Let's Help a Reader Figure Out What This Old Family Race Car Is

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Who likes mystery cars? Trick question, because everybody, everywhere, forever does. And we have one here today! A reader named Lucas found an old picture of a distant relative who seems to have had some sort of racing career. He at least had a racing car, and Lucas wants to know exactly what it was. Let’s see if we can help.

Here’s a closer look at the car in question, in a picture from the Wisconsin Historical Society:


That’s a racing car, all right, and I think it’s likely from the mid 1920s or so. As far as what it is, I think I have an idea, but I’d really like more input to either confirm what I’m thinking, or to let me know how wrong and stupid I am.

Here’s what I think: I think this is some sort of Ford Model T-based race car. These were not uncommon in the era, and I think it’s the case because of a few key parts:

There’s that front axle that seems to have a transverse leaf spring, there’s those bits underneath, which look like a T-style deep oil sump and behind it the planetary transmission housing of the Model T. That rear suspension arm I think is something T’s had, and the intake manifold would be where this one is.

Let’s look at a T chassis, to compare:


I think that looks about right? Close, at least.


Bodywork-wise, I think the car could be home-built, or possibly fitted with some sort of aftermarket Model T racing body, which I know was a thing way back in the day. The picture above is one, and you can also see the big sump and transmission lump down there, too.

I’m not really sure how to tell if it’s a one-off, or from some well-known kit; perhaps one of you clever geeks will know.


That’s my basic guess, though: some sort of Model T-based racer.

Am I right? Wrong? Anyone know any more details? Anyone from Wisconsin know something about racing there in the ‘20s?


Have at it.

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About the author

Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)