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Frank Kurtis of American racing fame built the first prototype Kurtis Sports Car in 1948 based on a wrecked 1941 Buick. It caused such a sensation that he began manufacturing the curvaceous little car under the Kurtis name in 1950. Divinely understated, the Kurtis harbored the formidable 331 cid Cadillac V-8 engine and Cadillac three-speed gearbox. The first production model topped 142 mph at Bonneville and made the front cover of the very first Motor Trend magazine. Only 16 Kurtis cars were built in Glendale, California, before Earl Muntz moved production to Illinois under the Muntz Jet banner.
This Kurtis Sports Car is the last of the 16 built by Frank Kurtis in California and is believed to be the only one in existence with the original brass firewall Kurtis VIN plate. It was purchased new by IndyCar team owner Jack Hinkle, who loaned the Kurtis to Hollywood for the movie Johnny Dark, with Tony Curtis. In 1995, Steve Gilkey became this car’s fourth owner, and he commissioned Arlen Kurtis, Frank’s son, to perform an extensive, concours-standard restoration. The work included stripping the body to bare aluminum and refinishing it; powder-coating the frame and suspension; and re-chroming the bumpers.
The consignor acquired the car in 2017 from Mr. Gilkey and offers it with restoration records and a copy of Automobile Quarterly signed by Arlen Kurtis. Highly prized for its heritage and provenance, this Kurtis Sports Car offers a unique snapshot of automotive history.