Tag Archives: Marmon

Unable To See Anyway – Marmon Wasp #199753

Howard Marmon founded the Marmon Motor Company which was owned by Nordyke Marmon & Company of Indianapolis, Indiana in 1902.

By 1909, the year Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IMS, held it’s first events, Marmon were manufacturing a 32hp 270 cui four cylinder Model 32.

I believe Bruce Keen led a trio of such cars to 3rd, 4th and 5th place finishes in the 1909 300 mile Wheeler-Schebler Trophy Race that was called after 235 miles, when the track began to break up and Bruce had struck a pot hole and struck a bridge support that gave his mechanician James Schiller a fractured skull.

Marmon Wasp, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Jackson driver Leigh Lynch was running 14 laps clear of the Marmons when the race was called, though the trophy was withheld and victory never officially declared out of respect for the two spectators and mechanician Claude Kellum who were killed in an earlier accident involving Charlie Merz’s #10 National.

Over the winter IMS repaved it’s fragile track surface with 3.2 million 10 lb Indiana bricks, earning the venue it’s Brickyard nick name and the performance of the four cylinder Marmons improved such that Ray Haroun won the now 200 mile 1910 Wheeler-Schebler race in his #33 Marmon and became the first official winner of the Tiffany designed Trophy.

During the same winter of 1909/10 founder and chief engineer Howard Marmon working with Ray Harroun, also a mechanical engineer known as “The Little Professor”, developed two Model 32 chassis into open wheel race cars for the 1910 AAA season for races permitting non stock vehicles.

Marmon Wasp, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

On today’s featured car, which became known as the Marmon Wasp, built to compete in the under 450 cui open class two extra cylinders were added to the Model 32 four cylinder engine bring it’s capacity up to 447 cui / 7,325 cc.

I suspect the lesser known and sleeker Marmon Yellow Jacket was built to compete in the under 300 cui open class, Ray won the 1910 Remy Brassard Trophy for such cars at Indy, but otherwise I know next to nothing about it other than it first appeared being tested in March 1910, if you know anything about this car please do not hesitate to chime in below.

Two days after his victory in the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy and on the same day as his Remy Brassard win, while testing the #32 Wasp at Indianapolis a tyre blew entering the north east turn which sent Ray and the Wasp into the wall at a reported 78 miles an hour.

Marmon Wasp, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

The damage looked worse than it was and in June 1910 the Marmon concern were reported as being “much elated” at how easily the Wasp was repaired, I believe Ray drove it to victory in three open class races at the opening meeting at Churchill Downs, otherwise known as the home of the Kentucky Derby, in 1910.

During the course of 1910 Ray also won the 200 mile race at Atlanta, and 100 mile race at Playa del Rey in Los Angeles and at the end of the year Chris G. Sinsabaugh, an editor at Motor Age named Ray as de facto National Champion based on merit and Ray’s race performances, this was not a title recognised by the AAA contest board who did not keep any score of points for a championship at that time.

In 1911 IMS switched from running a multi weekend multi race strategy to running a single race every year on Decoration Day, known as Memorial Day since 1967, weekend called the International 500-Mile Sweepstakes or Indy 500 that these days is marketed with the strap line “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.

Marmon Wasp, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

For the first running of the Indy 500 the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy was replaced by the Borg Warner trophy and the race was open to cars with a maximum engine capacity of 600 cui / 9832 cc that competed for $25,000 in prize money with $10,000 going to the winner.

Ray Harroun had wanted to stop driving race cars at the end of 1910, but was persuaded by Marmon to drive the Wasp one more time, he said he had been offered a dozen other drives for the inaugural Indy 500 and chose the Wasp, that had one of the smallest engines of any car in the race, only because he had never opened it up to it’s maximum potential in 1910 and that he was knew he was not experimenting with anything untried.

Forty cars met the 75 mph qualifying speed required from a flying start along a 1/4 mile distance of the front straight and Ray’s 28th starting position was determined, as were all the others, by the order the entries, of the qualifiers were, received in.

Marmon Wasp, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

During the month of practice for the 500 The Little Professor determined that by running at as close to 75 mph laps as possible his reduced tyre wear would give him a race winning advantage over the whole race distance.

Before the race objections from his fellow competitors, to his running without a riding mechanician who could warn him of vehicles approaching from behind, saw Ray fit a 3″ by 8″ mirror over the cockpit cowling so that he could see his competitors.

Running his 75 mph laps as planned Ray handed the Wasp, running in second place to the #28 FIAT driven by David Bruce – Brown, over to his relief driver 22 year old Cyrus Patschke on lap 64.

Marmon Wasp, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Cyrus was instructed to follow the #28 FIAT for 35 laps before coming in to hand the Wasp back over to Ray, with Ray back behind the wheel David’s relentless pace eventually led to a blow out which handed the lead and eventual victory to Ray in the #32 Wasp.

After changing just four Firestone tyres, three of them offside rears, Ray was credited with a total race time of 6 hours, 42 minutes 8 seconds and an average speed of 74.602 miles per hour, despite an official timing wire being broken during a mid race accident meaning that laps 138 through 176 were not officially recorded !

Ralph Mulford driving a Lozier had changed 14 tyres during the race, losing an estimated 14 mins in the pits, on his way to a second place finish.

Marmon Wasp, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

After the race 32 year old Ray announced that 500 miles was “too long a race for one man” and that he was retiring permanently because racing was “too dangerous”.

Ray Harroun, still second in the all time IMS winners list with eight victories recorded between 1905 and 1911, stayed retired from the drivers seat and initially continued working for Marmon until switching to Maxwell, he then worked for the company he founded bearing his own name from 1917 to 1922 before joining Lincoln Products in 1927, he retired from the motor industry aged 79 and passed away a week after his 89th birthday in 1968.

Ray is seen in Ed Arnaudin’s photo below reunited with the Wasp for the 50th anniversary Indy 500 celebrations in 1961, he later admitted that the vibrations caused by the brick surface of the track ensured he “could not see anything anyway” in his innovative rear view mirror.

Marmon Wasp, Ray Harroun, Indianapolis Motor Speedway,

Cyrus Patschke also had a spell at the wheel of the 5th placed Joe Dawson #31 Marmon during the 1911 Indy 500, but never raced at Indy again.

Joe Dawson became the second Indy 500 winner driving for another Indianapolis manufacturer National in 1912.

The Marmon Wasp was kept by Marmon until the 1950’s when it was acquired by the IMS museum and restored by the museum staff AJ Fairbairn, Wilhelm “Bill” Spoerle and Barney Wimmer in 1989.

During the Indy 500 centenary celebrations in May 2011 the Wasp was driven by 1963 Indy winner Parnelli Jones and threw a rod through the block, a botched hasty repair made the problem worse and when the photo’s at Goodwood Festival of Speed were taken in June 2011 the car was not a runner, repairs were effected in 2012 that restored the car to running condition.

Marmon kept manufacturing cars culminating in the Worlds Most Advanced Car until going into receivership in 1933, Jeep designer Arthur William Sidney Herrington rescued the name, which still operates as Marmon Herrington and Marmon Group, initially for various commercial and military vehicle projects but now focuses on axle manufacture and the conversion of vehicles to all wheel drive.

My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for kindly scanning and forwarding the photograph taken at Indy in 1961 that was taken by his late father Ed Arnaudin.

Thanks for joining me on this “Unable To See Anyway” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Mercedes Monday tomorrow.


Palm Springs – Desert Classic Concours d’Elegance

This year the Desert Classic Concours d’Elegance moved to the Desert Princess Country Club and Doral Desert Princess Resort in Palm Springs California on February 24th and Geoffrey Horton has kindly sent sent today’s selection of photographs to us an overview of some of the vehicles present.

Jaguar XK 140 FHC SE, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm Springs, CA

Geoffrey own 1955 Jaguar XK140 FHC SE/MC was looking more resplendent than ever in the spring California sun.

Mercedes Benz 28/95, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm Springs, CA

When I saw this photo of a 1923 Mercedes Benz 28/95 I wondered if it was perhaps a creation from Gary L Wells workshop but in fact this beast with a 7.2 litre / 439 cui six cylinder aeroplane motor converted for road use is all the work of Mercedes Benz. The short wheel base version of the roadster, like the one seen here, was originally given the Targa Florio name after Mercedes Benz victories on the torturous Sicilian track in 1921 and 1922.

Ruxton Model C, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm Springs, CA

Looking similar to a Cord L29 is this 1929 Ruxton Model C which like the Cord L29 has front wheel drive and a straight 8 engine but unlike the Cord L29 of which 4400 examples were built only 500 Ruxton Model C’s are thought to have been built the two tone lilac paintwork is standard for the period.

Marmon V16 Series 144, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

Last year Geoffrey shared photo’s of a Marmon V16 Limousine, above is the last Marmon V16 sold in 1933, a Coupe version of which just 5 others are thought to remain.

Chrysler Imperial, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

Although powered “only” by a 6.3 litre / 384 cui straight 8 Geoffrey’s car of the show was without question this 1931 Chrysler Imperial which appears to have a sheen just a little brighter than all of the other vehicles seen on the day.

Tucker 48, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

This 1948 Tucker 48 chassis #1003 featuring a motor in the boot / trunk and rear wheel drive is one of 51 built and is expected to fetch between US$1.5 and 1.9 million at auction on March 9th.

Cunningham C3, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

Moving forward five years this 1953 Cunningham C3 is one of 20 Roadsters built in West Palm Beach, it is fitted with 331 cui Hemi V8 and was shipped to Turin for coachwork to be fitted by Vignale. In addition to the roadsters Cunningham built 5 C3 convertibles.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

This US Spec 1957 Mercedes Benz 300SL Roadster would have originally been distributed by Studebaker Packard Corporation.

Maserati, 3500 GT, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

According to the owner of this 1959 Maserati 3500 GT was sold new in Mexico and it “may” have once belonged to left wing Mexican President Adolfo Lopez Mateos.

Shelby Cobra GT500, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

The 1968 Shelby Cobra GT 500 above is fitted with a 428cui interceptor motor and had clocked well over 100,000 miles prior to a two year restoration in 2005, since when it has won a Best in Show award at the 2007 Cobra Owners Concours and been drag raced at California Speedway.

Ford Roadster, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

Geoffrey tells me the ’32 Ford Roadster above belongs to well known IMSA racer Rick Knoop and packs 400 hp.

Ferrari 512M, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

Finally a Friday car this much modified Ferrari 512 S was upgraded to M spec in 1971 and upgraded further by the Filipinetti team with a Porsche 917 windscreen to what has become known as M/F spec. Drivers of the car in period include Ronnie Peterson, Henri Pescarolo, Mike Parkes and Joakim Bonnier.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing his photographs and a smidgen of welcome California sunshine.

Thanks for joining me on this “Palm Springs” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


The Worlds Most Advanced Car – Marmon Sixteen

The transformation of flour mill machinery manufacturers Nordyke and Marmon, est 1851, into the manufacturers of the Worlds most advanced car started with 23 year old University of California at Berkeley graduate Howard Marmon returned to Indianapolis and built his first car, powered by an aircooled V twin featuring a pressurised lubrication system and overhead valves in 1902.

Morman Sixteen, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

Howard’s second design was powered by an aircooled V4 and a couple of years later Marmon sold it’s first six cars, allegedly mostly to friends. Nine years after designing his first car Howard’s Marmon Wasp won the very first Indianapolis 500 in 1911 with Ray Harroun averaging 75 mph for the 6 hours, 42 minutes it took to complete the distance. The Wasp is said to be the first car ever to feature a rear view mirror.

Marmon Sixteen, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

After full fulfilling a contract to build 5,000 Liberty motors for use in the 1914/18 war Marmon had the financial stability to continue innovating especially with the use of aluminium in automobile manufacture and with motor configurations until in 1927 Marmon began the design of the highly advanced V16.

Marmon Sixteen, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

The 8.1 litre / 491 cui V16 motor is a work of art featuring a ‘Y’ shaped block with a 45 degree V for the two banks of eight cylinders made from a single aluminium casting that includes the crank case. The excellent design of the engine was recognised by the Society of Automotive Engineers who’s annual design award was given to Howard Marmon.

Marmon Sixteen, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

With overhead valves operated by pushrods from a single cam shaft the motor produced 200 hp and weighed much less than the smaller V16 that Cadillac had pushed through to production in less time than Marmon with the help of an ex Marmon employee.

Marmon Sixteen, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

Most of the 390 Marmon Sixteens had bodywork by LeBaron with the design credited officially to Walter Dorwin Teague, Sr though much of the work was done by his son W.D. Teague, Jr an MIT student.

With a superior power to weight ratio, thanks to the extensive use of aluminium, to almost everything else on the road, all Marmon Sixteens were certified has having achieved 100 mph on the fabled Indianapolis Circuit. Unfortunately the The Worlds Most Advanced Car, as the Sixteen was marketed, came at absolutely the worst time when the market for $5,000 automobiles was at an all time low and so Marmon left the car manufacturing business when it went in to receivership in 1933.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for kindly sharing today’s photographs taken at the recent Hillsborough Concours d’Elegance.

Thanks for joining me on this “The Worlds Most Advanced Car” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”.
I hope you will join me again for Ferrari Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Awesome Copper – Hillsborough Concours d’Elegance

Geoffrey Horton attended the Hillsborough Concours d’Elegance two weeks ago and kindly sent me another excellent selection of photographs to share.

Chevrolet Series D, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

Chevrolet’s first V8 was built for the Series D from 1917/18, it produced a modest, even by contemporary standards, 36 hp from it’s 4.7 litre 288 cui motor. Poor sales discouraged Chevrolet from returning to the V8 concept until 1955.

Rolls Royce Silver Ghost by Brockman, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

The National Automobile Museum in Reno NV is home to this 1921 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost with a unique copper sheet body by Brockman. Other features include wood trim from a single ebony tree trunk along with nickle and silver fittings.

Marmon Sixteen, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

The Marmon Sixteen was the first of the three automotive V16’s to be developed in 1927, unfortunately Marmon was in such desperate financial straights that two of it’s engineers went to Peerless and Cadillac to develop to more V16 designs and the Marmon was the last of the three to reach production in 1931. Only 400 of these 8 litre / 491 cui 45 degree V16 powered cars were built before the Great Depression brought an end to automobile production for the company.

Packard 12 1107 Club Sedan, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

This Concours winning 1934 Packard 12-1107 Club Sedan is even rarer than the Marmon 16 with just 51 built. Powered by a 160 hp side valve V12 the car is fitted with a radio that cost an additional $79.50 on top of the original $4,060 list price. In today’s money the radio would work out at around $800 !

Ford Phaeton, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

Ford Phaeton’s powered by 85hp flathead V8’s were manufactured in 1935 and 1936 and featured hydraulically actuated brakes on all four wheels. The example seen here was built in 1936.

Studebaker Comander Starlight Coupé, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

“First by far with a postwar car” was Studebaker with it’s Commander Starlight Coupé with aeroplane styling designed by Raymond Loewy. 4,383 of these cars were built in 1950 this one has a six tube radio.

Alfa Romeo 6C 2500SS Coupé, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

ALFA Romeo did not start post war production until 1947, the 6C 2500 Super Sport Coupé was top of the range in 1950. Developed by Vittorio Jano and Wilfredo Ricart the 6C 2500 was the last Alfa Romeo to be built with a separate body and chassis. The bodywork on this model is by Touring of Turin. Note this particular car unusually features the driver sitting on the right.

Kaiser Darin, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

Henry Kaiser used a fortune made producing ships for the Navy during the 1939/45 war to begin production of Kaiser cars. The chassis of the second Henry J model was used as the basis of this fibre glass bodied roadster by Howard ‘Dutch’ Darrin. 435 Kaiser Darrin’s, featuring doors that slide forward into the front wing / fender were manufactured in 1954.

Talbot Lago 14TS, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

I’m not sure of exactly which year this Talbot Lago was built, 54 T14 LS models were built with 4 cylinder Talbot motors in 1955 and subsequentley similar Talbot Laga America models were supplied with more reliable BMW V8 motors.

Mercedes Benz 220 SE Cabriolet, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

Priced to compete with the Caddilac Biaritz this 134 hp 1960 Mercedes Benz 220 SE Cabriolet has an interior covered almost entirely in leather. 1,112 of these Cabriolet’s were manufactured between 1958 and 1960.

AC Cobra Dragonsnake, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

Just six Shelby American Cobra Dragonsnakes were manufactured for drag racing. The second, chassis CSX 2357, seen here was driven by Jere Kirkpatrick to set NHRA A/Stock Sports records at Fremont, Riverside and Arlington. Jere also drove CSX 2357 to win the 1965 Winter Nationals in Phoenix.

Lancia Flavia, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

Featuring a flat four boxer engine and front wheel drive the Lancia Flavia was maufactured from 1961 to 1970. The bodywork for the 1965 Coupé seen here was designed by Pininfarina.

Thanks for joining me on this “Awesome Copper” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be revisiting the Haynes International Motor Museum. Don’t forget to come back now !