Benjamin F. “Ben” Gregory
1889 – 1974
Photo from the June, 1956 issue of Road & Track magazine
This photo shows Ben Gregory (with the goggles at right) seated a front-wheel-drive racing car he had designed and built himself in 1920. When this photo was taken a year later, the car was powered by a Curtis OX5 aircraft engine.
Gregory was supplementing his income at that time as a limousine driver for one of Kansas City’s politically well connected houses of ill repute. The madam of the house had two large diamonds that she carried around in her hands for good luck much as a man might fiddle with dice. Eventually, Gregory managed to steal the diamonds and drop them into the limo’s gas tank until things cooled down. One day, the madam told Gregory to get the car ready to be delivered as she had sold it. It took Gregory several hours but he finally managed to fish the diamonds out of the gas tank. He delivered the car, then quit his job and moved to California for a time. There, he sold the diamonds and used the money to install a Hispano-Suiza engine in the racing car above.
Click your mouse on the photo above to see a photo of another Ben Gregory designed and built front-wheel-drive racing car that was taken in 1930. That one was powered by a Hall-Scott engine. None of Gregory’s racing cars were very successful due to the heavy front axle and steering that tended to “fight the driver.”
The following paragraph is from the book, The Golden Age of the American Racing Car by Griffith Borgeson, Norton Publishing, 1966:
“Between 1918 and 1922 a small designer-manufacturer, Ben F. Gregory of Kansas City, Missouri built a series of about ten automobiles, all utilizing front wheel drive. Some were touring cars, some racing cars, but all used a de Dion front-axle arrangement. They also used conventional engines mounted longitudinally in the frame but with the flywheel end and the transmission in the front. For a couple of years Gregory barnstormed dirt tracks and county fairs in the surrounding area as a stunt driver. His mount was one of his own front drive single seaters powered by an OX5 and later by a Hispano Suiza aero engine. In 1921 he exhibited a front-wheel-drive tourer at the Kansas City Auto Show.”
The photo above shows a Ben Gregory designed and built touring car. This one was built in 1919 utilized a Saxon engine. The drawing below is of this same car. If you know anything more about any of the racing cars designed by Ben Gregory, please contact Bob Lawrence at: sprintguy @ cox.net – D. J. Kava collection
D. J. Kava collection
Thank you to:
P. O. Box 25537
Portland, OR 97298-0537