Miss Detroit III – Please Meet Mr. Curtiss

Fellow Woody Boater “Hutch” assisting Ike with the Curtiss V-4 (V-12) installation.

Legendary boat racer Gar Wood won the 1918 Gold Cup race with “Miss Detroit III” powered by a rare 1916 Curtiss V-12 aircraft engine. Beginning with our first report last April, we have been following the story of vintage hydroplane enthusiasts Ken Muscatel and Ike Kielgass and their quest to one day reunite the Curtiss V-12 with “Miss Detroit III”.

Although the original Christopher Columbus Smith / Gar Wood designed race boat is long gone, Ken Muscatel was able to purchase the beautifully built “Miss America III Replica” raceboat at the Warner-Mecum Auction back in 2010. Over 20 years ago, Ken Muscatel (assisted by historian Craig Magnusson from Seattle) purchased one of the two remaining 1916 Curtiss Model V-4 engines known to exist from an antique car museum. The only other example known to exist is on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC.

The restoration of the original 100 year-old Curtiss engine was entrusted to vintage engine builder Robert Mishko at Rocky Summit Performance in Tennessee, and was completed last August.

Now, with the help of Ike Kielgass, the ultra rare Curtis V-12 is now being installed in the “Miss Detroit III Replica” race boat in his shop near Seattle, Washington – and last night Ike shared these farm fresh photos of the project with us here at Woody Boater. We are looking forward to seeing (and hearing) “Miss Detroit III” back on the water in the spring.

Ike, an experienced vintage hydroplane pilot, commented that the 1,650 Cubic Inch Curtiss V-12 was “the loudest engine he has ever heard.” And when you see the YouTube video below, you will understand why…

For those of you who may not have read the original “Miss Detroit III” / Curtiss V-12 series of reports here on Woody Boater, including the engine restoration work from start to finish at Robert Mishko’s shop in Tennessee, you can click on the following links for each report from the Woody Boater archives. (Just click on the title)

April 18, 2012
Glenn H. Curtiss, Gar Wood And A Chris-Craft
– A Winning Combination In 1918

April 25, 2012
Miss Detroit III Gets A New Set Of Jugs
– Thanks To Robert Mishko At Rocky Summit Performance

Sept. 1, 2012
The 1916 Curtiss V-4 Is Alive! All 1650 Cubic Inches Of This Vintage V-12 Monster

Also, here is the very cool video of the 100 year-old Curtis V-4 (V-12) engine being test fired at Robert Mishko’s shop in Tennessee last August.

[youtube width="440" height="344"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EyKeDIbODM[/youtube]

Thanks to Ike Kielgass for sharing this “Miss Detroit III” update with us today. It’s exciting to see the engine finally being installed and she looks great!


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11 Responses to “Miss Detroit III – Please Meet Mr. Curtiss”

  1. Greg Lewandowski says:

    Wow! I got goosbumps again watching the video of that V-12 running for the second time. I could watch those external valves and rockers dancing on the top of those jugs all day long. Miss Detroit lll needs to be part of the Muskoka show this July. She could also make a visit to her home at our St. Clair show two weeks before. Great story Texx. Thanks!

    • Gerry Lodge says:

      Greg I am commenting on behalf of ACBS – Toronto.

      Who would we contact re getting this beauty to the Raceboat Show in Muskoka July 6th, 2013 ?

  2. matt says:

    Now were cook.n with gas! WOW, thats one hell of a way to wake up in the morning.

  3. John Kadimik says:

    A much more desirable boat now as opposed to the one we saw at the Mecum/Warner auction with the melted together Chevy V-6’s. Thanks for the update Texx.

  4. Alex says:

    What a great story! More of a saga. Looking forward to playing that U-Tube video through the stereo at home, just to get a better sense of the sound of that gorgeous motor. (The audio would make for one hell of an alarm clock too!) Yes the motor is primitive by modern standards. But so many precision parts for 1916. Wow!

  5. Sean says:

    What a MONSTER!!!!
    (I’d like to see that in a Prius)

  6. floyd r turbo says:

    IT was interesting to hear Bob’s explanation of the exhaust popping coming from unburnt fuel being ignited by the hot exhaust pipe. He’s going to be deaf if he doesn’t start wearing ear protection, I SAID, HE”S GOING TO BE DEAF IF HE DOESN”T WEAR EAR PROTECTION. lol.

  7. floyd r turbo says:

    My son and I met Ike Kielgass in Mt Dora one year hanging and eating lunch with the “Seattle crowd”. What a life, supplying and driving “Unlimiteds” for the movie “Madison” and now building up Miss Detroit while I’m stuck reorganizing my sock drawer.

  8. Bill John says:

    Here is the link for the construction of the boat:

    Bill John

  9. Texx says:

    Thanks for sharing the link Bill, the evolution of the Miss Detroit III replica boat is a great story.

  10. Mike Michaud says:

    Thanks for making mention of us, we were proud to recreate this boat and engine.

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