Tag Archives: Fronty Ford
Thanks to Jim McCathren we have an excellent series of photos of a Model “T” Ford racing car that his grandfather campaigned out of his Dodge agency in Texas. The McCathren Motor Company was founded in June of 1923, when Earnest Raphael McCathren purchased Frost Motors in Breckenridge, Texas and thereby became the Dodge agency for the area. This car was not just your run of the mill Saturday night special, as it was constructed using parts supplied by some of the foremost manufacturers of racing parts and featured a crank-driven supercharger. McCathren is close to being finished with the project of building a faithful replica of this very car.
The details of the original car are as follows: The wheelbase was shortened by twelve inches to eighty-eight and the engine was set back eight inches in the frame as per directions found in the Complete Instructions for Building a Fronty Ford Racing Car by Arthur Chevrolet. The chassis was lowered six-inches. The front and rear radius rods were split and connected directly to pivots on the sides of the frame with special units used on the front. It used a 4.0: 1 final drive as many did, which was ideal for rapid acceleration needed in short track racing. The wheels were upgraded with knock-off hubs and racing-type wires utilizing straight-side tires. The steering box was replaced by a worm gear unit.
The engine featured a Rajo Model C35 OHV head, aluminum pistons and connecting rods, an oversized racing crankshaft, a high lift camshaft and a pressure oiling system with reservoir. The carburetor was a Winfield Model M feeding a centrifugal Gregg supercharger set up by Green Engineering. The Ford ignition was replaced with an Eisemann high tension magneto driven off of the side of a 3-in-1 front plate. The supercharger can be seen between the radiator and the front of the engine below.
Little is known about Thomas Robert “Bob” Stilwell, (seen behind the wheel) before late 1926 when he joined McCathren Motor Company as a driver and mechanic. On September 22, 1926, Stilwell crashed his Fronty Ford at the Fair Park track in Abilene, Texas and it caught fire. This was the end of his car and marked the beginning of his career with the McCathren Special. He raced it throughout the southwest until his death at a track in Dallas in 1934. You can learn more about McCathren Motor Company, the replica and racing in Texas during the period here. You can also follow our series all about the Model T Ford racing car here on The Old Motor.
This is the second and most interesting part of the 1929 Frontenac Ford catalog that we are featuring. Above you can see the complete “Fronty”- Ford equipped with the DOHC head, which you can read all about on the pages of the catalog below. The DOHC was the crown jewel, but in fact the SOHC head shown in the previous post is considered by some, to be the most successful and cylinder head that Fronty produced.
The DOHC being thin and light weight as most racing heads are, along with being a cross- flow head, which was cooler on the intake side and hot on the exhaust side, was prone to cracking in some instances with hard use and overheating.
The prices quoted for a complete engine appear to be inexpensive today, but with inflat-ion figured in, the $765 No. 215 a complete 8 – valve rocker – arm equipped engine, would cost $10,184 today and the top of the line DOHC engine would retail at $18,639. The complete car would range between $26,627 and $35,946 depending on the choice of engines. These prices are somewhat inline with what a comparable sprint car costs today.
One other way to put it into perspective, a new Model A Ford in 1929, the year of this catalog was published, cost between $450 for a roadster to a high of $695 for a four door sedan. In the next post we will cover many of the parts that were available for purchase in the catalog, to enable the less well – heeled racer to construct his own racing car. The Frontenac Ford Catalog Part I. The Old Motor photos.
A week or so ago we posted some very interesting photos of early customs from Charlie Beesley’s motor life.blog. Also on his blog, Charlie has the two photos shown here of a Model T Ford speedster, wearing 1919 Montana plates. Having an interest in Model T Ford racing cars since youth, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to introduce you to the fascinating world of Model T Ford SPEED, racing equipment and cars.
This early “Stutz” look – a – like appears to be a fairly tame road going speedster that may have been a father and son project judging by the faces in the cockpit in the photo below. Only ten years later, you can see from the excerpts of this 1929 Arthur Chevrolet Racing parts catalog above, just how far the racing equipment for the Model T had developed.
By the mid-twenties the Model T Ford was the most widely raced car in the county and a “Fronty Equipped” Ford managed to place fifth in the Indianapolis 500 race. Check out the pages of the “Fronty” catalog above and study them, as we will share more of this very interesting assortment for you in the near future. Included will be the dohc-16 valve cylinder head they manufactured, along with a complete line of racing parts and cars. See Part II of the Fronty catalog here.