Kawasaki Race Car Body Found

Kawasaki Race Car Body

Kawasaki Race Car Body

Several years ago, I wrote about Kawasaki's 1972 factory effort to get into auto racing. It was a very hands on effort, Harvey Aschenbrenner pretty much single handedly built a chassis, fitted a 440cc snowmobile engine, adapted a motorcycle transmission, then sketched a fiberglass body designed to look something like a smaller version of the then popular Can Am cars. He built the foam plug for the body and had a local fiberglass company build it.

The car was built but while still in the very early stages of development, Harvey was asked to get involved in some other projects and the race car project died. He lost track of the car and that was pretty much that.

Well, the body has been sitting for some time in southern California and it's now up for sale on eBay. The owner found it in Sacramento, leaning up against a garage. No chassis or drivetrain, just the body. Makes a person think, if the body (or most of it) is still around, maybe the chassis is, too.

I see, now, there actually were a few comments on the original story in the last month or so by some folks who knew of the body's location and one by the current owner.

If someone at Kawasaki was on the ball, they might want to scoop this up as an interesting bit of Kawasaki history and see if they could turn up the chassis. Sometimes, things are hidden in plain sight. So, who has the chassis?

Thanks Paul, for the tip!

Link: Kawasaki race car body


  1. The STiG says

    Kawasaki racecar? A little suprising, until you consider that you’re talking about a multi-billion dollar company that builds everything from boats to bikes. But to find it leaning against a garage? That’s the suprising part. Nice peice, though.

  2. Tyler says

    Doesn’t fiberglass degrade over time, especially sitting in the sun? I hear people with Tracy bodywork on bikes from the 70’s dealing with leaks and cracks more than anything.
    Still and all, cool concept, heck reproduce it for fun/profit for collectors. Oh and Kwak makes heavy construction equipment, also (Kawasaki Heavy Industries, ya know…)

  3. says

    Hi, I was the source for the original article in Kneeslider. My dad Darrel was the one
    who commisioned Harvey to build the car for Kawasaki (based on a napkin sketch!).
    I can tell you that SEVERAL bodies were made, but likely NO additional chassis.
    A Race-car owner named ‘Shorty Long’ in Minnesota took over the project from
    Kawasaki and stored the parts for some time but he did not have the time
    to properly promote it as a new racing class, or to build additional cars.

    The body on eBay was likely one of the additional bodies pulled from the mold,
    not the one on the prototype. But still I’m very impressed this body survived.

  4. says

    OK, a closer look at the photo convinces me this probably IS the prototype’s body.
    The paint scheme of successive bodies would probably not have retained the “1”.
    Some of the Kawasaki stenciling might have been removed later after the project
    was privatized.

    My guess is the chassis was scavenged for the suspension components, brakes and
    racing wheels for some other project. They probably kept the body around simply
    because it was too beautiful to junk. Harvey Aschenbrenner’s FKE carts are now
    fantastically expensive collectors items, so this body, which was also built by Harvey
    (with it’s beautiful lines) might actually have more value as another of his creations
    even more than as an obscure part of Kawasaki history.

    To tell you the truth, I suspect NOBODY at KHI in Japan has any incling this car
    was ever built in the first place. I got the impression it was more of a local R&D expense
    covered by the minnesota engine division’s budget. But keep in mind I was only
    11 years old at the time :)

    I am giving permission to include my email address in this public posting:

  5. jim says

    the transmission is a kawasaki w-series from 1966 to 69 650cc
    i have some spare trans if he is going to rebuild the car.

  6. David Layne says

    Ron Dahmes acquired the molds, etc. in the mid 70s, made some modifications to the chassis including fully independent suspension, installed Suzuki- built, Arctic Cat racing snowmobile engines and CVT. The cars were produced for Autocross, hillclimb and club racing. I’m not sure how many Ron built. I will try to find out the numbers.
    I owned one in the late 70s, autocrossed mostly, it resides in my friends shop in Valley Springs, Ca, partially dis-assembled, but intact. I won the SCCA Northern Pacific Division Autocross Championship with it, I believe the year was 1977. I have the original Suzuki engine, the car has a Kawasaki 900 4cyl in it now.