Reincarnation Magazine

Reincarnation Magazine
Continuation, Reproduction and Replica Automobiles
Rein Car Nation Cover Spring 2020
						Holynski Special 17
One-Off Holynski Sports Special

Holynski Sports Special offered for sale

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, BringaTrailer.com

Americans have had a fascination with speed for just about as long as we’ve had the means to achieve it, from the air, to two wheels, four wheels and more. We’ve been racing cars in America for over 120 years now, and I’d suspect just about every distinct period has those who would call it a golden era of racing. But I want to tell you about mine, and why this car, the one-off Holynski Special, is a rolling representation of it.

Back in the late 1950s, motorsport was exploding in America from grassroots to grandstands. The big automakers were pulling strings in NASCAR, unveiling more powerful engines and factory-produced hop-up parts to entice speed-hungry fans to their dealer floors. The salt flats were booming, and bootleg drag strips had sprung up all over the U.S., attracting everything from pure stockers, to jacked up gassers and stripped down rails. America had its sports car finally as well, in the Corvette, and cruisers like the Thunderbird were redefining cool on the country’s boulevards.

By the mid 1960s, the influence of OEMs would grow to greater heights, with Chrysler teams fielding altered-wheelbase drag cars with HEMI engines, Ford rolling out the monstrous 427 SOHC and aero cars tickling 200 mph in NASCAR. It had been a wild ride, but the era was coming to an end. But for a fleeting moment there from 1955 to 1965, I believe we had a golden era.

In that time, it seems as if all disciplines of motorsport were a bit more connected. The custom cars felt a lot like race cars, and the qualities of a good sports car, also made for a killer drag car. Think of the modified C2 Corvettes and Shelby Dragonsnakes. It’s that amalgamation of factors that draws me strongly to this Holynski sports special, but a genuine coating of barn dust and bird dirt never hurts either.

Unfortunately the history of the Holyinski Special is still being debated and we might never know its full story, but here’s the narrative we're provided. The car was likely built in the late 1950s by brothers Tom and Dick Holynski in Lackawanna, New York. A few other Holynski race cars have surfaced on the internet, suggesting the brothers knew what they were doing, and the quality of this car seems to reinforce that. Its tube chassis is said to have made use of a Rambler inline-six laid on its side, and the chassis and motor mounts seem to support some sort of unusual configuration. It also appears the father of the Holynski brothers owned a Nash and Rambler dealer in the area. After allegedly competing in sports car racing and then drag racing with a V8, the Holynski Special spent years in a barn in New York before the seller acquired it in January of this year.

While the car has deteriorated some, and it has been stripped of many of its mechanical parts, the car is actually been well preserved for living in a barn. Most of the dual A-arm front suspension is still present in the car, and the rear looks to be a Ford 9-inch in some sort of four-link setup. A small, single-hoop roll bar points to early sports car history, and the larger, four-post roll bar was likely added later, possibly for drag racing. The wheels and tires on the car also appear to be leftover from the car’s alleged drag racing history, and appear the same as the seller’s sole historic photo of the car.

Most impressive, is the aluminum body on the car, which exhibits similarities to the Bocar XP-5, Sorrell SR-100 and others. It’s a fantastic and unique shape, and judging from the photos of the body’s underside, it was somewhat of a professional job. A Monza-style fuel filler leads to an aluminum fuel tank, and quick-jack bars are present on the car’s rear. The seller notes that the hood was not found with the car.

Whoever acquires the Holynski Special next has quite a task on their hands to do the car proper justice. “Throw a Ford small-block in it and have fun,” commenters suggest, but I’d handle this one carefully. I’d spend some more time digging, because there appears to be some debate whether the Rambler-six sports car and BM/SP drag car lineages make sense. Refer to this thread on The H.A.M.B, as the commenter SR100 provides some interesting insight on the car’s suitably for SCCA sports car racing and BM/SP drag racing alike.

All that aside, I absolutely love this car, and it’s definitely been one of the most interesting cars I’ve researched in my time at RCN. While I love drag racing from the 1960s, and I’m enamored with the steelies and old bias-ply drag meats, this car really needs to be restored to its sports car racing configuration — what ever that truly may be. Just imagine seeing this car campaigned at events like Elkhart Lake’s vintage weekend at Road America. I’m seeing the car exactly as it sits today, but with the mechanicals sorted out and some semblance of an interior. Share it with people now, and restore it later. That’s my 2 cents, and if you do, please let us know.

The Holynski Special is selling at auction here on BringaTrailer.com. The current bid is just $3,500 and the auction ends April 6th at 3:30.

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