BYOE – Your Bonneville Speed Week Ticket

Bill Ward Special Salt Flat Roadster

At Sports Car Digest, there is a special place in our hearts for crazy Kiwi petrol heads. Names like Bruce McLaren or Denny Hulme might naturally come to mind — and for good reason — but there are plenty of others that deserve attention. One of those individuals is Burt Monro. Munro is likely best remembered in the past few years because of the memorable film from 2005,The World’s Fastest Indian, where Munro’s story is portrayed by Sir Anthony Hopkins. Munro’s 2-wheel, sub-1,000cc record still stands today and his story inspired millions, including another New Zealand native and Sports Car Digest reader, Bill Ward.

Bill is, simply put, a speed addict. Early in his life, after realizing that his 1928 Austin 7 didn’t have nearly enough power to get him into trouble, he acquired a 1935 Ford Cabriolet. The poor Cabriolet would end up rolled, succeeded by a “T-Bucket” he would drag race religiously and finally a fiberglass Model A Roadster. In 1979, Bill and a group of equally crazy friends would make the trek to the United States to pay a visit to the famous dried up lake bed in Utah. Their self-built Roadster was persuaded by a tunnel-rammed Chevrolet 283CI engine and achieved an impressive 171.395 mph. Unfortunately for the Kiwi group, their second back-up run at the Bonneville Speed Week was halted by a faulty throttle cable, causing a spin that would deem their record invalid.

Time passed, life happened and the 71-year old was still eaten up with salt fever and wanted to take another stab at the flats with another roadster. This one would be slightly different from the last.

This roadster would be hardly recognizable from the last, as it featured an atomic bomb of a power plant parked behind the driver and a bespoke steel frame that was built per the rulebook. The “XF/BFRMR” would go onto achieve a 158.151 mph average (165.609 mph top speed) 2008, breaking the record for the class — a record that still stands.

The time has come to pass “XF/BFRMR” onto its next caretaker and Bill gives details on their creation:

The official racing description for the car is XF/BFRMR

XF stands for vintage ‘Ford flathead engine’;
B stands for ‘Blown’ (super charged);
F stands for ‘Fuel’, which can be anything including: petrol, nitro or nitrous, but we ran Methanol only.
RMR stands for ‘Rear Engine Modified Roadster’

The front axle is chromoly with Mark Williams stubs and rack and pinion steering, running Centreline mags with Moon caps. The driving compartment has an alloy seat, with a seven point safety harness. Within the driver’s reach on the left is the fuel shut off; on the right two fire bottle controls: one for the cockpit and the other for the engine.

The steering wheel is a quick release butterfly type, with controls for the ignition, flywheel lockup, chute release – so the driver can get out of the car; in a hurry if need be – and radio communication button.

The transmission is a GM 700R, 4-speed auto, with reverse locked out, with a small shifter on the drivers left.

The differential is solid-mounted; has a NZ-built Antique Auto quick change on flathead housings with all nine-inch Ford internals, and disc brakes, and is solid mounted. The car has no suspension as such.

The chute is a Simpson Bonneville.

The Roadster is being sold without an engine and is currently set up to run a supercharged Ford flat-head V8. Space is described to be a non-issue, offering the new owner with any number of possible engine combinations to help motivate this roadster.

The frame of this Roadster is something special, as Bill describes:

The frame had its beginnings as a small streamliner. I got to know motorcycle designer and engineer, John Britten, and John was going to supply one of his innovative motorcycle engines, but the streamliner was going to be run as a car. Later I met Jon White, who built a bike streamliner with a Britten engine for the salt, but although it was a beautiful piece of engineering, it never lived up to its potential there.

Sadly, John Britten got ill and died and the project was shelved. When the fever hit me again, I realised the frame could be lengthened and modified to suit the class for the new car.

The whole frame is 1 and 3/4 inch seamless mild steel, doubled up and boxed for the bottom rails and suitably curved for the roll cage. (All dimensions are given in as imperial, as that is how the rule book is written.) A few extra modifications were made in LA at the pre tech inspection recommendations, but generally the car was right on from the start.

XF/BFRMR “Bill Ward Special” Salt Flat Roadster

Included in the sale of this Roadster are the contents below:

  • Purpose-built trailer
  • Receipts and build information
  • Documentation supporting 2008 speed record

This XF/BFRMR “Bill Ward Special” Salt Flat Roadster is offered privately at $65,000 USD and is available for immediate inspection. For questions or to schedule an appointment to view the Roadster at its Te Aroha, New Zealand home, please Click Here.

Bill’s story is widely known within the community, and much like Burt Munro, he is known as the first New Zealander to race a car on the salt. Sports Car Digest has nothing but respect for his passion. We can’t help but remember our friend Bruce Meyer at Bonneville in his 1932 Roadster at the Bonneville Speed Week in 2012, where he would join the 200 MPH Club. For the individual that wishes to experience the magic of the Bonneville, or a seasoned veteran wishing to hit the salt again, this Roadster offers a proven, well-developed canvas for somebody to enjoy.

Below are some short clips remembering the event in 2008 when the Bill took to the salt once again.

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