Bill Bottorff's 1954 Kurtis Cad

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Spring 1961 - Jim Bottorff behind the wheel of Bill Bottorff's 1954 Kurtis Cad

Bill Bottorf purchased this 1954 Kurtis Cad in Denever, CO in August of 1960. In November of 1960 Jim Bottorff and Bill managed to run it off a cliff out side Manhattan, Kansas. Here is Bill's version of the story: "The car is shown in these pictures after most of the damage has been repaired and the car driven from Manhattan to Winfield at Thanksgiving with no windshield, with snow on the ground, in freezing temperatures. Boy was it a cold ride. We borrowed football helmets from K-State (Jim was on the football team) and wore shop googles and made the 160 mile drive. This was a great car, it would go over 120 mph that I know of, and was pretty simple to work on. Of course going a hundred and twenty in a car with a Studebaker front suspension and a wobbly idler arm was a little scary. It had a fiberglass body with aluminum doors, hood and trunk. The cowl in front and behind the driving compartment was cast aluminum. The windshield was held in a frame of chromed cast brass which was crushed when we went off the cliff and landed upside down. By some miracle we both survived uninjured. The car was in surprisingly good condition considering we had flipped over and landed upside down.When we went over I just took the steering wheel and pushed up until I was down by the floor pedals. Jim flopped over to where I had been sitting. After we came to rest, there was only room for Jim to reach down and open the inside door handle on the passenger side and push the door open with both feet. Somehow we got out and climbed up to the road and thumbed a ride back to town. Next day we hired a wrecked to get the car and drag it back to the fraternity house in Manhattan. We had about a week to get it fixed up enough to drive it home to Winfield for Thanksgiving vacation. A funny note: when we stopped in Pleasant Grove for gas and brake fluid (that is why we went off the cliff) I went around the side of the station to the bathroom. When I came back the filling station guys were running around the car like a pit crew at Indy. I jumped in the passengers seat and Jim burned out like we were being chased. I asked what was going on and he said he had told the station guys that we were in a cross country race and had wrecked last night outside of Chicago and were trying to make up time. He sure had those guys jumping!

Since that time I have found out that there were only seven of these cars built. They were made by Frank Kurtis of race car fame. Frank had earlier designed a car for Mad Man Muntz who had built several hundred cars of this style on a longer chassis. The first cars were built with an aluminum body and then more were were built with steel bodies. They were called :"Muntz Jets". After Muntz went broke, Kurtis got some of the assets of the Muntz company to settle the debt. Kurtis built seven fiberglass bodied, two passenger cars before finding out that he couldn't make any more money than Muntz.

We put a plastic boat windshield on the car and traded it for a chopped and channeled '1932 Ford coupe with no engine or trans."


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