Simanaitis Says

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IN RECOUNTING 48,000 MILES in his 1949 Ford Custom V-8, Road and Track, March 1951, John R. Bond said the car was “a ‘sort-of’ test car during construction of a sports car based on a similar chassis.” 

The General Idea. In a subsequent feature in March 1952, John began a Sports Car Design series “designed to furnish ideas covering a wide variety of sports car types and sizes…. The proposed car must be practical, must meet F.I.A requirements for sports cars, and must accommodate the body dimensions of average-size men.” 

It was the early ‘50s, you’ll note.

“Design,” Bond continued, “must include fenders [i.e., no hot rods?] , and headlights must be at least 24” from ground. Sports cars (for competition and regular use) only… no sport cars (jazzy-looking chrome jobs), please.  

Image from Road and Track, March 1952.

“The Ford Anglia chassis,” John noted, “is extremely popular in England for conversion to ‘trial cars’ [e.g., the Dellow] which are merely a highly specialized form of sports car designed for use over the ‘rough stuff.’ ”

This particular Bond proposal was based on modifications of a Ford Anglia. “This version,” John wrote, “is intended more to be a poor man’s XK-120, if it were properly tooled-up for mass production.”

Raising the Ante with His Own Project. In another “Sports Car Design,” April 1952, John wrote, “This particular design is more than a design—the actual car has been under construction longer than I care to admit. This, my own car, is built on the ’49, ’50, ’51 Ford chassis… is meant to give better performance than the XK-120, modern appearance, comfort on a long trip—and with all that, it is comprised of American parts.” 

Here are tidbits gleaned from this in-progress report.

Ford Chassis. “The frame,” John wrote, “was sawed in two and a 10” section removed to give a wheelbase of 104”. The modified Ford V-8 engine has been relocated 18” aft of the stock position and this necessitated new motor mounts both front and rear.”

This and following images from Road and Track, April 1952. 

Transmission. John sure didn’t shy away from details: “I chose Ford adapter part No. 8RT-6392 so that I could use the earlier type transmission case with Lincoln 26H close-ratio gears.”

A fabricated X-type bracing enhances rigidity and also supports the rear engine mount.

Steering. John detailed, “Steering has been speeded up to three turns from lock to lock by using a 1934 Ford steering gear coupled to a 1936 Cadillac universal jointed steering column. This actual assembly was illustrated in Road and Track for October 1951 (page 32). The 1950 Ford pitman arm is used and a fabricated steering gear mounting bracket places this arm at the same location as on the stock 1950 car. Thus, there is no change in steering geometry.” 

You’ll note that John was a trained automotive engineer, not just a magazine editor.

Retardation. “Brakes are stock Ford-Bendix,” John noted, “which of course are useless for road racing. However, Al-Fin drums and backing plate air scoops will alleviate brake fade if all-out competition is planned.”

Suspension. “Realizing that the loaded car will weigh over 1000 lbs. less than a stock Ford, I expect that both front and rear springs will have to be ‘lowered’ by a spring company equipped to do the job.”

Bodywork. “Fenders,” John explained, “are reworked 1941 Studebaker Champion with ’47 Buick fender extensions. A Muntz Jet windshield was reworked—4” narrower. Nose shell, hood, cowl, doors, and rear deck will be hand-formed, out of .064’’ aluminum sheet. A 2 1/2” diameter tubular structure supports the cowl and windshield, and other body framing is of 2” dia. tubing.” 

Powerplant. John describes extensive mods of the car’s Ford V-8: a longer-stroke Mercury crank, “displacement is now 255 cu. in. or 4180 cc…. Olds intake valves are used, along with adjustable tappets, Zephyr springs, a 3/4 grind camshaft, 8.0 to 1 Navarro heads, and lightened flywheel.” 

“Conservative estimates,” he said, “place the bhp at 160 at 4500 rpm possible with better ignition and a pair of carburetors running 88-90 octane fuel.” 

The Article Concluded: “The car is not yet complete, so exact weight figures are not available. However, these estimates will bring you pretty close to the end result: curb weight—2500 pounds, with exactly 50-50 weight distribution.” 

We Conclude: The Jaguar XK-120 was Road and Track Road Test No. F-4-51, its fourth foreign car tested that year. The Jag weighed 2750 lb. and its engine produced 160 hp at 5400 rpm. Carrying this 17.2 lb./bhp, it accelerated to 60 mph in 10.1 seconds, superlative performance of the era. The Bond sports car was estimated at 15.6 lb./bhp. 

On the other hand, the Jag’s weight was “as tested,” i.e, with two aboard. The Bond’s was curb weight. Hmm…. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022 

2 comments on “JOHN R. BOND’S SPORTS CAR

  1. Bill Urban
    July 18, 2022

    More anecdotes for the “John Bond” thread, how ’50s and ’60s thinking evolved:
    My earlier referenced ’40 Ford had transverse leaf springs front and rear standard (but my “street rod” had quarter-elliptics attached to a 4.56 Olds axle); Later, three Corvettes all had a transverse rear spring; finally my 2022 Volvo sedan has one in the rear as well, but this car has one composite leaf. This appears to be a worthwhile weight savings – sprung and unsprung – compared to the alternatives. Also, the deflection rate is quite easily adjusted.
    Coincidentally, my ’40 Ford battery was also trunk mounted, but on the pass. side. And my “Hollywood” mufflers were similarly located, mine under the running boards.
    On close ratio transmissions . . . the Borg-Warner T10 four speed had a 2.2 first gear, with shift points in my ’65 Corvette (@ 6.500 rpm) being 65, 86, and 110 mph (3.7 r. ratio), much fun once you were rolling :^]

  2. Fred Pedersen
    July 18, 2022

    John didn’t use “fiddle brakes” like the trials cars, did he? Though they might have been useful for handbrake turns. I recall Manney’s observation of the Dellow – “so English it makes your teeth hurt”.

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