Gunners Garage

Turning Nothing into Something

Jim Rugowski looks over his rusty racing car parts.

Jim Rugowski looks over his rusty racing car parts.

 

That’s classic car collector Jim Rugowski looking over the parts to a race car he is building. He had just hauled the parts of the car to a shop that is going to blast them. The owner of the shop said the parts reminded him of a Soapbox Derby car. They may look like that now, but Jim is very good a making something out of nothing.

Take the engine he is planning to use in the car for example. It is an early 900-cc Triumph Spitfire motor. We had an opportunity to buy this motor for $50 and had planned to use it as a static display piece. We were going to leave half of the engine in rough, unrestored condition and make the other half look like a rebuilt engine.

We never got around to that before Jim spotted the little “mill.” A friend who tears down old barns had already given him the parts for the 1930s or 1940s racing car. They turned up in one of the barns he tore down. Jim thought the diminutive Spitfire engine would fit in his tiny race car.

This is how the Spitfire engine looked when Jim bought it.

This is how the Spitfire engine looked when Jim bought it.

 

When you see the photo showing what Jim turned the old engine into, you can tell how serious he is about his project. He has already picked up a Model T frame to put under the car and now he is looking for a third member and an old Franklin steering box.

Jim is also looking for a copy of Science and Mechanics magazine that contained Craft Print Project No. 51 as part of an article by Manley Mills called “How to Build a Dirt Track Racer.” He was able to buy photocopies of the text of this article at a swap meet, but the illustrations did not reproduce well and he thinks that a few of them would be a big help in completing his project.

 

This is how the engine looks today – what a difference!

This is how the engine looks today – what a difference!

 

 

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