Complete Historic Racer: 1957 Ford Custom 300 Drag Car

Racing cars are usually considered to be consumable items by their owners. They serve their purpose until something bigger and better came along. Some are then sold, some are scrapped, or they spent their days hidden in a barn as Mother Nature takes her toll on them. This 1957 Ford Custom 300 is an exception. It was built by legendary racer Larry Knott and has served various owners faithfully throughout the years. The time has come for it to head to another new home, so the current owner has listed it for sale here on Barn Finds Classifieds. The Ford is located in Seattle, Washington, and the owner has set a sale price of $60,000 for this slice of drag racing history.

This historic racer is being offered by a seller on behalf of the owner. Originally built by Larry Knott, the Custom started life as his daily driver. However, the drags bit him hard, and this Ford soon found itself facing a competitive life. Mr. Knott sold the car some years later, and it has been through the hands of several owners until now. The Ford is largely as it was when it was raced by Mr. Knott and is in excellent condition for its age. The buyer could choose to perform a cosmetic refresh, or given the popularity of historic racing, they could leave it untouched. Rust is not an issue here, and the owner has recently fitted a new race seat. There is no other interior trim as weight is the enemy of the racer.

In researching this story, I went searching for any photos of this classic in action. I had no luck on that front, but I managed to strike gold with this photo that I spotted on the Eagle Field Runway Drags Facebook page. When Larry Knott first pointed the Ford down the ¼ mile, it still had a 272 Y-Block under the hood. This was fast, but find me a racer who doesn’t want to go faster. Larry was no exception, so he contracted Frank Huzar of Race Car Specialties to fit a straight axle and move the motor back 10% to squeeze a 427ci V8 under the hood. Race Car Specialties did as was requested, and I believe that this photo was taken before SHOWDOWN had her first competitive run in her new guise.

SHOWDOWN is complete, and it needs an owner who is willing to reassemble it so that it can return to its rightful place on the strip. Included with the car is a Ford High-Performance 598ci big block. It isn’t clear what sort of power figure this beast would be producing, but I would estimate it to be somewhere around “a lot!” A Lenco 4-speed transmission undertakes shifting duties, and the seller says that SHOWDOWN will return an ET of 8.19 seconds @ 166mph in this guise. This is a pretty bulletproof package, and when you start to combine the values of all of the parts and pieces, this is beginning to look like an attractive deal.

I’m a sucker for anything on four wheels, but I’m passionate about us preserving our racing heritage. That is what is on offer with SHOWDOWN. I hate to see vehicles like this languishing in sheds because their builders created them for a purpose. I hope that someone buys this beast soon, and I hope that they return it to its former glory. It’s a race car, and race cars are designed for racing. Will you be the person who rises to this challenge?


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  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Surprised Don Garlits hasn’t snapped this one up for his drag car museum in Ocala, Florida. Finding the originals of any race car these days doesn’t happen very often. This is a great example of US racing history.

    Like 8
    • Steve R

      That’s not necessarily true, at my local track there are at least a dozen cars that have been raced continuously since the 1960’s, one since the 1950’s, often with the same owner/driver. The number goes much higher once you move into the 1970’s. Several of these cars are still sporting paint jobs from the 1960’s. This may be an interesting car, but in its current condition it’s more representative on the 1990’s than a truly nostalgic survivor. For the money being asked, he can find better examples for his museum.

      If interested, search out a publication called The Rodders Journal it regularly features faithfully restored historically significant race cars and hot rods as well as untouched originals that have been hidden away for decades.

      Steve R

      Like 8
  2. Dusty Rider

    My first car was a ’57 Ford 2dr sedan like this one I bought for 25.00 in 1966, 292/3spd. Not quite as fast though!

    Like 8
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    Good info Steve R.

    Like 3
  4. Maverick

    A little steep.

    Like 2
  5. gerilin Member

    Great research on the Showdown done by BarnFinds. I have one correction, the original owner of Showdown was Larry Knapp “The Racer”. I spoke with him today and he provided these additional articles on Showdown. I’d like to sell this car for the current owner. Send your best offer.

    Like 3
  6. R.Lee

    No.1 reason race cars are retired, rules and rules. Keeping up with safety rules and cage verification and updates for et are cost prohibitive for most. Speed has a cost, and the faster you go the safety requirements go with it.

    The seller claims an 8.19 @166mph. Is that an estimate or is that with a timeslip? The car looks to be able, but is a far cry from the 1960’s frame of construction.

    Loose the HScoop, Ford TBolt teardrop

    Kool Car

    Like 2

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