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Tanner Chassis

H Modified, D Sports Racer


“Despite no formal engineering design or fabrication training, advertising executive Martin Tanner was a consummate craftsman. He built a succession of racing cars which ultimately resulted in his winning the 1958 SCCA H-Mod National Championship. Karl Ludvigson once noted that Tanner '... put together one of the best-integrated specials we’ve seen.'

The first Tanner used a 45 cubic inch, 45 hp Crosley engine -- one hp per cubic inch.

As in most other home-builts, it was an amalgam of the usual pieces from Fiat and Crosley, but its strength was the use of light alloys everywhere but in the moving parts for the drive and suspension. With lightening holes everywhere, the whole thing weighed 720 lbs dry.


Click to go to the
H Mod Yahoo group

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Gene Leasure's
Tanner T-5 (see below)

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Don Schleuter's
Tanner T-1 (see below)

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Martin Tanner's 7/8
scale Lotus XI replica,
Wilmot, 1959


A succession of Tanners, based on Tanner’s basic theme of lightness without sacrificing reliability, used Saab engines. The T-3 weighed only 699 lbs dry! Tanners, with their three cylinder, 55hp engines, often easily beat the best H-Mod had to offer.”1


On the H Mod Yahoo Group, Hugh Nutting said, “I took some photos of Martin Tanner's T-7 at Grayling, MI, in 1966. This was on its first outing. Unlike the other Martin T's it was mid/rear engined. The body was constructed of fiberglass and aluminum. It had wide American Mag wheels. This car was constructed in 1965-66. At that time it had not been painted. It had orange jellcote wings and an aluminum main body cowl hood and deck.

Martin Tanner used an 850 3 cyl Saab in T-7, the rear engine D-r car.

Martin sold it at Road America in 1967 or 68. It then made the transission to the DSR class. I think it was found in Wisconsin and had been painted blue.”



Charlie Hayes' name was listed on the H Mod Yahoo group's photo of the gentleman standing next to the T-6 at the Medowbrook event in 1995. Presumably, he was hte owners at that time and the one who restored it.

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T5 original 5 piece body mold

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Adding new cowl to new body for T6

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Shop in 1995

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Saab engine rebuilt

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Elkhart Lake, 1996

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Medowbrook, 1995

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Charlie Hayes,
Medowbrook, 1995



Gene Leasure's Tanner T-5 H Modified car  photographed at the 2004 SOVERN Historics at Seattle International Raceway in Kent, WA.


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This second photo shown the car as seen at Phoenix International Raceway, AZ,  circa 2002.

See Gene's comments below.


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The photo on the right shows the same car with red paint, driven by Martin Tanner many years ago. [Despite Gene's comments about this being the same T-5 as above, it certainly looks more like the T-4 below).


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January 2006 Comments

On the H Mod Yahoo Group, Hugh Nutting said, “If any one is interested in looking at one of the best posted pics of a Tanner H-Mod, then go to the National Road Ralley Gallery site; 1961 Cumberland Sports Car Races. [See photo on the right]

This is T-4 at its best. Martin towed it their with his Morris Minor (woodie) Countryman from Saginaw. This Tanner had an aluminum body. Martin made the patterns for the mag wheels. They were cast in the Metals Division Research Lab at Dow Chemical Company in Midland, MI. At some point the body was badly damaged. It was straightened out and used for a fiberglass mold to build the MK V.

One day after this season, 2 SAAB engineers showed up at the little Tanner Factory to see how he had 'tuned' the 3 cylinder to get it to go so good. SAAB's policy was generally to ignore racing and engineering inquires in those days. But they were developing the 850 GT's and looking into a place in the sports car market.”

On Sun, 22 Jan 2006, Gene Leasure <> replied:

“It is interesting that your information on the Martin T wheels is that "Metals Division Research Lab" at Dow Chemical cast the wheels. When I was doing research, trying to find the patterns for these wheels, I ended up at Magline in Saginaw. They 'remembered' the wheels, but the only records they had indicated that 'the owner' picked up the patterns.

Do you know if Magline and the Research Lab were connected or one & the same?

I had patterns made and cast aluminum duplicates, which the T-5 is now running.

Your recollection that the T-4 and T-5 are the same car agrees with previous research I did.

I am always looking for info on Tanner cars, especially the T-2 and T-4/T-5, as I have these cars. I have wondered if the T-3 became the T-4 when transmission and engine modifications were made. So far, nobody I have made contact with knows what happened to the T-3.”


Martin Tanner T-4
1961 Cumberlands
Sports Car Races
photo by
Roy Des Ruisseaux


This is believed to be a photo of Don Schleuter's T-1 at a vintage race at Riverside International Raceway in the 1980's.

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Photo supplied
by Curt Anderson

1Jeff 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: June 4, 2009.

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