The Ansen Automotive Engineering Story

Ansen Automotive Engineering company traces its roots to a machinist named Louis Senter. California native Louis was a machinist’s mate in the Navy during World War II, and after the war, he worked with flathead Ford speed part supplier and Indianapolis 500 riding mechanic Eddie Meyer. Partnering with his brother Sol, Louis opened Senter Engineering, a machine shop in Los Angeles, where they worked on custom projects for hot rodders. The Senter brothers found another partner in engine building specialist Jack Andrews in 1947, and the trio combined their last names to re-christen the business Ansen Automotive Engineering. The new firm developed many go-fast parts for early Fords, as well as began building dry lakes racers, midget racers and drag racers in-house. Ansen Automotive speed shop was also where Louis developed complete engines that were popular with Southern NASCAR drivers, moonshiners, and the revenue agents who chased them.

The early 1960s was a prolific time for Ansen Automotive. The owners’ partnership had dissolved, leaving Louis as the owner, and he turned his attention to developing one- and two-piece aluminum wheels for race cars; in fact, Ansen’s aluminum wheels were the first made of this material to be approved for use at Indy, where Halibrand’s lightweight magnesium wheels dominated. Designed in 1963, these aluminum wheels were crafted on Louis’s innovative centrifugal casting machine and a tracer lathe to feature a machined finish; they had five oval slots for brake cooling, as well as a visible casting of the brand name. Called the Sprint, this wheel design was quickly adapted from racing to street use in 14- and 15-inch diameters and varying widths, and its popularity skyrocketed.

In the “Pioneers – Louis Senter” article by Steve Campbell on the Specialty Equipment Market Association website, Louis is quoted discussing the surprising demand for Ansen Sprint wheels: “When Hot Rod did the article, I started selling everything I could make. Toward the end, I was making approximately 20,000 of them a month. All of the speed shops took on the wheel, and Hot Rod magazine said that it made the industry grow faster than anything else ever had.” After they went out of business, The Ansen trademark and product line was bought by Els Lohn of EELCO fame, seems like that was maybe late 90?, not sure. The company was sold when Els passed in 2002. H/T>

Ansen Equipped 1947 Vintage Men’s T-Shirt

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