Over the past generation it seems that every piece of hidden treasure has been discovered. Well, we're here to tell you that it's still out there.
In fact, a piece of bounty presented itself not once, but three times in the past decade. At one event it even caught the eye of a show-car collector, who dismissed it because of a detail. His racecar-trader buddy had his suspicions but never acted on them. Consequently, it went undiscovered.
What actually revealed the car was a $100 bet. Half a dozen years after the duo first saw it, the car showed up on an online auction. The collector remembered the detail but this time the trader bet on his hunch...and won.
As they soon found out, the T-bucket they bet on wasn't so anonymous; it was the Trojan, the late Harry Markiecki's show car and one of the upper Midwest's crown jewels.
Upon graduating Macomber High, a vocational school in Toledo, Harry hired on to Jim White Chevrolet. It gave him more than a steady income; "None of us ever had a real workshop," noted Jerry Halak, one of Harry's school mates. But with White's body shop at his disposal, his skills grew. "He built a '40 coupe about that time," John said. "It was basically stock, but he'd done some stuff like V-butted the windshield. That was the first time I'd heard anybody do that, at least around here."
"He was like that," observed Barbara Markiecki-Hofmeister, Harry's widow. "If he could do it with his hands, he could build something great." Recounting the streets they lived on at the time, Barbara pinpointed the birth of the Trojan as 1956.
"We went to Canada and brought back a trailer full," Jerry added. "It was funny; the customs officer asked if we had anything to declare. We said no; we were just hauling junk out and he said, 'Good. We want to get rid of that #@*&.'"
With those parts Harry built a car every bit as sophisticated as his contemporaries 2,300 miles to the west. Whether or not he copied it, the four-bar front suspension was similar to the one on Tommy Ivo's T. Just as Tommy Ivo and Norm Grabowski did, Harry welded plates inboard a V-8/60 tube axle's perch holes to serve as the bar mounts.
Like Tommy, Harry chose Nailhead power. The Dynaflow that came with it offered more than strength and convenience; it gave Harry the closed driveline necessary to use the '37-40 rear axle. Today we would argue that splitting the radius rods and mounting them to the chassis where they didn't operate on the same plane as the driveshaft pivot would cause the suspension to bind, but for the day the design was clever.
Rather than the '23-25 body, Harry used the more delicate-looking, low-hood '16-22. He too pushed the body back for more engine room, but instead of bobbing a bed he assembled bits and pieces-most obviously from the trunk of a '58 Thunderbird and the hood of a '59 Chevy-to fashion a stylish and modern-looking turtle-deck and fenders. "This was before plastic body fillers, John recalled. "Harry used to put extra strips of lead in his lunchbox and hope that the lunchbox wouldn't break when he walked through the door to go home!"
Bob Hogg at Seaport Automotive sprayed the car what the December '61 Hot Rod article referred to as '57 Pontiac Limefire Poly with a tinge of flake. Denzell Top Shop trimmed the cockpit and the rakish top, the latter another hallmark of the T-bucket movement. John laid out a flame pattern reminiscent of the one Dean Jeffries did on Grabowski's car, only with a sprayed-fade and wispier licks. Finally, the bucket was christened the Trojan. "Nope, we never knew why Harry named it that, but we always joked about it," Jerry revealed. "He already had a couple of kids when he finished that car, so it might not take much imagination."