Townsend Specials -- 2   The "Townsend Typhoons"

The "Townsend Typhoon" was the first brainchild of Frank Townsend from Tucson, Arizona.  It started as a wood model in the early 50’s while Frank was still in high school and driving a 40's Olds.  In the mid-50's he transformed the model to a masonite and plaster plug with help from Robert Townsend,  Jack Voevodsky,  Pete Voevodsky and other friends.

They built the fiberglass mold and created the first "Typhoon" body in a 16 hour workday by 3 people. The crew next set the body on a 1949 Plymouth chassis with an Olds power plant. Grille and lights were Hillman with Ford tail lights.  (Below:  The "Typhoon" prototype in downtown Tucson circa 1955).

They built a second "Typhoon" as soon as Townsend's business would support the project. This was the "Red car" and Townsend raced it at NHRA and SCCA events, and even street raced it a few times in Tucson. This car again used a Plymouth chassis, Oldsmobile power, and Hillman trim.  Upgrades were a Corvette windshield and body modifications for strength.  (Below:  The first three "Typhoons".)
For their next foray into SCCA racing,  Frank, Butch McDaniel, Jack Voevodsky, Pete Voevodsky and friends created the third of the "Typhoons" (shown below).  It was a class "B" Modified car called the "Purple People Eater" by the press and competitors.
It had many changes, numbers, drivers, and upgrades over the next 5 years.  The early Olds drive train was replaced by Pontiac fuel-injected power.   Racing this workhorse provided a lot of  fun and developed skills for the Townsend crew which led to the highly successful cars to follow.

Frank produced two more bodies for sale.  No serial numbers or records were kept and the cars and their owners are long lost.

Today many of the people involved with this hometown Tucson effort have passed away.   Much of the early information had faded to bare glass fibers by the time the original "Townsend Typhoon" body was found on a ranch in southern Arizona. The surpri- singly bullet-hole free car rested among the hulks of 1946 through 1958 Oldsmobile Rockets.  A pair of Borgward hubcaps were found in the cockpit area.

Owen "Gene" Gibson of Arivaca, Arizona, recovered the original "Townsend Typhoon" body and is remaking the front ¾ of the mold.  Frank still has the back part. The reworked mold will provide replacement panels and new bodies for "street rod" Typhoon Mk Is in the future.

The present plan for the recovered  body is the reincarnation of the 1958 Class "B" Modified "Purple People Eater".   A 1958 Olds V8 with a 6 deuce Offy carb setup will power the car.  1957 Olds rear and front-ends, Buick Aluminum fin drums, etc, have been found and the frame is being rebuilt. The "Typhoon" is being refurbished with the guidance of  Frank Townsend, Pete Voevodsky, and Gene Wright (mechanic on SR’s and Corvettes in the 50’s).

Frank and Car reunion October 2001.

Don Hulette to drive the restored "Townsend Typhoon"
at the 2006 Monterey Historics!

Gene Gibson recently sent me more: Information on the Townsend cars.

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