Pick of the Day: 1940s midget racer with Ford flathead-V8 power

The open-wheel single seater is said to be ready for vintage racing or man-cave décor

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The midget racer was modeled after the benchmark Kurtis-Kraft cars

Midget racers were big in the mid-20th Century, scaled-down versions of Indy 500 cars that skittered around oval tracks with full-size performance. 

Chief among them were the Kurtis-Kraft Midgets created by iconic race car designer Frank Kurtis to bring high-performance competition within reach of teams and drivers on a budget.  They also were gorgeous pieces of kinetic art.


The Pick of the Day is a Midget racer built in the late ’40s, although the manufacturer is unknown, according to the Macedonia, Ohio, dealer advertising the car on ClassicCars.com. The little critter runs and drives well and has competed in historic racing in recent years, the seller says in the ad.

“This awesome vintage Midget racer dates to the late 1940s and features many of the design cues of the famous Kurtis-Kraft Midgets that were dominant during that period,” the seller says. “We don’t have much early history on the car, but in the mid-1990s it was acquired in pieces and treated to a full restoration with the intention of going racing, which it did.

“The original frame was straightened, reinforced and refinished, the metal bodywork straightened, and it was refinished in the husband-and-wife team’s signature color combination that adorned a number of their vintage racers.”

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The racer has been given a few upgrades, such as a 12-volt electrical system with alternator and modern ignition, the seller notes, but the car is basically presented as raced in its original form.

“Power comes from a 1938 Ford V8-60, the 136-cubic-inch version of Ford’s venerable flathead, and the compact engine fits neatly in the racer’s pointed nose,” the seller says. “Fully rebuilt and painted to match, it has been only lightly modified so reliability is still its strong suit. After all, the whole package only weighs a few hundred pounds, so massive horsepower just isn’t needed.

“Controls are a little contrarian but common midget racer fare, with an external hand lever for the brakes, the shifter for the stock Ford 3-speed manual transmission between your legs, and a lever for the clutch that appears to be designed to be used with your right knee. Don’t worry, you only need 3rd gear in this car anyway, it doesn’t weigh anything.”

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The car comes with the stuff you’d need to go racing, including such spare parts as wheels, cylinder heads, exhaust components, intake manifolds, water pumps, engine mounts, generators, shock absorbers and brake drums. A custom-built trailer with compartments for tools and parts is available, the seller adds.

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“It also comes with an extensive documentation package with photos of the restoration, lots of receipts, and several books on midget racing,” the seller advises.

One caveat to keep in mind, the seller advises.  This car is a midget, after all, so “taller drivers need not apply.”  Because they won’t fit in the tight cockpit.

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The asking price for this little gem is a modest $14,900.  And the thing is, even if you’re not up for vintage racing, or maybe just plain too big, this pint-size piece of history would be a showing item for dressing up your garage space or man cave.  Your pals would think it’s cool and your kids would want to sit in it.  And they most likely would fit.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

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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.

9 COMMENTS

    • Click on the Pick of the Day red link at the end of the article, which will take you to the seller’s ad, with more information including price and location.

  1. All my life i have wanted a Midget! And a Curtis with a Flathead v8 is perfect! this is a SWEETHEART, of a car……But @ 79 years of age? I might be a little too ” long in the tooth “…..for it Now! This is breaking my heart…For to find it now….? At any rate…In this Home, It would be loved and cared for, As we do to our 1956 Crown Victoria,& our 1946 ford 1/2 ton pk -up ( With a flat head also! my everyday driver is a F 150 ( king cab….A true luxury vehicle! I,m a pilot, and love flying and boating , And here in Florida, there is a wonderful Midget club over in Daytona! Please keep me up to speed on this, As I sure am interested, It Must get, a good home! There are so few left! If it comes down to the wire, I might find, a place in my garage, or my Hangar, for this Sweet baby! please keep me posted!

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