Designer, engineer, builder, driver, innovator
From his Hollywood Motors garage, the self-taught designer and engineer built some of the most successful sports car racing specials of the ‘50s and early ‘60s. His Old Yellers Mk I through Mk IX were basically junkyard dogs that outran greyhounds. Mk I was based on an existing backyard special that Balchowsky turned into a race-winner. The second car was a pure Balchowsky creation. The former B-24 tail-gunner bragged that it cost him exactly $1456.72 to build. Road & Track called it "a masterpiece of ingenuity." It was fast but unreliable in its debut year (1959), but in 1960 won six of 15 races. His drivers included inductees Carroll Shelby, Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant. Balchowsky and wife Ina opened Hollywood Motors in 1949, specializing in replacing motors in European sports cars with American V8s, primarily Buick and Cadillac. An early letterhead read, “We can replace anything with anything.” Balchowsky’s engine swapping was a primary influence on Shelby’s Cobras. He also prepared the Dodge Chargers and Ford Mustangs in the movie Bullitt.