Marty and Bette Rosenthal...
Marty and Bette Rosenthal owned one of the originals in 1960, but had to wait until 1998 to drive this replica, which has the distinctive Kurtis grille.
The Kurtis was first built...
The Kurtis was first built in 1954 by Frank Kurtis, and was resurrected nearly 40 years later by his son, Arlen.
A LeCarra steering wheel and...
A LeCarra steering wheel and Stewart-Warner gauges accentuate the black carpeting and custom seats outfitted in black leather.
Kurtis headlights and taillights...
Kurtis headlights and taillights are original reproductions of Kurtis 54 model. A Ford 9-inch rear and transverse torsion-bar suspension make for a smooth ride.
The original car was a racer,...
The original car was a racer, and this engine compartment is ready for the road with a 95 Ford 351ci V-8 engine. It has Edelbrock valve covers and machined insert plates. A Ford Motorsports Powerdyne supercharger and Holley 750 double-pumper carburetor accent the setup.
It was classic in 1954, and...
It was classic in 1954, and the classic Kurtis remains a cut above in 2002.
The Rosenthals won Best of...
The Rosenthals won Best of Show in their category at the AHA Knotts Berry Farm show last year. Sitting on a Kurtis handbuilt tubular frame, the cowl is offset and the engine mounting is also offset for foot clearance.
In the 50s, Frank Kurtis built race cars that are now legendary. His cars won the Indy 500 five times between 1950 and 1955. His midget racers ran roughshod over competition on the nations dirt tracks.
In 1951, Kurtis began building the 500KK kit car chassis, with space frames, beam axles, and torsion-bar springing. He was among the first to build chassis specifically for fiberglass-body use.
In 1954, Kurtis began building fully assembled cars; these were the 500S cars, built on a stronger version of the 500KK frame. These cars used cycle-fendered aluminum bodies and won nearly every road race in sight. The 500M was a street sports car that incorporated the 500S design but used a fiberglass body. Steel sheet reinforced the passenger area, and the original models were powered by Cadillac V-8s. Twenty-five originals were made until production ceased in 1955.
Thirty-five years later, Arlen Kurtis, Franks son, began building new versions of the 500S, and he has sold about two dozen of them. Several have gone to Jon Ward Racing, which won numerous road races with them.
Marty and Bette Rosenthal, of Daly City, California, had owned a Kurtis in 1960 and now regret selling it nearly a quarter-century ago. Marty has been in the car-building hobby for 40 years, and he wanted a show car. For him, there was only one choicethe 54 Kurtis. The Rosenthals are members of both the Northern California Kit Car Club and the No-Cal Shelby Club, and they attend shows regularly, so they werent going to skimp. They wanted the Kurtis, a $100,000 car, and they wanted it built right.
In March 1996, the Rosenthals bought a kit from Arlen Kurtis, and two years later, they finished the car you see pictured here. This baby is primarily a show car and has won several awards at last years AHA Knotts Berry Farm show.
Sitting on a Kurtis handbuilt tubular frame, Marty, with help from Roy Brizios Street Rods, slightly extended the cowl and offset the engine mounting for foot clearance. Marty, who had previously modified a 66 Shelby GT350S, added a Ford 9-inch rear with a 4.10:1 ring-and-pinion ratio. He put on Wilwood disc brakes in the front and reartransverse in front and parallel behindand relocated the battery to the trunk. He used Kurtis transverse torsion-bar suspension, a Mullins quick-ratio steering box, and an ididit tilt-column steering column.
For power, Marty installed a 95 Tremec 3550 trannie, linked to a 95 Ford 351ci V-8 engine, which was O-ringed for high blower pressure. The engine was machined by Reggie Jackson Engineers of San Bruno, California. Edelbrock valve covers complete the package, along with machined insert plates. For aspiration, Marty installed an Edelbrock Performer manifold and a Ford Motorsport Powerdyne super-charger. A Holley 750 double-pumper carburetor complements the power-plant, while an MSD distributor and coil and a K&N air filter finish it off.
Modified Sanderson headers and polished stainless steel ceramic-coated exhaust pipes direct the heat. Marty also popped in a Vintage Air cooling fan, a Griffin radiator, and March custom engine pulleys.
The Kurtis body kit included a fiberglass hood and tail section, with steel doors and front fenders as well as an aluminum cowl and trunk. The bodywork was done by Arlen Kurtis of Bakersfield, California, and Jack Hagerman of Morgan Hill, California.
The interior is highlighted by a LeCarra steering wheel and Stewart-Warner gauges, and custom seats outfitted in black leather were upholstered by Sid Chavers of Santa Clara, California. Safety is attended to with a 2-inch steel rollbar and Simpson four-point seatbelts.
The entire package was finished in Ford Rio Red paint, by Kenny March of south San Francisco.
As a show car, this Kurtis is topsMarty and Bette have proven this to be true with their numerous Best in Show trophies, including recognition at the AHA Knotts show, the 97 Grand National, the Oakland Roadster Show, Hot August Nights, and the Portland Roadster Show.
We think this Kurtis is a classy classic, and Marty and Bette have the awards to show that the show pros think so, too.