Amazing displays such as this diorama of an Indy Frontenac Ford about to have its engine pulled in a fully equipped garage help bring automotive history back to life vividly in the Smith Collection Museum of Speed in Lincoln, Nebr.
Looking true-to-form, this massive machine is a tribute to the French-built 1931 Buciali automobile, but is powered by a modern turbocharged Chevy 350 V-8 engine. It served as part of the backdrop for the tour group's luncheon.
Billed as `Edsel Ford's First Hot Rod,' this rare boat-tailed speedster reportedly was built as an engineering experiment in 1912. The car was fitted with a rare 6-cylinder engine despite Henry Ford's hatred of that engine design.
Not every artifact was automotive related. This diesel-powered straight-8 Packard flathead was installed in a plane that set the world record for unrefueled endurance flight, staying aloft for 84 hours and 33 minutes.
A massive 1930 Model J Duesenberg could boast of a top speed of 116 mph, thanks to its twin-carb inline 8-cylinder engine. It was among the most expensive luxury cars produced in the United States during its heyday.
A landmark vehicle if there ever was one: this is the five millionth Model T Ford to roll off the assembly line. The car, built on May 28, 1921, was thought to be lost forever, but was found in 1992 and, following some minor repairs, was polished up and eventually put on display.
Some of the racers memorialized didn't rely on actual engines, but gravity, for their motive power. This trio of Soap Box Derby cars demonstrates how creative their designers were. Note the board track.
Hot Rodder Rocky Burris loved all the old car movie posters on exhibit, especially the one above him, since `Hot Rod Gang' premiered in Wichita. He found a series of black and white photos documenting the gala event online and wasted no time buying them for his memorabilia collection.
Joyce Smith, `Speedy Bill's' late wife, was fascinated with taxi cabs. This little Metropolitan taxi would have been perfect for a big city ride, but probably couldn't have handled more than a single fare at a time.
Tucked in the drag racing display of the Museum of American Speed is Tony Nancy's radical rear-engined, streamlined dragster. Powered by a supercharged Plymouth engine, the sleek car featured a rear wing that helped provide downforce over the huge, enclosed rear slicks.
Another bit of Kansas racing history enshrined in the museum is the #48 jalopy campaigned by Salina's Jack Petty, back in the days when racers did battle on fairgrounds dirt tracks all across the state. Jack still lives in Salina and enjoys both vintage and racing cars.
Larry Wolfe checks out the `Sweet Sixteen' powerplant in an area devoted to exotic engines. This particular configuration was achieved by welding two small block Chevy V-8's together, nose-to-tail. It must have produced a wild exhaust note.
Cadillac's entry in the world of endurance racing earned a spot of honor on a banked section of track at the museum. The car competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans, at the 12 hours of Sebring and the Grand Prix of Mosport.
The engine room of the museum is devoted to rare automobile power plants, both stock and racing, such as the classic Chrysler Hemi in the foreground. These engines are awaiting rebuilding and are sometimes referred to by staff as the `ladies in waiting.'
Ever hear of a Studebaker Indy car engine? Neither had most of those on the tour of the Smith Collection, but here was irrefutable proof: a double-overhead cam V-8 racing engine in exploded view, complete with Studebaker emblems on the cam covers.
Wichita hot rodder/artist Michael Behrendt scans a wall display filled with tin toys and model cars at the museum. The collection not only contains almost every item a hobbyist could hope to see, but they are all in incredible condition and beautifully displayed.
One of the stranger power plants waiting in the museum's engine room was this tiny steam-powered V-4 engine sponsored by Howard Hughes. The Speedway Museum has one of the largest collections of automobile engines in the world.
A section of board track fitted with metal rails illustrates how early gas-powered model cars were raced competitively, with each car fitted with a set of rollers that fit over the rails. Note the chicken wire safety fence.
John Belford snaps a reference photo of an unusual aluminum trike in the toy display on the third floor of the museum. He had bought an identical three-wheeler just a few weeks before and plans to restore it for his collection.