HomePick of the DayScratch-built 1961 Hoyt Special

Scratch-built 1961 Hoyt Special


One of the outgrowths of the post-WWII hot rod culture was the building of belly-tank roadsters, most often crafted as aerodynamic speed-record seekers on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and the dry lake beds of southern California.

In 1961, Air Force fighter pilot Al Hoyt went in a different direction, taking one of those drop fuel tanks used by military aircraft and creating a minimalistic sports car similar to the Lotus 6 or 7, in which he competed in F-Modified races held by the SCCA.

Scratch-built 1961 Hoyt Special | ClassicCars.com Journal
Period photo shows USAF fighter pilot Al Hoyt in his sports car

The 1961 Hoyt Special is the Pick of the Day, advertised for sale on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in San Diego, who describes the car as being in turn-key condition after 200 hours of refurbishing. The ad also notes that the car is street-legal and registered for highway use in California.

The dealer describes how Hoyt built the special with components from a ’61 Volvo, then raced it on road courses such as the one at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and USAF air strips, as well as competing in high-speed runs at Bonneville and the dry lakes. The ad includes several period photos of Hoyt and his car in competition.

Scratch-built 1961 Hoyt Special | ClassicCars.com Journal
The body was built from an aircraft belly tank

“He designed and scratch-built the tube frame, then hand made the all-aluminum body from an aircraft drop tank,” according to the ad. “Being a fighter pilot, Al had easy access to such items.

“The engine/transmission, complete drive train, suspension and brakes were from a donor 1961 Volvo 544; even the speedometer was used. The donor car was basically brand new with 250 miles on it. Al’s son, Mike, who can be seen in some of the early photos, confirmed that the 8,100 miles showing now (on the race car) is the actual on the drive train. The differential is a limited-slip unit.”

Scratch-built 1961 Hoyt Special | ClassicCars.com Journal
Power is provided by a four-cylinder Volvo engine

While the four-cylinder Volvo engine is rated at just 70 horsepower in factory spec, it apparently was plenty to propel the very-lightweight car to triple-digit speeds.

The unique sports car is offered for $29,999. It looks to be in immaculate condition with an appealing design rendered in unpainted aluminum, and ready to tackle the nearest winding mountain road as well as compete in vintage-racing events.

Al Hoyt, the dealer notes in the ad, is still active today helping to restore vintage aircraft.

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.


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