1935 Miller Ford V-8 Special Indy Car

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Born out of a somewhat cantankerous collaboration between Henry Ford, Preston Tucker and Harry Miller (a co-designer of the famed Offenhauser engine), the Miller Ford V8 Special was designed and built for a 10-car Ford assault on Indianapolis in 1935. The car featured a 220 cubic inch Ford flathead V8 producing 150 hp in race trim. Sadly, a steering unit design flaw – and not enough time to fix it - led to only one car actually finishing the race. Humiliated, Henry Ford pulled the plug on factory-backed racing for almost 30 years. In the following years several of the cars were rebuilt with redesigned steering units (and most with Offenhauser engines) and were privateered at Indy with some limited success.

This car is one of the original 10 built for the 1935 Indianapolis 500 and will be sold by Mecum Auctions in Monterey, California on August 18-20, 2016, right before the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on August 21.

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(from Mecum Auctions Press Release) 1935 Miller Ford V-8 Special Indy Car

  • One of 10 1935 Miller Ford V-8 Specials
  • Ford Motor Company racing project
  • Designed under the supervision of the legendary Harry Miller for competition in the Indianapolis 500
  • Produced in Dearborn, Michigan by a joint venture of Harry Miller and Preston Tucker known as Miller-Tucker Inc.
  • Revolutionary in concept
  • 220 CI Ford flathead V-8 engine
  • 2-speed manual transmission
  • Front wheel drive
  • Red-white exterior
  • Red interior
  • 4-wheel independent suspension
  • Low-slung design
  • AACA Senior and Race Car Certification

This stunning red and white #23 1935 Miller Ford V-8 Special Indy Car is a product of the genius of Harry Miller, a man whose legend only seems to grow over time. Miller was a brilliant man who built equipment that dominated the Indianapolis 500 for decades. He was a man of many ideas. Some worked brilliantly and others failed, but he was imaginative and innovative, leaving an imprint on racing that outlived his time on Earth. In spite of his overwhelming success he had fallen on hard financial times by the mid-1930s due to the Great Depression. That certainly did not lessen his standing in the racing world. If you wanted to succeed there was no better bet than Miller. In preparation for the 1935 Indianapolis 500, Miller unveiled one of his grandest ideas ever: mating a state of the art Miller chassis to a production-based Ford Flathead V-8 engine and conquering the World's Greatest Race. In partnership with the irrepressible Preston Tucker and with funding from an influential group of Ford dealers, Miller proceeded to build 10 identical Miller-Fords for an all-out assault on Indianapolis. Though the cars themselves were revolutionary in concept, they had several design defects that were not worked out prior to arriving in Indianapolis during the month of May. The main reason for the deficiencies can be debated, but there is no doubt that proper testing of the unique cars prior to their arrival would have allowed for time to iron out the kinks. Unquestionably the most serious problem was the placement of the steering assembly much too near the engine block. The Ford Flathead V-8 tended to run hotter when stressed than the purebred racing engines that Miller himself was building, causing an expansion of the steering gears which led to steering failure where the unit would actually freeze in place—a scary thought at the breakneck speeds around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Beset by problems, only four of the cars made the race and each suffered steering failure. In the wake of this debacle, Henry Ford was furious and ordered the cars disassembled. The parts would be reassembled from several of the cars and they would eventually fall into the hands of privateers; who often fitted them with pure racing engines like the Miller-derived Offenhauser. Ironically, the cars proved competitive with some minor steering box changes and the new engines. Even in failure Miller's idea had been validated. This is a rare opportunity to acquire an original Miller-Ford V-8 Special that holds AACA Senior and Race Car Certification and is eligible for many different vintage oval track racing events.