This author wasn’t initially a committed fan of “Specials” in spite of having built one. That changed when I met and got to know the upside down Doin’ It Wrong crew at Tieton and more specifically when I drove their unashamed Special, Gipsy.
I had built my version of perhaps the most famous Special, Bloody Mary, but Mary was a historical car, more of an idiosyncratic one-off racer than a Special as they became known.
The narrow definition applied for this article and for the niche in the Cyclekart world describes highly modified donor cars, most typically Austin Sevens and later creations fashioned from mish-mashes of period components. A frame from this car, an engine from that car (or airplane), an upside down suspension from here or there and bodywork from the scrap pile.
The Doin’ It Wrong folks are straight up dingleberries. Not the tiny pieces of shit tangled in nut hair as you might initially surmise or an online slang dictionary might tell you but Dingleberries (capitalized) as it is used around our parts as a term of ironic endearment.
Gipsy is the quintessential Special. The inspiration car is a later day mash-up built in Australia from vintage bits, I think, of a FIAT 501 frame (upside down), a 6.2 litre 1929 de Havilland GIPSY aero engine, a Buick gearbox and so on. The cyclekart version of this, like its inspiration, is a gentle rule bender optimized for fun. The kart is optimized for speed, and specifically for Tieton. Gipsy is so low Vashon events would be impossible. The wheels have super skinny 2.25″ tires. Wet grass or mud? No. But, the crazy concoction was a blast to drive around the streets of Tieton and in the Campbell. After a healthy lunge of acceleration I was hooked at the first turn. Light, quick, and goofy style.
Which brings us to another goofball, the notable, serial building Scraptor (my word) of Huntsville. This lunatic sculpts car after car after car from junk. He is the maestro of the repurposed found object. (full disclosure, there are rumors that some of these “found” parts were previously fabricated and buried in his yard for later discovery)
Lil’ Miss Bacfire, like Gipsy, is inspired by a recent concoction of period components, Miss BACfire. A large 1920s BAC motorcycle engine from a board track bicycle pacer and a GN frame combined with Austin Seven driveline. The Lil’ version is specialized like its inspiration. As with Gipsy, low, light and fantastic handling optimized for pavement.
The Specials aren’t generalists. They don’t try to be. Nor do they try to be serious. They have fun and go fast where they can.
This story will continue. Coming soon, the Austin Sevens.