1939 Ford Midget Racer
It seems that in motorsport, just like in life, having robust financial backing can be beneficial to success. Of course, money may not make you an automatic shoe in for success but it certainly doesn’t hurt your chances. In the mid-1930s, a certain 14 year old kid from Michigan named William Clay Ford didn’t have too much to worry about. After all, his grandfather Henry was one of the greatest industrialists in all of history and his father Edsel was a brilliant designer and talented marketer. When it came time for William’s 14th birthday, a suitable gift was needed… and what better gift is there for the grandson of the world’s biggest motoring mogul than a miniature racing car of his own. Of course, no off-the-shelf item would do, so the might of America’s most famous industrial powerhouse was utilized to build a young boy a very small racing car.
Ford employees set to work, starting with a custom fabricated chassis. To this chassis is affixed an I-beam front end, with running gear from what is believed to be a British Ford Model C. Of course, the engine was thoroughly warmed over by engineers to include a lightened flywheel and custom outside exhaust. Power went to the rear end via a three speed gearbox and the suspension featured friction dampers, with mechanical brakes on the rear axle only. The chassis was then clothed in a tiny, yet beautiful and expertly proportioned body that, particularly from the front, bore more than a passing resemblance to a Miller Indy car. The result surely must have thrilled the young William Clay Ford to no end. While little is known about actual competition history, we like to imagine the looks on other kid’s faces if young William Clay showed up at a race in a car that was custom built by the best and brightest at the Ford Motor Company!