- Written by webmin
These three photos recently showed up in our inbox courtesy Charles Beesley, he of the excellent Reservatory.net. As Charles noted, they depict the famous Kenz and Leslie 777 twin-engine streamliner at Bonneville in 1950, the year that driver Willie Young pushed the streamliner past 200 MPH. Charles wrote:
Bill Kenz founded a Ford V8 specialty shop in Denver, Colorado with Roy Leslie in 1938, the pair having raced midgets together before that. Kenz’s first dry lakes burner was a ’31 Model A pickup with Edelbrock equipped flathead V8s at either end, the rear mill bolted directly to a quick change rear end with swing axles and torsion bars. The ungainly Odd Rod confounded skeptics by turning 140 mph at the first Bonneville National Speed Trials in 1949. Suitably encouraged, Kenz spent the next year building a more refined version of the concept – the flatheads now snug in a custom steel tube bridge frame beneath a smooth aluminum shell pierced only for intake and exhaust and the driver’s head. With Willie Young at the wheel, the ice blue 777 streamliner became the first hot rod to break the 200 mph barrier at Bonneville in 1950. A 255 mph run in 1952 made Young the first American to exceed 250 mph on land. With sponsorship from the Rocky Mountain Ford Dealers Association, Floyd Clymer, Wynn’s Friction Proofing and Bob Jones Skyland Ford, 777 ran well into the fifties, eventually with a third V8 where the cockpit had been, hanging the driver off the back, slingshot dragster style. The machine was finally retired in 1957 after posting a trap speed of over 270 mph.
The streamliner does still exist today, housed in a museum in Denver.
By the way, if you went on over to the Fran Hernandez Facebook page we linked to the other day, you’d likely have run across the below photo of another Kenz and Leslie 777, this one a Mercury Comet set up for drag racing in 1966. As with Hernandez, somebody needs to compile a biography of the Kenz and Leslie partnership.