Bonneville Classics: 1953 Mabee Special

An enigma-what is this?

Hard to believe, but with the running of Speed Week next August (2013), it will have been ten years since I shot this wonder at Bonneville. The guy sitting behind the wheel couldn’t answer any questions about the car, but it was so stunning I had to shoot it. I never got to see what was under the hood or learned what the larger story about this car.

Only recently did I do a bit of research on the net based upon the lettering on the car. The owners of the car, Guy and his brother Joe owned a very successful oil drilling firm in Midland, Texas. They had this car built in 1953 and raced it at Bonneville that year. It ran an incredible 203.105 mph (328 kph).

Lovely Halibrand Kidney Beans

What made this thing so fast? The whole package. The wheels are the first tipoff-Haliband magnesium Indy-type wheels (and brakes) with pin drive knock-offs. Under the hood is a Ray Brown-built 353 cu in Chrysler hemi with Hilborn fuel injection. The chrome moly chassis was sprung with Kurtis torsion bars (another Indy trademark). The mechanicals were enveloped in a beautiful Victress fiberglass body.

But here’s the kicker. Guy Maybee originally built the car for a Texas chicken farmer named Carroll Shelby. Shelby’s growing acclaim led the Maybee brothers to realize that the Guy Maybee Drilling Co. Special wasn’t up to the talents of the chicken farmer, so they bought him an Aston Martin to race in Europe. In 1959, along with Ray Salvadori, Shelby won the 24 hrs of LeMans driving for the factory Aston Martin team.

The Maybee Spl was rescued and restored by Jim and Lea Ann Robinson and brought to Bonneville to be displayed on the 50th anniversary of its 1953 run.


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