|The Santee Sports Car
This is a very interesting car which
I only recently learned about. Co-creator
John McCann tells the story:
"Santee Automobiles was founded in 1961
to build an American high-performance sports car, on a level with the best
from Europe. The Chief Engineer was Fred Puhn (of Quasar and Monocoque
Wheels fame). I joined Santee Automobiles soon after start-up and
became the Santee's Project Engineer." (Fred and I went to engineering
school together at SDSU.)
|"With a team of 5-10 we built a prototype
production car and I financed (company funds were tight) the lightweight
racing version, the Santee SS. The production car had a 185 HP Buick
215 CID aluminum V-8, Pontiac Tempest transaxle and Corvette metallic drum
brakes (there were no US-made disc brakes in 1961).
We designed a fiberglass body, rigid
space frame chassis, and F-1 type independent suspension."
||"Here's a "Tuft test" of the airflow
over the Santee at Del Mar."
Fred Puhn learned a lot by checking out
the competition. In these photos from 1962 he eyeballs design details
in these winning cars:
In blue t-shirt, Puhn looks closely at
Dave MacDonald's "00 Corvette
In blue shirt, Puhn peers at Bob Harris's
innovative "Campbell Special".
|"My SS had the Olds HD version (with
big valves, etc) not available from Buick. We mounted four 45DCOE9
Webers and an Isky Cam. The headers were F-1 type 180 degree design,
so each of the twin exhausts had even exhaust pulses-- which made a wild
non-V8 sound! Power was 250+ HP."
|"The production version weighed 1850#
and my SS weighed 1400#. The SS would turn the 1/4 mile in the low
13 sec bracket with road racing tires!
Unfortunately, the stock market crash
in the Fall of 1962 ended the production hopes of the Santee.
Today all 2-1/2 Santees are owned by
Fred Puhn and are in the process of being restored. Fred hopes to
race the SS at the San Diego/North Island Vintage Car Races in October,
||At Del Mar near San Diego on Sept. 29-30,
1962. The Santee, driven by Willie West, leads Don
Maslin in his Lotus Mk.11.
From John McCann:
"I think this was 1963 and it was driven
my Oceanside car dealer and road racer Willie West [Willie rans Alfa's
and ran a Fiat-Abarth at Sebring, one year]. If we had been prepared,
Willie was going to drive the SS in the Times-Mirror race at Riverside,
that year, but problems with the economy and the Santee business precluded
any pro race."
Gessner's Twareg Special
Back to: Other
Specials -- 3
Back to: New