Lot 40

2021   |   Pebble Beach Auctions

1932 Hudson 'Martz Special' Indy Car


$250,000 - $350,000| Without Reserve





Car Highlights

Skillfully Constructed by 24-Year-Old Mechanic John Mertz
Accompanied by Period Photos and Documentation, Including Historical Monograph by Researchers Jim O’Keefe and Sarah Morgan-Wu
Expertly Restored in the 1980s to 1933 Specification
Displayed at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®
A Racing Machine That Exemplifies the Possibilities of the Indianapolis “Stock Block” Era

Technical Specs

257 CID Hudson Straight 8-Cylinder L-Head Engine
Twin Detroit Lubricator Carburetors
Estimated 150 BHP
3-Speed Manual Gearbox
Front Solid Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs and Friction Shock Absorbers
Rear Live Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs and Lever Shock Absorbers
Register to Bid

Hans Wurl

John Mertz, Saginaw, Michigan (constructed in 1932)Lawrence Martz, Detroit, Michigan (acquired from the above in 1933)Bob Zauer, Hazel Park, Michigan (acquired from the above in 1936)Robert Boudeman, Richland, Michigan (acquired circa 1970s)Mike Bauman, Olney, Illinois (acquired from the above in 1980)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2014)

Indianapolis 500, 1933, Haustein, No. 29 (15th)Elgin Road Race, Illinois, 1933, Haustein (4th)Indianapolis 500, 1934, Haustein, No. 29 (30th)Mines Field Race, California, 1934, Haustein, No. 29 (11th)

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Vintage Race Car ExhibitionMiller Meets at the Milwaukee Mile, Wisconsin52nd AAA Glidden Revival Tour, 1998Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 2016Newport, Indiana Hill Climb

This Hudson race car is a survivor from an underappreciated era in American racing when “average guy” talent and determination were given an open door to compete in the Indianapolis 500. In late 1928, track-owner Eddie Rickenbacker recognized the 500 should be more than a race, it should once again be a proving ground for automobile manufacturers. He collaborated with the AAA contest board and the 1930 Indy 500 rules encouraged the use of production automobile parts. The riding mechanic returned and allowable displacement grew from 91.5 cid to a whopping 366 cid.

John “Jack” Mertz, a 24-year-old Saginaw, Michigan, mechanic took up the challenge in 1932, and over a period of months, with skill and ingenuity, built this car based on a Hudson engine and chassis components. He designed the attractively styled body himself and had it built locally. Mertz proved the durability of his race car by driving it to Indianapolis to enter the 1932 race. He arrived too late to properly prepare the car and failed to qualify.

Lawrence Martz, a Detroit car dealer, understood the car’s potential. Purchasing it in spring 1933, he repainted it orange, identified it on the cowl as the “Martz Special,” and placed Gene Haustein in the driver’s seat for the Indianapolis 500. The fact that the engine had been modified to pressure oiling helped Gene and riding mechanic Ed Boudoin go the distance; he was flagged at the finish having completed 197 laps, placing 15th. Haustein then proved the Martz Special’s capable chassis was able to do more than turn left when he finished a credible 4th in the Elgin Road Race held that August.

In May 1934, Martz, Haustein, and Boudoin returned for another go at the Indianapolis 500, where on lap 13 the car hit the wall and Haustein’s subsequent action to prevent further collisions earned him an award for sportsmanship. In December 1934, Haustein placed 11th at the Mines Field Race held at the Los Angeles airport, again demonstrating the car’s versatility.

Archaic by 1939, the car was sold and faded into decades of obscurity until visionary race car sleuth Robert “Buck” Boudeman obtained it in the 1970s, always referring to this car as one of his most original intact discoveries. In 1980, Mike Bauman acquired the car, describing the work completed as a restoration, not a reconstruction.

This car is a prime example of the most usable type of Indianapolis race car with the option to include a passenger. In addition to running at oval track events, it is entirely suitable for road courses and tours. The robust Detroit factory-sourced mechanicals make maintenance the domain of a knowledgeable mechanic, consequently not requiring an exotic specialist.