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1956 Avia III : Classic Cars

This is a fascinating and unique race car built after hours by an employee at aircraft factory near Prague. Miroslav Jurca was a doctor, pilot, and racer of both automobiles and Norton motorcycles. His father built a comfortable life as a merchant of exotic woods used in high end furniture, and Miroslav had strong technical inclinations that led him to race, fly, and practice medicine. Eventually, as the communist regime descended in what was then Czechoslovakia, Miroslav, not exactly a communist supporter, was stripped of his both his license to practice medicine and fly, and reassigned to work in the Avia factory. Avia had been the largest Czech manufacturer of airplanes in the 1930s and 1940s, and was transitioning into truck manufacture in the postwar years (which continues today).

Jurca received permission to work on his own project after hours at the Avia factory, purchasing aviation grade aluminum from the works to build his own race car. His son Peter recalls that his father would sometimes work on the car until 2 or 3 in the morning and that his mother would take his father food late at night. The car employed a tubular steel frame clothed in aluminum bodywork and featured independent suspension all round, hydraulic shocks, coil springs, transaxle, rack and pinion steering, and aluminum finned drum brakes, an impressive and sophisticated specification for 1956. Motivation was provided by a 750cc horizontally opposed BMW two-cylinder motorcycle, type M275/2 from a R75 sidecar rig used for desert warfare in North Africa.

The car was completed in 1956, and Jurca raced the car in period in a variety of events including the Ecce Homo Czechoslovakian Hillclimb, Ostrava, Sternberk, Strahov, and Ostrava. Eventually, the communist authorities seized the car in 1960, and it was lost for many decades, purportedly ending up in Germany but presumed destroyed by anyone who remembered it.

In 2006, Miroslav Jurca’s grandson David, age 20 and living in Washington State, began to research the car his grandfather built and about which he had hear so much from his father. David, himself an avid and succesful cart racer apparently inherited much of his grandfather’s tenacity, put ads in Czech motorsports publications and met with little success. He eventually discovered photos of his grandfather’s car, restored, misidentified, and displayed at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance no less! The car was shown at Pebble in 1996 and David contacted the event organizers, who informed him that the car’s owner had died, and his 35 car collection been liquidated, but were able to direct David to the car’s then current owner, who was living 20 miles away in Redmond, Washington! In 2008, David became the first member of the Jurca family to lay eyes on the car since it was siezed in Czechoslovakia 48 years earlier.

The car’s present paper trail dated to 1987, when the car was in Germany and had been incorrectly identified as a 1948 BMW-Veritas-Loof (Ernst Loof founded Veritas) Monoposto Rennwagen (single seat race car). The incorrect year is likely the result of the year in which the original engine was manufactured. The car was exported to the United States at the end of 1987, arriving in January of 1988. It was restored, and displayed at Pebble Beach in 1996, where it was mis-identified as a BMW-Veritas. The car was restored in New Zealand by Leitch Motorsport for its American owner, and raced occasionally since.

In 2010, it was purchased by its current owner, who has sorted it and used it extensively in American races, including HMSA and CSRG events including the Monterey Historics, where it has proven to be faster than much larger and more powerful cars, generally finishing mid-pack in groups of cars displacing up to 6 liters! Those who have driven the car compare is speed to that of a Formula V. During this period, the car was also displayed at the Quail Motorsports Gathering.

The car has an HMSA log book and was featured in the June 2012 issue of Bimmer magazine, which chronicles the car’s unique history. There is also paperwork since 1987, as well as a sizeable collection of period photos of the car in competition. The car is currently fitted with an R75/5 BMW motor from 1969, also a twin cylinder air cooled engine, which provides more power than the original. The original engine is included with the car.

Today, the car is in superb track-ready condition. The paintwork was done to high standards and has very few blemishes, just a handful of small marks on the front of the car from being driven. The paintwork was done to high standards and presents strongly. The wheels were beautifully restored with blue rims and wear Dunlop Racing tires. The brightwork is excellent throughout. The interior is spartan and functional, with an appearance consistent with period racing cars. The tubular construction is well in evidence and the chassis has been refinished in its entirety. The driver’s seat is offset from the center of the car due to the central drive shaft and the aesthetic of the interior is simple, clean, and well-made. The lightness of the car is evident by inspecting its construction. The car has the safety equipment necessary for racing, including roll bar, Willans harnesses, and fire system.

This is a truly unrepeatable opportunity to acquire a truly unique and fascinating race car. Its history is heavily influenced by the contemporary political environment. It would not exist because of the communist regime, and it would not have disappeared for decades either for the same reason. It is an incredibly personal story of a tenacious and passionate racer, and survives today as a beautifully restored testament to Miroslav Jurca’s legacy. It has period race history and is widely eligible for a range of world-class events.


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Sources : 1956 Avia III Photo | 1956 Avia III Article

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