The Holynski Special: A Mystery With Some History

Hi Gang…

Here’s a mystery with some history – that may be exactly right.  Or not.  That’s why we need your help.  Recently, Ralph Thomas and his soon Brooks contacted me about a car they purchased recently via Craigslist.  And while Ralph lives in Hawaii, his son Brooks is in the Carolinas and recently brought home a new treasure.  Ralph and Brooks forwarded photos with the letter from Ralph below.  Let’s see what he has to say.

Aloha Geoffrey,

Ralph Thomas here. It was reported that you might be of help in determining the complete origins of a Sports Car found near Buffalo, NY. I have been made aware that the car you will see in a couple photographs is a Holynski, built by the Holynski Brothers in the Buffalo area.

The Holynski’s built midgets, modifieds, sprint cars and Indy cars in the 1950’s and 1960’s and they owned a Rambler Dealership in Buffalo. What little information I have on the Holynski, now in my position, it is a hand crafted aluminum body on a tubular chassis and may have been initially been powered by a lay down Rambler six cylinder.

I have one period photograph of the car after the double roll bar was added to the chassis for BM/SP drag racing class. It appears as if the car was initially built for sports car racing, as you will see in the head on view of the car showing a single chromed roll bar below the double roll bars for drag racing.

Additionally, some of the other clues include the enormous aluminum fuel tank (probably 40+ gals), with Monza filler, the sports car style bucket seat, high, however narrow rear wheel arches, sports car type steering wheel, etc. The blue paint on the body panels and the red (now faded) on the chassis are original to the car when it was built.

The aluminum body tilts forward, away from the windshield and the rear body work tilts rearward. The Holynski was found, not 10 miles outside of Buffalo.  I have been advised by several individuals that you may sheds some light on this car.

Mahalo in advance,

Ralph Thomas
Maui, Hawaii

Let’s See What They Found:

Let’s check out some of the photos of this car gang.


Let’s take a look at some close-up photography as well:

Chassis Photos:

The car uses a custom-built tube frame chassis.  Here are some photos shared with us too:

Additional Detail:

Brooks Thomas called in with the following detail concerning wheelbase and track.  Brooks reports that the wheelbase is 93 inches and the track is narrow too – maybe a few inches wider than an MG.  His father, Ralph Thomas followed up with additional thoughts and information as follows:

Aloha Geoff,

As mentioned before, I am certain that this car was designed for road racing initially, hence, the huge aluminum fuel tank, Monza fuel filler, the simple roll over hoop, the road racing style bucket seat shown in the drag racing photo, etc and at some point the “Special” was converted to drag racing specs, hence the double roll bars and the BM/SP (B Modified/Sports class NHRA) designation painted on the body for drag racing.

One owned and perhaps the original owner and the fellow that may have had the Holynski “Special” built, Jerry Brownrout of Buffalo, incidentally had the very first McDonalds in N.Y. State, a road racer himself was very successful in USAC road racing and had Tom and Dick Holynski build several race cars for him at their Holynski Engineering business in Lakawanna, N.Y. Dick Holynski was a crew chief for Indy Car’s, Roger Ward at one time.

The Holynski Bros. not only built cars for Brownrout, they built and campaigned Midgets, Sprint Cars, Super Modified’s and Indy Cars as well as award winning show cars, such as their “the Flame”, “the Hawaiian”, the “Black Jack Special”, the “Jomar SSR1 Scimitar” Formula II than had raced in Formula Intercontinental and the 1961 “Scimitar Hot Rod”.

A report from Randall Charles Zimmer on “The Hamb” stated that the Holynski “Special” was built by one of the Hoynski Brothers when he was quite young and because the Holynski Bros. owned a Rambler (AMC) auto dealership, they may have utilized a lay down Rambler inline six cylinder at the choice for the initial engine in the Holynski “Special”, further, it was reported than the Holynski may have been campaigned at N.Y’s Bridgehampton Raceway at some point in the 1960’s.

It appears as if the engine under the hood in the single drag racing photograph may have been a Ford V8/60 with mechanical fuel injection, but do not know for sure. By the way that single drag racing photo came from a web site that features photographs by George Klass.

Mahalo for you interest.

Ralph Thomas
Maui, Hawaii


So….is the history they found correct?  Ralph’s right….there’s probably much more to the story of this car before it’s drag racing days and perhaps one of you knows more and can share.  Ralph and Brooks did forward a vintage photo of the car in its drag racing years and this appears below.  No other information has been found or can confirm above.

So let’s have at it gang and see what you can find.  It’s a great looking car with a nice aluminum body and if we’re lucky….one of you out there can be featured here at Undiscovered Classics and share the rest of the story 🙂

Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember…

The adventure continues here at Undiscovered Classics.



The Holynski Special: A Mystery With Some History — 14 Comments

  1. that stude-powered unidentified special I had at laguna seca about a dozen years ago now belongs to armie hammer as far as I know. he cut the windshield off–its most significant feature– and put on those ’60s alloy Pontiac wheels. it’d be fun to see it run again somewhere

  2. Toly Arutunoff, do you still have that Stude powered special that you took to Laguna Seca that was an interesting car? I do like the nice flowing lines on this Holynski Special and I envy their ability to lay down a very clean welding bead. Geoff, I am fascinated with all of your finds published here as they do rise up long-forgotten memories.

  3. I have seen the Brounrout mid engined Holynski Special at Sears Point on occassion

    Probably a Formula Libre car, run at Mosport, it was of excellent design and construction.

    I knew of this vehicle but never got to see it while in Buffalo

  4. This car is interesting to me. I grew up in a small town southwest of Buffalo and used to take the dirt alley adjacent to the small Rambler dealer. This car or one similar sat outsde for years in the early 60s. Always caught my attention.

  5. #bdk, the blue body paint and the red paint on the chassis are original and yes, it needs a washing for sure, however the aluminum body is in remarkable condition, only a small, very repairable dent. Truly a cool piece of American craftsmanship.

  6. You might want to try gently sanding the paint to see if any previous paint and markings can be revealed. It would have been unusual to do a bare metal repaint back then.

  7. It looks like some one tried to wash it with soapy water & didn’t rinse it off. Other than that, the paint appears pretty shiny under all that bird poop. Quite an interesting car though.

  8. I’m a big fan of the free thinking individuals or small shops who built specials such as these to compete against the high dollar European race cars. This car has a fairly sophisticated suspension for the time-independent front suspension and coil over rear suspension. A quick SCCA record search shows that besides a Corvette, Brownout drove a car in 1963 called the Scimitar (same as the brothers earlier 1961 hot rod?) A Scimitar is defined as a short sword with a curved blade that broadens toward the point. That definition certainly describes this car!


  10. nobody ever figured out what that stude-powered thing with the windshield made out of a ’53 coupe’s rear window that I took to laguna sea a dozen years ago was either.

  11. What a one-off beautiful shape I assume was produced using an English wheel, I sure hope the word gets out there and some history and pictures of it in it’s prime as a road racer will show up here on Geoff’s site.

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