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1935 Miller Ford Indy Car Roadster Vehicle Profile

1935 Miller Ford Indy Car photograph

1935 Miller Ford Indy Car photograph

1935 Miller Ford Indy Car photograph

1935 Miller Ford Indy Car photograph

1935 Miller Ford Indy Car photograph

1935 Miller Ford Indy Car photograph

1935 Miller Ford Indy Car photograph

1935 Miller Ford Indy Car photograph

1935 Miller Ford Indy Car photograph

1935 Miller Ford Indy Car1935 Miller Ford Indy Car1935 Miller Ford Indy Car1935 Miller Ford Indy Car1935 Miller Ford Indy Car1935 Miller Ford Indy Car1935 Miller Ford Indy Car1935 Miller Ford Indy Car1935 Miller Ford Indy Car
Sold for $451,000 at 2008 RM Auctions - Joe's Garage - The MacPherson Collection.
The 1935 Miller Ford race cars were beautiful and streamlined. They showed tremendous potential but when they failed to achieve the desired results, Henry Ford locked them away in Detroit. Perhaps with further development, testing, and tuning, the Miller-Fords may have enjoyed a more victorious career.

By the close of the 1930s, several of the Miller-Fords had made their way into the garages of privateers. Lew Welch was one such individual, who acquired a Miller Ford, and replaced the Ford V-8 with a Offenhauser 270 cubic-inch unit. It raced at the 1938 Indianapolis Speedway race where it finished sixth. The following year, it finished fourth. By 1940, the car was showing its age and was met with a disappointing finish. Welch went looking for a new engine.

Lew Welch's career began at the Ford Motor Company. In 1935, he left Ford to establish an auto parts manufacturing plant in Novi, Michigan. A few years later, he established the Meyer-Welch Co. with Louis Meyer in Vernon, California for the purpose of reconditioning factory parts for Ford dealers.

Welch became friends with William 'Bud' Winfield at Indianapolis, who was the brother of camshaft and carburetor genius Ed Winfield. Ed, in similar fashion, was self-taught and very knowledgeable about racing engines. Welch was in need of a V8 - and Winfield had the talent. Together they approached Fred Offenhauser about using his facilities to build the engine. Fred accepted and was joined by Leo Goossen, who provided the drawings. Bud gave Leo basic specifications of what he wanted the rest of the design was left to Goossen. Not keeping with standard Miller practice, Leo designed the cylinder bores to extend past the base of the block and into the barrel-type crankcase. Also, the blocks were mounted to the crankcase by flanges that passed over 20 3/8-inch studs in the crankcase. A 180-degree single plane crankshaft spun in three main bearings that were 2.375 inches in diameter and 2.60 inches wide. Bronze main bearing bulkheads were used as well.

The engine was capable of revving at 8,000 RPM and produced 450 horsepower. The 10-inch supercharger had a 5.35 blower drive ratio and at maximum engine rpm was turning 43,000 rpm. The engine was given three Winfield carburetors and an intercooler mounted on the top of the engine. Upon completion, the engine was installed into the engine bay. The riding mechanic's seat was removed and an oil tank was put in its place. The body was given a new hood, nose and grille.

Robert Bowes was the vehicle's sponsor of the 1941 Indianapolis 500 and the vehicle was painted in a cream and black Bowes Seal Fast livery. On each side of the nose, an emblem - similar to the Ford V8 design - was painted. The driver was Ralph Hepburn who quickly found out that the engine's power was a difficult beast to tame. The V8 caused the tires to spin, burn and smoke if too much power was applied. Part of the problem was the engine was heavier than the one it replaced, thus upsetting the balance of the front wheel drive Miller Ford chassis. This made the car impossible to drive to full capacity and it negatively affected its handling ability. To help solve the problem, a wooden block was placed on the firewall to limit the travel of the throttle.

The Bowes Seal Fast Racer ran a safe and conservative race and finished in fourth place.

The history of the car is not known in the immediate post-War era. The engine was retained for one of the new Kurtis chassis. The chassis re-appeared in the early 1970s as part of the M.H. 'Tiny' Gould's race car collection. Don Noble of Chadds Ford, PA became the next owner who later sold it to Jim Etter of Pittsburgh. Robert 'Buck' Boudeman purchased the car from Etter before selling it to Robert Sutherland, who had acquired a disassembled Novi engine from John 'Doc' Young. A restoration soon followed, reuniting the engine with the chassis.

After Mr. Sutherland's death his collection was dispersed. It was later privately acquired by Mr. MacPherson. In 2008, the MacPherson Collection was put up for auction and sold through RM Auctions. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $451,000 including buyer's premium.


By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2013


2008 RM Auctions - Joe's Garage - The MacPherson Collection

Pre-Auction Estimates :
USD $250,000-USD $350,000 
Sale Price :
USD $451,000

Recent Sales

(Data based on Model Year 1935 sales)
1935 /41 Miller Ford /Winfield V8
Sold for USD$451,000
  2008 RM Auctions - Joe's Garage - The MacPherson Collection
1935 Miller Ford Indy Car image  1935 Miller Ford Indy Car image  

Vehicles That Failed To Sell

1935 Miller Ford Indy Car's that have appeared at auction but did not sell.
VehicleChassisEventHigh BidEst. LowEst. High
1935 Miller Ford Indy Car Replica 2020 Mecum : Indy$30,000  
1935 Miller Ford V-8 SpecialSOLD ON BILL OF SALE2019 Mecum : Monterey   
1935 Miller Ford V-8 Special Indy Car 2016 Mecum : Monterey$450,000  

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1935 Miller Ford Indy Car vehicle thumbnail image  1935 Miller Ford Indy Car vehicle thumbnail image  
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1935 Miller Ford Indy Car

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