Pick of the Day: 1934 Pierce-Arrow AB Jenkins Special

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1934 Pierce-Arrow AB Jenkins Special

David Abbott “Ab” Jenkins was a pioneer of the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, setting dozens of speed records in the 1930s. With help from the Pierce-Arrow automobile company, Ab Jenkins modified the company’s 12-cylinder engine with the goal of running it on the Salt Flats for 24 hours and covering 2,400 miles.

His son, Marvin Jenkins, helped Ab modify the original car in the Pierce-Arrow factory in Cleveland, and he was chief mechanic in the record attempt.  At the conclusion of the run, the car had driven 2,710 miles with an average speed of 112.916 miles per hour. A second attempt was made after the car was equipped with a streamlined boat-tail body that gained the moniker, “The Ab Jenkins Special.”

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Side shot showcasing boat-tail

The Ab Jenkins Special earned Ab and Marvin the World Land Speed Record of 127.229 mph. The two continued to earn Land Speed Records with other vehicles, such as the Duesenberg Mormon Meteor and the Curtiss aircraft-engine-powered Mormon Meteor III, which held its records for decades.

The Pick of the Day, a 1934 Pierce-Arrow, is a faithful recreation of the Ab Jenkins Special, a build that was supervised by Marvin Jenkins.

According to the listing by a Conroe, Texas, dealer on ClassicCars.com, a 1932 Pierce-Arrow chassis sourced from California was utilized in the build along with a Pierce 12-cylinder engine found in Tucson, Arizona. The engine was rebuilt using the original notes written by Ab Jenkins, featuring six carburetors, special manifolds, high-compression heads and other modifications performed by Marvin, which led to a rise in horsepower from a stock 175 to 235, the listing says.

Power is transmitted through a custom three-speed manual transmission, with drum brakes and leaf-spring suspension front and rear.

An instructor at McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas, replicated the hand-formed, original streamlined body of the car using a wooden buck and traditional English-wheel techniques. The wheels were sourced from an old race car in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The car was certified by the Utah Timing Association to have achieved more than 117 miles per hour in 2004 during a session on the Salt with Marvin Jenkins present, the seller says.  The car has since resided in a Salt Lake City collection, where it has been maintained and used sparingly.

The recreated piece of motorsports history is priced at $195,000.

To view this vehicle listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

One thought on “Pick of the Day: 1934 Pierce-Arrow AB Jenkins Special”

  1. I love this car, and more importantly the story behind it and the people who worked so hard to make an honest recreation seeing the original no longer exists. The builder of the car is the great John Hollansworth (former stock car racer in the 1950’s and father of Indy car racer John Hollansworth Jr.). Hollansworth Senior is very involved with the Automotive Restoration Program at McPherson College and I was a student in that program during this project. He had several students restore the chassis. In 2003 (my senior year in college) four of us road tripped from Kansas to the Bonneville Salt Flats to witness this car run on the Salt for the first time. This was also the run that it was certified by the Utah Timing Association. I vividly remember the moment John fired up the car engine for the first time on the salt. I had a lump in my throat and it was such an amazing moment. I hope this car finds a loving caretaker who isn’t afraid to drive it!

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