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Lot 649: c.1948 " Salty-Shaker' Dry Lakes Belly Tanker This belly tank dry lakes car has an awful lot going for it. Firstly, it is a genuine surviving dry lakes car made from the drop fuel tank of a World War II P38 fighter plane. Secondly, thirdly and
May 1, 2004
San Francisco, CA, USA
Description: c.1948 " Salty-Shaker' Dry Lakes Belly Tanker This belly tank dry lakes car has an awful lot going for it. Firstly, it is a genuine surviving dry lakes car made from the drop fuel tank of a World War II P38 fighter plane. Secondly, thirdly and fourthly, the names associated with it constitute a veritable who's who of the early post war hot rodding world. Then of course there are those records and class wins. To extend their range, World War II fighter planes and fighter-bombers were equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks. If the plane used the add-on tanks first, they could be jettisoned to lighten the aircraft's load and increase speed and reduce fuel consumption. As a result, they were also called "drop tanks." The tanks generally came in two common sizes: 165 gallons as used by a P-51 Mustang or a P-38 Mustang and the 31 5 gallon tanks fitted in pairs to the twin engine, twin boom P-38 Lightening with its pair of mighty Allison V-12 engines The bright idea to turn these streamlined nacelles into dry lakes racers came from the fertile mind of Bill Burke. Commander of a Pt boat in the south Pacific, Burke saw a cargo of tear-drop-shaped tanks emerging from a freighter. What he had seen was a batch of 165- gallon drop tanks for P-51 Mustangs. he took some measurements and started planning. After discharge, Burke wasted no time in acquiring one of those small tanks from a southern California military surplus yard. According to Hot Rod pioneer and author Dean Batchelor, Burke's new creation was the first belly tanker to run at a dry lakes meet in 1946 With its limited size and front-mounted engine there wasn't much room left for the driver, so Burke literally moved on to bigger things. For his next attempt at a belly tanker, Burke got his hands on the larger-capacity tank from a P-38 and built it with the driver fore and the engine aft. Powered by a flat-head Ford V-8, in July 1949 it was timed at a two-way average topping 150mph. Not only had America's aircraft designers found a device to help conquer the enemy they also helped to conquer the dry lakes and salt flats. The belly- tanker on offer is no wannabe: it was built by originator Bill Burke at the request of Ray Brown. Brown built engines at Eddie Meyer Engineering and drove a great looking and pretty darned quick '32 Ford roadster that was virtually a rolling advertisement for his employer, thanks to the speed equipment he had fitted. he struck out on his own in 1950, tuning cars, building engines and creating his own speed equipment. Brown supplied some very hot engines, including Flatheads and, later, Chryslers, for some of the top rods and dragsters around. In fact, he built the engine for Mickey Thompson's first slingshot dragster. Initially, the power for this lakester, known as " Salty Shaker, " came from the all-important flat-head Ford V-8 You can bet that it was worked within an inch of its life thanks to the tuning know-how of first owner Ray Brown. Hidden beneath the smooth tank is a frame fabricated from elliptical aircraft surplus tubing. Front axle and suspension is from a 1937 Ford V-8, with an earlier Ford steering box canted on its side. The in-out gearbox sends the power to a Halibrand quick-change rear, Cooling consisted of a simple tank because those rides down the lake beds didn't last long, while the minimal braking came from Ford hydraulic drums out back-- there wasn't much to hit on the lake beds. Brown eventually swapped the venerable flathead for a Chrysler Hemi, before it passed to Isky employee and well-known hot rodder Ted Frye. From 1955 for about a decade, Frye ran the car, graduating to a supercharged 301 cid Hemi. In 1961, this belly tanker set a G Lakester record at 240.604 On another run, it clocked 250mph at Bonneville in the D Lakester class and set multiple speed records at other venues. The provenance of the Salty-Shaker doesn't end there. Those speed runs were made with the support of camshaft legend and tuner Ed Iskenderian and Lee's Speed Shop. Hot rods and dry lakes cars were constantly being modified. Frequently, they'd be broken up to sacrifice their prime components for their owner's next project. Amazingly, Salty-Shaker has survived intact and unrestored, though the Hemi either went to pieces or to the next project. Wearing much of its original paint, this historic belly tanker will be offered for sale with a flathead Ford Engine.