Name:  Curt Crowell (car #2)

My second 356:

1956 Speedster 82,426.  After putting the '57 1600N coupe on the track, I decided a Speedster would be more competitive.  The Speedster was purchased on March 5th, 1963 for $700 with no engine.  At first I drove the car to the track, but that became impractical.  I remember driving it home from Wisconsin in the rain and feeling a wave of water roll over my feet when I hit the brakes on route 41.  Then a friend flat towed it, finally it rode a trailer.   Had to buy a tow car.

Tip-off that a Speedster was the car for me:

Lighter cars accelerate faster.

My age when I acquired my second 356:


Engine type:

It carried the 1600N case that came in the '57 coupe with a roller bearing crank that would easily turn 7,500 and probably went beyond that, racing being what it is.   Isky 1010A cam.  Prior to using the roIler crank I lost a (shell type) rod bearing at Meadowdale in the hairpin.  Roller cranks could tolerate temporary loss of oil pressure.   This was about the time the extended push-rod tube showed up.

Miles driven per year:

About 20 hours per year.  The roller crank was overhauled after each season by Jacob Preisig, who was raised in Germany during WW2.  Jacob had jars of oversize rollers he brought from Germany, so instead of a grind the crank received a polish and oversize rollers.  Jacob once offered me a 4 cam engine for $500, which I didn't feel I could afford.  This decision is now on the list of things I would have done differently.

Favorite destination:

Meadowdale, Wilmot, Milwaukee State Fair Grounds, Lynndale, Blackhawk Farms.  Grattan was rather narrow for passing, Elkhart Lake OK, but I liked shorter tracks that are better suited to this displacement.  I had short course and long course transaxles, switching them was a pain.

Fantasy road trip:

Take a few laps around Meadowdale, even without the wall, but the pavement is gone now.

Most inconvenient mechanical failure:

Losing #4 exhaust rocker at Blackhawk Farms; best race of my life up to that time, three cars separated by about as many feet.  Some years later Vic Skirmants told me I should have used the "A" short rocker, unlike the alloy ones, "they don't break".  Earlier a flywheel divorced itself from its hub, another time a cast iron pressure plate broke up, replaced by a steel "Carrera" plate, and the rod bearing failure mentioned above.

Car I'd have if I couldn't have a 356:


What I like most about my car:

Being able to hear that engine with no top to obstruct the sound.

Most unique feature:

Probably the Chassis Engineering rims  The company appears to be defunct, and I've never seen any others.  Some won't like them.  Dual circuit disc brakes, 12V.   Not a lot of Speedsters with windshield washers, I'll probably take some heat for those, but I how else do I clean the windshield?

Most recent repair:

Go to; click on the "Restoration Gallery", then click on the gold "Speedster" emblem.  There are a lot of pictures, drill down to the bottom to see Dave Zimmer's finished product.  Prior to Dave's sheet metal work and paint job the car spent two months in Franklin (S-W of Milwaulee, WI) at Restoration Specialists where it was dipped to remove all coatings, then shipped to Michigan where it received a PPG Electrocoating, a process that coats everything! The right door was severly damaged in an incident at Wilmot, its replacement came from a '55 Speedster #80,660 found in an Evanston junkyard by the son of a friend; the yard couldn't sell us the car since they had no title, it had been abandoned and police-towed, so we stripped it. That junkyard 1500N engine powered the '57 coupe for several years, and it may see time in the Speedster with 1720 cc.

Longest drive so far:

Towed to SCCA national at Mid Ohio track; engine smoked in about two laps!  Disgusted I had traveled that far to find I had an engine problem, I decided I needed a dyno.  Bought a used 150hp Stuska dyno; it was like turning a light on.

Next project with this car:

Putting it back together, right now it's just a shell, no trans, no front suspension.   It's a stunning car, thanks to Dave Zimmer.

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