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Second Photo of Unsolved Bay Area Mystery Racing Car Found

Updates I & II – Over five and a half years ago Ivan Pozega posted the photo below courtesy of the Cliff House Project of a mystery racing car and a motorcycle identified as a 1914 Harley Davidson Model 10F on Ocean Beach in San Francisco, near the site of the old Cliff House. Since that time no one has been able to positively identify this racing car.

Recently the H-D rider has been reported to be nonother than Dudley “Dud” Perkins, who founded the famed Dudley Perkins Harley-Davidson in the “City by the Bay.” He also had a hand in helping to create the Art Smith Baby Cars that later on traveled to Japan.

Just the other day while cataloging some of The Old Motor photo archives, the postcard in the lead image came to light and was followed by the thought that it might be the mystery racing car. After studying both photos, it appears to be an updated or sister version of the number Seven car as the details and shape of the frame, radiator and body match including the location of a cap for an oil tank on the cowl.

mystery-racing-car-on-cliff-house-beach

If was the number Seven car the changes when it was updated include: Rudge Whitworth wire wheels, larger cutouts in the hood and a different exhaust pipe, flared cowl in front of the driver, a different radiator cap with a Moto Meter added to its side, a rock screen on the front, and double Hartford friction racing shocks.

The frame appears to be from a Stutz; the front axle is a similar Timken unit, but with a slightly deeper center dip for clearance for the starting crank than that used on a Stutz production car. The front view of the rear axle also matches the details of the Stutz combined transmission and axle.

mystery-mid-teens-racing-car-i

Update I – Thanks to Ace Zenek, who found that the racing car just above was registered by Jack Graham in 1917. His address is listed as 151 Powell Street in San Francisco, California. He appears to have named the car after himself as the make is listed as a “Graham” and the body type as a roadster. Now that we know that all thee of the cars pictured in this post originate or visited the City, it seems safe to say that Graham built both of the above cars or updated the number Seven car into the number Three car. He may have been involved in the Hercules car below?

Update II – Racing Historian, Robert Rampton believes that the radiator for the number Seven and Three cars came from one of the three 1914 Maxwell Team racing cars. View his comment to learn more details.

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  •                           One of the three 1914 Maxwell Team racing cars – The Automobile July 1914. 

A detailed search of races in California of the period resulted in finding a photo below of the number Thirty-Three Hercules driven by Harold Hall in the 1915 Vanderbilt Cup Race held in San Francisco courtesy of Vanderbilt Cup Races. The wire wheels and the shape of the front of the frame, radiator, and crank handle support are identical to those used on the number Three car, which seems to support the theory that the DNA of all three of these cars are somehow connected.

Car any of our readers add more to this story or find who the license plate on the number three car is registered to, which may result in more information being found about all of these cars?

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10 responses to “Second Photo of Unsolved Bay Area Mystery Racing Car Found

  1. The 1917 list of California Automobile Registration(s), Volume II, shows the following information for license plate number 70902.

    Name: Jack Graham
    Address: 151 Powell, San Francisco, California
    Make: Graham
    [Body] Type: Road(ster)
    Fac(tory) No: Not listed

    The number “151” in the address is probably a typo as the Crocker-Langley San Francisco City Directory for 1917 shows his name and address as John G. Graham, 159 Powell. Other C-L directories from 1912- 1919 also show the same address for him with minor detail differences (like 157 instead of 159). In 1913-1914 his occupation is shown as “agent.”

    The 1920 U.S. Census shows a John G. Graham at 627 Ellis in San Franciscso, age 34 (born Connecticut circa 1886), occupation auto mechanic working on his own accord, and married to Rena Graham.

  2. David –
    I can tell you, without much doubt, that the radiator on that race car is from one of the first generation Maxwell racers, constructed for the 1914 season. Managed by Ernie Moross and driven by Tetzlaff, Carlson and Hughes. After Carlson’s death at Tacoma in 1915 in one of them, and Maxwell’s abandonment of racing, the cars were broken up and bits and pieces of them show up in other race cars. The car of Ben Gottoff comes to mind.
    Bob.

  3. I’ve never seen an offset motometer. I suppose that would mean another hole drilled into the radiator? What is the purpose of the small line or pipe to the filler cap in the first photo? It looks like there is a petcock on it

    • “That would mean another hole drilled into the radiator?” Yes it would need one.

      “What is the purpose of the small line or pipe to the filler cap in the first photo? It looks like there is a petcock on it.”

      The pipe is the overflow for the radiator, and it could have had a petcock, but it may also have let steam out so the driver and mechanic would know it was overheating.

      • I feel the hose running to the radiator neck was a refilling sistem to add water from cockpit.If engine will overheat it would be noticed by means of the motometer (in the Maxwell pic is the fitting but no hose).

  4. I know this article is about the cars, but I had to comment. BENSON’S POOL ROOM and ART GALLERY. Fine establishments like this must be as rare as the cars.

  5. I realize that links to other sites are not allowed, but there is an excellent photo of Art Smith in an article by James Smith about the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

  6. The area of the pool hall also included amusement rides. Eventually the very popular “Playland at the Beach” was there, in turn knocked down in 1972 to make room for….condominiums (what else?). I believe some earlier photos posted on The Old Motor show this area in later times.

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