1924 Marmon Big Six ‘Indianapolis’ Single Seater


1924 Marmon Big Six ‘Indianapolis’ Single Seater

Franklin Hall Marmon, chief test engineer for the company which bore his surname, was killed on October 11th 1924 when the two-seater roadster he was driving hit some loose gravel and overturned. Equipped with a new braking system developed by his uncle Howard Marmon (the man responsible for the marque’s Indy 500 winning ‘Wasp’ racer and fabulous V16 luxury express), the damaged prototype was duly recovered to the Works and it is reported that it was sold to Ernie Endler of Kankakee, Illinois. He converted the car into a single-seater racer around 1928-9 and is said to have competed at various Illinois circuits including Champaign, Winchester and Duquoisne. The car then spent a number of years in the Art Lieberman collection, before being sold to Don Lewis of Florida in 1973. Subjected to a no expense spare eight-year restoration, the car was later displayed at the 1981 ‘Marmon Muster’ and won a first prize for the best ‘Restored Vintage Racer’ .

Acquired by its penultimate owner Brian Nelson Jones in June 1991, the author and one of the world’s authorities on American cars states in the car’s accompanying history file that “on September 27th 1993 we learned, while attending the Mighty Marmon Muster at the Indianapolis Speedway Hotel that this is one of the largest Marmon-6 ever produced. It features a single, in-line block, and incorporates the water jacket into the head – both items that would not be seen in Marmon production cars for years to come”. He also states that Gordon Handley, author of ‘The Marmon Heritage’ also verified that “it is a prototype”. We believe that this gargantuan powerplant was actually the prototype ‘Little 6’ being tested by F.H. Marmon at the time of the accident – the development of which was ended in favour of the Little 8 production model.

The engine fitted to the car is a large capacity straight-six featuring an all aluminium block and overhead valves, yet it differs in layout from the Model 34’s ostensibly similar 340 cu in (5.6 litre) unit. One of the UK’s most prolific car collectors Dick Van Dijk paid $40,650 to acquire the Marmon in 1995. Forming part of his private museum collection for almost two decades, the single-seater has benefited from over £30,000 in mechanical and cosmetic restoration, at the hands of Rod Jolley and Solent Engineering – it even passed a MOT test during December 1999! Not driven on the public road since a quick trip around his surrounding country lanes earned Mr Van Dijk a police escort home, the chassis and engine are both stamped with the number ‘7231’ and paperwork on file even encompasses an expired US Certificate of Title. A potential VSCC record-breaker in the right hands, this racing single-seater could not be replicated for anything like the asking price.

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