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Stutz M8 Chassis numbers

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Stutz ID number: M8-28-SY84B.

 

I have been reliably told that the ‘8’ in the ‘SY84B’ indicates the car was somewhere between the 800th and 899th car built in 1929. With a total 1929 model-year production of 2,320 cars, that would put it as June-July 1929.

On the back of the chassis, at a bumper fixing point, the stamping is 8447. Could this mean that the chassis is the 844th made, and that it was produced in the 7th month?

 

Your views on the topic would be much appreciated.

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According to the Splendid Stutz I'm not seeing any 4 digit chassis numbers.  They are all 5 digit.  The 29-31 M are 3001 & up for short wheel base and 40001 & up for long wheelbase.

 

The only chassis numbers that start with an 8 are AA & BB of 27/28 but those are 5 digits also. 

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M8-28-SY84B translates into a "Two-Passenger Speed Car (134 1/2 wheelbase)" with a serial number of 30848. I don't have a 1929 Stutz Model M catalog to see what a "Speed Car" looks like but the serial number is a 1929 number.

 

Steve

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1926 through 30 should be 5 digits. 1931 & up should be 4 digits with the 4 digit number matching the car number on the firewall tag. 1930 was the last year for the FEDCO system.

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Thank you everyone for replying! You are more than kind.

 

The chassis is 134.5, so it isn't an AA or a BB. As for the numbers - they were lightly stamped, have been touched with corrosion, and then smothered in thick paint. There probably is a 5th digit in there somewhere, there is certainly room, and the spacing would suggest one, but it isn't immediately visible. I'll have to get out the sandpaper to try and find it.

 

Thank you again!

 

Here is why I'm trying to nail down the actual production date:

 

On page 309 of the Splendid Stutz there is a small picture of the front of the car, taken as it was being prepared for the 1930 Indy 500. If one looks very closely there is some sort of hole at the back of the cam cover. There is a much better version of the picture in the Stutz News of January/March 2013 (I don't own the copyright, so I don't feel comfortable posting it). 

 

A glance at the motor of the Simone Foundation 1929 Le Mans Stutz shows an identical hole in the back of the cam cover - it is the pick-up point for the mechanical fuel pump. On production supercharged cars the mechanical pump has been moved to the front of the cam cover.

 

So, some time before May 1930 SY84B is wearing a Le Mans type cam cover.

 

I do have a matching shot of the Jones Stutz, taken from the rear during race-prep, and there is a boost gauge on the car's dash. I've already posted it in a thread on this forum, asking for confirmation. (Thank you again for that!). 

 

My point here, is that I suspect that SY84B was built in June/July 1929 as the prototype production supercharged car, and as a factory demonstrator. Jones later bought it to race and then found that Rickenbacker had changed the Indy rules for 1930: Riding mechanics were back and superchargers were no longer allowed. That's why the blower was being stripped off when the race-prep pictures were taken.

 

One further thing in the Splendid Stutz points to this: On page 188 there is a quote from a June 7th ('29) letter written by a Stutz engineer to the Murdock Pump Company. In it an order for a single supercharger is cancelled, only to be replaced by an order for a throw-out fork. This component could not be for the Le Mans cars because by Friday, June 7th they were already in Europe. Scruteenering would have been on Tuesday, June 11th, the race was June 15/16, and sailing time between N.Y. and France was 5 plus days. 

 

The throw-out fork must have been for the prototype supercharged road car.

 A blower wasn't required because the unit that had been on the '28 Pikes Peak car was used for bench tests in December 1928 and was still sitting in the factory. Mind you, it was built as a direct-drive supercharger, so a throw-out fork mechanism was needed.

 

One final point: If you are going to build a blown demonstrator, one would use the raciest body available.

In '29 catalogue, that was the Torpedo Speedster. I suspect that SY84B was also the first Torpedo body that was built. The pictures of the front of the motor show bits of bodywork between the hood and the chassis that do not appear on subsequent cars. They were also removed before the Indy 500 race, and a full hood used, to improve access to the motor. In other words, they didn't help anything, so out they went when the rest of the cars were made.

 

Thanks again for all the replies!

Edited by Smile (see edit history)

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Mark,

 

Your detective work seems reasonable.  I wish I had known this when the Jones Special was for sale and I owned that complete blower.

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I'm curious, which windshield do you have for the car now? The fold down type the car came with originally, or that one piece non folding one that was installed when the car was 1st restored in the 1960's and painted red with silver bolt on wheels.

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In that photo it still has the correct windshield. It was replaced with a higher one piece non folding windshield in the 50's or 60's. The photo above was taken outside the Akron Rubber Bowl football stadium in 1947. I'll post a photo of it with the different windshield tonight.

Edited by K8096 (see edit history)

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OK, here's a photo of what I believe is the same car.   This is from a 1976 Automotive Quarterly calendar.  Al Rodway of Cleveland owned it in the late 1960's.  So I'm assuming it was restored to this configuration sometime in the 1960's.   There are some differences though. It got back it's correct radiator shell & headlight that were switched out in the 1947 photo, but the cowl lights are now missing.  It also now has 20" 6 lug wheels which were common on 1930 & 31 Stutz cars.  Why someone would remove the buffalo wire wheels is beyond me.  They had to replace the brake drum hubs as well to make this wheel switch.  The windshield here has been changed to a more raked one that does not fold.  The Packard front bumper is gone as well and replaced with a more correct looking one.  One thing that strikes me though is the molding that goes from one side of the cowl to the other at the top.  This is clear in the 1947 photo AJ posted, but it is not there in the original race car photos, or the 1976 photo.   I wonder if it was just a stripe painted on and not an actual molding.  One easy way to always tell if a photo is of the Jones Special is if it has the gas filler on the drivers side coming up through the body between the rear fender & the bobtail. This was done when they installed a custom larger gas tank.  All the production Stutz cars had the gas filler on the passenger side coming up between two of the frame cross members.  Unfortunately we can't see it in the side profile picture I posted.  If the 1976 photo is indeed the Jones Special (which I think it is ), then when it was restored yet again in the 1990's to race car configuration, the correct buffalo wire wheels were reinstalled at that time.

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Edited by K8096 (see edit history)

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One other comment I'll make is in regards to whether the Jones Special was the first car with the bobtail body or not.  This body style is illustrated in the regular 1929 Stutz sales brochure.  Assuming these were printed in early 1929, or even late 1928, one would think perhaps at least a couple had been built already.  Does your body have the LeBaron body tag on it sill?  It would be located somewhere by the passenger side sill by the front floor board.  The one on my roadster has 2 sets of numbers on it.  No one has really deciphered these yet, but I assume one number is a style number, and the other number is the body number.             

Edited by K8096 (see edit history)

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Many thanks for all the replies!

 

There are two torpedo Speedsters being confused in this thread. The red car with black fenders is a different car. It was in the Paul Sterns collection between ’62 and ’75. Oddly enough, there is a thread in this section of the AAC, started by a restorer when he was looking for information on the windshield for a Tapertail (Torpedo Speedster?). I think he might have been writing about the red car.

 

http://forums.aaca.org/topic/43303-1930-stutz-model-m-tapertail-speedster/?hl=tapertail

 

Attached is a 2000 picture of the Jones Special being turned from a road car into its current form, which is a recreation of a racecar. If one looks on the wall behind, one can see a poster of the red car. The Jones Special was painted white from at least 1938 to 2000; it was only red for the Indy race, so it can’t be the same car.

 

On September 18th, 1973 Ernie Toth Sr. wrote to the then-owner of the Jones Special asking if he could borrow the windscreen frame to make a pattern, so I think it had its original folding windscreen at the time. It still does have a folding job, albeit in bits, in a box. I’ve had a look and the parts are cast brass and weigh a ton. It looks like the same windscreen that was on the car in the 1947 picture, posted above by Alsancle.

 

I would agree that at least one Torpedo Speedster should have already been built before SY84B. Six were supposed to have been made in ‘29, two with cycle fenders, four with the swept-fender design. As K8096 rightly pointed out, it was in the catalogue from the start of the year (picture attached). Having said that, attached is a newspaper clipping, dated Wednesday, 28th August, 1929, announcing the Torpedo Speedster as a new model. Personally, I would take the clipping with a grain of salt. The cars were not moving, so say SOMETHING to get them out the door. Let’s face it, who is really going to introduce a car with a bad roof and no windows, 5 days before Labour Day?

Mind you, if Torpedo Speedsters were already being built, why does SY84B have a non-standard hood arrangement in the early ’30 pictures, and a standard hood by mid-May?

 

Le Baron numbers: I have not yet found any, but I’m still pooching about.

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Edited by Smile (see edit history)

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Thanks for clarifying that for me. One thing though, you say Paul Sterns owned the red car from 1962 - 75. I'm sure it was owned by Al Rodway of Cleveland for at least a few years in the late 60's. He had a large collection of cars, all restored, that he all bought in the mid to late 60's, and then sold them all by the early 70's as he moved onto other interests. The calendar photo I posted of the red car even says "formerly of the Al Rodway collection" and was copyrighted in 1976. The reason I thought they were the same car was because the Jones Special was in the Cleveland/Akron area in the 1930's, and then Rodway of Cleveland had the red car which is very similar. I understand your hypothesis on the car with the different hood and splash aprons being your car, but perhaps it is a different car. We may never know 100% for sure. So let me ask you, do you have any photos of your car after the race when it was put back into street car form, but before the modifications were made on it with the different grille & headlights? I think you mentioned to me a couple months ago you were going to restore it to street car form so it can be used again. You also mentioned 1938 as a year you know it was painted white. Do you have a photo of it from 1938?

Edited by K8096 (see edit history)

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I like the idea of putting it back in street car form.  Maybe you will be able to get George to sell you my old blower. Then you really will be rocking.

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Attached is something I gleaned from the Internet: A picture of the red car when it went up for auction (a while ago) and the description. That's where I got the date for the Paul Sterns collection. If it is wrong, then I'm sorry! (Who would have thought that something on the Internet could be wrong! I'm shocked! I'll write to Al Gore immediately, after all, didn't he invent it??)

 

As for the car in the Stutz factory becoming the Indy car, becoming a white car, becoming the car I have….

 

Attached is a section from a 1930 picture taken at the factory. You can see that the gas tank has been removed; the car is waiting for the larger, race tank. The photographer, Kirkpatrick, took the shot of the motor (which is in the Splendid Stutz as the race car's motor) walked to the back of the car, and took this picture. He numbered all his shots, and the numbers on these two are consecutive.

 

Also attached is a section of a picture, albeit not a very clear one, of Tom Wolf in 1938. He is sitting in a white Stutz, and as you can just see from the detail, there is a gas cap on the driver's side of the car - the unique Indy filler, that has already been mentioned in this thread.

 

The next picture is a detail of the strange body line that runs behind the windshield. In 2000, when the car was being converted from a road car into a display item, it was pulled off. It was made out of a curved and painted strip of brass. Beneath the brass were the holes for the Indy deflector, and the holes used to attach the brass itself. The next picture is of the cowling, minus the brass strip. You can see the holes.

 

The final shot was also taken in 2000. The paint is being removed. If one looks, one can see the white top coat, a dark red, a very pale grey, and then the body-in-white. I rather wish that a section had been left, but then, if wishes were fishes, no one would ever be hungry.

 

The white top coat, probably re-sprayed a time or two, dates back from at least Tom Wolf's ownership between '38 and '72. The red is the colour from it's days at Indy, and the grey (silver?) is its original colour, and the colour it was when Kirkpatrick too his B&W pictures in 1930.

 

You know, if they made a million Torpedo Speedsters between '29 and '30 I might have my doubts, but they didn't, and I don't think any other car has better proofs.

 

Finding a supercharger (and a carb!). I'm hoping technology will help me here. All I need to do is rent one for a day, dissemble, scan the components, put it back together and return. It will never leave the owner's workshop. There is a place that will print a sand mold from a scan; it mostly produces old aircraft components, and the quality is great. Given that high-carbon steel shrinks 4% from a liquid to a solid, one just prints up a 104% mold.  The carb? Bronze shrinks about 2.5%.

 

Well, that's the plan. Reality sometimes intrudes….

 

Cheers,

Mark

 

 

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Oh, you don't have to apologize Greg, since when are auction catalogs correct anyway?  I just pulled out my 1967 CCCA directory, and yes Al Rodway of Cleveland is listed with a 1930 Stutz SV 16 boattail speedster.   In the same 1967 directory Paul Stern is listed with about 10 cars, but no Stutz.  So he must have sold the red car to Rodway prior to 1967.   Rodway sold all his cars around 1970/71, so perhaps Gottlieb bought it then from Rodway.  That's great you have the photos of the car with the restorer stripping the paint and removing the molding on the cowl.  Hopefully you're be able to put it back.  I think the Stutz News only printed the 3/4 front view of the car, not the 3/4 rear view, so yes I'd agree it certainly seems to be the same car with the gas tank removed awaiting the larger one to be installed.  The hole hasn't been put in the body for the filler yet because the tank wasn't done yet.  The car doesn't seem brand new in the photo, as the paint is worn/chipped on the frame & rear axle so it appears to have some miles on it already.  Like you said, perhaps a factory test car for the supercharger.  That's also great you have a photo of it in street car form after the Indy 500 race and before it was modified.  I assume this is the configuration you're going to restore it to.  I have a pleasant surprise for you.   I was in an antique shop in Akron, OH a couple months ago, and bought this photo of your car.  This is obviously your car as it has the gas tank filler neck on the drivers side coming up through the rear deck (you can't see it in the picture I took of the picture, but it's there on the original print).  It appears to be the grey color you mentioned before, and now you know what the side curtains are supposed to look like.   I can't read the year on the license plate in the original photo, but I've narrowed it down to the following years based on the light background and dark numbers:  It could be Ohio 1931 (grey background with black numbers), 1936 (white background with blue numbers), 1937 (white background with red numbers), or 1939 (white background with blue numbers).  All the other years of the 1930's through 1941 have dark backgrounds, and 1938 has more writting on the bottom that isn't on this plate, so that rules them out.  Enjoy!

 

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Edited by K8096 (see edit history)

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In a word: WOW!

 

Thank you Jason!

 

What are the chances of that?? Amazing.

 

I think that this is one of the first pictures of the car that Tom Wolf, or rather his sister Rose, took. Here is why: Whomsoever put up the top didn't have a clue how it went together! Attached is a slightly later shot that shows the framing bar had been figured out so that the roof no longer looks like a rolling Hooverville. 

 

The back of the attached picture was dated by Tom Wolf as May 30th, 1938, and he comments that he has recently the car. If you look at the trees in your shot, they have leaves, but they are not yet wearing their full summer foliage, so April seems about right. I suspect that the extra writing on the '38 plate isn't that noticeable at a distance. It couldn't be much later, because Tom put new tires on the car, and then he bought a radio with a huge whip antenna that is easy to spot.  

 

Thank you so much for posting the picture.

 

Cheers,

Mark

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Edited by Smile (see edit history)

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I'm sure you know Jones died in a crash at Indy while practicing in May, 1932.   I wonder who had the car from that time until Wolfe got it in 1938?  Do we know where in the Cleveland/Akron area Wolfe lived in the late 30's?  It's interesting that in my photo the side of the hood is perfectly clean with no oil seeping out the seams.  Below is link to a good write up on Milton Jones.  I'm sure you've already seen this.     

 

http://harrymillerclub.com/storyc69a.html?aid=11  

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Many thanks for the link, but to tell the truth, the website's view of Milton and his times is not entirely accurate in a few places. (Here we go again!)

 

The writer tends to opinion on evidence with the certainty of a stockbroker, which is usually the sign of light research.

 

My views, for what they are worth, differ from those expressed in the article. Here is why:

 

1)    “For the 1930 race the rules for the Indianapolis 500, in deference to the tight national economy, were altered to cut the cost of owning and operating a racing car”

 

The ‘Junk’ formula had nothing to do with the depression. Eddie Rickenbacker, the President of the Speedway, applied to have the rules changed in ’28. The Contest Board passed them in January 1929, when the economy was roaring ever upwards.

Rickenbacker felt that racing was becoming too divorced from motoring, and it was time to make the racecars more like a road car. That’s why racing mechanics were re-introduced, the grid expanded, and superchargers on four-stroke engines were banned.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1930_Indianapolis_500#Rules_changes_and_the_.22Junk.22_formula

 

2)    “An enterprising enthusiast from Cleveland, Ohio named Milton Jones..”

 

Who was Milton Jones? The original source tells us that he was an employee of the Prospect Auto Top and Painting Company, which was situated in Cleveland, Ohio. The article blandly dismisses the factual source and contends that he could have owned the shop. It then mentions his home address at Cleveland Heights, and while it agrees that it wasn’t the top-end of town, it still places him as a man of wealth, who didn’t have to go into debt to buy his Stutz.

 

Let's look at what is known, the location all this took place, and what was happening at the time.

 

·      Cleveland, Ohio, is a lake width away from Canada.

·      Jones worked at a paint and upholstery shop, 

·      The paint shop had different cars and trucks, from all over the state, rolling in and out, every day.

·      Prohibition was in place, and, by ’29, booze running was a massive industry. (I seem to remember the number of a $2 billion turnover for 1930.)

·      Jones (obviously) thought he could out-drive anyone.

·      He was married, and it is not uncommon for a spouse to want the best house one can afford.

·      His home address indicated that he didn’t have great wealth.

·      He wasn’t in the social columns, alone or by his wife’s side.

·      It wasn’t ‘shrewd’ judgment, Jones made an error in buying the Stutz – he had to have the supercharger stripped off so that it could run in the race.

·      He also made an error thinking he could just turn up and drive at the Indy 500. Contrary to some history, Milton had never driven at Indy before. A boat racer, also called M. Jones, and also born in Wales, had raced in 1925, but he is not our man.  Our Milton had to hire a professional driver and a professional ‘racing mechanic’, for at 36 and overweight and he simply wasn’t up to the job of going flat out for five and a half hours. I dare say that a couple of laps in practice gave him the message, loud and clear, for although he probably was a strong man, he didn’t look very fit.

 

3)    “Corum drove the race with Jones in the right hand seat..”

 

No, Fred Patterson was hanging onto the grab-handle for dear life, mile after mile after grinding mile.

Not Milton.

L.L. Corum stopped for 90 seconds, to take on gas and to chug water. No new tires (!). No oil. No sandwich. No one else spent so little time in the pits.  I think that the result that was achieved that day is 99% due to L.L., who must have been made out of iron. I also admire Patterson, who looked like a mal-nourished jockey on hard times, yet must have had the grip and tenacity of loan collector on commission. Don’t forget, Fred was on the outside of each and every turn, in a car with a low-cut passenger door, a flat seat, and very little floor to brace against. Rickenbacker might have been going for a better show, but his rules, which included an expanded grid, more than doubled the number of men who risked being maimed or killed during that race.

 

Summation: I suspect that Milton Jones was part of a booze operation. The business took in Canadian product from across the lake and cut it with de-natured alcohol, which could be 'fixed' and which the shop could legally acquire in bulk. The paint shop probably also served as a distribution hub, supplying cars and trucks that rolled in from all over the state with the finished product. Perhaps an occasional fixed fender, or a new seat cushion, was thrown in to the deal, just to make it real. Milton probably started off as a driver.

Illegal businesses are often highly profitable, and this one gave an employee, Milton, the cash needed to buy a very expensive Stutz, and run with it in the big-time, in the Indy 500.

 

One thing is for certain. After the race SY84B was re-painted, this time in white, and the wind deflector was removed. The quality of the workmanship was extraordinary, and not in a good way either. Rather than fill in the holes used to anchor the deflector, a curved strip of brass was screwed into the body to cover them, doing nothing for car, other than later helping to identify it. That work alone would suggest that the Prospect Auto Top and Painting Company were focused on something other than their advertised métier. I’ll drink to them for their efforts, and not with the denatured stuff either.

Edited by Smile (see edit history)

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Interesting theory.  I've driven by Jones' house in Cleveland Heights.  It's a nice average sized 1920's house in a decent middle class to almost upper middle class neighborhood of the time.   It had a yard and a 2 car garage in the back.   Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights were the two eastern most suburbs of Cleveland at the time.  Past them was nothing but fields and farm land (it got built up after the war).   It was considered something to live in one of those suburbs at the time, that you had have become somewhat successful.  Maybe I'll try to drive by it again sometime & snap a picture for you.  

 

I've also tried to find the building of the Prospect Auto Top & Painting Co. a couple years ago, but it's long gone, replaced by a modern bank building.  It's very close to the central downtown business district.  In the 1920 & 30's, there were dozens of automotive dealers (new and used) and "jobber shops" on both Carnegie & Prospect Ave.  Both streets branch right off of the downtown area and parallel each other with one block separating them.  The Stutz agency in Cleveland was at 6921 Carnegie I believe.  One thing I can do sometime is go to the Cleveland library and look in their historical photo section that's organized by street to see if there's any pictures of the original building there.        

 

I agree a guy pounding out dents in fenders for a living wouldn't be able to afford a new Stutz or a nice house in Cleveland Heights at the time.  He would have to at the very least been one of the owners of the business.  I think we'd need a little more proof though before accepting it as fact that he was a booze runner.  It's certainly plausible, but maybe he had a rich uncle who died and that's where he got the money.  Or perhaps the wife's family had money and bankrolled the car and bought them the house.  You never know.  One other thing we can do it look through the Cleveland business directories year by year to see when the Prospect Auto Top & Painting Co ceased to be listed.  If it were 1933 when prohibition ended, or shortly there after, that would support your theory, but then again, 1933/34  was also the trough of the depression and people weren't getting their cars repainted as much either.  It wasn't a priority.     

 

One thing that did strike me though, was the racing schedule he participated in the article mentioned (if it's true).  He wasn't home very much that year as he was on the road a lot for the races.  If he were just an employee of the body shop, how could he get all that time off?  His age would support your theory.  A man in his early 20's when prohibition began, took some risks when younger and they paid off, now in his late 30's when he bought the Stutz, he had made his money and had time to have fun.  Perhaps he had worked his way up the organization and didn't do any of the grunt work anymore.   It's too bad Jones had such a common last name.   If it were a unique name, we could search out others in Northern Ohio with the same name & try to find a relative.           

Edited by K8096 (see edit history)

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A bit of sandpaper, and the mystery of the weird chassis number is solved.

 

Attached are two pictures of part of the chassis number. As you can see, the first digit is an '8'.

 

No, it isn't!

 

The apprentice turned the stamp upside down before he whacked it with a hammer. That '8' is on closer examination, a head-over-heels '3' which is what you would expect with a 341.5 chassis. If you look at the second picture, you can see where the curves of the '3' end.

 

Guess it was a Monday morning...

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