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Electric Dreams Saves Old Glories!!

January 5, 2006

Another activity is our restoration services. Our clients send them various cars in various desperate conditions and we put them back to display or serviceable condition. Below, are two 1960’s Pro Racing cars, which have been identified and saved from oblivion?

This car was built in August 1968 by Dynamic’s Team captain Jack Garcia. Jack also made the mold for the Lola T162 body, which Dynamic sold under the “Handling Bodies” label. The chassis is typical of the early angle-winders, and uses a Team Dynamic motor built by Bruce Erickson, then team member. The Mura “A” large can is painted in the team’s purple color, and the “can-in-a-can” feature is a shim system allowing the use of the Versitec low-profile magnets. The 24-gauge arm was wound by Erickson and balanced by Dynamic on their in-house balancing unit. As Most of the cars built by Jack, this one eventually led to a production version. This chassis with longer side pans was later produced as a kit and fully assembled by Dynamic until it became obsolete in late 1968, when the “Plumber” system was developed (a new hinge across the front of the frame allowed for a tilting function of the whole side pans assembly). The body is painted exactly as the original was, simulating a Dave Bloom paint job. The car is a runner and is finding its way to Portugal, in the collection of Miguel Pereira, the son of the Cox importer in the 1960’s.

An early “plumber” car built by John Cukras (pronounced “Soo-krees”) for a client in November 1968. John was of course one of the greatest pros who ever lived, running for many top teams including Champion, Russkit, Mura and Riggen. This is a car dating from the

Mura association, when John put his well-deserved reputation behind the top-of-the-line Mura motors and armatures bearing his name. It has the original Mura-Cukras famous pink motor, with the “Cukras” sticker totally intact! The chassis is signed and was sympathetically restored. The previous owner had butchered it a bit and several rails needed replacement. The Russkit body is of a Lola T70 and has a typical “Kovacs” paint, and built-in spoilers. Note the massive brass rails forming the center section, and the “plumber” hinge behind the front axle! Another month, and the West Coast pros will fit that hinge on front of the drop arm, where it remained for over 20 years. Note the floating front axle allowing the front wheels to move another 1/4″ outside the mandated 3″ width. This trick did help the car from turning over in tight spots on inner lanes. Note the “Jet” flag, assembled with a washer and a self tapping screw, MELTED with an iron into the guide…This remained until I introduced the now universally used nut in 1972. (We had to thread the guides ourselves, now they come ready, you lucky dogs!) This car is being shipped to a notable collector of small and large cars in Northern California.

The first is a 1966 Harvey Aluminum Special with a Dynamic “Handling Bodies” painted by Bob Kovacs. The Inline frame was built by pro Mike Steube and sold to the French Motor Company in San Francisco. They installed their rewound FT26 silver wire motor and used the car at trade shows, until they folded in 1969. The car was found with a large amount of French motors in 1972 at a local distributor. The late Ben Brandt then owned the car for a while and passed it on to me. I had little to do but a good clean up. The car is typical of a short period in 1966 when the pros transitioned from running lightweight open-wheel cars to wider, heavier sports car bodies. Everyone was running these Harveys made by Dynamic, Lancer or Pactra. Steube sold this chassis design to Associated Electrics, which produced a similar chassis until 1968.

The second car is a rarity. It is a Pactra Ferrari P4, one of the last attempts by the famous body and paint company to compete with the pro-style merchandise. It has a brass wire chassis and an stamped, anodized aluminum “ISO” set-up in which the motor, in this case a modified Mabuchi FT26 with an air-cooled end bell using Pittman-style brushes, was integral part of the structure, pivoted from the rear axle bearings. They also sold these chassis separately, and if you can find one, they make the best handling legal vintage car you can run! They existed for sports cars as this one, or in a narrower version for open-wheel cars. These P4 bodies are quite rare, however. Testor on their own RTR using a very obsolete aluminum anodized sidewinder frame also used them. Strangely, the two companies made two different versions of the decals, both representing the Daytona 24-hour winning entry of SEFAC-Ferrari (Parkes-Bandini) that utterly destroyed the Ford MKII and Chaparral 2D’s and F’s. The Pactra car was issued in late 1967 and few are known to have survived. This one came from one of the Pactra rep, Vic Cunningham, in about 1973. It needed no restoration as it was and still is brand new. It came in a red and white window box, now very hard to find.

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