Become a Member: Get Ad-Free Access to All Our Content
1957 Townsend Typhoon Mk. 2

1957 Townsend Typhoon Mk. 2

1957 Townsend Typhoon Mk. 2

In a Tucson garage, Frank Townsend and friends built custom racecars to challenge the much more expensive European alternatives in SCCA racing. Townsend typically used a mosaic of American running gear and many featured distinct fiberglass bodies like our feature car.

Called the Purple People Eater or Mk2, this racer was one of the more dramatic Townsend specials. It originally used a Oldsmobile 371 supported in a space frame chassis with independent front suspension and Alfin drum brakes. The frame was actually made from from old aircraft scaffold tubing and was based roughly on a Kurtis Kraft 500 design. Other interior bits such as gauges, switches and seats were aircraft sourced.

The Mk. 2 was used for limited racing in the four years from 1957 to 1960 and was campaigned personally by Frank Townsend, his brother Jack and Pete Voedodsky. They were competitive in the B/Modified Class, winning the 1957 Marana Speed Trials and 1958 Bloody Basin Hill Climb. By 1959, a 389 Pontiac Nascar unit was installed and it raced competitively in nearby events.

Eventually the Mk2 lead the way to future cars that would give Frank and his drivers much success. The newer Mk3 debuted in 1962.

After its race career, the Townsend Mk2 took a 40 year hiatus before its current owner found and restored the car. He spent five years bringing the car back so driver Donald Hulette could race it at he 2006 Monterey Historic Races.

In Detail

tags americanspecial, fiberglass
submitted by Richard Owen
type Series Production Car
engine Olds V8
position Front Longitudinal
fuel feed Flat-Head Ford Holley 94s
displacement 6080 cc / 371 in³
power 316.9 kw / 425 bhp
specific output 69.9 bhp per litre
bhp/weight 425.85 bhp per tonne
torque 576.22 nm / 425 ft lbs
redline 5000
body / frame Fiberglass over Steel Tube Frame
driven wheels RWD w/57 Olds Positraction
front tires 670 x 15 Blue Dots
rear tires 670 x 15 Blue Dots
front brakes Alfin Drums
rear brakes Alfin Drums
steering Recirculating Ball
f suspension 55 Chevy Unequal-Length A-Arms, Coil Springs, Anti Roll Bar
r suspension Live Axle w/Coil Springs
curb weight 998 kg / 2200 lbs
wheelbase 2591 mm / 102 in
front track 1448 mm / 57 in
rear track 1499 mm / 59 in
length 4013 mm / 158 in
width 1829 mm / 72 in
height 1372 mm / 54 in
designers Frank & Robert Townsend