HomeThe MarketHistoric dry lakes roadster races into Gooding's Arizona auction

Historic dry lakes roadster races into Gooding’s Arizona auction


Editor’s note: The ClassicCars.com Journal will be covering all of the action during Arizona Auction Week in Scottsdale, Arizona. Check out our other coverage here

A legendary dry lakes roadster from the golden age of Southern California hot rod culture, and exemplifying a time when hand-built ingenuity ruled speed-record competition, will be auctioned during Gooding and Company’s annual sale in Scottsdale, Arizona, on January 18-19.

The 1948 Spurgin-Giovanine Roadster was the Southern California Timing Association’s Class A Roadster champion for 1948 with a perfect 1,800-point score, dominating the competition by placing first and setting a new record at every meet.

The roadster with Bob Giovanine ready for a speed run | Gooding archive photo

In 1949, the roadster was featured on the March cover of Hot Rod magazine as Hot Rod of the Month, and was included in a display of record-setting machines in the SCTA Hot Rod Exposition at the Los Angeles National Guard Armory.

Now restored, the renowned speed-trials roadster is one of the highlights of Gooding’s Scottsdale sale, with a pre-auction estimated value of $250,000 to $350,000.

“The Spurgin-Giovanine Roadster survives today as one of the most famous, beautiful and successful dry lakes roadsters built during the dawn of the California hot rod movement,” Gooding says in its catalog description.

The roadster adorned ‘Hot Rod’ magazine’s cover for March 1949

Constructed after World War II by Chuck Spurgin and Bob Giovanine, who joined the famed Albata Club of Southern California in the 1930s to compete in the newly established SCTA championships, the remarkable streamlined roadster powered by a radically tweaked 4-cylinder Chevy engine reached a two-way speed of 123.655 in October 1948, a record that stood for two years.

In 1954, the car was sold to aerospace engineer Carl Borgh, who carried out further modifications and reached 149 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats. The roadster was sold again in 1956 to Robert Cano, who added his own touches and continued racing it through 1957 as the “Cano Snoot.”

The lakester then disappeared for more than four decades until being rediscovered in the late 1990s by noted collector David Lawrence in Apple Valley, California. Despite its derelict condition, the car’s beautifully functional form and noted history were quickly ascertained.

The roadster was re-discovered after more than 40 years | Gooding

Lawrence sold the unrestored car in 2005 to another famous collector, Ernie Nagamatsu, who undertook compete restoration of the roadster under the guidance of SCTA historian Terry Baldwin, a process that was completed in 2009.

The famed roadster was displayed at the 2010 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and won first-in-class awards at the Grand Roadster Show and the Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance. In 2015, it was inducted into the Dry Lakes Racing Hall of Fame.

The wrapped exhaust pipe was routed through the cockpit | Gooding

Gooding’s auction in Old Town Scottsdale will be held during Arizona Auction week. For more information, visit the auction website.

Gooding features on its website a video of the roadster, including a number of period photographs of the car in action.

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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