Miller ‘FWD’ (1932)

by Michael Ferner

One doesn’t know whether to admire Harry Miller for his guts to build “the ultimate racing car” at the height of the depression, or deplore his poor sense of judgement in doing so, for it was very likely this project that would eventually kill Miller (the company), and come close to doing the same to Miller (the man). At the time, Harry was already mingling with notorious characters like Preston Tucker or Barney Oldfield in a desperate attempt to drum up business projects, but times were rough, and the best option appeared to be to concentrate on what he did best: building exotic racing cars. So, what would it be now? A four-wheel-drive car, with a 5-litre V8 engine! Actually, like the 1931 car it was laid out to accept two different engines, but the four-cylinder Miller 255 was not ready in time.

Unlike the 4wd Bugatti T53, built at the same time to similar specifications, theMiller FWD was competitive, if not exactly userfriendly. Two cars were built for the 1932 Indy 500, and qualified 10th and 13th, but unfortunately both were out of the race within minutes of the start. Teething troubles of one kind or another bothered the cars long enough for Miller’s fortunes to sink irredeemably, yet the cars soldiered on in private hands for a number of years, and with modest success. One likes to think that, with proper development, they would have been winners, as one of them finished second in a 50-miler at Langhorne, qualified two years in succession for a front row start at Indy and finally finished the 500-mile race in 4th, before it was used many years later in hill climbing and road races, albeit with limited success.

Miller ‘FWD’, chassis ‘1’

- 1932 #45 Harry Miller, red/cream, Miller 308, H. A. Miller, Gus Schrader (ret Indy), Louie Meyer (ret Oakland)
- 1934 #27 Miller, ?, Miller 308, California Racers, Pete de Paolo (dna Indy)
- 1935 #66 Scully, ?, Miller, California Racers, Babe Stapp (dns Los Angeles)
- 1936 #66 Scully, ?, Miller, California Racers, Babe Stapp (ret Oakland)
subsequently broken up and rebuilt as Moore ‘IC-36’

Miller ‘FWD’, chassis ‘2’

- 1932 #58 FWD, cream/red, Miller 308, FWD Auto Co., Bob McDonogh (ret Indy), Frank Brisko (ret Detroit)
- 1933 #58 FWD, cream/red, Miller 308, FWD Auto Co., Frank Brisko (ret Indy)
- 1934 #32 FWD, cream, Miller 255, FWD Auto Co., Frank Brisko (9th Indy with relief from Rex Mays)
- 1935 #2 FWD, buff, Miller 255, FWD Auto Co., Mauri Rose (ret Indy)
- 1936 #36 FWD, white/red, Miller 255, FWD Auto Co., Mauri Rose (4th Indy)
- 1937 #26 FWD, white/red, Miller 255, FWD Auto Co., Tony Willman (ret Indy)
- 1948 #26 Milliken, ?, Miller 255, W. F. Milliken, Bill Milliken (ret Pikes Peak)
retired from competition in early fifties (?), and since restored

Last updated by Michael Ferner on 11 Jul 2012.

All text is copyright Michael Ferner 2012 - 2024.