1957 Townsend Typhoon MK 2

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Frank, Jack, and Larry during construction of the third Townsend Typhoon, The Townsend Typhoon MK2
Jack Voevdosky with the Townsend Typhoon MK2 at the Laguna Seca Road Race in Monterey, California in 1959
Jack Voevdosky behind the wheel of the Townsend Typhoon MK2 on pole at the 1959 Laguna Seca Road Race.
The car was known as the "Purple People Eater" by the press and competitors for it’s signature purple color.
The Townsend Typhon MK2 in 1960
The car as it sat when it was found in 1999.
The Townsend Typhoon MK2 reunited with its original builder Frank Townsend.
The "Purple People Eater" as it sat after Owen E Gibson of T2V Racing and Restoration restored it.
Orginal crew 2006.JPG
57-Townsend-Typhoon-DV-08 MH-03.jpg
1957 Townsend TyphoonMk22.jpg

The Townsend Typhoon was the brainchild of Frank Townsend of Tucson, Arizona. It started as a wood model in the early 1950s while Frank was still in high school and driving a 1940s-vintage Oldsmobile. In the mid-50s he transformed the model to a masonite and plaster plug with help from Robert Townsend, Jack Voevodsky, Pete Voevodsky and other friends. They built the fiberglass mold and created the first Townsend Typhoon MK1 body in a 16-hour workday by three people. The crew next set the body on a 1949 Plymouth chassis with an Olds power plant. Grille and lights came from a Hillman and the taillights were Ford. [1]

A second Typhoon was built as soon as Townsend's business would support the project. Frank raced the second Typhoon at NHRA and SCCA events and even street raced it a few times in Tucson. This car again used a Plymouth chassis, Oldsmobile power and Hillman trim. Upgrades were a Corvette windshield and body modifications for strength.[1]

For their next foray into SCCA racing, Frank and friends Butch McDaniel, Larry Randell, Jack Voevodsky and Pete Voevodsky created the third of the Typhoons (the # 27 racecar), also known as the 1957 Townsend Typhoon MK2. It was a class "B" Modified car called the "Purple People Eater" by the press and competitors for its signature purple color which came about as a fluke when not enough red or blue paint were on-hand for the final paint job. [1]

Frank recalls, “The # 27 car chassis was fabricated in 1956-1957. It was based around a Kurtis Kraft 500C design modified to use 4-link front and rear axle. The front axle was taken from the dual-wheel assembly of a B-29 wheel strut. The rear axle was mounted with rubber landing gear donuts. This axle pair was quickly upgraded to 1955 Chevrolet IFS and an Oldsmobile rear coil-over shock assembly. The frame tubing was from scaffoldings used to work on B-29 engines. The belts, gauges, switches and seat were from WWII aircraft salvage.”[1]

Frank remembers Larry Randell and Jack Voevodsky as the prime helpers on that early car. The night they were finishing the # 27, Frank finished the body and went home at 2:00 AM the day of the race to get some sleep. He returned at 8:00 AM and found Larry sound asleep in the seat still holding the tools and wire. [1]

It had many changes (numbers, drivers and other upgrades) over the next 5 years. The speed machine saw races and events in California, New Mexico and Texas from 1957 thru early 1961. When the “Purple People Eater” had served its time on the track in late 1960 it was stripped of it’s racing parts and purchased by local cowboy Bud Marley. Bud modified the Typhoon with the flathead from his race boat and used it as a dragster to whip the cowboys on the dirt roads of Arivaca, Arizona until its soon retirement to a forgotten field for over 35 years.[1]

Typhoon Rediscovered

Today many of the people involved with this hometown Tucson effort have passed away. Much of the early information had faded to bare glass fibers by the time the original Townsend Typhoon body was found on a ranch in southern Arizona by Owen E Gibson of T2V Racing and Restoration in 1999. The surprisingly bullet-hole and rust free car rested among rusted out car frames of 1946 through 1958 Oldsmobile Rockets. It resembled nothing of its past glory and was the receptacle for a hackberry tree growing out of its hood.[1]

Owen recovered the original Townsend Typhoon body. At first he wanted a street rod built from the fiberglass remains. It wasn't until he began to unearth the cars history that the race machines identity and creator, Frank Townsend, came to light. Upon Frank’s reintroduction to his creation Frank immediately teamed with Owen to resurrect the legend of the 1957 Class "B" Modified "Purple People Eater". [1]

Miraculously Frank Townsend still had the back part of the Typhoon mold and Owen remade the front ¾ of the mold. An original Golden Rocket Export 1958 Oldsmobile V8 with a 6-deuces on an Offy manifold powers the car, a 1957 Oldsmobile rear end, Chevy front suspension and Buick Aluminum fin drums were acquired to replace the corroded originals while Owen rebuilt the frame. The Typhoon’s immaculate restoration took Owen years of fine-tuning with the guidance of originators Frank Townsend, Pete Voevodsky and Gene Wright (mechanic on SR’s and Corvettes in the 50’s).[1]

Post-Restoration Debut

The Townsend Typhoon MK2 donned its trademark purple metallic paint again in 2006, preparing for its post-restoration racing debut. Owen crafted the Typhoon MK2 to its 1957 racing glory as witnessed at the Monterey Historics. It was driven by its original hot shoe, Jack Voevodsky. The American Special had not seen the raceway in over 40 years. Its reception was worthy of gold medal status, though the Typhoon lost its oil pressure in the preliminary race and had to sit out the final race day.[1]

The Townsend Typhoon MK2 has since seen the raceways of Phoenix, Coronado and raced at the Monterey Historics four consecutive years. The treasured vintage race car has graced the pages of Classic American Magazine, Hemmings Muscle Car and Motor Trend and can be found at T2V Racing and Restoration in Arivaca, Arizona where it continually finds new ways to inspire, bemuse and confuse Owen with its squirrelly rear end and sensitive coolant system. It’s rumored that the Townsend Typhoon MK2 may soon have a younger sibling, as whispered plans for the restoration of the USRRC 4th place Townsend Typhoon MK5 float about the T2V shop.[1]

For more images and updates on what Owen and T2V are racing and restoring log on to: www.T2Vrestoration.com

Approximate Specifications on the original Typhoon MK2 car (as Frank remembers): 
 Weight distribution font/rrear): 54/46
Frame: 3 compartment 4 tube KK500C type
Material: 2" tube mild steel. Gas welded.
Wheelbase: 98- 101 inches
Tires: 670 x 15 Blue Dots
Track (f/r): 57/59 inches
Length: 158 inches
Width: 72 inches
Height: 54 inches
Steering: Recirculating ball
Front Suspension: Independent unequal-length A-Arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar, direct-acting shocks (1955 Chevrolet).
Rear Suspension: 4 link, coil-over springs, live axle (1957 Oldsmobile Posi)
Front Brakes: Buick Al-Fin Buick S/W drums
Rear Brakes: 12 x2 ¼” -inch diameter drums
Master cylinder: Mason jar w/ rear bias



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