Category Archives: BB Korn
B.B. KORN SPECIALTY MFG. CO
7520 MELROSE AVE.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
In the world of miniature cars, B. B. Korn products are part of the elite. Design, durability, and craftsmanship are second to none. These cars are highly sought after by novice and advanced collectors alike.
In November 1939, the B. B. Korn Specialty Manufacturing Company of Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, offered its first commercial race car product, the Meteor. It was one of the few cars with a sheet metal body.
The frame, grille, and drive-unit were cast aluminum. The front axle was a simulated front drive unit with a steel 1/4-inch rod running through it for an axle. The Meteor, a rear drive car, measured 17 3/4 inches long with a wheelbase of 12 1/4 inches. Very few were produced— perhaps a dozen assembled cars. Because of this limited production run, the Meteor is one of the rarest miniature race cars.
If any miniature race car had a “magical” aura, one would have to consider the B. B. Korn Indianapolis (or Indy car) a likely prospect. At 20 1/2 inches long with a 13-inch wheelbase, the Indianapolis was a large car. The first Indy cars, produced in 1940, were cast aluminum with louvered sheet aluminum hoods and belly pan. These were top-of-the-line cars and so were their prices.
A subsequent version of the Indy car was made of more competitive lightweight magnesium was offered in September 1940. An even later example consisting of aluminum and magnesium also exists. With a World War on the horizon, all-metal alloys became hard toobtain, forcing the Korn Company to assemble cars out of castings on hand. The front drive unit and engine were carried on a separate aluminum (or magnesium) casting located on four rubber bushed mounts, which could be removed quickly for servicing. The rear axle also wasrubber bushed. It was pivoted between two cast-in frame crossmembers and aligned by spring- 75. loaded radius rods. A few of the all-aluminum Indy cars were fitted with Barney Korn’s own wheels and tires, surrounded the three-piece aluminum wheel. Most of the cars, however, came with Voit wheels and tires. A lower cost and high-quality availability prompted the Korn Company’s switchover.
Numerous accessories also set the Korn cars apart from their competitors. Steering wheel,upholstered seat, simulated instrument panel, and windshield were, with the exception of an “optional” hood scoop, all standard equipment for the completely assembled car.
Every Indianapolis car was personally assembled by hand by Barney Korn and an assistant. They could be purchased polished or painted in any color desired. Magnesium cars came in painted finishes only. This elusive, beautifully constructed car is truly rare with no more thantwo hundred manufactured in all versions.
Other short wheelbase pusher cars and rear drive pre-war versions exist, but only two were authorized by Korn: one that he built for himself and another that he built for Ray Snow, father of the famous Hornet .60 racing engine.
Spurred by a desire to motivate kids in a children’s home to participate in activities, set goals, and realize accomplishments, Barney Korn offered cast aluminum racers as prizes to thechildren. The cars, brightly painted in various colors, were reminiscent of the large Indy car. These non-powered, pre-war “give-aways” had a 9 1/4-inch wheelbase, an exhaust pipe, anda steering wheel. Decals on the 12 inch long car included a detailed gauge/dash panel and a “The Indianapolis” decal on the lower left side only. The left side of the cowl also had various racing numbers applied. In addition, a race car shaped decal in the image of the full sized car it was modeled after was affixed to the underside. The words “Hyde Park Model Supply Co.” were printed on this gold-colored decal in red letters. Rubber tires with the word”Indianapolis” embossed on them were fitted to stamped metal wheels held to the body with pressed-in axle pins over simulated knock-offs. Like all Korn products, these cars had a purpose other than sitting on a shelf.
Like so many miniature race car manufacturers of the era, B. B. Korn Manufacturing Company was not a commercial success. Cars were built by hand at night in the B. B. Korn shop. The enterprise was described by Barney Korn as being a “labor of love.”In addition to the give-aways and the few cars Barney Korn sold himself, about a gross were wholesaled to W. J. Sloan Department Store in New York City. The exact quantities andprices are unknown.
COPY FROM VINTAGE MINIATURE RACING CARS BY JERRY BROWN