Original 1962
Bonneville Lakester

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Land Speed Racing - a sport almost as old as the automobile. After humble beginnings on the Mojave Desert's dusty dry lakes, racing mainly Model T Fords, the Southern California Timing Association was formed in 1938. When the young hot rodders returned to El Mirage as seasoned GIs after the conclusion of WWII, their cars became more sophisticated.

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Obtained from WWII military surplus, Bill Burke's racer in 1946 became the world's first land speed car based on a war plane's belly tank. Around the same time, the term "lakester" to describe a streamlined, but still open-wheeled car became part of the hot rodder's vernacular. (Later on, the "lakester" became a "dragster" when used on the short, 1/4-mile tracks that sprung up on abandoned air strips around the country.)

In 2016, the Lakester classes are alive and well in the realm of SCTA land speed racing, with a few true "belly tankers" still being competitive. To find a historic belly tank lakester that has been stored for decades, virtually undisturbed, is quite a rare event.

Completed in 1962 by the team of Silverstein, Doty, and Birner, this sleek belly tank lakester, named "Something," was driven by owner Jerry Silverstein, a Burbank, Calif. fireman.
During my first trip to the "Great white dyno in the sky," I was lined up behind the "Something" lakester and remember thinking "wow, this really is a relic from the old days, amazing that it still runs here."
Turns out 1989 was old # 105's last appearance at Speed Week. The tech inspection sticker is still affixed to it . . .

After Jerry Silberstein's passing in 2007, the heirs of the estate displayed "Something" at the Los Angeles Roadster Show and sold it to a wealthy collector from Central California who placed it inside his private museum. About a year ago, I discovered the old lakester and purchased it. Planning to run "Something" again, I've since learned that having a kid in college can be quite spendy and decided to keep on campaigning my old modified roadster instead.

This display frame contains several mementos, including six Bonneville Speed Trials time slips. Apparently, on 8-18-86, the car was timed though the 4th mile @ 224.753mph - not too shabby for a little turbocharged 4-banger!
During the early years, you could easily spot the "Something" team on the salt, as their pits were topped by a circus-tent-like shade that Julian Doty built using a huge surplus parachute.

A folder containing further historical photographs of the car and assorted ephemera are included with the sale.

If you thought piloting a fighter plane would be exciting, wait 'til you sit in a belly tank destined to go very fast on the salt flats!

With Burbank being a hub of Southern California's aerospace industry back in the day, it's no wonder that most of the gauges and controls originate from the many surplus stores that dotted the city.

Very advanced for its time, "Something" is a front wheel drive vehicle. This layout really intrigued me, as FWD is one way to go fast safely!

Arnold Birner built a special cylinder head for the 181 cu.in. Pontiac Tempest engine (half a 389) that found success early on in the Baldwin & Summerfeldt belly tank. Silverstein ran a similar arrangement in "Something," later augmented by a turbocharger. Most if not all parts are still with the car, however, the drivetrain is not currently hooked up and would need to be inspected and updated as necessary if the new owner would plan to run the car again.

Fine metal shaping skills are evident throughout.
What looks like a huge exhaust pipe is actually the storage tube for the parachute.

Some interesting details.

Miscellaneous parts.

"Something"'s original, hand-built trailer is ready to go as we've just had new lights and tires fitted. Provenanced museum piece or future go-fast project - "Something" is a fascinating automobile with deep roots in America's post-WWII Hot Rod movement and would make a very special addition to any red-blooded car guy's stable.

We sold this one-of-a-kind Lakester in Summer of 2016.

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