Saturday, 26 March 2011

Nailhead Power - Kurtis Buick 500X #3

Today's photograph by Carlyle Blackwell was purchased by Ed Arnaudin back in the 1950's.

Kurtis Buick 500X, San Diego, Carlyle Blackwell

Photo Carlyle Blackwell, Publised Courtesy Blackwell Archive, for sales enquiry's please e-mail and your contact details will be forwarded to the Blackwell Archive.

Bill Murphy's #96 Kurtis Buick 500X seen in this photo, probably at San Diego in July 1956 where Bill won two races, is thought to be the 3rd of 12 500X chassis designed by Kurtis - Kraft who were well known for building successful open wheelers for the Indianapolis 500.

With a 96" wheelbase the 4120 chrome moly tube chassis of this model featured 4 bar torsion suspension and was a variation of the KK500C Indianapolis car covered in a hand formed aluminium body secured with Dzus fasteners.

The Kurtis was powered by a 5276 cc / 322 cui nailhead Buick V8 which is said to have produced between 300 (Bill Murphy) and 400 hp (Carol Shelby), this engine featured Hilbron fuel injection and was connected to a Jaguar 4 speed gearbox with the aid of Zidar adaptors.

The car was raced successfully by Bill Murphy from August 1955 to September 1957 during which time he scored 9 overall wins and 18 class wins. Murphy's employee from his Buick Dealership the Indy Car driver Sam Hanks was asked to shake the car down before races and then acted as engineer and crew chief for Bill during the races.

This car is said to have sat on Bill Murphy's lot until 1979 and resumed it's winning ways in 1980, since then this vehicle has appeared at Pebble Beach, Murphy never took risks on the track and the car is thought to have survived to the present day in original condition with no more than a fresh lick of paint.

Bill Murphy born in Alaska, was a successful UCLA dropout who built a huge car dealership empire which included Desoto-Plymouth and what from 1962 - 1965 was known as the worlds largest Buick dealership in Culver City.

Bill who was over 40 years old when he raced the Kurtis, which thought was capable of over reaching speeds 180 mph, business partner Shelby reckoned that Bills Kurtis was more powerful than any contemporary Ferrari or Maserati.

My thanks to Ed and Steve Arnaudin for forwarding Carlyle Blackwells photograph and to R Shelby and Coneptcarz for details about Bill and the 500X.

Hope you have enjoyed today's 'nailhead' edition of 'Gettin' a lil psycho on tyres' and that you will join me again tomorrow. Don't forget to come back now !

28 07 12 PS My thanks to Pamela Blackwell who has kindly retrospectively given me permission to post the photo's her father took.

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