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1952 Tatum-GMC Special

1952 Tatum-GMC Special

1952 Tatum-GMC Special

Convinced by what Allard and other European manufacturers were doing, Chuck Tatum decided to built his own car for SCCA racing.

He used a basic ladder-type chassis from two-inch steel tubing. Attached the this was a 1932 Ford front suspension and a 1941 Ford live axle in the rear. Braking was supplied by Kilmont discs and transmission from a Lincoln Zephyr.

Tatum chose the GMC inline-6 engine due to its light weight and fitted a custom intake manifold to accept three Corvette carburetors.

A unique body was penned by Arden Farey that was executed by Jack Hagemann in aluminum.

Not long afterward the car was modified to have full fenders, a Jaguar transmission and aluminum-finned brakes. In this configuration it race for the first time at the Golden Gate race in 1953. Chuck Manning drove the car to a first place overall.

Following a first successful season, Tatum received support from Wayne engineering who sent a 12-port cylinder head which used two Zenith carburetors. With much more available power, the car reach a maximum speed of 157 mph (252.61 kph) at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Not long afterward the car received lots of attention. It was featured in the October 1953 edition of Hot Rod magazine and the September 1954 edition of Motorlife. It even starred in the movie Johnny Dark.

With its more powerful engine the Tatum Special was actively and successfully raced on the west coast. In 1983 Chuck Tatum tracked down his car at a scrapyard, and besides a missing engine was relatively complete. They refurbished the car which still currently runs in vintage races.

In Detail

type Racing Car
released at 1953 Golden Gate Race
built at Stockton, California, USA
body stylist Arden Farey
coachbuilder Jack Hagemann
engineers Chuck Tatum
production 1
engine GMC Inline-6
position Front Longitudinal
block material Cast Iron
fuel feed 2 Carter Side-Draft Carburetors
displacement 4949 cc / 302 in³
body / frame Aluminum Body over Steel Ladder-Type Frame
front brakes Drums
rear brakes Drums
r suspension 1941 Ford Live Axle w/Leaf Springs
curb weight 980 kg / 2159 lbs
wheelbase 2590.8 mm / 102 in
length 4165.6 mm / 164 in
height 1092.2 mm / 43 in
transmission Jaguar
top speed ~252.61 kph / 157 mph
key drivers Chuck Manning