On Wednesday when I started today’s blog I thought lovely black car rare make, probably not too much history. As you’ll see below I could not have been more wrong in my assessment of the task ahead.
Hersham and Walton Motors (HWM) acquired an Aston Martin Dealership in 1951 reputedly making it the oldest such franchise.
Racing drivers & HWM owners George Abecassis and John Heath first built a streamlined body on an Alta sports car chassis in 1948.
The first proper HWM’s were also 4 cylinder Alta powered and built for the second tier European open wheel series called Formula 2 in 1950.
This is one of those 1950 open wheel cars allegedly driven by none other than Sir Stirling Moss at the start of his career.
Thanks to information passed on by David McKinney, it appears that this vehicle still fitted with an Alta engine was purchased in 1953 by 20th Century Fox and used in the film ‘The Racers‘ staring Kirk Douglas and Bella Darvi, this film was also known as ‘Such Men Are Dangerous’ in some countries.
During filming the car was heavily damaged, later Tom Carsten purchased all the vehicles from the film, selling most of them on, but keeping the HWM because it had independent suspension and fitting it with a 302cui /4900 cc Chevrolet V8 which was then bored out to 4994 cc / 305 cui by Edelbrock.
The car was also fitted with a quick change rear axle and experimental disc brakes by Hallibrand.
Bill Pollack, seen in this photograph by Carlyle Blackwell, confirmed as having to be at Pebble Beach by Bill himself, is known to have driven the at least twice in 1956 during which time chassis acquired the nome de course ‘Stovebolt Special’.
Bill was a regular winner at events such as Pebble Beach (two times), Golden Gate Park, Reno, Torrey Pines, Stockton, Madera, Willow Springs, Palm Springs, and the Santa Barbara road races, the most famous of which was in an Allard J2 at Pebble Beach from which his book ‘Red Wheels and White Sidewalls‘ takes it’s title.
JB Miltonian informs me that a version of this photo with the driver in an obviously retouched red shirt appeared on the cover of Sports Car Illustrated in September 1956 with the caption “Rounding the last turn at Pebble Beach is Bill Pollack in the latest Carstens bomb, the HWM-Chev V8. A complete breakdown of the car starts on p12. Ektachrome is by Carlyle Blackwell.”
The Stovebolt Special is known to have been raced until at least 1963.
In 1980 John Matherson restored the car which appeared in the Pebble Beach Concours in 2003.
As seen in this photo by Alan Raine most recently the Stovebolt Special has reappeared in the UK driven by Simon Taylor.
According to one source Simon’s car is now listed as having a 5737 cc / 347 cui motor.
There is some disagreement as to the chassis number of the Stovebolt Special with options including #49 – 001 ,49/02 and even FB 102, should Simon Taylor get in touch I’ll ask him and add a post script.
My thanks to Carlyle Blackwell for the photo, Ed and Steve Arnaudin who kindly sent it on to me and TNFers David McKinney, Alan Raine, fnqvmuch, Tim Murray, Roger Lund, Mark Godfrey, JB Miltonian, and Vince H, who helped reveal the story behind the ‘Stovebolt Special’.
Please keep the Arnaudin family in your thoughts and prayers at this time.
Hope you have enjoyed today’s Stovebolt Special edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you’ll 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.