1959 H Modified Special Find!

H Modified was a sports car racing class that encouraged a lot of creativity in the 1950s and 1960s, and this car is a great example. Limited to only 750 cc engines, they were all about weight, low aerodynamic drag and handling. This car is even more unusual than most in that it’s powered by a DKW front wheel drive setup! The car is being sold here on eBay at no reserve, with bidding currently at only just over $200! It’s located in McMinnville, Oregon, which unfortunately is on the other side of the country from me. Thanks to David W. for this fantastic find!

Unfortunately we don’t know any history on this car, or at least the seller hasn’t shared any with us. I’m impressed with the quality of construction, though, and while the fiberglass will certainly need some reworking, it certainly looks like it’s within the ability of a home restorer with a lot of time. I am hoping one of you recognizes it from these pictures and can enlighten us on its history–and even if it ever raced at all, since it’s in bare fiberglass and doesn’t show many signs of having been finished cosmetically.

What are those tail lights from? I’m thinking Chevy, but I’m not sure exactly what. Given the spoiler lip on the back and the Can-Am looks of this car, I’m guessing this was constructed in the 1960’s, not 1950’s. Perhaps the hole in the rear is for the exhaust?

The car has an unusual layout, with a front mid-engine (three cylinder in line DKW) and front wheel drive. Based on what I can see in this picture, I think the car has a largely unaltered 1950’s DKW chassis.

The seller was kind enough to show underside shots as well. I can’t find any serious corrosion at all. The center tub looks like it might be riveted aluminum. Overall, I think this could be a very cool way into vintage racing, and if you are able to get one engine running out of the one and parts that are included, you can have a lot of fun! If you want to learn more about H Modifieds in general, check out links here, here, and here. I think this would make a great way to go vintage racing–what about you?


  1. Alan (Michigan)

    The black frame shown is from another car?

    What is amazing to me is that modern technology could bring a large advance in power capability from this little engine. The exhaust header looks typical of a 4-cycle engine, but apparently not enough was understood by the person who fashioned it. A good set of independent expansion chambers, proper port timing and re-shaping, an induction change to a single carburetor per cylinder, and possibly combustion chamber re-shaping, could lead to 120HP or more from the 750.

    I look at the car and see a lot of possibilities, but just wonder how well it might be received by the vintage racing communities if it has no actual racing history. Someone’s 50+ years old project would not garner much excitement. I am curious how well the FWD might work on a track, however!

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Yes, the black frame is from a regular 1956 DKW. I looked it over and saw a lot of similarities between it and the auction car.

  2. Jeffro

    I have no idea why but I like this car. Of course the redneck in me thinks…”A newer sport bike motor in this would be alot of fun”. My wallet tells me…”You’re a broke ass, keep it moving!”

  3. SamM

    Looks like Dodge Polara tail lights at first glance.

    • G 1

      64 Dodge to be exact.

  4. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Sam and G 1 nailed the tail lights….


    Looks like the powerful Mach 5 ;)

  6. Mike Friedmann

    engine= dkw 2 stroke 3 cyl still can be found in brazil. the early pumas (made in brazil) used to be used as race cars, the same as the dkw factory race team.

  7. Ken

    This is a cool looking project. As a SAAB stroker nut case, and some past DKW experience this really caught my attention, alas on the wrong side of the country. I doubt this ever was raced despite the comments about engines needing work. Looks far to unfinished and there are no signs of cooling system bits. DKW used a thermo siphon circulation on some cars and the lump bolted to the gearbox appear to be one of those motors. Now time to put this on my watch list…

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Ken, I thought you might like that one :-). Didn’t know you liked DKWs as well although it doesn’t surprise me!

  8. Ken

    Jamie, Perhaps I can’t help my odd car affliction…as youngster we had a Junior and one of the first SAAB 95 wagons to arrive in CT as our family transporters. A combined six cylinders, 1600 odd cc’s and not a single valve between them. If this were closer I’d being doing something foolish. Heck I might still…And still muttering on occasion about having not fetched a silly English Saloon some loons in NC are racing!


  9. Dave Wright

    I raced against a very fast Renault special sports racer in the northwest with my lotus 11. It had won the regional championship for several years. My lotus was faster but I couldn’t participate in enough races to gain enough points to win. This car looks very well done to me, I had a similar car in Europe based on a Simca. This is a great realitivley inexpensive way to go road racing. The only thing I am curious about is the fiberglass body looks heavy. Race car glass bodies need to be paper thin because contrary to popular myth, fiberglass is heavy. In the time this car raced, it would need a horn…..we used a squeeze bulb bicycle horn and opening doors. They didn’t have to open much, just a little.

  10. Dave at OldSchool Restorations

    This used to be one of my cars, and the seller bought it from me 3 or 4 years ago, and we sent it to Oregon.

    After going over the car carefully, I felt it had never actually been raced. It is unlikely the car would have passed any Tech inspection, in addition there was no evidence a roll bar had been installed.

    Too heavy to be competitive with a 750cc motor. It is not a mid-engine, it is a front engine with front wheel drive. Probably built in the late 60’s when the Kammback became popular making it an unlikely design for current pre-1960 Vintage Event Classes
    I decided restoring it without having a race marketability to not be our best plan. so I sold it as an interesting part of DKW ‘history’ .

    The body . by the way, is not an Ambro or Dio, both of which I have experience with., and the front fenders were grafted in rather poorly, as can be seen in the picture with the nose open. Also, it WAS molded with the Kammback…that was not a later modification

    The motors were stock, not race prepped . Getting crankshaft work, ie main and rod bearings done, is VERY costly. Brazil has parts, but import/export to the USA from there was not good, maybe it’s better now.??? It had a standard DKW 4 speed ZF gearbox with a very low 1st and wide ratios.

    An interesting project , especially for a two-stroke fan, or an Audi / AutoUnion, DKW Fan …. If I still had it, I would finish it for the street and have a ball,

    Dave at OldSchool Restorations North Alabama

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