The Baldwin Specials -- 2

Steve Payne of the UK contributed these photos and information on the first Baldwin Special.  This car was built in Santa Barbara, California and purchased by Philip Payne, Steve's father in 1947.  Quite a story -- one of the original southern California "Specials" campaigned in the UK very early in the game.

Steve exhibited the car at the 2003 "Pebble Beach Concours".   (Click on "Results" and then on "Class 'S' Racing Hot Rods".  The Concours site doesn't allow "deep links" to specific pages.)

Philip Payne at the Southsea Motor Club Speed Trial in 1951 (Either Aug. 11 or Sept. 15).

Note lack of helmet and goggles in these slippery conditions.

(Photo by James Brymer)

Payne looks good rounding a corner at the Davis Motorcar Company Proving Grounds in Van Nuys, California.

Imagine how an Allard would look here!

(Photo by Jack Campbell)

Philip Payne displays his trophy after winning the "Gold Cup Race" on Dec. 12, 1948.  This event featured "sports cars versus hot rods".

(Photo by Jack Campbell)


This car is probably the most memorable “Sports Rod” of the early days of the sports car movement in America, being a typical example of a late 1940s "California Hot Rod", carried a step beyond what the normal hot rodders were doing at the time.  Known in the States as an AV8, i.e. an A Type Ford chassis housing a Ford V8 motor.

In 1947, my late father, Philip Payne, drove across the States in a Brooklands Riley, before working at Roger Barlow’s ‘International Motors’ in Los Angeles.  He became interested in the local sports car and hot rod scene and was an early member of the California Sports Car Club, as well as The Glendale Sidewinders (SCTA). 

He purchased this Special (91 S 663) in November 1947, from Willis Baldwin of Santa Barbara – the “father” of road racing specials. Baldwin built this, the first of four specials, in 1947, using the frame of a 1932 Ford. My father quickly replaced the Cadillac side-valve, installing a hot 4.4 litre (268.4 c.i.) Mercury Flathead with an Iskenderian track-grind cam, Evans 9:1 heads and triple-carb intake manifold, producing some 175 bhp @ 5,000 rpm. Drive is through a lightened flywheel, 10 in Mercury clutch and three-speed Ford Pilot transmission with a home-built remote shift linkage to a 3.78:1 rear axle. The cowl covers a split-centre Ford radiator whilst the grille consists of curved lengths of welding wire. The bonnet is of 20 guage alloy and the air scoop is from a North American aircraft, whilst an Auburn dash is used. Front cycle-type wings were made from spare wheel-cover bands.

The “Baldwin ‘Payne’ Special” proved very competitive and successful in many Southern Californian events, ranging from circuit racing to hill climbs and dry lake trials. Returning to Portsmouth, England in October 1950, my father continued to sprint the car (FTP 348), gaining successes at Southsea Motor Club events, held at the famous Goodwood circuit, as well as Gosport Automobile Club speed trials. Bill Boddy wrote a very favourable ‘The Editor Encounters A Hot-Rod’ article in “Motorsport” of January 1952, having previously been very sceptical of the performance of Hot Rods – this lead to a very heated exchange of transatlantic letters in that magazine! 

Naturally, the car has a very special place in the Payne household (Philip’s widow Vicky, and son Stephen), and is superbly maintained by Alan Collins, the Jaguar specialist, of Maldon, Essex. An overhaul was completed prior to the car’s appearance at The Cartier Style et Luxe at the 2001 Goodwood Festival of Speed, keeping the car as original to its’ illustrious sports rod heritage. 

Competition record of Philip Payne in the "Baldwin Special".

California Sports Car Club 26 Oct 1947 Tujunga Hill Climb, Winner Class 1, Best Time of Day

CSCC 28 Dec 1947 Palos Verdes Sprint, Winner Class 1, Fastest Time of Day

CSCC Summer 1948 Tommy Lee Shea Castle, Dirt Sprint, 1st 

CSCC/Russetta 10 Oct 1948 El Mirage, ? mile, #543, 8.8 sec, 102.27 mph

Davis Motor Company 5 Dec 1948 Van Nuys Proving Grounds, Class II, 1st

12 Dec 1948 Gold Cup Race, Sports Cars v Hot Rods, Winner

CSCC 7 Aug 1949 Goleta, Santa Barbara, Class III, 1st Place

Sports Car Club of America 14 Aug 1949 Gold Creek Hill Climb, 3rd Place

Gosport Automobile Club 29 Apr 1951 Brockhurst Speed Trial, “1950” Cup (FTD Unsupercharged Sports Cars)

Southsea Motor Club 11 Aug 1951 Goodwood Speed Trial, Class V, 2nd

SMC 15 Sept 1951 Goodwood, Class 3, 2nd

GAC 16 Sept 1951 Speed Trial, Class 7, FTD Sports Car

(3-11-13)   From Robert Miller:

"I stumbled across three pictures of Philip Payne and his Baldwin Special in a driveway:   The first three pics in this Picasa set."

Next:  The Baldwin Specials -- 3

Back to:  The Baldwin Specials -- 1

Next:   Bill Pollack's Photos

Back to:   Tom Bamford's Alfa-Cadillac

Back to:   Early 1950s Racing -- Homepage