This is almost like a barnfind story – except without finding the car. How can that be (you say)?…
Well…the first time I heard of this car was from Tom Householder. Tom is a Doretti enthusiast and was kind enough to help locate race results of cars using vintage fiberglass bodies back in the day. Tom has been reviewing these results as part of a larger research project of his own, and when he spots something – he sends it in (thanks Tom!!!). And…he sent in racing results from “Motor Racing” in 1955 (shown below) showing that Ken Mace in a Wildfire Cadillac raced – but did not finish (DNF). This got me thinking what a car that must have been – but I left it at that.
The second time I heard of this car was from Daniel Strohl from Hemmings. He published in his Hemmings Blogs an article about Ken Mace’s Wildfire that appeared in Mechanix Illustrated, January 1955. See picture below. Great info and this time…pictures of the car and pictures of Ken Mace.
I almost feel I’m getting warm concerning this car now..
The third time I heard of this car was during my visit to the Kettering Archives in Flint Michigan this past month. During that visit, I found a leaflet handed out during either the November 1954 or 1955 Petersen Motorama describing the details of the Ken Mace car and how it was constructed.
I felt like I was on a roll with getting new information about this car. Could I find Ken? Maybe he or his family is still around (or that’s what I started thinking…)
The fourth time I heard of this car was from Frank Cornell which he suggested the car still survives and was last in Hawaii. Frank may let us know more from his records. What a great end to the story that would be!
But wait…there’s more…
The fifth time I heard about this car was from Jim Giles. He pointed out that it was in the famous shot of six Woodill Wildfires taken in front of Woodill Enterprises in Downey California (I always thought these were the elusive “factory” built cars that Woody made – but that’s going to be the source of a different story…)
So…that’s part of the challenge for each of us researching these cars. The information is there – if you want to put together a puzzle. You have to be patient, curious, and detailed, and…if you’re lucky…you can find the information you seek – like we did for Guy Dirkin’s “Lost Motor Trend Victress Special”.
So now…here’s the challenge. This story’s not finished. What happened to the car? Where did it go? Is Ken Mace still around? Which of you want to help?
Frank Cornell is the past Woodill historian and still helps quite a bit. The Griffins are superb at research…maybe they can help find it. Maybe I can lure Rodney Packwood into helping the Woodill gang as much as he has the Glasspar G2 group.
Time will tell. Post your thoughts to this story on the discussion board…
And enjoy the pictures below.
|Body||Wildfire with custom fender additions|
|Paint||Kenny Lucas, Downey California|
|Upholstery||Cal Top, Long Beach|
|Frame||Wildfire rectangular tube steel|
|Engine (make/year)||1954 Cadillac (stock)|
|Displacement||331 cubic inches|
|Horsepower (estimated)||Maximum Brake Horsepower: 230 @ 4400 RPM|
|Transmission (type/year)||1954 Cadillac Hydromatic|
|Rear Axle / driveshaft
|3.54 commercial gears and open truck drive line|
| Track/Tread (front/rear)
(distance between center line of tires)
|Curb Weight||Estimated: 2000 lbs|
|Weight Distribution||From 1953 Brochure: The Wildfire frame is designed to put 50% of the weight on the rear wheels which allows you to outcorner the best Europeans.|
|Top Speed (0-60)||standing 125 mpg, quarter mile drag: 95mph|
Click on the Images Below to View Larger Pictures
is there a Wildfire club? Be real keen to get in contact with them. thanks for your article – they are legend.
Sorry about the earlier post. I was so excited to identify my car to the past and the information that seem to be available. It was like rescuers find me lost in a desert. I am here! I am here!.
I was stationed in Hawaii in 1972, on a Sub, in overhaul. My chief told me to get a hobby to keep me from going crazy. Not much to do with our work schedule but find a hobby or drink.
He had a Cars & Parts magazine august 72 or 72 with an article written by Dick Langworth for the Mile Stone Era. He informed me that he thought one was in a wrecking yard. We looked at the car and could not tell. but I decided to purchase anyway. After two weeks, a fifth of whisky and 350 dollars later I was a confused owned of some kind of car.
Towed it it home, cleaned it up and found the wildfire nameplate on the frame. I have drug the car around for 40 years and trying for the third time to restore the car.
I could use any help from people would like to share. I was in touch with Frank Cornell in 74 but have lost touch. Would like to get in touch again. I have found several people with wildfires and would like to share to the benefit of all. I have pictures but they are not pretty.
Your article has made my day!!!
Lost Car: Where is The Ken Mace Woodill Wildfire\”????
I believe it is in Salem, Oregon and yes it was in Hawaii.I purchased it in 1973 from a junkyard.
Are you still interested.
I am very interested in any information you have of this car.
Your article has made my day!!!
Your article has made my day
!!!Lost Car: Where is The Ken Mace Woodill Wildfire”????
I believe it is in Salem, Oregon and yes it was in Hawaii.I purchased it in 1973 from a junkyard.Are you still interested. I am very interested in any information you have of this car.Your article has made my day!!!
I AM A CURRENT OWNER A 1956 WOODILL WILDFIRE SUPPOSEDLY BUILT IN 1954 VIN #W9909 WAS ORIGINALLY BLACK AND WHITE CURRENTLY CORVETTE RED ANY SUGGESTIONS HOW TO DETERMINE IF ONE OF THE ORIGINALS WAS GRANDPAS THEN DADS THEN MINE SINCE 2000 WAS TOLD IT ORIGINALLY BHAD A WILLYS SIX OWNER BEFORE GRANDPA HAD ACCIDENT IN NY ON RIGHT FRONT FENDER HAD REPAIRED AND AT THAT TIME HAD A 53 MERCURY FLATHEAD V-8 INSTALLED THANKS FOR YOUR TIME.
dont know how to track down your vin, but there is a Woodill club that most likely can tell youy more than you want to know. I do know that m,ost of the Wildfires were originally powered with a Willys six, since the guy that started/owned the company was a Willys dealer, and started out with Willys running gear under the fiberglass bodies
I have a 1953 woodill wilfire. which may be one of nieces kit cars remaining. It has a Ford running gear with a Mercury flat head engine with aluminum heads and manifold. It had three Stromberg carburetors on it. It now has a one double pumper carburetor and Its painted in white enamel. In 1976 Frank Cornell came over to look at nine while building his wildfire.And we had a list of twenty Wildfires left at that time. I wonder how many is still left
By the way this one was found a barn in Pleasant Valley New York
I believe the wildfire you pulled out of pleasant valley is a car i had looked at many years ago. I am a local to the area. If you do not mind i would like to ask you some questions about the car. Is there a way that i could contact you? I look forward to speaking with you.