miercuri, 23 martie 2016

Kurtis Aguila 1962 - World Of Classic Cars -

Kurtis Aguila 1962

Frank Kurtis will forever be remembered as one of America’s most ingenious racecar designers and builders, responsible for five Indianapolis 500 winners during the 1950s as well as countless successful dirt-track racers. His Kurtis Kraft company, based in Glendale, California, produced as many as 23 different models over its lifespan, ranging from open-wheel midgets and sprint cars to full-bodied sports-racers.
By the early 1960s, however, Kurtis’s output finally began to slow, and the 1962 example offered here is believed to be one of the final cars that he developed.
Kurtis Aguila 1962

Chassis number 62-S1 originated with the efforts of Herb Stelter, a Texas-based motorcycle racer turned parts distributor. From 1959, Stelter had attempted to compete on four wheels, first with a Formula III Cooper and then a Chevy-powered Jaguar C-Type, but success eluded him.
Stelter imagined that an Indy car converted to sports-car specifications would have an excellent chance of blowing away the competition, and he soon contacted Frank Kurtis with interest in commissioning a build project. Kurtis suggested that such a car could easily be devised to encompass both open-wheel racing and sports-car competition merely by integrating removable fenders, and Stelter was duly intrigued.
Kurtis Aguila 1962

And, thus, the Kurtis Aguila (Spanish for eagle) was born. Kurtis implemented a number of chassis trademarks, building the Aguila around a ladder-type frame of chrome-moly tubing and adding disc brakes and a Halibrand quick-change rear end. The finished chassis was mounted with an open-mouthed Indy-style body that could easily be mistaken for a standard monoposto racecar despite the two-seat bench. When the removable pontoon-style fenders were mounted with Dzus brackets, the voluptuous aluminum body began to resemble Kurtis’s breathtaking 500 KK sports cars.
Kurtis Aguila 1962

After the engineless car was delivered, Stelter and his mechanic, Dale Burt, installed a triple-carbureted Corvette engine with an Edelbrock intake manifold and undertook a few modifications of their own, as detailed in a feature article in the January 1963 issue of Road & Track. Unfortunately, regardless of whether the Aguila was campaigned in the open-wheel Formula 366 class or as a sports car, mechanical difficulties kept the car from becoming a contender. With the increasing domination of rear-engine sports cars, the Aguila was ultimately retired by 1965. It then remained parked in Burt’s Houston warehouse for 20 years before being acquired by a Colorado-based collector.
Kurtis Aguila 1962

Approximately 10 years later, the Aguila was purchased by George Shelley, a vintage racing enthusiast residing in Florida. Mr. Shelley commissioned a full restoration of the car in the early 1990s and began to campaign the car in historic-class competition at Sportscar Vintage Racing Association events throughout the Southeast. Properly sorted and driven, the Kurtis performed quite well at Moroso, Savannah, and Sebring, and it even made an appearance at the 1997 Nassau Speed Week reunion in the Bahamas. In 1998, the restored racer was the subject of a feature in the May 1998 issue of Sports Car International magazine. It is also discussed in several books about America’s post-war privateer racing scene, including Allan Girdler’s well-regarded American Road Race Specials, 1934–70.
Kurtis Aguila 1962

By the 2000s, the Aguila was acquired by William Chapin of Pennsylvania, at the time one of the nation’s foremost Kurtis collectors and a friend of Frank Kurtis’s son, Arlen. Chapin then sold the car to Richard Munz of Madison, Wisconsin in 2009. Mr. Munz commissioned a repaint to the current black-over-red livery by the esteemed Canepa Design of California, and the Canepa team also refreshed the car for continued racing applications. The Aguila was then exhibited at the Quail Motorsports Gathering in Carmel Valley, California, in August 2010.
Kurtis Aguila 1962

In early 2011, the Kurtis was sold to the consignor, a Florida-based vintage racing enthusiast who has continued to maintain the car in a ready state of tune. Under his care, the Aguila was displayed at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in March 2011, and it won its class at the Glenmoor Gathering in 2012. He notes that wherever the car has been taken, it never fails to attract a crowd, and in considering the beautiful one-off coachwork and legendary mechanical underpinnings, that assessment is easily credible.