Louis Harris jr gazes fondly at his creation-a 1924 Ford that looks like a fugitive from Buck Rogers. The "souped-up," streamlined Model T took 28 days to renovate and cost Harris, an employe of a body repair shop, a little more than $100. Claiming it will do 78 without a shimmy, Harris plans to enter it in the Jackson dirt track races.
By Web McKinley When, in 1924, a gleaming, black Tin Lizzy rolled off Henry Ford's assembly lines, neither Mr. Ford nor Louis Harris, jr., paid any particular heed. They had no reason to.
But if either of them had been told that 23 years later this same little vehicle, originally designed to do not much more than a clattering 50 miles per hour, would be entering a dirt track race against the roaring streamlined demons of 1947, neither would have believed it possible. | Indeed, if Mr. Ford were living today, he still wouldn't believe it; nor would he recognize the car as one of his box-like, utilitarian Model-T's.
For this 1924 Ford is now being driven around Ann Arbor's streets decked out like an aging chorus girl, painted, curved and modern. It is the property of the aforementioned Mr. Harris, and what he has done to this ancient means of locomotion is something marvelous to behold.
P-80 Stern 1 Where the square rear end used to be there is now a super-streamlined stern, with rudder, more fitting for a P-80 or some other supersonic wonder. The abrupt old fenders have given way to curved, yielding gadgets that turn with the wheels in the fashion of, perhaps, 1948 or '49 models. The flickering headlamps of the early '20's have been replaced by shining, sealed beam lights. And special high-compression heads lend a note of surprised power to the old-fashioned engine.
The owner of this latter-day puddle-jumper is a 39-year-old employe of the Ann Arbor Paint and Body Shop, and a resident of 431 Glen Ave. Professionally, he is a body bumper; at heart he is a speed demon; and he has mixed the two with the rather astonishing results mentioned above.
Harris bought the decrepit machinery that was to become his racer for $25 early in June. He spent 28 days and $78 transforming it, and on the Fourth of July it was ready for its re-birth.
Since then Harris, goggles and all, has been roaring around Ann Arbor during his spare moments, to the considerable astonishment of some passers-by. Once he drove into Detroit and tested its speed en route. Returning, he reported:
"She got up to 78. and wasn't wide open yet." 50 Miles To Gallon
When persons express their disbelief at this speed, he replies his creation has "the same design as an airplane," that it weighs only 1,500 pounds and that it can go faster than 78, if necessary. Furthermore, he adds, it can get 50 miles to a gallon of gasoline.
In fact, Harris is so confident of the vehicle's speed that he plans to enter it in the dirt track races at Jackson. And when he is asked if the 1924 model can keep up with the modern entries, he answers with a matter-of-fact "Sure, it can!" that is the final expression of confidence.
As a finishing touch, Harris is going to buy two special racing tires for the rear wheels, the better to cope with the racer's new-found speed. Then the renovation will be complete.
All of which might prove that, even as men, automobiles, too, may be just as young as they feel.