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Fall 2016 86

Traco reputation. Customers like

Roger Penske and Bruce McLaren

were at the head of the line.

When the rear engine revolution

took place, Traco was in the right

place at the right time. Through the

later 1960s, their engines were

everywhere: USRRC, Can-Am, For-

mula 5000 and Trans-Am. Traco grew

because of the demand and a steady

stream of engine builders and fabrica-

tors moved in and out of their shop. A

good number came from Shelby Amer-

ican. Their employees learned from

the masters who never lowered their


Jim eventually moved Kanab, Utah

where he continued to work every

day. People restoring race cars

sought him out for his magic touch.

He refused to slow down and on Feb-

ruary, 2016 he took a fall off a ladder

and never regained consciousness.

He was 96.


March 2, 2016

The elders of the hot rod world

are reaching their 80s and 90s and

are passing away, and with them go

the clear remembrances of the world

they both inhabited and

be replaced by foggy recollections of

those who came after them. Frank

Currie was born in Anaheim, Cali-

fornia in 1929. By the time he was in

his twenties he was in the middle of

the Southern California hot rodding

culture. Currie was involved in drag

racing, land speed record cars, off-

roading and desert rallies, muscle

cars and street rods.

As a young man he enjoyed the

merging of automobiles and speed.

He started with a Model A Ford,

modifying it for speed runs on the

Muroc and El Mirage dry lakes as

well as running on local dirt tracks.

He was intrigued by anything with

an engine and during the Korean

War he found himself in the Air

Force, stationed in Oklahoma and

working as an aircraft mechanic.

The experience stayed with him

when he returned to Anaheim and

he went to work for Taylor-Dunn, a

company that manufactured small

farm trucks. He specialized in rear

end differentials which could be

adapted to these trucks and by 1959

he and his wife established Currie

Enterprises. The business grew rap-

idly, eventually occupying a 40,000

square-foot facility producing modu-

lar rear ends for industrial and com-

mercial applications.

He eventually felt the gravita-

tional pull of hot rodding and before

long he was providing Ford nine-

inch rear ends to local speed shops.

Over the years company records re-

vealed that they sold more then

300,000 rear ends until 2005. Then

they began fabricating differentials

from scratch and expanded to supply

the off-road market. Currie turned the

company over to his sons and retired

in 1985.

Retirement merely freed Currie

up to do what he enjoyed most: playing

with cars. He built a ‘32 Ford highboy

to run at Bonneville. The car was pow-

ered by a Boss 429 “Shotgun” engine

his sons had given him as a birthday

present. It was bored out to 709 cubic-

inches and produced 930 horsepower.

He drove the car to the salt flats,

swapped wheels and tires and in-

stalled a roll cage. He turned 205 mph

and then removed the cage,

swapped the street wheels and tires

again, and drove the car to Detroit.

He holds the record for the fastest

car ever to be driven to and from

Bonneville under its own power. The

car was named “Hot Rod of the