Car Art, Inc.
shopping cart
Click to see a larger view
Indianapolis 500 1929
Additional Views:   enlarged  
Driver: Leon DURAY
artist:   William BURROWS
Harry Miller, designer of car
Media Size Edition Price 
Giclée on paper 21" x 31" 200 $365
Indianapolis 500 1929
"Harry Miller was, quite simply, the greatest creative figure in the history of the American racing car.

His engines dominated American oval-track racing for almost half a century. Most of the speed records which there were to be had on land and water were held at one time or another by those engines. He created the school of American thoroughbred engine design, which was faithfully followed by those who sought to outdo him. He was the originator, in the United States, of the racing car as an art object. He had a passion for metalwork and machinery that soared above and beyond all practical consideration. Parts of his machines that never would be seen by eyes other than those of the builders were formed and finished with loving care. His dedication to artistic and noble workmanship drew to his organization other technicians who believed in these same values. A whole sub-culture spread from the Miller nucleus, to become a permanent and integral part of innovative, artistic Southern California culture as a whole. It spilled over into the aircraft industry and it shook the automotive industry worldwide.

Miller created the first really streamlined closed car in the United States, and one of the first in the world. That was in 1917, and he was already telling journalists about using airfoil sections for improving the traction of super-light cars. He created unsupercharged engines of fantastic efficiency. Then he became the master of supercharging, achieving far more fantastic results, making the world passenger-car industry look archaic. He gave the world front-wheel-drive as a practical reality. He created really tractable and practical four-wheel drive racing cars in the early Thirties, decades before almost anyone could appreciate the value of the principle. He always lived in the future, up to the time of his death in 1943.

As a result of a request for something uniquely superior to anything in the world, Miller designed and produced the 122 front-drive racing car in late 1924. Two were built before the 91-ci formula was enacted in 1926. If Harry Miller had done nothing more in his highly creative career than give the world front-wheel-drive as a practical reality, his significant place in history would be assured.

In response to the new 91.5-ci formula, Miller designed a new engine and racecar. The heart of these cars was a straight-eight engine and body similar in outline and form to the 122. However, every single component, except for proprietary parts, was designed and built anew just for the 91. Factory engines started out with an output of 154 bhp at 7000 rpm. Intercooler innovations and internal refinements by Frank Lockhart pushed the output to 285 bhp at 8000 rpm.

If you wanted to win, you had to buy Miller - if you could afford it. A factory front-drive cost $15,000. It was the price of admission: from 1926 to 1929, between 71% and 85% of the Indy starting field were Millers. In 1930, a Miller 91 front-drive achieved 180.9 mph. Many other international speed records were established.

The Miller front-wheel-drive car seemed to be a perfectly integrated harmonious whole, as machine and sculptural object. There was something about it that was close to being sublime. Without the driveline through the cockpit, the driver sat some nine inches lower than in the comparable rear-drive car. Miller further reduced the height of the radiator and the result was a low, rakish car of unsurpassed beauty. The long low hood of the new Millers bespoke nothing but power and established a virtual mandate among stylists for a long hood, or the illusion thereof, for decades to come. It was without doubt the greatest single milestone in the development of the appearance of the automobile between the end of the Edwardian era and the streamlining fad of the 1930s.

The Miller front-drive was a bombshell of engineering and styling ideas tossed at a somnolent Detroit. There ensued a frenzy of speculation and research into front-wheel drive, which eventually abated after a few front-drive cars were placed into limited production. Only racing cars, rather than passenger cars like the Cord L-29, demonstrated the best possibilities of front-drive until the famous Citroen Traction-Avant of 1934 proved its entire practicality and merit for the road."

(Excerpted from

Artist Notes:
"Leon Duray driving the Packard Cable entered Miller special at Indianapolis."

Miller Gallery
Miller 91
Indianapolis 500 1929
Indianapolis 1925

MasterCard VISA
CONTACT Peter Aylett at 949-443-0500 or
  ©2018 All Rights Reserved