Frank Currie, the founder and inspiration behind much of the modern 4x4 world, has passed away. Frank was the originator and driving force behind Currie Enterprises, which introduced the Ford 9-inch axle to the Jeeping world. Frank holds a special place in our hearts, as we have wheeled with him and his sons and grandsons, built vehicles and tested products with him, and will miss him dearly.
One of our favorite trips was on the Dusy Trail in Central California. (Dirt That Burns, Jan. ’97, 4-Wheel & Off-Road) Try as we might, we wheeled for three days and were never able to catch up to him. Frank had driven over 200 MPH at Bonneville, and won Second place in the first Rock Crawling competition- he wasn’t about to slow down for a trip across a difficult trail. That’s Franks 383 all-aluminum Chevy small-block YJ enjoying the campfire on the Dusy trail
Frank will be missed by all who knew him, and many more that didn’t. He was a legend, and built a legendary company that rests in good hands. Now it’s Franks time to rest.
The world has lost an industry pioneer and a great, beloved man. Frank Currie passed away on the evening of 3/2/16 of natural causes in Yorba Linda, California with his family at his side. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Evelyn, his 4 sons, Charles, John, Raymond and Andy, as well as a large extended family.
Frank was born in Anaheim, California in 1929 and was one of 5 children. He was heavily involved in the early years of hot rodding, building Model A’s and T’s with overhead converted engines. Frank was known early on as the engine conversion go-to-guy. Frank was from a different time and a different generation. A time of innovators and entrepreneurs. A time when building hot rods was actually hard work and information and parts were scarce. He competed at the original Santa Ana Drags as well as lakes racing at Muroc and El Mirage. Being born in Southern California, Frank saw and did everything hot rodding’s early days had to offer.
Frank is a Korean war era veteran where he was stationed in Oklahoma in the Airforce as an aircraft mechanic. Following his service, Frank went to work at Taylor-Dunn Manufacturing in Anaheim, California. This is where Frank met his wife, Evelyn. They were married in early 1955 and immediately started a family.
Frank eventually became the foreman of the Taylor-Dunn shop where he realized an ever growing need for rear differentials to be adapted to the chicken feeder machines that were manufactured at Taylor-Dunn. In the early days it was Ford banjo rearends, then on to early Plymouth drop out rearends and finally to the 9” Ford. Frank became a large supplier of the core rearends to Taylor-Dunn. Property was bought in east Anaheim in 1956 and in 1959, Frank and Evelyn founded Currie Enterprises and moved full time to their own business of supplying the rearend cores.
As the years went on, facilities grew and Frank added tear down, rebuilding, and modification facilities for the rearends he was supplying to Taylor-Dunn. As Frank’s boys grew, he offered them as much piece work as they wanted to do in the shop to earn money for fun things like motorcycles and cars.
In 1985 Currie Enterprises moved again to a larger facility and Frank’s boys took over the reins of the company as Frank retired to build hot rods and Jeeps.
Frank competed in The Great American Race 20 times, winning the overall once and winning countless segments. He also dabbled in the LaCarrera Panamerica 3 years in a row with his ’65 Shelby Mustang. He remains the only person in history to have driven a car to Bonneville, run over 200 mph, and driven the car home. This car, his AA/SR #258, was 1998 Hot Rod of the year. He was a ’32 Ford lover and aficionado to the bone. At the time of his passing, he had two ’32 roadsters, a ’32 3-window coupe and a ’32 Tudor sedan.
Jeeping and off roading was another family passion. From early Broncos and Willys station wagons, all the way up to his last Jeep, an LS powered TJ, Frank was an experienced off roader. He spent many off road trips Jeeping with Tom McMullen in the 80’s and he co-drove with son John in the first BFG Rock Crawling Championship in 1998, where they took a second place finish.
Frank was a member of the California Roadsters car club and had been a member of the Regroupers Jeep Club.
The family asks that any correspondence or sentiments be sent to:
382 N. Smith Ave.
Corona, Ca. 92880