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PBX Chassis

H Modified


Builder: Candy Poole, along with Bob Bentzinger.

Built over the winter of 1952-53.

Frame: Modified 1949 Fiat Model B station wagon.

Engine: 748cc, single overhead camshaft Crosley.

Body by: Sven Johnson of the Aeroform Company in New Haven.

Current Owner: J.D. Iglehart, as of September 1992.


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PBX.jpg (19839 bytes)
"Candy Poole poses the PBX Crosley Special in 1963. photo courtesy Candy Poole"2

pbxosca_ThompsonRaceway.jpg (17470 bytes)
Candy Poole racing in 1961 at Thompson Raceway3


"While the majority of Specials-building and innovative engineering was most evident on the west coast during the early 50’s, it was by no means restricted to that area. One of the most formidable of the H-Modified terrors to the time was built in Connecticut by Chandler "Candy" Poole and Bob Bentzinger over the winter of 1952-53, and it was known as the PBX (Pool-Bentzinger Experimental) Special.

The basis for the car was a used 1949 Fiat Model B station wagon which Poole purchased for $200. His limited budget was helped by the fact that the Fiat engine, transmission, radiator and other miscellaneous parts were sold off for the same amount. This pretty much left Poole with the chassis, which was all he really wanted anyway.

According to an article by Marti Poole (Candy’s wife) in the March-April 1954 Sports Car, Bentzinger arrived at the Poole home on Thanksgiving Day, 1952 to find Candy hard at work, obscured by the smoke of his cutting torch. When the smoke cleared, Bentzinger asked, "Where are the drawings for this thing?" Poole replied, "Drawings? What drawings? I couldn’t read ‘em if I had ‘em" Thus the team was born.

PBX2.jpg (37583 bytes)
"Lime Rock 1986. Jeb Ebbott vintage racing the PBX. photo by Art Easlman"2

"Lime Rock vintage event held on Labor Day [in the 1990s]. As with most vintage racers, it appears better finished than in its racing days."3

Candy Pool in his seventies3

They stripped and reworked the chassis, which received new cross-members and was liberally drilled; the result was and extremely light, but stiff, chassis. The suspension and driveline were a combination of Fiat and Crosley pieces, and the Crosley engine was experimented with (mostly in the area of the camshaft) until it would yield 45 hp at 7500 rpm. The engine and the MG TC transmission used in the car were lifted from Poole’s previously raced Crosley Hotshot.

A body design was drawn up and modeled in balsa wood, and then turned over to Sven Johnson of the Aeroform Company in New Haven. The result was a beautiful, sleek, perfectly proportioned roadster that was admired by no less than Briggs Cunningham for its high level of workmanship.

When the body was installed on the car, there where three weeks left until the 1953 Bridgehampton race. A frantic thrash ensued, with instruments, wire harness, radiator, gas tank, fuel pump, floor boards, wheel housings, seats and all the other little details (including building a new trailer) to be attended to.

They made it with six days to spare, allowing just enough time for a shakedown at Thompson Raceway, which pointed up only one area that needed change; the lever-type rear shocks were replaced with direct-action ones.

Poole retired in 1956, and set off across the country with his kids on an extended vacation. He sold the car to friend Dolph Vilardi, who raced it with little success (mostly due to improper camshaft timing) that season. When Poole returned that fall, he reset the camshaft properly and the PBX ran like it always did. In the summer of 1957 Vilardi crashed the car and, although he went on to win his class that day, he sold the car pack to Poole.

Poole raced and continued to win with it for awhile, eventually installing a DOHC Bandini-Crosley conversion engine which finally blew due to faulty connecting rods. He kept the car until he moved to Florida in 1970 at which point it was sold to J.D. Iglehart, who restored it an still owns it today, although it is now powered by a rare 750cc Climax engine. It is a frequent sight at vintage races, driven by Iglehart’s stepson, Jeb Ebbot. If Harry Eyerly’s Crosley Special was the H Modified scourge of the west, then the PBX was certainly its eastern counterpart. Unfortunately, east never met west, and the question of which car was superior remains a subject for spirited bench racing."1

Another Version

"One of the most successful home-built H-Mod cars in the East was Candy Poole’s PBX (P for Poole, B for partner Bob Bentzinger and X for eXperimental) Crosley Special. Powered by a 748cc, single overhead camshaft Crosley engine producing around 55 bhp, the 1000 PBX could do 0 to 60 [MPH] in approximately 8.5 seconds and had a potential top speed of 118 MPH.


PBX.jpg (19839 bytes)
"Candy Poole poses the PBX Crosley Special in 1963. photo courtesy Candy Poole"2

But the real strength of the PBX was its very stiff frame and supple suspension which used components of both a Crosley Hot Shot and a 1949 station wagon frame as its basis. Remember these were the days of flexible frames and stiff suspensions, but Poole’s and engineer Bentzinger’s thinking produced a car that out handled and outran all the under 1500cc modified machines in the New England region of the SCCA from 1953 to 1955. Poole says the beautiful aluminum body was formed with a hammer and welded together by Sven Johnson, a genius from New Haven, Connecticut. Dolph Vilardi, who also drove the PBX, says the car won frequently because it was fairly aerodynamic and showed that streamlining pays off as low as 35 MPH. Pool proudly says the car still holds the H-Mod lap record at the Bryfan Tyddyn road course in Pennsylvania and the class record at the Mount Equinox hillclimb.

Poole ran a shop for years without a sign in front and never advertised. He let the PBX do his talking on the race track. Sports Illustrated of July, 1956 called the PBX 'Poole’s backyard boomer' and credits the car with '26 class wins and 32 finishes out of 35 starts.' When asked how he did, the 75 year old Pool shyly replied, 'I was a fair driver and all in all we did pretty well. I think of myself as a mechanic who was interested in doing the very best job that I could.'

He did!"2

Another Account

"This is "Candy" Poole's PBX 750cc special. Candy was a true pioneer in American sports car racing. The car was largely Fiat based, with a Crosley engine and one-off Aluminum body. This was his first race after fitting a new tuned exhaust and he was able to hold off the OSCAs until part of the exhaust fell off and he lost some power. He had his own shop with dyno and maintained race cars for many of the competitors. In earlier days, Poole was associated with Pallotti & Poole in Hartford."3


pbxosca_ThompsonRaceway.jpg (17470 bytes)
"This picture shows [Candy Poole racing] the PBX at Thompson Raceway in 1961. At this time the car had been raced for over 6 years. It exhibited workmanship of a very high standard, better than most specials of the day."3

John C of the site says, "My favorite was Candy Poole's PBX. This was a Crosley powered H-modified car. This was a very sophisticated little race car that was competitive for many years against the best European HM cars (mainly OSCAs). Some of the mods were not trivial. The Crosley had an integral head, which Candy sawed off and replaced with a Bandini twincam head."3

"Candy Poole was an institution in Northeast racing during the 1950's. His combination of mechanical prowess and driving skill was hard to beat. Candy had a well equipped shop that included a dynamometer, which was invaluable in modifying and tuning and gave him a leg up on most competitors. He had some secrets, too. In the early sixties he told us he used automatic transmission fluid in his gearboxes to reduce friction and power loss. This is not unusual today but was unthinkable then. I still remember him saying how important is was to be discrete about such things, saying "If you tell folks everything you know, pretty soon you don't know nothin' ". What was most remarkable about him was his willingness to help other folks - he maintained several race cars for others in his shop, and coached and mentored younger guys to make sure they were fast and safe. He was also a bit terrifying at times, although maybe my memory is exaggerated."3

"Karl Ludvigsen wrote an article about the PBX for Sports Cars Illustrated (now Car and Driver) magazine in 1956. At that time the car had started 35 races, finished 32, and won its class in 26!"3

1John Gardner, Vintage Motorsport, Sept/Oct 1992, p39.
This article was transcribed for the Sports Racer Network by Curt Anderson.

2Jeff Allison, Vintage Motorsport (May/June 1991), A Selection of Home-Builts p73-75. This article was transcribed for the Sports Racer Network by Curt Anderson.

Revised: February 09, 2006.

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