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March 4th, 2018

The Kurtis K2 500S was America’s challenge to European sportscars well before the likes of the Ford GT40 and Shelby Cobras put American motorsport prowess on the map. Around 20 500S’ were built to FIA regulation for the 1953 season and saw action in many international events for the next two years, most notably the Carrera Panamericana.

This example up for auction at RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island sale is a faithful reconstruction of the original. One of three built in 1991 by John Ward to compete in that year’s Carrera Panamericana (only 14 from the original run had survived), this car was built with inputs from Frank Kurtis’ son, Arlen. Further marking this out as more substaintial than a regular resto-mod were the original side-rails used during construction and original tooling for the body panels. A 400-cu. in. small block, dry sump Chevrolet engine powered the car and a NASCAR Jericho four-speed transmission was fitted.

John Ward’s sportscar making skills were evident when this car’s stablemate went on to win that year’s Panamericana race and further strengthened the Kurtis K2 500S’ position as a unique part of American sportscar racing history.

Photos Courtesy- RM Sotheby’s

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