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Douglas ( -1 )

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1935 Welch Ford Special Two-Man Indianapolis Racing Car
Quantity Views Date Posted
1 3220 3/16/2010
Asking Price Shipping Amount Condition
$104,500.00 None Auction Results
Description: 1935 Welch Ford Special Two-Man Indianapolis Racing Car
RM Auctions
Automobiles of Amelia Island Collector Car Auction
Amelia Island, Florida
March 13, 2009
AUCTION RESULTS: Lot 117 - Sold at a price of $104,500

225 cu. in. flathead Ford V8 engine, dual two-barrel carburetors, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with transverse leaf spring and custom-fabricated spring location, custom-fabricated Houdaille-type front shock absorbers with modified circa-1934 Ford units at the rear, production-type Ford rear axle, and custom four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 100"

While much of Henry Ford's early success was rooted in motorsports, his company was absent from "official" racing involvement between 1913 and 1932. The introduction of the all-new V8 in 1932 provided the perfect opportunity for a return to competition, but while Henry Ford was eager to prove his new V8's mettle and to reap the advertising benefits, he preferred a "back channel" approach.

In the early 1930s, Ray Dahlinger and Lew Welch were friends who were attached to Ford's Development and Engineering Department, where they were involved in the secretive V8 development project. More than trusted employees, Dahlinger and Welch were in fact close friends of Henry Ford, with the proven ability to get things done.

Following Ford's unofficial success in the 1933 AAA-sanctioned National Road Race at Elgin, Illinois, where Ford-powered entries took eight of the top 10 positions, a pair of Ford V8-powered racers was created for the 1934 Indianapolis 500. One of them, the "Bohnalite Special," is believed to have been owned in truth by Ray Dahlinger, implying top-level Ford involvement.

Next, in 1935, the advanced front-drive Miller-Ford Indianapolis racers were created, the product of a Preston Tucker-led deal with Harry Miller for Henry Ford to build and enter ten cars at the Indianapolis 500. Meanwhile, Lew Welch, who was still a Ford employee at this time, was listed as the owner of a pair of more conventional rear-drive Indianapolis racers. These cars are believed to have actually been built on the Ford estate by many top Ford engineers and fabricators, intended to provide an "insurance policy" in case the radical front-drive Miller-Ford racing cars were not readied in time.

The car offered here is one of these two Welch "Ford Specials." The other car is believed to be part of a racecar collection in Lincoln, Nebraska. Today, it is unclear if an attempt to qualify this car at Indianapolis was made in 1935. During the 1940s, this car was converted for legal road use, sporting a custom-built front and rear end with headlights and taillights. In 1946, Evangeline Dahlinger, the wife of Ray Dahlinger, personally delivered it to Hollywood actor Keenan Wynn, who drove it regularly during his ownership. Next, it was driven by Indianapolis driver and former Ford test driver Duke Nalon for use in the 1947 Republic Pictures movie entitled "The Other Love", starring Barbara Stanwyck and David Niven.

In 1988, the current owner discovered the car, restoring it with his son to its current appearance as the Number 24 Ford Special. During the process, its origins, creators and history were thoroughly researched by the owner, culminating in an article published in the Early Ford V8 Times. An extensive career on the show field quickly followed, with Grand National First Place honors from the Early Ford V8 Club in 1991, 1993, 1998 and 2003, including Medallion and Emeritus awards. Other awards include the Ford Performance Cars award at the 1994 Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance, along with AACA National awards in 1991 and 1996.

A fascinating part of Ford Motor Company and racing history, this 1935 Welch-Ford Special comes complete with an extensive historical file, a cut-down 1935-vintage intake manifold with a dual-downdraft Winfield carburetor, as well as the restored front end and additional sheet metal that the car wore on its 1946 delivery to Keenan Wynn.
Keywords: 1935 Welch Ford Special Two-Man Indianapolis Racing Car


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