Duffy Livingstone’s famed Model T started life in 1950 being owned by his close friend Jay Chamberlain in Sherman Oaks, CA. Jay originally started building the car to compete in short track racing under the California Roadster Association in the hot bed of it all. He started with a 1924 Ford Model T roadster body mounted on a later 20′s ford chassis (I’ve also read essex rails). He even had Emil Deidt who was known for his Indy Car constructions form the track nose out of steel, however before jay could complete it the CRA changed the rules allowing Tubular frames to compete. This made the newly constructed roadster obsolete…..sort of.
Enter Frank Livingstone also known as “Duffy” who had been running a V12 powered roadster out on the lakes, but now was increasingly becoming more interested with the California road race scene. Duffy along with partner Paul Parker picked up the project from Jay and decided they were going to build it to go road racing using a flathead built by Tim Timmerman.
As Timmerman started building the flathead the car became known as “The Eliminator” based upon the Potvin Camshaft he chose to use. That flathead was then in turn hooked to a LaSalle 3spd trans, and mounted in the chassis. Another key to this car was going to braking system so a set of bendix styled aircraft brakes we used to control speeds which is incredibly important when road racing. The car even got it’s first press in 1953 when Hot Rod Magazine featured it in an article called “How To Build A Sports Car”.
From ’54-’55 the car actually performed pretty good considering it was still using a now obsolete flathead. All of the other cars were using big inch OHV engines which then prompted Duffy and Paul to switch to a new 265 Chevy in 1956 that Timmerman once again put his hands on to squeeze every bit of power that he could out of it. A year from then, they decided to pull the LaSalle and put a T-10 four speed in the car. The combination was enough for the car to become competitive in the C Class when running cycle fenders.
In 1959 the car qualified against some of the best placing 19th amongst 57 other cars. The car now known as “Tihspea Mark II” (APESHIT) got as far as 8th place before it fell to some overheating issues and finally ended the race in 11th. It should be noted that his competition was the likes of Carroll Shelby, Ken Miles, Dan Gurney and others who were driving europe’s best Ferrari’s, Maserati’s and Porshes at the time. So to see this little Model T ripping it up again cars like that and actually overtaking them is a real testament to what hot rodder’s were capable of during this time.
From there Duffy became engulfed with GoKarting and dedicated his time to that while the Eliminator was stored in a shop for over 20 years before being rescued. Eventually after turning hands a few times before being bought by Brock Yates who had Pete Chapouris and Co. restore the car to it’s former glory however without destroying what’s already there. The paint was left alone as well as others giving way to what we call a survivor today and everything else was cleaned up if it didn’t need to be completely restored . Once finished the car went back out on the track and competed in historic classes at Watkins Glen as well as other before hitting a milestone in 2003 when it received a Blue Ribbon on the holy grounds of Pebble Beach for first in it’s class.
So before there was the GT40 and the #3 Briggs & Cunningham Corvette, there was this little known “Hot Rod That Could” who took on the very best that Europe had to offer and gave them a run for their money. I would love to dig up footage of this little car passing a Ferrari in a bend so if you know of some let me know! Very cool to see what hot rodder’s were capable of back when this was all fresh and new. Even cooler is to see how a car like this is inspiring us today to build our own stuff. Go Forth and Build……
Stay tuned for Matt Seret’s Road Racing roadster. A pretty cool roadster built in the same vein only happening in real time!