1917 Hudson Shawn Special

"Shaw Special"


  • Year of manufacture 
  • Car type 
  • Lot number 
  • Condition 
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 


To Be OFFERED AT AUCTION WITHOUT RESERVE at RM Sothebys' The Elkhart Collection event, 23 - 24 October 2020.

  • Constructed in the early 1920s by Horace “Ben” Shaw of New Jersey
  • Believed to be powered by a 1917 Hudson racing engine
  • Formerly of the well-known Hostetler’s Hudson Museum collection
  • Well-maintained older restoration by Al Prueitt & Sons
  • Documented by an extensive history file

Please note that this vehicle is being offered on a bill of sale.

This fascinating vintage racing car was built by Horace “Ben” Shaw of Westville, New Jersey, in the early 1920s, using a repurposed 95-inch two-man racer frame of the Teens fitted with underslung rear suspension and Auburn 17-inch wheels. It was long purported that the car utilized a Duesenberg frame. At some point later in the decade, the car was repowered by the current Hudson six-cylinder engine, believed by historian Charles Betts to be a 1917 racing unit with a drilled crankshaft, special connecting rods, special mag drive, and special cams and timing gears.

The Shaw Special completed, its namesake raced the car extensively in the Eastern United States. It was first registered with the American Automobile Association on 16 May 1923 as no. 77, a badge for which still appears on the dashboard. According to later owner Ralph Prueitt, the car ran in the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup at Roosevelt Raceway, driven by Lewis Balis. It was next acquired in 1947 by Norman McCandless, who ran it at dirt tracks in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It was photographed with its grille modified and modernized at Trenton in April 1948, driven by Ben Smarto. Its history then picks up in 1977 with Marty Himes of Long Island, who sold it in 1981 to James Etter of Pittsburgh.

Prueitt, of Glen Rocks, Pennsylvania, acquired the car from Etter later that year and spent ten years researching its history before selling it to Tom Rowe. Following a meticulous restoration by Al Prueitt & Sons, the car was accepted for exhibition in AACA meets, receiving the Past Presidents’ Racing Cup in 1993. More recently the Shaw Special was a twenty-year part of Eldon and Esta Hostetler’s famed Hudson museum in Shipshewana, Indiana, from which it was acquired for the current collection.

This is a truly unique and special vintage racing car.To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/el20.