In the late 1930s, Pop Dreyer was famous for building some of the best and most powerful midget sprint cars of the time, making upwards of 250 horsepower! As with all forms of racing, the power-to-weight ratio is exceptionally important and cast-iron head engines yielded great success.
In the Ford hot-rodding scene, Johnny McDowell had established a name with his single- and dual- overhead camshaft conversions. These engines found their way not street hot rods, while the new Flathead Ford V8 steadily replaced the four banger on the race track. A formidable competitor in the 1938 season was the Pop Dreyer/Johnny McDowell chassis/engine combination, which turned out so successful that it ultimately spanned several decades!
This 1938 Dreyer/McDowell Sprint car is finished in mirror glass black with a tobacco leather interior. It is powered by a '46-'48 Ford 239 cubic inch 59A flathead V8 engine with an Edelbrock Super intake manifold with twin Stromberg 97 carburetors. It is further fitted with neat Stewart Warner 2-5/8 curved glass gauges, Hartford friction shocks, Bell steering wheel, Harmon Collins magneto, dual stainless steel trumpet exhausts, machined aluminum dash, hot rod dagger oil dipstick, front and rear push bars and more! The car is currently riding on a set of Kelsey-Hayes bent spoke wire wheels with NOS blocked and ribbed Goodyear tires, measuring 5-16 in front and 7-16 in rear.
Per sprint car racer and historian Don Radbruch, this car was involved in a wreck in the late 40s in Milwaukee and Johnny McDowell moved onto other cars before a fatal crash took his life in 1952, also, in Milwaukee. This car was repaired an not much of the history is known for several decades, other than the car was rebuilt and served as an I.M.C.A. racer until the 1990s. This car was found by a father/son team in 2003, where it was purchased and transported to their shop for a full restoration. This shop just so happened to be run by Bob Ryan and his father, who had raced competitively in the 50s. The pair had built and raced for several decades and had rebuilt and restored many cars as well. This car was completely stripped from the cowl back; in addition, the car received a new hand-crafted hood, grille, and custom front push bar. The motor was rebuilt and set up to run on race gas and mated to aluminum Edelbrock heads and stainless steel headers and exhausts. As an example to the level of detail taken, even the vintage tobacco leather was required to be found to give the car a period racing appearance. The restoration was certainly a labor of love by Ryan's Garage and no corners were cut.
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1938 Dreyer/McDowell Midget Race Car