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Offenhauser

Filed under:  Racing-Tuning | Technology
 
Comment(s): 4
 
 

Offenhauser was a racing engine manufacturer that operated from 1933 to 1983.


kurtis midget 22 48

Offenhauser engine #121 badge in a 1948 Kurtis Midget.

The Offenhauser engine, familiarly known as the "Offy", was developed by Fred Offenhauser and his employer Harry Arminius Miller.

Impressed by the double overhead cam, four valve per cylinder design, which was a great leap forward at the time, they designed an engine on similar principles. Originally sold as a marine engine, in 1930, a four-cylinder, 151 cubic inch (2.5 L) Miller engine installed in a race car set a new international land speed record of 144.895 mph. Miller developed this engine into a twin overhead cam, four cylinder, four valve per cylinder 220 cubic inch (3.6 L) racing engine.

When Miller went bankrupt in 1933, Offenhauser and another Miller employee, Leo Goossen, bought the shop and the rights to the engine, which they further developed into the Offenhauser engine.

One of the keys to the Offenhauser's success was power. A 251.92 cubic inch (4,128.29 cm³) twin-cam four-cylinder racing Offy with a 15:1 compression ratio and a 4.28125 x 4.375 inch bore and stroke, could produce 420 horsepower (313 kW) at 6,600 rpm; 1.77 horsepower per cubic inch (81 kW/L).

From 1934 through 1960 the Offenhauser engine dominated American open wheel racing, winning the Indianapolis 500 24 times. By then, the company had already been sold, right after World War II, to Meyer-Drake, who continued to build the engines. From 1950 through 1960, Offenhauser-powered cars won the Indy 500 and achieved all three podium positions, winning the pole position in 10 of the 11 years.

When Ford came on to the scene in 1963, the Offy lost its dominion over Indy car racing, although it remained competitive through the mid 1970s even with the advent of turbocharging.

The final 2.65 litre 4 cyl Offy, restricted to 80 in Hg (39.3 psi) turbo pressure, gave 770 bhp at 9,000 rpm. However, the Ford Cosworth DFX soon proved to be unbeatable and the Offy's last victory came at Trenton in 1978, in the hands of Gordon Johncock's Wildcat. The last time an Offy-powered car raced was at Pocono in 1982 for the Domino's Pizza Pocono 500, in an Eagle chassis driven by Jim McElreath, although two Vollstedt chassis with Offenhauser engines failed to qualify for the 1983 Indianapolis 500.

(text source: Wikipedia)


offy decal

Late 1940's thru 1950's Offy Owners Association Club decal. (available at Fill Er Up)

kurtis midget 1 48

1948 Kurtis Midget equipped with an Offenhauser engine.

kurtis midget 16 48

Offenhauser engine in a 1948 Kurtis Midget.

kurtis midget 17 48

Offenhauser engine in a 1948 Kurtis Midget.

LINKS
Offenhauser   Historic Auto Racing Subjects
 
 
COMMENTS
Bill Stel2911 days ago

I like your pictures very much, I'm currently getting a Donovan Chevy built at Van Dyne Eng. . But I'm looking for a nice Midget "Offy" engine and trying to figure out how to pay for it. I have plans to put one in a vintage sports car.

Bill Jones2711 days ago

This is not an original Kurtis Kraft Midget as the windscreen is mounted on the hood and not the correct bracket.

Stewart Van Dyne operates Van Dyne Engineering in Los Angeles. He was a former employee of Myer Drake Engineering.

Bill Jones

Bill 2711 days ago

In 1948 the Offy engines had carbs not injectors.

Ian Sellar2407 days ago

Who cares whether it has carbs or injection, it just looks great

Ian Sellar
Sydney Australia

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