Max Balchowsky was born in Fairmont, West Virginia in 1924. He never had a proper high school diploma nor did he receive training in engineering. He was self-taught and would eventually become one of the best builder of race car 'specials' in the United States. He learned his trade racing hot rods on the dry lakes of El Mirage, Bonneville and the streets of Southern California before turning his skills to road racing against sports cars imported from Europe and England.
Beginning in 1957, Balchowsky and his wife, Ina, designed, built and raced a limited number of these 'specials' which were named 'old Yeller' (Yaller). They were painted pale yellow. The parts were sourced from many places, mostly junkyard parts, and equipped with powerful V8 engines. The cars were driven by Balchowsky, Dan gurney, Bob Drake, Chuck Daigh, Billy Krause, Carroll Shelby and Ronnie Bucknum. The cars were certainly the 'underdogs', as most of the cars had more financial backing and resources. Nevertheless, the Ol' Yaller's often outpaced these more expensive cars. In total, Balchowsky built nine cars and/or chassis which were simply known as Old Yallers MK I to MK IX.
This example is the seventh chassis built (MK VII). It was sold to Don Kirby of Rochester, New York in 1961 for $4,500. Kirby fitted the car with a Chevrolet fuel-injected engine, possibly a Bangert fiberglass body and then went racing during the 1963 and 1964 seasons. It raced at USRRC Daytona 200, the Pepsi-Cola Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport, SCCA Virginia International Raceway, and SCCA Divisional at Virginia International Raceway during the 1963 season. It was at the Road America 400 the following year.
In 1964, the car was sold to Stan Kolowski, and a succession of owners followed. Those owners included Tim Thompson, Tom Palmer (in the late 1960s), Dennis Manning (1980), and Michael Gray (in 1990).
The next owner was Jimmy Dobbs who actively participated in vintage races and rallies. Tom Dean became the next owner who commissioned a professional and total frame-up restoration in February of 2004. Upon completion, it raced at the 2005 Monterey Historics. In 2009, another frame-up restoration was undertaken. Just prior to completion and before coming to Bonhams auction in 2011, it was purchased from the Dean Estate.
In 2011, this car was offered for sale at the Quail Lodge Sale presented by Bonhams. It was estimated to sell for $250,000 -$375,000. As bidding came to a close, the car would leave the auction unsold, as its reserve had not been satisfied.