 15, 1928 Detroit, 100 miles Boyle Valve Special 43 Billy Arnold DNF
September 1, 1928 Syracuse, 100 miles Boyle Valve Special 43 Cliff Bergere DNS
           
May 12, 1929 Langhorne, 25 miles Boyle Valve Special 19 Chet Gardner NA
May 30, 1929 Indianapolis, 500 miles Boyle Valve Special 19 Chet Gardner DNQ
June 2, 1929 Cleveland, 85/100 miles Boyle Valve Special 19 Chet Gardner DNF
June 9, 1929 Detroit, 100 miles Boyle Valve Special 19 Chet Gardner 10th OA
June 15, 1929 Altoona, 150/200 miles Boyle Valve Special 19 Chet Gardner DNF
June 30, 1929 Woodbridge, 100 miles Boyle Valve Special 19 Chet Gardner 6th OA
July 4, 1929 Bridgeville, 100 miles Boyle Valve Special 19 Chet Gardner 4th OA
August 18, 1929 Toledo, 100 miles Boyle Valve Special 6 Fred Frame DNS
August 31, 1929 Syracuse, 100 miles Boyle Valve Special 6 Fred Frame DNF
September 2, 1929 Altoona, 200 miles Boyle Valve Special 6 Fred Frame 2nd OA
September 14, 1929 Reading, 10 miles Boyle Valve Special 6 Fred Frame NA
September 29, 1929 Woodbridge, 20 miles Boyle Valve Special 6 Fred Frame 1st OA
October 13, 1929 Woodbridge, 15 miles Boyle Valve Special 6 Fred Frame DNA
December 8, 1929 Ascot, 62.5 miles Boyle Valve Special 20 Fred Frame 2nd OA
December 22, 1929 Ascot, 62.5 miles Boyle Valve Special 20 Fred Frame 3rd OA
           
January 19, 1930 Ascot, 62.5 miles Boyle Valve Special 26 Fred Frame 3rd OA
January 26, 1930 Ascot, 62.5 miles Boyle Valve Special 26 Fred Frame NA
February 9, 1930 Ascot, 62.5 miles Boyle Valve Special 26 Fred Frame 3rd OA
February 23, 1930 Ascot, 62.5 miles Boyle Valve Special 26 Fred Frame DNF
March 2, 1930 Imperial, 40 miles Boyle Valve Special 26 Fred Frame NA
May 3, 1930 Langhorne, 100 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame 8th OA
May 18, 1930 Woodbridge, 25 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame 1st OA
May 25, 1930 Toledo, 100 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame N/A
May 30, 1930 Ebensburg, 10 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame 1st OA
June 1, 1930 Woodbridge, 25 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame DNF
June 7, 1930 Toronto, 12.5 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame 1st OA
June 9, 1930 Toronto, 12.5 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame DNS
June 11, 1930 Toronto, 12.5 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame Started
June 22, 1930 Woodbridge, 25 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame 1st OA
July 4, 1930 Langhorne, 100 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame 1st OA
July 13, 1930 Woodbridge, 25 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame 4th OA
July 27, 1930 Woodbridge, 34/50 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame 1st OA
August 10, 1930 Woodbridge, 25 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame 1st OA
August 16, 1930 Middletown, 10 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame NA
August 23, 1930 Lancaster, 10 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame 1st OA
August 30, 1930 Flemington, 50 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame NA
September 1, 1930 Flemington, 25 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame 2nd OA
September 6, 1930 Syracuse, 100 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame DNF
September 13, 1930 Brockton, 20 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame DNF
September 14, 1930 Woodbridge, 25 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame 1st OA
September 20, 1930 Allentown, 20 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame 1st OA
September 21, 1930 Woodbridge Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame NA
September 27, 1930 Bloomsburg, 10 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame 1st OA
September 28, 1930 Woodbridge, 25 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame DNQ
October 18, 1930 Langhorne, 100 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame Started
October 26, 1930 Woodbridge, 25 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame DNS
November 23, 1930 Ascot, 62.5 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame NA
December 14, 1930 Ascot, 62.5 miles Boyle Valve Special 4 Fred Frame DNF
           
February 1, 1931 Ascot, 25 miles Dayton Thorobred Special 3 Walt May 5th OA
February 22, 1931 Ascot, 25 miles Dayton Thorobred Special 3 Walt May DNF
March 1, 1931 Bakersfield, 50 miles Dayton Thorobred Special 3 Walt May DNA
April 5, 1931 San Jose, 31.25 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley Started
April 12, 1931 Imperial, 100 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley DNS
April 19, 1931 Ascot, 25 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley DNS
May 7, 1931 Fresno, 50 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley 6th OA
May 17, 1931 Ascot, 25 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley DNS
June 7, 1931 San Jose, 31.25 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley DNF
June 17, 1931 Ascot, 25 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley NA
June 21, 1931 San Jose, 37.5 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley 1st OA
June 24, 1931 Ascot, 25 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley NA
July 12, 1931 San Jose, 25 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley DNS
July 22, 1931 Ascot, 25 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley Started
August 5, 1931 Ascot, 25 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley NA
August 12, 1931 Ascot, 25 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley Started
August 16, 1931 San Jose, 25 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley 2nd OA
August 19, 1931 Ascot, 25 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley NA
August 26, 1931 Ascot, 25 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley Started
September 9, 1931 Ascot, 25 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley NA
October 4, 1931 San Jose, 25 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley DNF
October 18, 1931 Oakland, 100 miles Kingsley Special 3 Speed Hinkley DNA
November 11, 1931 Oakland, 50 miles Roberts Special 94 Floyd Roberts DNS
           
May 15, 1932 Fresno Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts NA
June 5, 1932 Burbank, 15.625 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts 1st OA
July 31, 1932 Burbank, 15.625 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts NA
September 11, 1932 Huntington, 15.625 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts 3rd OA
September 25, 1932 Colton, 20 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts NA
October 16, 1932 Culver City, 25 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts Started
October 23, 1932 Colton, 25 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts NA
November 24, 1932 San Diego, 9.375 / 31 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts 2nd OA
December 4, 1932 San Diego, 31.25 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts DNF
December 18, 1932 San Diego, 31.25 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts NA
December 26, 1932 San Diego, 62.5 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts 3rd OA
           
January 2, 1933 San Diego, 93.75 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts DNA
January 8, 1933 San Diego, 31.25 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts DNS
January 15, 1933 San Diego, 0/31.25 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts Race Cancelled
February 5, 1933 San Diego, 31.25 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts 3rd OA
February 12, 1933 San Diego, 31.25 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts 4th OA
February 19, 1933 San Diego, 15.625 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts Started
February 26, 1933 San Diego, 15.625 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts DNF
March 26, 1933 Burbank, 18.75 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts 3rd OA
April 23, 1933 Culver City, 37.5 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts DNF
           
January 1, 1934 San Diego, 20 miles Roberts Special   Chet Mortemore NA
January 7, 1934 San Diego, 20 miles Roberts Special   Chet Mortemore NA
April 22, 1934 Silvergate, 18.75 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts DNS
April 29, 1934 Silvergate, 21.875 miles Roberts Special 47 Floyd Roberts DNS
           
March 17, 1935 Silvergate, 18.75 miles   55 Earl Mansell DNS
           
May 4, 1947 Oakland, 18.75 miles     Les Spriegel DNS
September 6, 1947 Carrell, 15 miles     Mack Hellings 3rd OA
September 13, 1947 Carrell, 15 miles     Mack Hellings NA
           
December 4, 1949 Carrell, 15 miles     Joe Garson DNF
           
March 12, 1950 Carrell, 15 miles     Joe Garson DNS
           
January 21, 1951 Carrell, 15 miles     Frank Armi DNS
February 18, 1951 Pomona, 25 miles     Frank Armi DNS
           
April 25, 1954 Tucson, 15 miles     Jack Jordan NA
May 30, 1954 Oakland, 125 miles     Earl Motter DNS
August 8, 1954 Ferndale, 12.5 miles     Duke Walters DNS
           
January 16, 1955 Manzanita, 25 miles     Chuck Hulse 2nd OA
June 1, 1955 Los Angeles, 12.5 miles   42 Not Nominated