16-17 August 2013

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Lot 103

1955 Guess-DeSoto F-4 266 Hydroplane "Z-Z-ZIP"

  • Hull no. 5

Sold for $57,750

450 hp (est.), 265 cu. in. alcohol V-8 engine with Hilborn crossram fuel injection, Wilber Houghton gearbox, and Hi-J propeller. Length: 18 ft.

  • Holder of the One Mile World Straightaway Record for the displacement since 1969
  • Competitive in the 266 hydroplane class for more than a decade
  • Three straight-line speed records over 13 years

There are racing vehicles that will never be forgotten by those who saw them, as they transcend make and model, such as the Moss/Jenkinson Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR 722, the Fangio Maserati 250F, and the Gurney/Foyt Ford GT40. Those are names that bring a powerful image to the mind of any enthusiast, but there are lesser-known champions that have associations just as powerful for those privileged to witness their heroic accomplishments.

Tom D’Eath was 14-years-old in December 1958, when he stood on the shoreline in Hollywood, Florida, and watched Sid Street break the World Mile Straightaway Record at an unheard-of 146.945 mph. Unheard-of because, for perspective, Dick Rathmann qualified for the pole of the 1958 Indianapolis 500 at 145.974 mph. “The boat was totally airborne on the slick water, sucking mist off the sponsons with only one inch of the prop in the water,” said D’Eath in Mopar Magazine. That was an image that stuck with him the rest of his life.

Joe Guess was a masterful Southern California boat builder whose total output was five hulls, yet, among those, two were world record holders. “To say that Joe just built the boat is an understatement,” Tom D’Eath told The Vinatge Hydroplanes. “This truly is a work of perfection. Joe carefully planned his boats, and the labor assumed the proportion of a career. One year, two years, whatever it took, time meant nothing. This is a masterpiece.” Z-Z-Zip was the final and greatest of his boats.

It was first raced by Sid Street (his second boat of the name) with a Bobby Sykes Sr.-built DeSoto Hemi V-8, which was sleeved to 265 cubic inches in order to meet the formula, equipped with dry-sump oiling, and topped with Hilborn crossram fuel injection. Street set two records, a one-mile record in 1956, which was soon broken, and the 1958 record, which wasn’t.

Sid Street was later killed racing a different boat, and Z-Z-Zip was sold and renamed Seabiscuit VII. Afterwards, it was offered again in 1966 for $6,000. Her next owner, Gordie Reed, of Grand Island, New York, renamed her Iriquois F-4 (F-4 for the race class), and on January 31, 1969, he topped Street’s 1958 record with a 148.638 mph run. No sub-266-cubic inch hydro has ever bettered it.

Tom D’Eath, by then a three-time APBA Unlimited Gold Cup winner, acquired Z-Z-Zip after years of storage. He found that it retained not only the original engine and gearbox, but the same propeller that was used by Gordie Reed on his 1969 record run. After an exacting restoration, she hit the water again on June 14, 2003, and has been in the collection of Tom Mittler ever since.

There were larger engines than those in the F-class 266 hydroplanes, but the “alky hydros” seemed to hit a sweet spot of power and weight that made them some of the world’s most exciting racers. For almost 15 years, none were more potent than Z-Z-Zip, now restored to her 1958 condition by the very man who stood in awe as a child as she roared by.


Please note that this boat is offered on a Bill of Sale.

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more