Under Construction - UC002

Steve & Phyllis Hammatt

Construction Story



Previous Speedster Next Speedster

Click to Enlarge

1914(?) Buick Identifying Features

Brakes:  Hydraulic, rear only.  Originally, no hand brake.

Chassis:  U-channel (3½” x 1¾” ), shortened at rear, many evidences of shop-rivets, weight-reduction lightening holes along sides of frame, appears to be early teen Buick.  Overall width is 32”.  Re-arched at front to increase clearance over front axle and lower body.

Dimensions:  83” wheelbase, approx. 64” track (center of wheel tread). Chassis is now at 102” wb.

Engine:  1915 Buick, 4 cyl, 165cid (was 1926 Chevy).  Cast marks: Front cylinder block – “15792-2  F1”, Rear cylinder block – “15792 F25”.  Serial number stamped on aluminum crankcase:  “136224”.  Number stamped on timing case cover: “NO 2   13962”.  At the top left rear of the aluminum pan, there is a 90° oil (return?) fitting with cast mark: “16214”.  Cast aluminum intake manifold is stamped: “16421  1”.

Engine sub-frame:  4-point mount in sub-frame with lower two ½” diameter tension rods and cast iron center stand-offs; cast mark: “10E3278”.

Front axle:  I-beam (drilled for weight reduction). Readable left-rear cast marks: “I Co   72” Readable right-front cast marks: “Co    2”.

Front frame horns:  Each cast iron horn is attached to the frame with 4 large rivets. Left unit cast mark:  “FZ369” Right unit cast mark: “FZ368”, which early Buick?

Front hubs:  Cast mark: “6368”,  “D” within a circle (assumed to be Dayton)

Front spindles:  Cast mark: “W-M-Co  1484K” (Weston-Mott Co.)

Front springs:  Five-leaf, semi-elliptic, parallel spring assemblies.  33” long x 1½” wide.

Front spring shackle mount:  Unused, mounted inside left frame rail.  Cast mark: “10E585” (Buick?).

Fuel pump:  Manual pump unit mounted on right side (passenger operated), not connected to fuel tank.

Gas Tank:  34-3/4” long x 15” diameter from 1911 Buick Roadster with old-style Buick logos in brass.

Instrument panel:  AC speedo/odometer; speedometer is horizontal-drum style.  Misc. newer gauges.

Nameplate:  Shop-made, thin aluminum nameplate (½” x 4½”) embossed with the name  “FRIEDRICKENSHAFT SPE” and affixed to engine side of wooden firewall.  Possibly has reference to a Mr. Friedricken or Friedrickenson (aka Frederickson or Fredickson) owner of an iron foundry and builder of air-cooled radial racing engine after WWI in Bloomington, IL.

Radiator:  Brass radiator.  Tagged:  “Manufactured by Mayo Radiator Co. New Haven Conn.  Patent Applied For.”  Stamp mark: “Mayo Radiator Co. New Haven Conn.  Patents Applied For  No.46348”.

22” high, 22-3/8” wide w/ bottom fitting offset 5½” to right. Has vertical tube design with 3” core and ¼” square hole fin design.   Probable early-teens Buick.

Rear axle:  Rather narrow case design with central vertical split, torque tube design.  Stamped mark:  “26940  M”  cast mark: left - “1  H26-H26”  right - “4 H26-H26” (said to be Chevrolet 490).

Rear springs:  Seven-leaf, parallel spring assemblies.  Bottom side, longest leaf, Stamped mark: “Vanadium”.  Inverted, semi-elliptic with front and center pivoted mount on outside of frame rails, rear end clamped to rear axle;  39” long x 1-3/4” wide.

Starter:  Delco Model 56 (fitted to Buick 165cid engine) Motor/Generator unit is cast aluminum and includes built-in distributor.  Cast marks: “2234  B (in circle)  6 (in circle)”.  Stamped marks:  “56 238375” and on top sealing face where top cover fits, “89” or could be “68”.  Foot actuated starter lever has cast marks “52860” and “52861”, both followed by a custom mark of a B and a C superimposed.

Tires:  Goodyear 4.50/4.75/5.00 x 20 inch.

Wheels:  20” diameter, 60-spoke wire wheels with Dayton hubs and 6 pin-lock (5/8” diameter pins) alignment, split-rim design. Two Dayton knock-offs with left-hand thread, two shop-made knock-offs on driver’s side.  4 wheels + spare.  Split-rim locking rings, stamped mark:  Firestone “2??3½ ”.

The overall general construction is rather crude or home-made. The originally fitted engine was a near stock appearing 1926 Chevy 4 cylinder with single exhaust-port head.  Wheelbase may have been shortened at a later date.  No hood, no electrical lighting system, headlights in photographs are inoperative.

Prior owner:    The prior owner bought the car in the 1980s from the Chicago area.  It had been was sitting in a garden shed for many years.  Color was white or a slight bluish white with orange chassis and firewall.   No other history of the car is known


It all started, like many of these things do, by accident.  I was working out near the road in some flower beds, when a really unique car went by.  I heard it more than saw it, but I did see enough to guess that it was out for a ‘joy-ride’ on Father’s Day and may be returning.  I was right and that’s how we met Art Reichlin and his lovely wife Helen.  They are neighbors, just a ½ mile behind us across the fields.  I’d always liked old (and unique) cars and here were a whole bunch of them.

To summarize, we got interested in speedsters; I searched the Internet for everything I could find, spent hours in Art’s garage with Art and his brother Frank, met Frank’s son Paul, etc., etc.   It all brought back memories of earlier days when I worked on cars, went to the SCCA and URA, CRA circle track races in Southern California and pit-crewed for two midgets and a sprint car (Ascot, Oildale, San Bernardino). Then Phyllis and I spent our 30th wedding anniversary (Labor Day) in Eugene, OR at the club’s meet.  It was exciting to see so many different cars.  We also had fun driving our 1965 Corvair Corsa to Eugene; it is the same car we drove on our honeymoon in 1967.

I was now looking in earnest for “Our Speedster.”  Wanting something a bit different, I liked the idea of finding an old race car or speedster that was converted some time ago.  I continued to search the Internet (and elsewhere) until one day I was logged into some obscure regional Auto-For-Sale website and I found a 1924 Chevrolet Race Car called the “FRIEDRICKENSHAFT SPE”.  I called and got some photographs to study and continued to think about what I could be getting into.  I used to work on cars, over 30 years earlier (before family and career); I’ve owned Maseratis, Jaguars, Lancias, Alfa Romeos, etc., but nothing older than the mid-fifties.  My first car was a ‘51 Pontiac 2-door coupe with a “built” V-8 we added under the hood (go-fast, pray to stop!).

I still thought about the car, but didn’t make up my mind until I met some people at a car show in Tacoma.  They were with the Golden Wheels club (specializing in vintage circle-track race cars) and I showed one of the members the pictures I had of the Chevy race car.  He immediately said that if I didn’t buy it, he would.  Nothing like competition to force one to make a decisin.

A friend and I drove to St. Paul, MN to drop off an old BMW sedan he had sold, then onward to Madison, WI where we picked up the car (it was exactly as described) and headed for home.  We also stopped in Iowa to pick up an engine for Art (after all, we were using his trailer!).  After 4200 towing miles in 5 days, we arrived home and the work began. 

When returning the trailer to Art, I mentioned that the old car had gone 88 miles per hour; he acted impressed until I told him it was 2 days prior while traveling on his trailer during our trip across Montana.

I tend to go overboard sometimes, especially when trying to determine if there was any history with this car.  It had spent most of its life in the Chicago area, was found in a garden shed and taken to Madison sometime in the 1980s.  The previous owner had cleaned it up, painted it and occasionally driven it in local parades.  I’ve contacted dozens of people and have yet to find anyone that remembers the car.  If it had been a race car with a history I would restore it differently. Instead, I hope it will become an interesting addition to the Northwest Vintage Speedsters.

In doing the initial research I discovered that the originally described 1924 Chevrolet engine was really a 1926 model, apparently stock.  A more interesting find was that the brass radiator is apparently from an early-teens Buick as is the engine sub-frame and chassis.  However, the chassis has been shortened (maybe twice).  It appears to have been shortened after it was converted to a “bob-tail” race car (or maybe just somebody’s street racer).  The wheelbase is a very short 83” and it has been lengthened (I do need to fit behind the wheel!).  Many pieces have been drilled for lightness including the chassis side rails and the front axle.  The front axle is possibly a Buick but we’re still trying to determine it’s exact beginnings. 

I’ve taken reference photos and have started re-designing the car.  So far, the chassis has been lengthened to 102” (with parts from two other Buick B-24 and C-24 frames), a 1915 Buick C-24 engine (165cid) engine has been found in Cheyenne, WY (plus a spare 1914 ‘dummy’ engine).  The car currently has a 1914 Buick transmission fitted along with the dummy engine.  The radiator has been redone, bucket seats from Rootleib, a 1913 Buick gas tank has been rebuilt, two steel with brass trim headlights have been restored and ready for fitting, 5 new 20” rims were laced on the Dayton pin-drive knock-off hub centers, new tires fitted, the stock Buick handbrake has been moved to outside the driver’s entry-way and the engine has been torn down and new pistons are being made.

A big thank-you to Art and Frank for their awesome contributions and many other members for their suggestions.

There are a number of items that point to the possibility that the car may have been raced;  it has an outside mounted fuel pump (that the passenger or riding mechanic would operate), no electrical system for front or rear lights (the headlights shown in the photographs are recently added dummies and have no electrical wiring), and finally the split-rim wire wheels are fitted with Dayton 6-pin knock-offs.

Steve & Phyllis Hammatt

Previous Speedster Next Speedster

Home  ||  Calendar  ||  Speedsters  ||  Events  ||  Engines  ||  Technical  ||  Historics  ||  Organization  ||  Contact Us

Copyright 2002 and succeeding years -- Northwest Vintage Speedsters

Suggestions or Comments on Our Web Site ?
Contact : WebMaster at nwvs.org