Auctions and Brokerage
Formerly the Property of Jack KukuraJack Kukura, Bell, California (acquired in 1946)Norman Arbour, Warren, New Jersey (acquired from the above in 2005)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
El Mirage, May 25, 1947, Kukura, No. 367 (9.25 seconds at 97.29 mph)El Mirage, August 31, 1947, Kukura, No. 367 (8.33 seconds at 108.04 mph)El Mirage, April 25, 1948, Palma/Kukura, No. 220 (7.19 seconds at 125.17 mph)El Mirage, August 20, 1948, Palma/Kukura, No. 220 (7.48 seconds at 120.32 mph)El Mirage, May 6, 1950, Booth/Kukura, No. 277 (120.48 mph)Bonneville, 1958, Lindsley/Kukura, No. 24D (183.93 mph)El Mirage, September 28, 1958, Lindsley/Kukura, No. 24D (148.76 mph)Riverside Raceway Half Mile, 1959, Lindsley/Kukura, No. 21A (1st Place)Colton, 1959, Lindsley/Kukura, No. 21A (2nd Place)Bonneville, 1959, Lindsley/Kukura, No. 21A (172.41 mph)
L.A. Roadsters 22nd Annual Show and Swap Meet, Pomona, California, June 1986Quail Motorsports Gathering, Carmel Valley, California, August 2014
The history of this amazing 1932 Ford Roadster can be traced back to July 1946, when Jack Kukura of Bell, California – an early member of the Gear Grinders car club – purchased it for $385.
Kukura ran this car at Southern California Timing Association (S.C.T.A.) events on the dry lakes from 1947 through 1960 and at the world famous Bonneville Salt Flats in the late 1950s.
Kukura began racing the car at El Mirage in May 1947 where it ran 97.29 mph. The roadster steadily evolved, and, by October 1947, the installation of a Mercury V-8 engine helped it reach speeds of 120-plus mph. Kukura continued to run the ’32 Roadster with a flathead engine through 1956, the same year he received the Gear Grinders Die Hard Award.
In 1957, Kukura installed a blown Chrysler 454 cid Hemi engine, bringing speeds up considerably, with several runs clocked between 145 and 190 mph.
Kukura and driver Jim Lindsley – a member of the 200 MPH Club and former S.C.T.A. and Gear Grinder president – made one final attempt to beat their record of 189.93 mph at Bonneville in 1960. After clearing the first timing trap, the roadster spun out at 200 mph. After coming to a controlled stop, he declined to make the return run.
Kukura retired his ’32 Roadster from racing after 1960, but kept it until he died in 2005. With the exception of an appearance at the 1986 L.A. Roadster Show in Pomona, California, the Kukura Roadster was virtually unknown.
Since Kukura’s passing, the roadster has had only two private owners. The consignor, a California collector with a passion for unrestored cars, entrusted the ’32 to American Classics and Performance in Cotati that carefully returned the roadster to running order while preserving its original condition.
Today, the steel Ford body – finished in classic gray primer – proudly displays its Grinamex glass; ’39 Ford taillights and ’46 hubcaps; Bonneville push bars; Stewart Warner flat glass gauges; Moon “big foot” pedal; and blue vinyl bench seat, sourced from a Los Angeles Metro bus. The car also retains eight of its original timing tags as well as the custom side pipes and roll bar fabricated by Gear Grinder Bob Snook.
Sitting in the original boxed and braced ’32 Ford frame is the massive Chrysler Hemi equipped with exotic Donovan Engineering heads, Hampton blower, Weiand manifold, Vertex black-cap magneto, and ultra-rare Airheart disc brakes.
The consignor reports that this incredible ’32 Roadster is justifiably “thrilling and challenging on the road,” as it retains the same set-up that allowed it to run 180 mph–200 mph at Bonneville in the late 1950s.
Included with the sale of the Kukura Roadster is an impressive binder that contains period photographs, an original Gear Grinders S.C.T.A. patch, five trophies, a handwritten spec sheet, and home movies showing the car running at Bonneville in 1958 and 1960.
The dream of nearly every hot rod enthusiast is to own a real ’32 Ford Roadster with period El Mirage and Bonneville history. Before he located the Kukura Roadster, the consignor “never believed there was a car like this that existed.”
Yet, against all odds, Jack Kukura’s 1932 Ford Roadster remains with us today – a true survivor from the golden age of Southern California hot rod culture and a lasting testament to the man who built and preserved this exceptional car for almost 60 years.