Daily demonstrations at 11am, free with admission!

Shirdlu BMW H-Mod Racer- 1962


The car seen here is one-of-one; it was designed, built, and raced by Frazier Sibbald, George Olsen, and Howard Bliss, all of California. Sibbald was the racer, Olsen the designer (he went on to build groundbreaking racing sailboats and founded a surfboard company) and it is believed that Bliss was the engineer and fabricator. Being that H-Mod cars were limited to 750cc when this car was built, it needed to be very light in order to achieve good performance.

A triangulated square-tube frame was utilized, with a fiberglass nose and tail, aluminum doors, a hot-rodded BMW “airhead” from a 700 Sport Coupe, and LeGrand Formula car suspension was blended into this miniature Lotus 23B. Weighing only 635 pounds, performance from its 80hp engine was eye-opening! (for perspective, a base-model 2017 Corvette has about the same HP/weight ratio).

Period racing accounts indicate that the Shirdlu was fast, but needed more development in the braking department. Even so, it performed well in the period, with an appearance at the SCCA Runoffs in 1966, placing 5th. Lately, it has been seen on both coasts, appearing in many vintage races.

The origin of the unusual name? We can’t be sure, but it’s possible that Mr. Bliss may have been a typesetter – linotype operators and typesetters used to limber up by typing the nonsense-words “Etoin Shrdlu”, the most commonly used letters in the English language.



Manufacturer: Frazier Sibbald, George Olsen, Howard Bliss, all of California
Country of Origin: German and American parts, American design
Drivetrain Configuration: Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine: BMW 700-series bored to 750cc; air-cooled horizontally-opposed twin, Weber sidedraft carburetor, approx. 80bhp
Transmission: Full-synchro 4-speed manual plus reverse
Top Speed: 80-100mph track and gearing-dependent
Years of Production: 1962
Number Produced: 1
Original Cost: Unknown